Ensuring our students have a great start in their literacy learning has been a focus of Alice Springs School of the Air Early Childhood (EC) classes this year. After analysing our data last year and realising we needed to accelerate student achievement in reading, our EC teachers investigated Read Write Inc to decide if it would meet our needs. Read Write Inc (RWI) is a “structured and systematic approach to teaching literacy” (RWI website) combining comprehensive professional development for educators, with a suite of resources, lesson plans, diagnostic assessments and texts, that teaches students to read and spell. The program relies on daily structured lessons that integrate building phonics knowledge, reading, discussion of texts, spelling, vocabulary development, and handwriting, in fast -paced lessons with multiple opportunities for students to practise and learn.
After an initial trial at the end of last year, our Transition (Foundation), Year 1 and Year 2 teachers, working closely with our Assistant Principal, introduced RWI this year. As students are at different levels in their literacy learning, students were grouped according to their RWI level, after initial assessments were carried out. Daily RWI online lessons are scheduled at the same time each day, with mixed year level groupings, and the three class teachers, as well as the Assistant Principal and Student Support Tutor, each teach one small group for a 30 minute lesson. After each lesson the students complete a follow up activity with their Home Tutor, which gets uploaded for their RWI teacher to assess.
Diagnostic assessments occur each term and groups are reformed based on students’ current achievement level. The data is showing a steady increase in the percentage of students in these year levels who are achieving at or above the expected levels, and the feedback from Home Tutors is that they can see a real improvement in student learning.
As well as an acceleration of student progress and achievement, another positive outcome of implementing this program has been the strengthening of the relationships within the Early Childhood team. Through their weekly meetings in which they analyse data and discuss research papers, the team have deepened their understanding of, and built their skills in, the teaching of reading and writing. Alice Springs School of the Air is looking forward to continuing to embed RWI as an essential part of our early literacy program and to see the impact of this in the years to come.