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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Level 2 – Listening, reading, and viewing

Processes and strategies

Students will:

Select and use sources of information, processes, and strategies with some confidence to identify, form, and express ideas.

Sources of information

What do I need to know?

The three interrelated sources of information in texts that readers (and writers) use are:

meaning (semantics) – the meanings of words and of images, such as illustrations, diagrams, and symbols, in their context

structure (syntax) – the grammatical structures of phrases and sentences

visual and grapho-phonic information, that is, the features of the printed letters, words, and punctuation – the visual aspects of the print itself.

Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.28.

What does it look like?

Hayley was reading the sentence “At last the wolf woke up”. She read fluently until the written word “woke”, which was unfamiliar. She recognised that the sentence structure required a verb and that the word began with “w”, so she tried “walked”. The next word, “up”, was familiar, and Hayley realised that “walked up” would not make sense in this context, so she self-corrected to “woke up”.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.30.

All the children loved "Clickety-Clack Cicada". They recognised the insect as soon as I put the poem card on the easel, and they shuddered and giggled about the way cicadas cling to you. The alliteration and rhythm helped my two newly arrived children to join in the reading. I used the mask to reinforce the contraction of “don’t”, to teach the letter blend “cl”, and to demonstrate the different sounds of “c” within the word “cicada”. The children thought of other examples of the blend “cl”, including “class”, “clean”, “clap”, and “clever”. I’ll draw the children’s attention to the spelling of “circle” and “centre” when we’re doing maths and look for opportunities in guided and shared reading to draw children’s attention to the different sounds of “c”. We also focused on the difference, in the poem, between the quiet night and the noisy day. We’ll read and talk about other insect and animal poems, and we’ll build up a collection of words and phrases for the children to use in their own writing.

Teacher, year 1 class.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.95.

Processes

What do I need to know?

There is a range of processes that effective listeners, readers, and viewers use.

Using these processes enables them to:

Learn the code

This means developing the ability to decode (and encode) written forms of language. The focus is on the conventions of written language and the skills required to read and write letters, words, and text. “Cracking the code” is an exciting intellectual challenge for learners.

Make meaning

This involves developing and using knowledge, strategies, and awareness in order to get and convey meaning when reading or writing. It also involves understanding the forms and purposes of different texts and becoming aware that texts are intended for an audience. Making Meaning includes:

Process information

The processes by which information is:

  • identified
  • retrieved
  • stored (recorded)
  • understood
  • organised
  • combined
  • communicated in order to resolve information problems.

Think critically

Becoming literate involves reading and writing beyond a literal, factual level. It involves analysing meanings, responding critically to text when reading, and being critically aware when composing texts. It also involves responding to texts at a personal level, reflecting on them, and finding reward in being a reader and a writer.
Adapted from Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.24.

What does it look like?

How teachers prompt and support students to use reading processes and strategies – some examples:

This example features Let’s Go by Feana Tu’akoi, photographs by Mark Round, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 2001.

Tell me the first sound of this word. (“sunhat”, page 6)

What letter does this word start with? (“dad”, page 7)

What do you notice about the last letter in “dad”?

That’s right. It’s the same as the first letter.

Which words do you know on this page?

Who can you see in this picture? (page 7)

Which word is different on this page?

What do you notice about this word? (“sunhat”, page 6 – a compound word)

This example features The Praying Mantis by Pauline Cartwright, photographs by Nic Bishop, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 1993.

Read that again. What sound does the word start with?

What would make sense?

What could you try?

What sound do these letters make?

What’s happening in the picture on page 4?

What will the fly do now?

Has it noticed the praying mantis?

That’s right. The fly comes b…

What do you think will happen next?

This example features The Hole in the King’s Sock by Dot Meharry, illustrated by Philip Webb, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 2001.

Does that look right? If the word was “called”, what would you expect to see at the end/in the middle?

You said, “There is a hole in my sock.” Check the first word again. Look at the end of the word.

You said “make”. Does that make sense? Could that be “menders”? How do you know?

What did you notice [after a hesitation or pause]?

How do you know for sure?

You’re so clever. How did you know that?

Read the whole sentence.

Does that sound right to you?

Something wasn’t quite right. Try that again.

How did you know what was wrong?

Adapted from Effective Literacy Practice Years in 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.128–130.

Strategies

What do I need to know?

The processing strategies that readers use are:

  • attending and searching – looking purposefully for particular information, known words, familiar text features, patterns of syntax, and information in pictures and diagrams;
  • predicting – forming expectations or anticipating what will come next by drawing on prior knowledge and experience of language;
  • cross-checking and confirming – checking to ensure that the reading makes sense and fits with all the information already processed;
  • self-correcting – detecting or suspecting that an error has been made and searching for additional information in order to arrive at the right meaning.

Reading can be thought of as a constantly repeated process of attending and searching, predicting, crosschecking, and confirming or self-correcting. These strategies are not discrete stages; they constantly interact and support one another. They are used in complex combinations, and experienced readers usually apply them automatically.

Comprehension strategies, like the processing strategies, are tools that the reader uses with a purpose in view. Comprehension strategies may be described as:

  • making connections between prior knowledge and the text;
  • forming and testing hypotheses about texts;
  • asking questions;
  • creating mental images, or visualising;
  • inferring;
  • identifying the author’s purpose and point of view;
  • identifying and summarising main ideas;
  • analysing and synthesising ideas and information;
  • evaluating ideas and information.

Like the strategies for processing text, comprehension strategies are not discrete processes to be used one at a time.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4. NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. pp.38–40.

What does it look like?

How teachers prompt and support the use of reading processes and strategies – some examples:

This example features Let’s Go by Feana Tu’akoi, photographs by Mark Round, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 2001.

Tell me the first sound of this word. (“sunhat”, page 6)

What letter does this word start with? (“dad”, page 7)

What do you notice about the last letter in “dad”?

That’s right. It’s the same as the first letter.

Which words do you know on this page?

Who can you see in this picture? (page 7)

Which word is different on this page?

What do you notice about this word? (“sunhat”, page 6 – a compound word)

This example features The Praying Mantis by Pauline Cartwright, photographs by Nic Bishop, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 1993.

Read that again. What sound does the word start with?

What would make sense?

What could you try?

What sound do these letters make?

What’s happening in the picture on page 4?

What will the fly do now?

Has it noticed the praying mantis?

That’s right. The fly comes b…

What do you think will happen next?

This example features The Hole in the King’s Sock by Dot Meharry, illustrated by Philip Webb, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 2001.

Does that look right? If the word was “called”, what would you expect to see at the end/in the middle?

You said, “There is a hole in my sock.” Check the first word again. Look at the end of the word.

You said “make”. Does that make sense? Could that be “menders”? How do you know?

What did you notice [after a hesitation or pause]?

How do you know for sure?

You’re so clever. How did you know that?

Read the whole sentence.

Does that sound right to you?

Something wasn’t quite right. Try that again.

How did you know what was wrong?

Adapted from Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. pp.128–130.

Using the strategies case study

This example shows strategic questioning to support a year 4 student in meeting the goal of a task. The context is an activity after a year 4 guided reading session using Whale Tales, by Kim Westerskov. The shared goals are (1) to locate specific information and (2) to infer from the text and write their conclusions in their own words.

Teacher What information have you located?

Student (reads) “Humpbacks swim slowly, and they are the most interesting of all whales to watch.”

Teacher OK. Do we need to take any notes there? Did you learn anything about the population or the habitat?

Student Yeah. They have huge flippers.

Teacher OK. So will that help us with our question?

Student Yeah … (uncertainly) maybe.

Teacher (drawing student’s attention to questions on whiteboard) Will that information help you to answer the question about where humpback whales live or the question on why there are only a few thousand humpbacks now?

Student No …

Teacher Well, let’s read the text in this box. You read it.

Student (reading from the text) “Once, there were over 100,000 humpbacks in the southern seas alone. But the humpback was a favourite of the whalers – now there are only a few thousand humpbacks left.” … Oh. I’ve learned something. It says “But the humpback was a favourite of the whalers”. That means that they, like, killed them, and … that’s why there aren’t many living any more.

Teacher OK. So do you think that’s important information?

Student Yes.

Teacher Now are you going to copy that straight from the book? What are you going to do?

Student Um, I’m going to put it in my own words.

Teacher Good! Let me see you begin.

Adapted from Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.83.

School Journal teachers' notes that promote the use of a range of reading strategies (especially comprehension strategies) by students:

School Journal: Snail Snatch
To support students in developing the comprehension strategies of asking questions, making connections, inferring, and analysing and synthesising.

School Journal: Gumboots
To support students in developing the comprehension strategies of making connections, asking questions, and summarising.

School Journal: One More Minute
To support students in developing the comprehension strategies of making connections, forming and testing hypotheses, and analysing and synthesising. 

School Journal: Junk
To support students in developing the comprehension strategies of inferring, forming and testing hypotheses, and evaluating.

Indicators

Selects and reads texts for enjoyment and personal fulfilment

What do I need to know?

In order to foster independent and recreational reading and writing, teachers need to offer plenty of variety and guide students towards selecting widely. Students need to learn to read and write many different kinds of text for different purposes and audiences. The value of reading and writing non-fiction texts is sometimes underestimated. A non-fiction topic can provide a “hook” to arouse interest or motivate a student who is experiencing difficulties in their literacy learning.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. pp.114–115. [abridged]

The growing range of quality New Zealand texts, both fiction and non-fiction, is a great resource for teachers and students. Teachers should provide students with texts that present authentic Māori perspectives and also those of Pasifika communities and other groups that are part of New Zealand’s diverse society. Literary classics – memorable texts that help children understand themselves and their world – often have a lasting impact. The range should include other materials as well as stories, such as tables, diagrams and maps, poetry, reference texts, readalong audio resources, email messages, and Internet websites. It should also include picture books at all levels. These resources not only foster students’ reading: they also inspire their writing.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.114.

What it looks like

Excerpt from a Year 4 Case Study

"Each day's literacy programme starts with the class as a whole doing silent, sustained reading for 10-15 minutes. Everyone is therefore settled and calm. I have individual silent reading kits and a variety of reading material in addition to the usual fiction and picture books. I add recipes, articles from the local paper, children's comics and magazines, and books in te reo Māori. Recently I added books on famous artists like Picasso, because they relate to our painting unit in art".

Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.185.

Recognises connections between oral, written, and visual language

What do I need to know?

The three strands of language - oral, written, and visual - are interrelated and integrated and [it is recognised] that all are important in understanding and communicating meaning.

This interrelationship is clearly demonstrated in everyday, face-to-face communication, where the spoken language cannot be separated from the visual language of gestures, eye contact, and facial expression. In the case of drama, the visual and the oral are combined for an audience. In a cartoon or comic strip, the visuals convey meanings that are not necessarily in the written text itself. In picture books, both with and without words, the visual images can reinforce or augment the narrative, provide a commentary or subtext, help create humour or irony, hold the story together, or deliver a message.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996. p.173.

It is well established, through studies and theories of language learning, that oral language underpins written language; the two are closely interrelated. It is vital for children to listen and speak in order to develop a grasp of language. Through talking about events as they happen and discussing their ideas, children construct knowledge and awareness and acquire the language they need in order to make sense of their experiences.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1-4, NZ Ministry of Education. 2003. p.19.

Visual language is inherent in reading and writing. In order to find and create meaning in written language, students need to understand such features of visual language as the use of symbols and images to convey meaning. For example, when students use computers to communicate even at a basic level, they need to be able to interpret the combinations of text and images in desktop icons and menus.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1-4, NZ Ministry of Education. 2003. p.19.

Because language is essentially an interactive process, the oral, written, and visual forms are highly interrelated. Listening, for example, may require watching someone’s body language to understand fully the overall communication. When listening to and watching a demonstration or dramatic performance, there will often be visual elements that add important meaning to what is said and listened to. Skilful reading enables the reader to obtain information, to appreciate the feelings of others, to reflect upon ideas, experiences, and opinions, and to gain imaginative and aesthetic pleasure. Skilful writing enables the writer to convey information, to express feelings, to record, clarify, and reflect on ideas, experiences, or opinions, and to give imaginative and aesthetic pleasure.
Flockton & Crooks. NEMP Writing Assessment Results, 2002. p.9.

Whether we listen and speak, read and write, or view and present, we participate in a very similar communication process. When we receive communication, we (the audience) receive (medium) something (meaning or message) for reasons (purpose) by some means (mode of transmission, or form).
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996. p.181.

What it looks like

The units below require students to make and recognise strong connections between oral, written, and visual language as they explore texts. The exemplars below illustrate how students have made strong connections between oral, written, and visual language as they have created texts:

Building Reading Comprehension Through Think-Alouds

Uses sources of information (meaning, structure, visual, and grapho-phonic information)

Selects and uses prior knowledge and sources of information with growing confidence to make sense of increasingly varied and complex texts

What do I need to know?

Sources of information

 The three interrelated sources of information in written language that readers and writers use are:

  • meaning (semantics) – the meanings of words and of images, such as pictures and diagrams, in their context;
  • structure (syntax) – the grammatical structures of phrases and sentences;
  • visual and grapho-phonic information, that is, the features of the printed letters, words, and punctuation – the visual aspects of the print itself.

These sources of information need to be considered in relation to one another.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.28.

Vocabulary

Children build up knowledge of words and their meanings through their experiences of spoken language in everyday life. Words acquire meaning in relation to the child’s experience. Before they start school, children have absorbed the meanings of many words.

Most will have a sense of English idiom (if English is their first language) and will understand that "hang on a minute" does not imply holding on to anything.

Children who experience rich conversations with adults, siblings, and peers and who hear lots of stories and rhymes meet a great number of words in different contexts and build up a store of words they can use fluently. Some children's exposure to language may be more limited, and their vocabulaty development may be slower. A child usually comes to understand what particular words mean through experience, but teachers can help to expand children’s awareness of how words work by discussing the precise meanings of words as they arise in classroom activities, by planning text-based experiences, and by encouraging quality conversations.

Using illustrations with text helps learners to build meaning.The illustrations in a book may carry crucial information to help a young reader understand unfamiliar content and settings, or they may provide a subtext that offers a different perspective. In many factual texts, the photographs, illustrations, and diagrams are essential features for readers seeking a full understanding of the information.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. pp.28–29. [abridged]

Visual and grapho-phonic sources of information

Visual sources of information for readers are the visual features of the print itself. Visual information in a text includes letters, letter clusters, words, sentences, and the conventions of print, such as direction, spaces between words, the shapes of letters and words, and punctuation marks. It does not include illustrations. The term “grapho-phonic information” encapsulates the idea that the information used to decode a printed word or to write a word is partly visual or graphic (the learner recognises the printed shape) and partly aural or phonic (the learner recreates the sounds of letters and words). The learner draws on prior knowledge to remember which visual configuration goes with which sound. The term visual information refers to visual aspects of print, such as letters, words, spaces between words, and punctuation marks. The term visual language is used to describe signs, symbols, illustrations, gestures, and so on that are used to communicate meaning.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.30.[abridged]

Structure

Knowing the structure or syntax of a language helps readers to predict a word or the order of words in a sentence. A child who is using syntactic information knows what type of word is missing in the sentence “The dog ---------- over the wall.” The language of most five-year-olds enables them to use syntax well in predicting and checking the accuracy of words they read in their first language. Similarly, when children begin to write, they try to record what they might say. They are governed by syntax because the words we hear, speak, read, and write are organised into grammatical sequences. Children’s understandings of written language structure increase progressively through planned literacy activities.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.29.

What does it look like?

Some teacher prompts that might encourage students to use sources of information when reading

These examples come from Let's Go by Feana Tu'akoi, photographs by Nic Bishop, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 1993.

Tell me the first sound of this word. (“sunhat”, page 6)

What letter does this word start with? (“dad”, page 7)

What do you notice about the last letter in “dad”?

That’s right. It’s the same as the first letter.

Which words do you know on this page?

Who can you see in this picture? (page 7)

Which word is different on this page?

What do you notice about this word? (“sunhat”, page 6 – a compound word)

These examples come from The Praying Mantis by Pauline Cartwright, photographs by Nic Bishop, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 1993.

Read that again. What sound does the word start with?

What would make sense?

What could you try?

What sound do these letters make?

What’s happening in the picture on page 4?

What will the fly do now?

Has it noticed the praying mantis?

That’s right. The fly comes b…

What do you think will happen next?

These examples come from The Hole in the King’s Sock by Dot Meharry, illustrated by Philip Webb, Ready to Read series, Learning Media, 2001.

Does that look right? If the word was “called”, what would you expect to see at the end/in the middle?

You said, “There is a hole in my sock.” Check the first word again. Look at the end of the word.

You said “make”. Does that make sense? Could that be “menders”? How do you know?

What did you notice [after a hesitation or pause]?

How do you know for sure?

You’re so clever. How did you know that?

Read the whole sentence.

Does that sound right to you?

Something wasn’t quite right. Try that again.

How did you know what was wrong?

Adapted from Effective Literacy Practice Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.128–130.

Selects and uses sources of information and prior knowledge

Selects and uses sources of information and prior knowledge with growing confidence to make sense of increasingly varied and complex texts

What do I need to know?

The activation of prior knowledge is a crucial element of learning. In guided reading, the teacher introduces the text, activating the students' prior knowledge and making connections with their experiences. The students are helped to draw from their existing knowledge, both of the world in general and of reading strategies. This has a motivating effect on young learners as they see the relevance of the learning and build a sense of expectancy.
Guided Reading in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2002. p.8.

The knowledge and experience that learners bring to their reading or writing, including the vocabulary they have developed, gives them a starting point for connecting with a text or clarifying the ideas they seek to convey.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.27.

The diversity among students in our schools presents a challenge for teachers – to identify and build upon the knowledge that all their students bring to the classroom. Teachers should always be aware that what the learner brings to the learning task is as important as what the teacher teaches.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.27.

Learners need to know how to use the sources of information in text, along with their prior knowledge and experience, to decode and encode written English, make meaning, and think critically.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.28.

What does it look like?

Teacher reflection on using prior knowledge

It's very important in guided reading to spend time introducing the book and to make links to the students' own experiences. If the students are given this time at the beginning of the session, they tune into each other's ideas and give support to each other throughout the reading. I liken it to tuning up in an orchestra. It also enables me to see which students are really engaged for the reading session and which ones may need a little extra support that day. Getting discussion going before beginning to read and motivating the students makes the session a lot more purposeful.

Teacher Year 1–2 class
Guided Reading in Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2002. p.40.

A teacher prompting prior knowledge

I had read A Quilt for Kiri to the children last term, and I retold the story last week. As a class, we had talked then about customs of giving gifts – what we give people and when – and the idea that gifts we’ve made ourselves have extra value. Three of the children are from the Cook Islands and were able to tell us more about quilts, so we talked about that and other traditions for showing appreciation for kindness or hospitality. I chose A Gift for Aunty Nga for guided reading with my fluent readers. I wanted to focus on critical thinking and inference, and they found a great deal to consider in this moving story about family relationships and separations. I asked them to read just the first two pages, and then we talked about what they could infer. They anticipated the forthcoming trip and also realised that the “tapes” showed that the family rarely saw Aunty Nga. They then read on to the end of page 7, and we talked again about the trip and what they thought about the relationship between Kiri and her aunt. When they had finished their reading, there was rich discussion about the characters, the children’s own experiences, the meaning of gifts, and the way we celebrate big occasions. All the children wanted to reread the text to savour it for themselves.

Teacher Year 3
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.99

Uses sources of information and prior knowledge to make sense of texts

Selects and uses sources of information (meaning, structure, visual, and grapho-phonic information) and prior knowledge with growing confidence to make sense of increasingly varied and complex texts

What do I need to know?

The growing range of quality New Zealand texts, both fiction and non-fiction, is a great resource for teachers and students. Teachers should provide students with texts that present authentic Māori perspectives and also those of Pasifika communities and other groups that are part of New Zealand’s diverse society. Literary classics – memorable texts that help children understand themselves and their world – often have a lasting impact. The range should include other materials as well as stories, such as tables, diagrams and maps, poetry, reference texts, readalong audio resources, email messages, and Internet websites. It should also include picture books at all levels. These resources not only foster students’ reading: they also inspire their writing. The value of reading and writing non-fiction texts is sometimes underestimated. A non-fiction topic can provide a “hook” to arouse interest or motivate a student who is experiencing difficulties in their literacy learning. The focus of most children’s early literacy experiences is on narrative forms but, for later success, they need to learn to use texts and reference sources for content area reading and writing. It is important for teachers to have clear instructional objectives for engaging their students with a range of non-fiction texts.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. pp.114–115.

Across their years of school. students need to encounter a wide range of texts (both fiction and non-fiction) that are appropriate to their instructional level. They need texts with rich and varied vocabulary, texts that genuinely reflect the diversity of New Zealand society, and texts that deal with themes and topics that matter to young people, including topics that they will encounter in the school curriculum. The texts that they read should include works written and presented to meet many purposes, in a wide range of media, styles, and forms. Memorable encounters with well-chosen texts during instruction in guided reading sessions can enhance students’ love of reading and develop their ability to make appropriate text choices for themselves. Such experiences will also enrich their use of oral and written language.
Guided Reading: Years 5 to 8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2005. p.35.

What does it look like?

A teacher reflecting on the advantages of students reading a varied range of texts

The children take home a book each night from their independent-reading box. In their reading log, they record the title, what sort of text it was, and a star rating, which they decide according to a key in the log. The key is clearly written out so that they know what the requirements are. This information allows me to monitor the type of text the child is reading, and it allows them to see when they might need to widen their choice of text. The star rating has a twofold effect. If they give their chosen text a four-star rating, they must do a "booksell" and explain to other students, using a range of criteria, why this book is so great. Not only is the child having to think critically about the text and verbalise their responses, but also other children will have the opportunity to read it and discuss their opinions. The children are becoming more skilled at discussing their personal responses to books in a thoughtful way.

Effective Literacy Practice in years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003, p.186

Uses knowledge of letter clusters, affixes, roots, and compound words to confirm predictions

What do I need to know?

Learners need to attend to details of text in order to decode and determine meaning. The learner looks purposefully for particular information, for known letters, clusters, or words, for familiar text features and patterns of syntax, and for information in pictures and diagrams. For beginning readers, this usually involves attending closely to every word (especially to the initial letters of words) and to the illustrations. For fluent readers, this usually involves taking in larger chunks of text (phrases rather than words) and slowing down to identify and focus on specific words or features only when necessary to clarify meaning. With instruction from the teacher, learners begin to acquire a sight vocabulary and to develop understandings about text. They learn to focus more effectively, attending to what is relevant at the time in order to get the message. Teachers provide specific instruction to help them to draw on what they know and can do.

Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.128.

What does it look like?

The following units or activities have been designed to assist students to use an increasing knowledge of letter clusters, affixes, roots, and compound words to assist their reading:

  • Exploring Language – The Word: Creating New Words
    When two free morphemes are joined together to make a new word, the result is called a compound word. The most common way of compounding is to join a noun with a noun: toothbrush, carpark, tablecloth, chairperson, lawnmower, teatowel, ladybird, bedroom.
  • BBC-Skillwise: Spelling
    Information on root words, suffixes, prefixes, letter patterns.

Uses increasing knowledge to confirm predictions

What do I need to know?

The processing strategies that readers use are:

  • attending and searching – looking purposefully for particular information, known words, familiar text features, patterns of syntax, and information in pictures and diagrams;
  • predicting – forming expectations or anticipating what will come next by drawing on prior knowledge and experience of language;
  • cross-checking and confirming – checking to ensure that the reading makes sense and fits with all the information already processed;
  • self-correcting – detecting or suspecting that an error has been made and searching for additional information in order to arrive at the right meaning.

Reading can be thought of as a constantly repeated process of attending and searching, predicting, crosschecking, and confirming or self-correcting. These strategies are not discrete stages; they constantly interact and support one another. They are used in complex combinations, and experienced readers usually apply them automatically.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.38–39.

Predicting

Predicting is a strategy that readers use not only to identify words but also to anticipate what might come next. It involves forming an expectation on the basis of the information acquired so far, so it is strongly related to meaning and is more than speculation.

For fluent readers, predicting involves using prior knowledge and information in the text quickly, and usually automatically, to decide (at least initially) on the meaning of unknown words or difficult passages, or to anticipate, for example, the next event in a narrative or the next step in an argument.

As learners become familiar with patterns of sentences, book language, and basic text structures, they build their ability to use prediction.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.129.[abridged]

Cross-checking, confirming, and self-correcting

The reader needs to cross-check predictions to ensure that they make sense and fit with other information already processed. When children detect or suspect an error, they need to have strategies to fix it. Noticing the problem is the first step; knowing what to do to fix it is the next. Readers cross-check by drawing on their prior knowledge and on the syntactic, semantic, and visual and grapho-phonic information in the text. Cross-checking often involves turning a partially correct response into a correct one.

For fluent readers, cross-checking usually involves further searching for information to confirm their initial understanding. In skilled reading, predictions are usually checked swiftly and automatically. As readers progress, they learn that cross-checking, confirming, and self-correcting are among the habits of a good reader and take responsibility for using these strategies.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.130.[abridged]

What does it look like?

An example of a teacher prompting a student to confirm their reading prediction

Teacher Let’s see who he watched on Monday. Who is he watching?

Ethan (looking at illustration) He’s watching the cat.

Teacher What’s the cat’s work?

Ethan (again drawing from illustration) Chasing the mice.

Teacher Let’s read it together and see if you’re right. (reads) “On Monday he w… (pauses) watched the cat. She …” Oh. How does the cat move?

Several children She p… r… [they make separate sounds]

Oliver pr…

Children … prowls!

Teacher Good boy for getting that blend, Oliver. (reads slowly, drawing out the new word, and the children join in) “She pr–owled up and down looking for mice.”

For fluent readers, cross-checking usually involves further searching for information to confirm their initial understanding. In skilled reading, predictions are usually checked swiftly and automatically. As readers progress, they learn that cross-checking, confirming, and self-correcting are among the habits of a good reader and take responsibility for using these strategies.

Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1-4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.87.

Selects and uses processing strategies with some understanding and confidence

What do I need to know?

Attending and searching

The learner looks purposefully for particular information, for known letters, clusters, or words, for familiar text features and patterns of syntax, and for information in pictures and diagrams. For fluent readers, this usually involves taking in larger chunks of text (phrases rather than words) and slowing down to identify and focus on specific words or features only when necessary to clarify meaning. With instruction from the teacher, learners begin to acquire a sight vocabulary and to develop understandings about text. They learn to focus more effectively, attending to what is relevant at the time in order to get the message. Teachers provide specific instruction to help them to draw on what they know and can do.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.128.[abridged]

Predicting

Predicting is a strategy that readers use not only to identify words but also to anticipate what might come next. It involves forming an expectation on the basis of the information acquired so far, so it is strongly related to meaning and is more than speculation. For fluent readers, predicting involves using prior knowledge and information in the text quickly, and usually automatically, to decide (at least initially) on the meaning of unknown words or difficult passages or to anticipate, for example, the next event in a narrative or the next step in an argument. As learners become familiar with patterns of sentences, book language, and basic text structures, they build their ability to use prediction.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.129.[abridged]

Cross-checking, confirming, and self-correcting

The reader needs to cross-check predictions to ensure that they make sense and fit with other information already processed. When children detect or suspect an error, they need to have strategies to fix it. Noticing the problem is the first step; knowing what to do to fix it is the next. Readers cross-check by drawing on their prior knowledge and on the syntactic, semantic, and visual and grapho-phonic information in the text. Cross-checking often involves turning a partially correct response into a correct one. For fluent readers, cross-checking usually involves further searching for information to confirm their initial understanding. In skilled reading, predictions are usually checked swiftly and automatically. As readers progress, they learn that cross-checking, confirming, and self-correcting are among the habits of a good reader and take responsibility for using these strategies.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.130.

What does it look like?

An example of a teacher prompting her students to use processing strategies effectively when reading:

The teacher has kept back two children after a guided reading session.

Teacher Today, when you were reading The Garage Sale you didn’t seem to notice the commas, and I saw you getting into a bit of a muddle on page 10. I want you to read that first sentence on page 10 again, and each time you come to a comma, I want you to pause. Try it now.

(The children read, pausing at the commas.)

Teacher That’s right – when they “tried to put the table in, it didn’t fit.” Remember that commas are there to help you make sense of what you read. They show which words belong together, so you need to notice them when you’re reading. I’ll be listening for how you notice the commas tomorrow!

Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.90.

Hunia, F. (2003) The Garage Sale, Ready to Read, Learning Media.

Selects and uses comprehension strategies with some understanding and confidence

Selects and uses processing strategies and an increasing range of comprehension strategies with some understanding and confidence

What do I need to know?

Comprehension strategies, like the processing strategies, are tools that the reader uses with a purpose in view. Comprehension strategies may be described as:

  • making connections between prior knowledge and the text;
  • forming and testing hypotheses about texts;
  • asking questions;
  • creating mental images, or visualising;
  • inferring;
  • identifying the author’s purpose and point of view;
  • identifying and summarising main ideas;
  • analysing and synthesising ideas and information;
  • evaluating ideas and information.

Like the strategies for processing text, comprehension strategies are not discrete processes to be used one at a time.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.40.

Students need to develop strategies that they can use deliberately and purposefully to enhance their understanding of text and develop their critical awareness.

While it is useful to consider comprehension strategies individually, readers do not use them separately but in complex combinations, which become increasingly complex as readers progress. Text activities based on shared goals enable students to acquire and practise these strategies. Goals for this purpose could include:

  • identifying the sequence of the facts in a piece;
  • describing the use of a certain kind of language in a text;
  • explaining how parts of a story or procedural text relate to each other;
  • describing how characters develop in a text;
  • identifying the author’s intention;
  • identifying the purpose of the text and its structure or form.

Comprehension strategies

Making connections

Helping students to make connections between what they know and what they are reading improves their comprehension. Teachers can model making such connections, and prompt students to make links with their own knowledge and experience when they are introducing and discussing texts for reading and in writing and oral-language activities. When activating students’ prior knowledge for a particular purpose, teachers can help students to predict, infer, and build their own interpretations as they read.

Comprehension strategies are specific, learned procedures that foster active, competent, self-regulated, and intentional reading.
Trabasso and Bouchard, 2002. p.177.

Forming and testing hypotheses about texts

A hypothesis about a text is an expectation or opinion that the reader forms about the text before reading it. The reader then tests and revises this as they encounter and act upon new information. Hypotheses are formed on the basis of what can be discovered about the text before the content reading begins: this may include the cover, the title, the opening section, and the illustrations, and it also includes what the reader brings to the text. Depending on the goal for the task, a hypothesis may relate to the plot or character development (in a narrative) or to the conclusion of an argument. The hypothesis often takes the form of a question. The teacher can usefully model hypothesising when introducing a text and can encourage the students to seek and give feedback about their own hypotheses.

Asking questions

As in any activity, formulating questions should be directed towards a goal or intended outcome. In comprehension development, questioning helps to reinforce the habit of reading for a purpose. The teacher needs to help the students to formulate appropriate questions, for example, by modelling such questions during shared reading or writing. Asking questions helps readers to engage with the ideas in the text and with the author and gives focus to the reading task. After their reading, it’s useful to help the students to evaluate the effectiveness of the questions they posed for themselves and to give them feedback for further learning.

Creating mental images or visualising

The ability to visualise or picture what is happening within a text draws readers into the text and helps them to achieve greater understanding. Studies have indicated that creating an image in the memory helps the reader to retain what is read and use it later on.
 Readers experiencing difficulties often need help with creating mental images and may not realise how this can help their comprehension. Asking questions such as ”What picture do you see in your head?” and sharing responses will support students. It sometimes helps to have students make a sketch. 

Inferring

Inferring means using content in a text, together with existing knowledge, to come to a personal conclusion about something that is not stated explicitly in the text. When the author provides clues but not all the information, we read “between the lines” to make predictions, revise these, understand underlying themes, hypothesise, make critical judgments, and draw conclusions. Inferring involves synthesising information, sometimes quite simply and sometimes at complex levels.
Teachers can help students to make inferences by asking inferential questions during shared reading or during discussion in guided reading. Or teachers may pause when reading a text with students, to draw out clues from the text and prompt the students to make connections between different parts of the text in order to reach a conclusion. 

Engaging learners with texts

Identifying the author’s purpose and point of view – it is important for readers to recognise that behind every text is an author, that the author has a reason for writing, and that the reader has a reason for reading.

The purpose of the author may be to:

  • provide or obtain information;
  • share the excitement of an event;
  • persuade or influence;
  • create or enter a personal world;
  • stimulate the imagination;
  • convey important cultural stories or myths;
  • express or appreciate a point of view.

By supporting students in discussing the purpose and point of view of a text, teachers can help them to recognise that writers bring their own experiences and concerns to their writing. Such activities contribute richly to students’ awareness of the functions of texts and of how authors position readers; they also help students to build the habit of responding thoughtfully to what they read. Students then carry their new awareness to their own writing and learn to plan and articulate their specific purposes for writing as they consider purpose and point of view.

Identifying and summarising main ideas

Identifying and summarising main ideas can help students build knowledge and awareness of how texts are structured and how ideas within a text are related. Identifying the main idea or ideas in a text can present a challenge for readers. Not every text provides a neat hierarchy or clear sequence of ideas. To identify a text’s most significant points, students often need to retrieve information and summarise it. They may also need to use other strategies, such as inferring the text’s purpose. Teachers can show students how to identify and clarify the main points in a text by modelling how to formulate questions – for example, during in-depth discussion of a text in guided reading or when helping students to form intentions in their writing. 

Analysing and synthesising

When students take apart a text they have read, examine it from their own viewpoint, and put it back together again, they make it their own. This helps them to remember what they have read and transfer what they have learned. They may feel empathy towards a character, be excited by events or information, or enjoy the style of the writing. They integrate or synthesise their newly acquired understandings and attitudes with their existing view of the world to make a new and slightly different world picture. The ways in which a reader analyses and interprets text and synthesises ideas are affected by that reader’s prior knowledge, experiences, and cultural values. 

Evaluating ideas and information

Good readers make a personal, informed response to a text. They not only understand the information in the text but can also generalise from it and make judgments about it in the light of what they already know. They examine and evaluate the ideas in the text and may consequently go on to confirm, extend, or change their personal views; or they may disagree with the content of a text or find an argument unconvincing.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. pp.131–134.

What does it look like?

An example of a teacher encouraging her students to make meaning by inferring and visualising when reading

I was discussing Swallowed by the Sea with a group of students. We had read and discussed it for meaning the previous day – now we were reading and discussing it for the impact of its language. I wanted to link it closely to the students’ own pieces of mood writing. I posed the question: “How does the author convey the atmosphere of the storm to the reader?”

Teacher Read the first section of the story again, to see if you can create an image of the storm in your mind. What does the storm look and sound like?

Andrew (after reading) I think it’s really rough and nasty and cold.

Teacher I agree. Let’s see if we can all work out why Andrew thinks this. What clues does the author give us?

Amanda She uses strong words in the paragraph – like “creaks” and “slap” and “pelting”. They’re exactly the sounds I can hear when I’m snuggled up in my bed, listening to the wind and rain outside.

Teacher Good. Just like the main character in this story lies snuggled up in her bed. I’m pleased you’ve picked up on strong verbs because we’ve noticed them in other stories, haven’t we?

Andrew I think the author is conveying the atmosphere earlier than that. I think the first clue is when it says that the girl’s breath makes a ghost on the window. I get a really cold picture in my mind from that.

Teacher What gives you that?

Andrew Because ghosts are all white and that makes me think of freezing cold.

Teacher I can see some strong clues in the second paragraph as well. I can feel the wind really strongly in that paragraph. What part do you think gives me this feeling?

Hana The house is being sucked up and spat out.

Teacher You’re right. But what picture does that sentence create?

Hana The wind is so strong that it can suck up something as big as a house.

Amanda And it spits it out, just like really heavy rain spits out water all over the place.

Teacher Great. I hope you’re picking up lots of ideas for your own writing.

Teacher, year 4 class
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 14, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.134.

The following resources have all been developed to help teachers assist their students to use a range of comprehension strategies when reading:

  • ARB: Rock Doc (ARB username and password required to view this resource)
    The purpose of this task is to find information and make inferences.
  • ARB: Comic Strip (ARB username and password required to view this resource)
    The purpose of this task is to read the comic strip and answer questions. 
  • School Journal: Celebrating Matariki
    To support the students in developing the comprehension strategy of identifying and summarising main ideas.
  • School Journal: A Very Special Frog
    To support the students in developing the comprehension strategies of analysing and synthesising, identifying and summarising main ideas, and asking questions.
  • Building Reading Comprehension Through Think-Alouds
    The think-aloud is a technique in which students verbalise their thoughts as they read and thus bring into the open the strategies they are using to understand a text.

Thinks critically about texts with some confidence

What do I need to know?

Thinking critically

Becoming literate involves reading and writing beyond a literal, factual level. It involves analysing meanings, responding critically to text when reading, and being critically aware when composing texts. It also involves responding to texts at a personal level, reflecting on them, and finding reward in being a reader and a writer.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p. 24.

What does it look like?

An example of a teacher encouraging her students to think critically through reading

With a group of six children, I read Island to Island as a shared text. I wanted the children to think more deeply about their responses to text, and so the focus was higher-order thinking – hypothesising, inferring, synthesising, evaluating. I posed this question: “What are the good points and bad points about travelling to school by bus and boat?” After initially thinking this would be a fun thing to do, the children engaged in a focused discussion about some of the possible issues. The children set and maintained the initiative in the following discussion.

Emeli What would happen if James was sick at school and wanted to go home?

Tayla His dad might have to take the boat all the way around the other island. You couldn’t just sail over unless you had a car somewhere on the other side.

Grayson You couldn’t be late in the morning. The bus has to go a long way. It’s much too far to walk. If your dad dropped you off in the boat and thought the bus was coming but it had gone, you’d have to wait all day. I can’t see any other cars or buses or houses or people by the wharf.

Jack What if a storm came and the dad couldn’t get the boat across the channel – where would James go then?

Emma He might be able to go to those people where he waits each day, but what if they were away?

Emeli You couldn’t take other kids home to play or go to other kids’ houses after school. It might be lonely.

Tayla And you couldn’t ring your mum if you forgot your lunch or your gym money – because they couldn’t come.

Grayson It would be good if they had a special machine that could go in the sea and on the road too. One that had wheels that would come down out of the water – then the dad could come any time.

Jack We could design one!

Teacher What an interesting idea! You could do this as a language response. You could sketch one and describe to the class how it would work.

Teacher, years 1 to 2.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p. 135.

The following resources have all been developed to help teachers assist their students to think critically when reading:

Monitors, self-evaluates, and describes progress with some confidence

What do I need to know?

While building and drawing upon their knowledge of the learner, teachers can also encourage students to monitor their own reading, for example, by noting or marking a word or a part of the text that they found difficult. Encouraging discussion during guided reading about what the students did as they were reading helps the teacher to monitor and build students' metacogntion and awareness. Students can be helped to set goals and monitor their own progress. Teachers should establish the expectation that this is part of becoming an effective reader and writer.
Guided Reading: Years 1 to 4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2002, p.23.

What does it look like?

An example of a student monitoring their ability to make meaning clear for their reader

Teacher-student conversations

As they finished writing, Liam checked in with his teacher. After this conference, Liam edited his work and added some punctuation before publishing it.

Teacher: You have a great set of reasons for cooking. Which one do you think is the most important?

Liam: I know how to stay safe ... I won't get hurt. Oh, I forgot to tell about reading recipes!

Teacher: I like the way you've left a space before ending with that last sentence.

Liam: It made me cross. I wanted that bit to stick out. You know we can read recipes.

The New Zealand Curriculum Exemplars – English – Written Language – Level 2 – Argument: Six Year Olds Can Cook

Examples from the New Zealand Curriculum Exemplars (Visual Language) of students monitoring (with teacher assistance) their abiility to make meaning clear for their audience:

Presenting: Static Images Paw Thing
Teacher/student conversations.

Presenting: Static Images Plip Plop
Teacher/student conversations.

Presenting: Moving Images - Spring
Teacher/student conversations.

Presenting: Moving Images - Trees
Teacher/student conversations.

By using these processes and strategies when listening, reading, or viewing, students will:

Purposes and audiences

Show some understanding of how texts are shaped for different purposes and audiences

What do I need to know?

Knowledge of how texts work

When children have frequent experiences of reading and writing, they begin to realise that there is a relationship between what they hear and the written text they create or read. Through listening to and talking about stories or through creating them, children learn the importance of sounds, of particular words, and of the flow and rhythm of language and story structure. They learn that words and the ways people say them can evoke an emotional response. They learn that texts can delight and inform and that it is worthwhile to listen to, to read, to view, and to create them.

Children learn that:

  • texts have meaning and purpose;
  • texts have a particular structure, according to their purpose;
  • print is a written form of spoken language;
  • the conventions of print are consistent.

This knowledge enables children to develop certain expectations and to make predictions about the form and structure of the text that they are going to read or write. Their knowledge of the purposes and structures of texts increases as they progress, enabling them to develop an analytical and thoughtful perspective as readers and writers.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. pp.27–28.

What does it look like?

Students using text shape to make meaning

I chose The Praying Mantis for guided reading with a group of early readers to introduce non-fiction and to look at aspects of visual language. The students were fascinated by the photos, especially those on pages 6 and 7, and we had a lively discussion about the physical features of the praying mantis and its eating habits. The students enjoyed the "buzzz" flowing across pages 4 and 5 and enthusiastically read the "POW"! and page 6. They were very interested in the diagram on the inside back cover and were keen to have a go at drawing their own. I was pleased that Josh asked about the blue mark on the insect's leg (the "eye spot" on page 4) as he is often very quiet in the group. I'll build on the interest he showed in this book.
Guided Reading: Years 1 to 4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2002, p.36.

Indicators

Recognises how texts are constructed for different purposes, audiences, and situations

What do I need to know?

When we "close read" or view any visual language text, we consider the purpose, the audience, and the topic similarly to the way we do this when we read written text or listen to oral text.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996. p.181.

Writers have a range of choices they can make about the way they organise the text, develop the topic or theme, use particular grammatical structures, and choose vocabulary. All these decisions influence how a message is read by the reader.

Texts are structured in different ways to achieve their purpose. The purpose of a recount is to tell about a past experience – to tell the reader what happened. The purpose of an argument on the other hand, is to persuade the reader to agree with a point of view.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996. pp.156–157. [abridged]

Whether we listen and speak, read and write, or view and present, we participate in a very similar communication process.

When we receive communication, we (the audience) receive (medium) something (meaning or message) for reasons (purpose) by some means (mode of transmission, or form).

When we communicate, we (the originator) convey (medium) something (meaning or message) for someone (audience) for our reasons (purpose) by some means (mode of transmission, or form).
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996. p.181.

What does it look like?

The following links illustrate how students can be encouraged to consider how texts are constructed for different purposes, audiences, and situations.

  • Features of Text Forms
    Teaching about text forms can help students understand how text is structured and why. We need to be careful, however, to be flexible about the features in a text form. Authentic text forms are often mixed. Text forms evolve and change.
  • ARB: Personal Experience Speech (ARB username and password required to view this resource)
    The task is to give a prepared speech to a group of 4-5 students about a personal experience.

Understands that texts are created from a particular point of view

What do I need to know?

Identifying the author’s purpose and point of view

It is important for readers to recognise that behind every text is an author, that the author has a reason for writing, and that the reader has a reason for reading.

The purpose of the author may be to:

  • provide or obtain information;
  • share the excitement of an event;
  • persuade or influence;
  • create or enter a personal world;
  • stimulate the imagination;
  • convey important cultural stories or myths;
  • express or appreciate a point of view.

By supporting students in discussing the purpose and point of view of a text, teachers can help them to recognise that writers bring their own experiences and concerns to their writing. Such activities contribute richly to students’ awareness of the functions of texts and of how authors position readers; they also help students to build the habit of responding thoughtfully to what they read. Students then carry their new awareness to their own writing and learn to plan and articulate their specific purposes for writing as they consider purpose and point of view.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.133.

Evaluates the reliability and usefulness of texts with some confidence

What do I need to know?

Evaluating ideas and information

Good readers make a personal, informed response to a text. They not only understand the information in the text but can also generalise from it and make judgments about it in the light of what they already know. They examine and evaluate the ideas in the text and may consequently go on to confirm, extend, or change their personal views; or they may disagree with the content of a text or find an argument unconvincing.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.134.

The range of material that can be accessed and composed through electronic media, especially the Internet, makes it increasingly important for students to be able to make informed judgments about the electronic texts they use. For writers using multimedia modes, the range of choices for presenting texts is enormous; writers need an understanding of how different modes affect readers. The forms and content of the mass media, including television, music, film, images, signs, and sculptures, also influence students’ literacy development. Students need to become discerning users of language in many forms.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.115.

What does it look like?

The following links illustrate teachers and students evaluating the reliability of texts.

  • ESOL Online: Trash and Treasure
    Teacher asks a question and the students sort the articles into two groups according to whether they are relevant to the question (treasure) or not (trash).
  • Fact, Fiction, or Opinion? Evaluating Online Information
    The Internet is a rich source of information – and a prolific dispenser of misinformation. Help your students learn to tell the difference! Included: Links to site-evaluation tools.
  • The Journal's Century
    This resource supports students in developing the comprehension strategies of making connections, asking questions, and evaluating ideas and information.

Ideas

  • Show some understanding of ideas within, across, and beyond texts.

Indicators

Uses their personal experience and world and literacy knowledge to make meaning from texts

What do I need to know?

Learners need a continually increasing body of knowledge as they acquire literacy. This knowledge is of two kinds:

  • background knowledge and experience – life experiences and general knowledge
  • knowledge about reading and writing, how texts work, and how print works.

Learners need a repertoire of strategies for literacy. Readers and writers use various strategies in combination with their knowledge in order to decode and encode, make meaning, and think critically. For example, they use processing strategies, comprehension strategies, and the strategies that are part of the writing process.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.26. [abridged]

Successful readers and writers do much more than process information. They bring their experience and existing knowledge, accumulated both in and out of school, to their reading and writing in order to construct meaning and develop new understandings.

Children’s knowledge is built within social and cultural settings, and there are socially determined patterns of knowledge. However, each learner’s body of knowledge is unique; there are multiple pathways by which learners become literate.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.27. [abridged]

What readers do

  • Think about what they already know about the content and text form and draw on their own cultural knowledge, their experience of the world, and their knowledge of text forms to make meaning.
  • Focus on an aspect of the text, for example, a structure, word, phrase, event, or idea that they want to know more about and relate this aspect to their prior knowledge.
  • Think about how connecting the aspect of the text to their prior knowledge helps them understand the text better.
    Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.142.

Activate background knowledge and experience

Helping students to make connections to what they know or can do, or to what matters to them, helps to put the text in context, makes reading more relevant, and motivates them to read with greater comprehension and appreciation.
Guided Reading: Years 1 to 4, Ministry of Education, 2002. p.41.

It is sound practice at any time to incorporate into learning activities what is valuable and familiar to the learner. This is particularly the case in using and creating texts, given the positive impact that text-based experiences have on students’ achievement. Teachers need to actively seek ways to incorporate the practices and perspectives of all their students, for example, by selecting texts and writing tasks that reflect all students’ cultural values. NESB students have to learn a whole range of new concepts and skills in English – a far more complex and challenging task than just learning to speak a language. For younger learners, it is critical that first-language maintenance goes on at home and is supported in the school and in the home. Not only will continued development in their first language provide a bridge, allowing cognitive development to continue while English is being learned, but it is also likely to have a significant impact on the NESB student’s self-concept, confidence, and attitude. There are many effective ways for a teacher to make links between the home and school contexts of children’s learning in ways that are visible to and significant for the child. Literacy teaching can be made more effective for Māori and Pasifika children, for example, by incorporating familiar content into classroom practices and building on some of the relevant practices that children bring with them to school.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. pp.116–117.

From their earliest attempts at reading and writing, children develop their literacy-related knowledge. As they begin formal instruction at school, they need to know how texts work. They need to learn that spoken language is made up of sounds and words, to learn the spoken and written forms of the letters of the alphabet, and to understand that these relate to the sounds of spoken language. They also need to know about the visual features of print.

Children learn that:

  • texts have meaning and purpose
  • texts have a particular structure, according to their purpose
  • print is a written form of spoken language
  • the conventions of print are consistent
  • written text is constant.

This knowledge enables children to develop certain expectations and to make predictions about the form and structure of the text that they are going to read or write. Their knowledge of the purposes and structures of texts increases as they progress, enabling them to develop an analytical and thoughtful perspective as readers and writers.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.27.

What does it look like?

Students using their personal, world, and literacy knowledge to make meaning of texts

I was discussing Swallowed by the Sea with a group of students. We had read and discussed it for meaning the previous day – now we were reading and discussing it for the impact of its language. I wanted to link it closely to the students’ own pieces of mood writing. I posed the question: “How does the author convey the atmosphere of the storm to the reader?”

Teacher Read the first section of the story again, to see if you can create an image of the storm in your mind. What does the storm look and sound like?

Andrew (after reading) I think it’s really rough and nasty and cold.

Teacher I agree. Let’s see if we can all work out why Andrew thinks this. What clues does the author give us?

Amanda She uses strong words in the paragraph – like “creaks” and “slap” and “pelting”. They’re exactly the sounds I can hear when I’m snuggled up in my bed, listening to the wind and rain outside.

Teacher Good. Just like the main character in this story lies snuggled up in her bed. I’m pleased you’ve picked up on strong verbs because we’ve noticed them in other stories, haven’t we?

Andrew I think the author is conveying the atmosphere earlier than that. I think the first clue is when it says that the girl’s breath makes a ghost on the window. I get a really cold picture in my mind from that.

Teacher What gives you that?

Andrew Because ghosts are all white and that makes me think of freezing cold.

Teacher I can see some strong clues in the second paragraph as well. I can feel the wind really strongly in that paragraph. What part do you think gives me this feeling?

Hana The house is being sucked up and spat out.

Teacher You’re right. But what picture does that sentence create?

Hana The wind is so strong that it can suck up something as big as a house.

Amanda And it spits it out, just like really heavy rain spits out water all over the place.

Teacher Great. I hope you’re picking up lots of ideas for your own writing.

Teacher, year 4 class
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.134.

Makes meaning of increasingly complex texts by identifying main ideas

What do I need to know?

Identifying main ideas

Identifying main ideas can help students build knowledge and awareness of how texts are structured and how ideas within a text are related. Identifying the main idea or ideas in a text can present a challenge for readers. Not every text provides a neat hierarchy or clear sequence of ideas. To identify a text’s most significant points, students often need to retrieve information and summarise it. They may also need to use other strategies, such as inferring the text’s purpose. Teachers can show students how to identify and clarify the main points in a text by modelling how to formulate questions – for example, during in-depth discussion of a text in guided reading or when helping students to form intentions in their writing.
Adapted from Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.133.

What does it look like?

An example of students identifying main ideas from a text

Too Big went very well with my little group of new entrants. They all understood the child's problem of growing out of clothes. The repetitive sentence structure, regular placement of text, and clear links between pictures and text supported their reading, and high-frequency words were reinforced. They could interpret the feelings of the characters, both from text and illustration, and liked the fact that the cat reflected the child's dismay. The warm ending left them feeling happy. Discussion brought out considerable critical thinking, especially about how the problem of being too big might be solved. They enjoyed writing their own "I am too big for..." story.
Guided Reading years 1–4, Ministry of Education, 2003. p.30.

The following texts and units are all useful for getting students to practise identifying the main idea in texts:

  • School Journal: "Family Treasures"
    To support the students in developing the comprehension strategies of making connections, identifying the main idea, and inferring.
  • " Happy Birthday School!": School Journal
    To support the students in developing the comprehension strategies of identifying the main idea, analysing and synthesising, or making connections.
  • A Quilt for Kiri: Ready to Read (Purple)
    This personal experience writing offers children opportunities to talk about their own memories and experiences of relatives who have died. It supports the comprehension strategies of identifying main ideas, inferring, and making connections.
  • Skate Champs: Ready to Read (Purple)
    This text supports the comprehension strategies of making connections, summarising, identifying main ideas, and analysing and synthesising (the writing style). It provides many opportunities for exploring vocabulary.
  • Sun Bears Are Special: Ready to Read (Gold)
    This text supports the comprehension strategies of forming hypotheses, asking questions, visualising, and identifying and summarising main ideas.

Makes and supports inferences from texts with some independence

What do I need to know?

Inferring

Inferring means using content in a text, together with existing knowledge, to come to a personal conclusion about something that is not stated explicitly in the text. When the author provides clues but not all the information, we read “between the lines” to make predictions, revise these, understand underlying themes, hypothesise, make critical judgments, and draw conclusions. Inferring involves synthesising information, sometimes quite simply and sometimes at complex levels.

Teachers can help students to make inferences by asking inferential questions during shared reading or during discussion in guided reading. Or teachers may pause, when reading a text with students, to draw out clues from the text and prompt the students to make connections between different parts of the text in order to reach a conclusion.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.132.

What does it look like?

An example of students making inferences about characterisation from texts

My group of year 3 and 4 students had already enjoyed reading "Just to be Safe" in an earlier guided reading session, when we'd been looking at contractions like let's, I'll and aren't. I thought this story would be worth re-visiting because it provides an excellent model of how character (and the relationships between characters) can be developed through dialogue. The children had been writing simple descriptions of people they know, choosing appropriate adjectives, and I wanted to move them on to writing to convey character using dialogue.

I began by asking the group what they remembered about the story and also what they did with their own grandparents (all these children were in touch with at least one). We talked about their grandparents and what they were like. I asked the children to read the story through again and find places in the text that showed what kinds of people Kate and her grandma were.

After their reading, the children were eager to feed back. They quoted Grandma's dialogue that showed: "She was careful"; "She liked to be safe"; "She was scared of spiders!". One child (Ying Li) talked about what Grandma did rather than what she said - "She was kind to Kate, she pushed her on the swing". We talked about Kate next. "She wanted to have a go at everything," said Matt. "She says, 'Let's do this, let's do that'." We talked about the reversal at the end, where Kate (not Grandma) says, "...just to be safe", and how it adds to the story.
Guided Reading: Years 1 to 4, Ministry of Education, 2002. p.32.

The following texts and units require students to make inferences from texts:

  • School Journal: "Rising Tides"
    To support the students in developing the comprehension strategies of making connections, inferring, identifying the author's purpose, analysing and synthesising, or visualising.
  • School Journal: "Hilda Crosses the Road"
    To support the students in developing the comprehension strategies of inferring, forming and testing hypotheses, asking questions, and analysing and synthesising.
  • School Journal: "Make up Your Mind!"
    To support the students in developing the comprehension strategies of inferring and forming and testing hypotheses.
  • ARB: Cartoon (ARB username and password required to view this resource)
    Finding inferences in a cartoon comic strip.

Language features

Shows some understanding of how language features are used for effect

What do I need to know?

To meet their instructional objectives and provide their students with varied, interesting, and enjoyable reading and writing experiences, teachers need a detailed knowledge of the forms and features of texts. With such knowledge, they can plan activities through which the students learn and practise decoding and encoding, making meaning, and thinking critically.

Teachers who are familiar with the features of texts for reading, and with their potential for use in many contexts and for many purposes, can use texts to maximum effect.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.121.

As students learn to recognise various visual-language features of texts, they can apply this knowledge to constructing meaning in their reading and conveying meaning in their writing. Students need to know about:

  • the effects of the layout of words, pictures, and captions
  • the way pictures can confirm or convey information
  • the meaning of signs and symbols, such as road signs and logos
  • the significance of the icons on a computer screen
  • the meaning of keyboard symbols, such as arrows.

Electronic forms of text have particular visual-language features. When we read or write electronic forms of text, we draw on our prior knowledge and on the same sources of information as in printed text: syntax, semantics, and grapho-phonic and visual information. However, some conventions and text features are specific to electronic presentation, especially menus, icons, visual symbols, and complex ways of integrating graphics and text. Students need guidance in how to navigate electronic text, just as they do for finding their way through tables of contents, indexes, and other print features when reading or for using them in writing.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.34.

What does it look like?

The following are examples of language features from the text Mum's Octopus by Don Long, Ready to Read series.

A well-constructed narrative that provides a model of the story form and is well paced to hold attention, with moments of drama, such as:

  •  the octopus fastening onto Mum’s arm
  • the interchange before they release the octopus.

The humour and irony, for example:

  • on page 5, “Don’t let go” when the octopus had a firm hold of Mum
  • on page 9, “Who caught it?” when it had, in fact, caught Mum.

Rich variety in vocabulary, sentence structure, and use of language:

  • challenges such as “octopus” and “tentacles”
  • colloquial language, for example, “a good feed”
  • descriptive verbs; irregular verbs; doubling of consonants for past tense
  • contractions.

Effective use of dialogue to carry the action forward and to convey point of view or emotion.
Adapted from Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.122.

Indicators

Recognises that oral, written, and visual language features can be used for effect

What do I need to know?

When children have frequent experiences of reading and writing, they begin to realise that there is a relationship between what they hear and the written text they create or read. Through listening to and talking about stories or through creating them, children learn the importance of sounds, of particular words, and of the flow and rhythm of language and story structure. They learn that words and the ways people say them can evoke an emotional response. They learn that texts can delight and inform and that it is worthwhile to listen to, to read, to view, and to create them.

This knowledge enables children to develop certain expectations and to make predictions about the form and structure of the text that they are going to read or write. Their knowledge of the purposes and structures of texts increases as they progress, enabling them to develop an analytical and thoughtful perspective as readers and writers.

Children learn that:

  • texts have meaning and purpose
  • texts have a particular structure, according to their purpose
  • print is a written form of spoken language
  • the conventions of print are consistent
  • written text is constant.

Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003, pp.27–28.

What does it look like?

The following case study illustrates a group of students identifying and exploring oral and written language features to make meaning of a text:

I was discussing Swallowed by the Sea with a group of students. We had read and discussed it for meaning the previous day – now we were reading and discussing it for the impact of its language. I wanted to link it closely to the students’ own pieces of mood writing. I posed the question: “How does the author convey the atmosphere of the storm to the reader?”

Teacher Read the first section of the story again, to see if you can create an image of the storm in your mind. What does the storm look and sound like?

Andrew (after reading) I think it’s really rough and nasty and cold.

Teacher I agree. Let’s see if we can all work out why Andrew thinks this. What clues does the author give us?

Amanda She uses strong words in the paragraph – like “creaks” and “slap” and “pelting”. They’re exactly the sounds I can hear when I’m snuggled up in my bed, listening to the wind and rain outside.

Teacher Good. Just like the main character in this story lies snuggled up in her bed. I’m pleased you’ve picked up on strong verbs because we’ve noticed them in other stories, haven’t we?

Andrew I think the author is conveying the atmosphere earlier than that. I think the first clue is when it says that the girl’s breath makes a ghost on the window. I get a really cold picture in my mind from that.

Teacher What gives you that?

Andrew Because ghosts are all white and that makes me think of freezing cold.

Teacher I can see some strong clues in the second paragraph as well. I can feel the wind really strongly in that paragraph. What part do you think gives me this feeling?

Hana “The house is being sucked up and spat out.”

Teacher You’re right. But what picture does that sentence create?

Hana The wind is so strong that it can suck up something as big as a house.

Amanda And it spits it out, just like really heavy rain spits out water all over the place.

Teacher Great. I hope you’re picking up lots of ideas for your own writing. 

Swallowed by the Sea by A. Jackson.
Teacher, year 4 class.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education,2003. p.134.

The following units require students to explore how oral, written, and visual language features can be used for effect. The visual language exemplars illustrate students recognising how visual and verbal language features can convey ideas.

  • Exemplar: Paw Thing
    The student is able to comment on how the visual and verbal features contribute to the impact of her image.
  • Exemplar: Plip Plop
    The student uses verbal and visual features to convey an idea.
  • Exemplar: Spring
    In this work the students demonstrate a level of planning, combining visual and verbal elements.

Uses high-frequency, topic-specific, and personal-content words to make meaning

What do I need to know?

Students need to become increasingly fast, automatic decoders of unfamiliar words. In reading, efficient decoding is not an end in itself; it is a means to constructing meaning. Rapid, accurate word recognition frees up the reader’s cognitive resources to focus on meaning – not only on surface meanings but also on the deeper messages of a text. The reader then approaches the reading task in a more thoughtful and analytical way and can be encouraged to make their own personal response to the text. As learners spend more time reading, they encounter commonly used words more often, and these words become familiar to them. Increasingly rapid word recognition has a direct and cumulative effect on a learner’s progress. Effective teachers, therefore, provide many, many opportunities for their students to read and write.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.37.

Skilled readers can recognise a large number of words as well as the phrases and patterns in which they occur frequently. As Marie Clay points out, “a child [has] to gradually accumulate a reading vocabulary of known words which [he or she] can recognise rapidly and does not have to work out. Only as this happens is the reader’s attention freed to work out new words and solve text problems.” (Clay, M.M. Becoming Literate. Heinemann, Auckland. 1991).
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.42–43.

What does it look like?

What level 2 students can be expected to demonstrate as spellers:

Shows knowledge of consonant and vowel sounds and blends. Shows some knowledge of common spelling patterns and can transfer these between words. Spells most high-frequency words correctly (Spell-Write lists 1–4).

Shows an increasing knowledge of the conventions of text

What do I need to know?

The term "convention" is used where there is a generally accepted usage or practice. The conventions of written English include such aspects as punctuation, the layout of a letter or a curriculum vitae, the format of a book. In oral language, there are conventions for formal debates or sermons or speeches of welcome. Children need to learn the conventions of their language - when it is appropriate or inappropriate to use certain words, how to use politeness forms, and so on. The rules of a language are highly resistant to change over time, but conventions can and do change, both over time and from one audience to another.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education,2003. p.28.

Emergent readers and writers of English texts need to acquire a knowledge of the essential conventions of print (that is, the conventions of written text).

They learn that:

  • print contains a message
  • text is written and read from left to right with a return sweep to the left for the next line
  • there is a one-to-one match between each spoken and written word
  • sentences start with capital letters and end with full stops
  • print on the left-hand page is read before that on the right-hand page
  • the print on a book’s cover and title page gives the title and other details, and the cover picture generally suggests what the book is about
  • illustrations convey meaning and relate to the text on the page.
    Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education,2003. p.33.

Different [visual language] genres are not fixed or discrete categories. Rather, what distinguishes them from each other is the distinctive pattern of what we call conventions. Conventions can be based on what is presented, drawing on the agreed expectations that have already been established within a certain genre. For example, if you open a kitchen drawer, you expect to find kitchen utensils, not underwear. Breaking the expected conventions creates surprise and humour or shock. Monty Python's The Holy Grail is based on the well-known search by King Arthur. If a strange creature were to appear, we would expect a dragon or a knight with the strength of ten men, but not a killer rabbit. The arrival of a vicious rabbit instead breaks the expected conventions of the historical film genre and creates the humour. Other conventions are based on how something is presented. Such conventions influence our expectations, how we interpret what we view and read, and what we and our students in turn recreate and present. For example, in a mime or drama, the performer is able to suggest, and we are able to understand, that he or she has come to a wall or is eating or drinking, even though there is no wall or food, knife and fork, or glass. We know this because of our knowledge and understanding of the conventions of mime, which enable us to read, make, and share meaning. We explore, read, and interpret visual language in terms of our understanding of conventions.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.177.

What does it look like?

The following example demonstrates a teacher encouraging students to attend to text conventions.

The teacher has kept back two children after a guided reading session.

Teacher Today, when you were reading The Garage Sale you didn’t seem to notice the commas, and I saw you getting into a bit of a muddle on page 10. I want you to read that first sentence on page 10 again, and each time you come to a comma, I want you to pause. Try it now.

(The children read, pausing at the commas.)

Teacher That’s right – when they “tried to put the table in, it didn’t fit.” Remember that commas are there to help you make sense of what you read. They show which words belong together, so you need to notice them when you’re reading. I’ll be listening for how you notice the commas tomorrow!

Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.90.

Recognises that authors have different voices

What do I need to know?

Voice refers to those aspects of a piece of writing that give it a personal flavour. It is a term coined by Donald Graves. A definition such as "personal style' nearly suffices, but the "voice" also reflects the personal confidence of the writer. It may have less stability and consistency than style, and be relevant to a particular event - "voice" is often modified by the chosen genre, fashions, and the prevailing media. Above all it expresses the writer's confidence of expression.
Dancing with the Pen. NZ Ministry of Education, 1992. p.129.

What does it look like?

The following examples show students demonstrating a strong personal voice in their writing.

Recognises that authors have different styles

What do I need to know?

Style represents the particular ways in which things are spoken or written, and by which, through consistent use, unique characteristics of expression can be identified. From a more individual aspect, style may be reflected in the way writing often evokes a feeling in the reader that the author has striven for the most effective way to express personal thoughts and emotions in order to suit a particular purpose. A distinctive style may be emulated by others. When the qualities that characterise an individual's writing are discerned as being similar to those shown by another recognised writer, the characteristics are referred to as a "style", for example, a rhetorical style.
Dancing with the Pen. NZ Ministry of Education, 1992. p.129.

Knowledge of appropriate formal/informal styles of language is an important social skill and one that teachers can help develop. The most formal style will be the most foreign to many students and will require modelling. The most formal style is also the language of academic writing; as students progress through the school, they will need to understand and use this style.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996, p.17.

What does it look like?

Formal/informal style is the term given to variation in formality of speech and writing. There is a continuum from the most formal to the most informal. Father was fatigued. Dad was shattered. The old man was stuffed. The three sentences above have similar meaning; they differ in the degree of formality of style. The first is written in a very formal style; the second and third are increasingly informal. All three examples above are written in standard English. Slang is not the same as vernacular English. It is language in a very informal style of English. I seen the old man was stuffed. This sentence is written in a very informal style (slang), and it is in the vernacular.
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996, p.17.

Structure

Show some understanding of text structures

What do I need to know?

Structure

Structure is the sequence and flow of ideas within a piece of text. It allows the reader to understand the connections between different ideas.
New Zealand Curriculum Exemplars: English. NZ Ministry of Education, 2003. p.7.

Structure/Organisation

This dimension of text refers to the ordering or organisation that a writer demonstrates in their text. The focus here is on the management of text through sequencing and linking of ideas. There are two main ways in which organisation is seen to operate. There is the “global” organisation of the text, dealing with sequence from start to finish. This kind of paragraphing may be a tool used by a writer to group ideas and between paragraph links. Another way in which text may be organised is through the linking of ideas within and across sentences (by using conjunctions, adverbials, and adjectivals). This may be particularly useful in texts where the job of the writer is to explain. In such texts, cause and effect sequences need to be made explicit.
asTTleV4 Manual, Writing/Tuhituhi, p.4.

What does it look like?

The following resources require students to explore text structures, particularly at the sentence level:

ARB: Thinking about how language works
Provides information about sentence structure and words used to link ideas within and between sentences.

Exploring Language: Words and Meaning
This, and the subsequent links, provide information on word-level meaning.

Exploring Language: Making sentences more complex
This resource provides information on using conjunctions to construct compound and complex sentences and subordinate clauses.

Indicators

Knows that the order of words, sentences, paragraphs, and images contributes to meaning

What do I need to know?

Writers have a range of choices they can make about the way they organise the text, develop the topic or theme, use particular grammatical structures, and choose the vocabulary. All these decisions influence how the message is read by the reader. For example, in reading about grammar teaching in New Zealand schools, readers would have very different expectations of texts that began:

"Once upon a time ..."

and

"A return to teaching formal grammar in New Zealand classrooms is long overdue ..."

Readers would expect the first beginning to lead into an anecdote or narrative of some sort, whereas the second is likely to set out an argument. Readers would anticipate quite different structures in the texts, depending upon the writers' intentions.

Texts are structured in different ways to achieve their purposes. The purpose of a recount is to tell about a past experience – to tell the reader what happened. The focus is on a sequence of episodes, all usually related to one particular event. The time sequence of the episodes structures the text. A recount usually begins with an orientation, giving the reader sufficient background information to understand the text. The reader is told who is involved and where and when the event took place. A series of episodes unfolding in a chronological sequence then follows. Linguistically, this type of text can be identified by the use of verbs that describe actions or events and sentences that are joined by connectives such as "after", "then", "next", and "that".

The purpose of an argument, on the other hand, is to persuade the reader to agree with a point of view. Arguments often begin with a statement of position and some background information about the issue. There is usually a logical sequence to an argument, with points being raised and supported by evidence and finishing with a summing up of the position. The resulting text can often be linguistically identified by the use of emotive words, verbs in the timeless present tense, and connectives associated with reason such as "so", "because of", "first", "therefore".
Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996, pp.156–157.

What does it look like?

The structure of texts is so much part of the whole that it usually goes unnoticed by the reader. Sometimes this inherent internal structure is referred to as "global coherence", and it is only when it breaks down, or changes in some way, that we become aware of the structure itself. In the following extract from Julius: the Baby of the World, by Kevin Henkes, the language patterns change when Lilly tells her story to the baby.

One morning, while Lilly was busy playing opera, her mother said, "Why don't you put some of that verbal exuberance to good use? Why don't you tell Julius a nice story?"

"He's too little to understand a story," said Lilly.

"He can understand it in his own way," said Lilly's mother.

"Okay," said Lilly, smiling.

 "JULIUS, THE GERM OF THE WORLD. BY ME," said Lilly.

"Once upon a time," said Lilly, "there was a baby.

 His name was Julius.

Julius was really a germ.

Julius was like dust under your bed.

If he was a number, he would be zero.

If he was a food, he would be a raisin.

Zero is nothing.

A raisin tastes like dirt.

The End," said Lilly.

The story earned her ten minutes in the uncooperative chair.

The author changes the physical layout of the text at the same time as it changes from conversation into the narrative tale. Repetition of sentence beginnings is used, along with more emphatic statements and simplified vocabulary. These changes help make Lilly's story stand out from the rest of the text.

Exploring Language, NZ Ministry of Education, 1996. pp.157–158.

Recognises an increasing range of text forms and differences between them

What do I need to know?

Readers and writers need to know that there are different text forms and that these are generally characterised by a particular structure and certain other features. Forms such as stories, recounts, reports, procedures, arguments, explanations, varieties of poetry, and plays all have characteristic structures and features that are linked to their different purposes. Students need to know about the structures and features associated with each of these text forms.

The characteristic features of any text form (which can be used to identify the form of a text) are likely to include specific structural and language features and may include specific kinds of content, vocabulary, and/or surface features.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5–8, NZ Ministry of Education, 2006. p.34.

There are seven major purposes of writing covered by two major functions of writing in the curriculum. The transactional functions of persuade, instruct, describe, analyse, and explain are covered first, followed by the poetic functions of narrate and recount. The purpose-specific key characteristics are broken into two categories; the deep features include audience awareness and purpose, content, structure, and language resources while the surface features include grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
asTTle V4 Manual 1.0, Appendix

What does it look like?

Students using text form to make meaning

I chose The Praying Mantis for guided reading with a group of early readers to introduce non-fiction and to look at aspects of visual language. The students were fascinated by the photos, especially those on pages 6 and 7, and we had a lively discussion about the physical features of the praying mantis and its eating habits. The students enjoyed the "buzzz" flowing across pages 4 and 5 and enthusiastically read the "POW!" on page 6. They were very interested in the diagram on the inside back cover and were keen to have a go at drawing their own. I was pleased that Josh asked about the blue mark on the insect's leg (the "eye spot" on page 4) as he is often very quiet in the group. I'll build on the interest he showed in this book.
Guided Reading Years 1–4, NZ Ministry of Education, 2002. p.36.

Updated on: 12 Oct 2015




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