Module 4- Literacy in the Middle Years

Literacy Defined

‘All teachers are teachers of literacy.’ Discuss this statement with reference to your understanding of literacy.

Literacy is a 21st century competency and a failure to address and utilise literacy skills in one’s classroom is a failure towards building a students into a 21st century capable  citizen. I believe all teachers have a responsibility to be teachers of literacy. Simpson stated ‘every subject requires students to make meaning and recognise different parts of communication’. Therefore all subjects require students to display literacy competencies and it is the responsibility of all teachers regardless of method or year level. In conclusion  the highly contextual nature of literacy makes it even more important for teachers to embrace literacy skills in their specialist subjects if they are to build true life long knowledge for students (Commonwealth of Australia, 2012). Therefore it should be stated clearly that ‘all teachers are teachers of literacy’.

Commonwealth of Australia. (2012). Part 1 Literacy and Social Responsibility [Video file]. Retrieved from

Literacy and The Australian Curriculum

Take your own notes about each of six literacy elements

1.Comprehending texts through listening, reading and viewing

    1. receptive language
    2. Utilise strategies to comprehend, interpret and analyse various modes of text
    3. In developing and acting with literacy students learn to navigate, read, listen and respond to learning area texts
    4. Can apply at any point in schooling
    5. ABLES levels extend this capability into text, grammar, word and visual knowledge

2.Composing texts through speaking, writing and creating

    1. Expressive language
    2. Explore texts that communicate and analyse information across various modes
    3. Students create formal and informal texts
    4. In developing and acting with literacy students learn to compose texts, use language to communicate with others and deliver presentations

3. Text knowledge

    1. Students understand how texts are used to meet a purpose
    2. Students understand the range of texts used to across different learning areas and investigate issues
    3. They understand how grammar is used to enhance a text

4. Grammar knowledge

      1. Students understand the role of grammatical features in the construction of meaning
      2. Students utilise knowledge of sentence structures, word and word groups and express their opinion

5. Word knowledge

      1. Awareness of vocabulary and spelling across learning area texts
      2. Acquire strategies and skills in order to spell words correctly

6. Visual knowledge

    1. Students learn how visual information is connected to and creates meaning in learning area texts.

ACARA. (2014). Literacy Key Ideas. Retrieved from

With reference to different learning areas, identify some ways in which you can develop literacy in The Arts, Health and Physical Education and Humanities and Social Sciences for Grade 5 & 6.

Some ways to develop literacy in the following methods are:

The Arts

  • Students may research artist’s/art forms in various modes
  • Ask students to provide and respond to peer feedback on their work
  • Have students create concepts maps of ideas for a piece before beginning
  • Labelling and listing materials
  • Keeping a reflective journal or completing reflective ‘tickets out the door’ at the end of each journal – may be about their lesson in general, their feelings about their art work or life at that point in time in general
  • Following directions to complete a task and then communicating the process to a peer

Health and Physical Education

  • Labelling and listing equipment
  • Writing and reading rules of a game
  • Using equipment to reinforce decoding for example, putting the alphabet on bean bags and having groups collect certain letters
  • Researching and comprehending different types of text such as scientific reports, procedures, rules, lists, nutrition labels etc.
  • Looking at the various texts abovementioned with a critical lens and analysing the message in each.

Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Investigate concepts that are specific to the humanities and social sciences for example in geography this may be location and distance.
  • Having in depth discussions with students about concepts that are specific to humanities and the social sciences, for example, looking at a particular event in history and discussing students views on the matter after it has been thoroughly researched
  • Adopting reflection and peer assessment into the planning for such subjects will enhance the literacy value of the lesson
  • Utilising presentations for students to share their work and communicate their findings

NSW Government Education and Communities (2011). Teaching Literacy in PDHPE. Retrieved from

State Victoria DEECD. (2010). Key Characteristics of Effective Literacy Teaching 7-10. Retrieved from

NSW Government Education and Communities. (2011). Literacy in the Creative Arts. Retrieved from

Reading and Comprehension

Record the main features of each part of this model.

The cueing system is a description of how the brain identifies words during the act of creating meaning with print. System means that various parts of the brain are working together to create meaning from print. The main features of the Cueing system are:

  •  Meaning cues (semantic) – topic, cultural and vocabulary knowledge. Gestalt = the brain looks for patterns and fills in the blanks.
  • Language structure cues (syntactic) – grammatical and text knowledge.
  • Phonics/Visual cues – word, graphonic and orthographic knowledge.
  • Reading is an interactive process. Phonics is not a large part of reading. We most of the time perceive the whole based on what is in our head.
  • Efficiency and accuracy is achieved by using knowledge structures to make sense of incoming data.
  • Schema = knowledge structure related to specific topics. Contributes to enhanced fluency, word identification, memory and comprehension.

How will you use this technique in your teaching?

The High Reliability Literacy Strategies can be utilised across various subject areas for readers of all abilities. The strategies can enhance or enable students to comprehend and analyse varying types of text. It is a great method to explore and immerse students in a topic or specific text in addition to providing them with skills to become independent learners. Furthermore, the strategy is a method to utilise in order to build strong literacy capabilities in one’s students regardless of the subject area taught. In my subject areas of history and business management, this technique can be used to engage students in the large amount of reading content demanded by each method. I may use this strategy as a whole class or in small groups of students, both in the primary and secondary years. I believe the value of this task is heavily teacher reliant and so careful planning must be thought out before jumping into such a method.

Some considerations to pre-plan for when adopting this technique are:

  1. The technique requires heavy scaffolding and may need to be carried out several times as a class before students can start to explore it independently.
  2. The technique is rather lengthy and so may result in the disengagement of some students.
  3. The teacher may differentiate the method by pre-planning specific jobs/question for specific students; if a student is well below or above the level of the class then this may be a further cause for disengagement.

Johnson, A. (2015, February 28). Reading: 3-Cueing Systems part 1 [Video file]. Retrieved from

Johnson, A. (2015, February 28). Reading: 3-Cueing Systems part 2 [Video file]. Retrieved from–WmWng

Johnson, A. (2015, February 28). Reading: 3-Cueing Systems part 3 [Video file]. Retrieved from

NMR [Screen name]. (2011, February 17). Munro Inro [Video file]. Retrieved from


Look at these resources, then identify and explain two ways you will help your students develop their writing skills.

I will help my students to develop their writing skills in the following ways:

  1. Effective feedback – as highlighted in part four of the videos by Commonwealth of Australia (2012) it is not easy to compose written texts. In order to develop students’ skills to their full potential and avoid negatively impacting their desire to write, careful consideration must be given to providing students with effective and constructive feedback of their attempts at writing. It is important to first and foremost communicate appreciation for the student’s piece of writing and effort, and then coach them on how to improve the piece, modelling and providing sufficient examples of great writing skills.
  2. Conveying the importance of writing using relative terms– expressing to students that writing is an essential tool to communicate ideas, convey ones feelings and make sense of the thoughts in one’s head. Using relative terms express to students that good writing is an indication of good education and therefore in order for students to have the best possible opportunities in life and for employment, they need to be effective at writing job applications.

Is it important to teach handwriting to middle school students? Why or why not?

Various sources highlight that continuing to teach handwriting in the middle years is important for a number of reasons:

  • Poor handwriting may hinder students in the later years as note taking is a key element in later years’ subjects.
  • Technology is not a substitute for handwriting as it is through composing letters and writing a piece that we create order and sense from the thoughts in our brain.
  • Practicing writing and good hand writing is essential to continue the development of comprehendible hand writing as when students sit exams in later years it is important that their writing is read-able by another. Also the muscles in students’ hands must be strong enough and develop through rapid growth in the middle years enabling students to endure the lengthy task of writing exams in the later years.
  • Using tools such a slant boards or pencil grips can help encourage students to fix up their grip and posture.
  • Lack of ability to hand write efficiently may impact a student’s employability in the future.
  • Students need to start to write in a size and font that is more adult like as they prepare to enter the adult world – with childish looking writing can be motivated to take a more ‘grown up’ approach to change their writing.

Commonwealth of Australia. (2012). Promoting Writing Development Parts 1-4 [Video file]. Retrieved from

Jaime. (2015, June 8). Middle School and Handwriting…How to help your child improve their legibility after elementary school [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Spear-Swirling, L. (2015). The Importance of Teaching Handwriting [Blog Post]. Retrieved from


What are the five most important ideas you have learned about in your exploration of multiliteracies?

The five most important ideas I have learnt about in my exploration of multiliteracies are:

  1. The definition of a multiliterate person is one whom has the ability to be flexible and strategic in their literacy. He/she can use a range of texts and technologies in a socially responsible manner within an ever diversifying world and through this remain an active and informed citizen (Bull and Anstey, 2007).
  2. A 21st Century multiliterate individual must have the ability to both consume and produce the 5 semiotic systems. The New London Group adds a sixth element for meaning making:
  • Linguistic meaning
  • Visual meaning
  • Audio meaning
  • Gestural meaning
  • Spatial meaning
  • Multimodal patterns of meaning are combinations of the above
  1. Multiliteracies are the various ways literacy can be used in the 21st Century – more than one literacy.
  2. Current communication technologies require a new way of thinking about how meaning is made and therefore requires new ways for teachers to operate and teach these skills in their classrooms.
  3. The technological age has changed the way we generally communicate. We speak in different ways for different purposes. Literacy skills can shape values, attitudes and behaviours.

Bull, G. &. Antsey, M. (2007). What’s so different about Multiliteracies? Curriculum Leadership Journal, 5(11), online journal. Retrieved from,18881.html?issueID=10766

The 4 Resources Model

Is this a helpful model for you to use? Why/why not?

I believe this model is helpful to move students forward into thinking about texts in a critical manner in the middle years. The focus in the early years on sequencing ideas and decoding text provide a strong foundation for moving students into this model. It is important however to assess the readiness of students for the model before moving them into it. The model is useful as it breaks down an automatic process that as teachers we may take for granted. Therefore, the model enables teachers to model a step by step process to students.

The model guides students to ask questions of a text and therefore promotes a higher level of thinking. By using such questions and looking at different texts with the same tens students may be able to see the differences in text and start to form a strong foundation of knowledge of different forms of literacy. Furthermore, the model is developmentally appropriate for middle years’ students as it empowers students to look at text in a more ‘grown up’ fashion and form their own opinions and would prove useful in developing critical literacy skills.

Literacy in Years 7 – 9

What are the three most important factors to consider about teaching literacy to Years 7 – 9?

The three most important factors to consider about teaching literacy to years 7 – 9 are:

  1. Middle years is a complex and demanding environment for all students; as they learn to adapt to the skills each subject and teacher demand changes about every 50 mins.
  2. In middle year’s literacy skills of some students really begins to fall. In the middle years the curriculum areas become more distinct from one another in what they expect learners to be able to read and write.

We must engage the ways in which knowledge is represented in words and images of different kinds in subject areas to develop literacy in the middle years. Teachers must help students to see the different ways in which different texts build knowledge and how language and visual information work together in different ways in different curriculum areas.

  1. It is a myth that literacy is over by years 3-4 and if it is not then it is the job of special educators. In fact, the real literacy journey is just beginning in the middle and upper school years. Literacy skills need to grow rapidly through the middle years as the curriculum becomes more specialised and distinct.

How will you teach literacy to middle years’ students in your teaching area/s?

Some methods I may employ in order to achieve this are:

  • Pre-teaching vocabulary
  • Heavily scaffolding students for inquiry projects and providing the background knowledge required to carry out the project
  • Choosing texts that are relevant, up to date and relate to the content being covered in class
  • Creating level based groups and running guided reading groups that are based on the 4 resources model in order to teach students to look at texts critically
  • Consider and pre-plan the way I will utilise effective questioning to invoke higher order thinking in my lessons
  • Model what I am or am not looking for in an assessment task
  • Engage students in frequent discussions and debate about topics and content covered
  • Provide time for students to complete work effectively
  • Encourage students to be multiliterate by employing various mediums in the way I present information in the classroom and ask them to complete assessment tasks in return
  • Explicitly teach strong literacy skills and model strong literacy capabilities
  • Differentiate tasks in line with their literacy capability so tasks are always within their zone of proximal development and therefore a student’s motivation to achieve is not hindered by an inability to comprehend or complete what the task is asking of him/her
  • Provide students with timely and effective feedback on how to improve their literacy skills

Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). Literacy Across the Curriculum [Video file]. Retrieved from

Sparks, A. (2016). EDU5MTM, Module 4, Literacy in the Middle Years, Literacy in Years 7 -9 [LMS online module]. Retrieved from Department of Education, La Trobe University, LMS website:

Literacy in Years 5 and 6

What have you learnt about teaching literacy to Grade 5 & 6 students?

Some things I have learnt about teaching literacy to grade 5 and 6 students are:

  • The literacy block is highly structured and there are set times provided by the school’s curriculum dedicated to literacy.
  • Students become responsible for their own learning by keeping a diary. The diary is the development of literacy skills.
  • Group work is frequent in grade 5 and 6 classrooms
  • Primary classrooms are often highly differentiated.
  • Spelling is a daily task in a grade 5 and 6 classroom.
  • Handwriting and keyboard skills are also still explicitly taught and time must be provided to further develop these skills in the grade 5 and 6 classroom.

Sparks, A. (2016). EDU5MTM, Module 4, Literacy in the Middle Years, Literacy in Yrs 5 & 6 [LMS online module]. Retrieved from Department of Education, La Trobe University, LMS website:

Strategies for Developing Literacy Skills

 List and briefly describe five strategies you will use for teaching literacy to middle years students.

The five strategies I will use to teach literacy to middle years students are:

  • Polarised debates. This is a dynamic debate where students sit in a horseshoe and offer their opinion on a strongly polarised topic/statement. This strategy is a great tool for developing the 21st Century capability of being able to offer one’s own evidence based opinion and acceptance of others opinions also.
  • SQ3R reading method. This strategy is an extensive means of compiling effective notes. The 5 steps make it easy for students to follow and learn and can be applied to any subject. As students move further into the middle years it is imperative that they are effective note takers and understand the high volume and variety of texts they are asked to read.
  • Retelling. It is important for students to develop the skill of recount and sequencing of a story. While this is something that should be focused on in the early years it is important to further practice and develop the skill well into the middle years.
  • Skimming and scanning. A strategy that is essential in the later years, skimming and scanning involves teaching students to register what a piece of writing is about quickly. This is a method that can be used to ensure student engagement and in watching a video piece.

ALEA. (2016). About Literacy Learning: the Middle Years. Retrieved from

National Professional Devleopmet Program. (1996). Literacy Strategies Handbook. Retrieved from

Study Guides and Strategies. (1996). SQ3R Reading Method. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s