Supporting Students with Literacy Difficulties: A Responsive Approach

Supporting Students with Literacy Difficulties: A Responsive Approach

Supporting Students with Literacy Difficulties: A Responsive Approach

Supporting Students with Literacy Difficulties: A Responsive Approach


"Arguably the most common sense, and certainly the most informative, contemporary text on literacy... Glynn, Wearmouth and Berryman bring a wealth of experience to the field of literacy, culture and family/school collaboration. We are indebted to the authors for putting together such an informative and groundbreaking text that has overarching relevance in today's multicultural society." Dr Gavin Reid, University of Edinburgh, UK "A much needed text to counter the overly psychological approach to teaching literacy. It emphasizes a socio-cultural approach which puts the focus on the interactive, responsive and social elements of the child learning to read in relation to the world around them." Wally Penetito, Victoria University, New Zealand In many countries, school populations are becoming increasingly socially and culturally diverse, and delivering effective literacy programmes is becoming more challenging and complex. This book shows schools how to address difficulties with literacy learning experienced by students of diverse backgrounds, by employing strategies that respond to and affirm difference. This 'responsive approach' actively engages with students' prior knowledge and experiences and ensures that these are fully validated in the literacy activities of the classroom. The responsive approach includes members of students' homes and communities collaborating to facilitate their participation in defining and delivering literacy programmes. This book illustrates ways in which teachers and other adults can create responsive social contexts at school and at home, to enable all children to participate fully in reading, writing and oral language activities in the classroom. It offers effective strategies for overcoming barriers to literacy learning, including: Reading tutoring that promotes comprehension and independence Writing partnerships that respond to children's messages Responsive feedback strategies Interactive contexts that promote student responsibility for learning Community and school collaboration to develop authentic learning tasks Supporting Students with Literacy Difficulties: A Responsive Approach is key reading for teacher education students, practising teachers and parents.


In this book we examine different ways in which teachers and other adults, at school and at home, have created effective, responsive, social contexts for literacy learning. Within these responsive social contexts, students experiencing learning difficulties have been able to participate more fully in reading, writing and oral language activities. Throughout the book, we strive to assist teachers and schools to engage with children and their families and communities in ways that ensure that literacy tasks and pedagogies employed will affirm the knowledge and experiences within children's homes and cultural backgrounds.

The current chapter presents the framework of sociocultural theory that has guided our understanding of the causes of the difficulties with literacy that many students encounter at school. This chapter also presents the rationale underpinning the various effective teaching programmes and strategies for addressing these difficulties.

Chapter 2 introduces responsive social approaches to classroom teaching generally; Chapters 3 to 6 focus on responsive approaches to oral language, reading, writing and spelling; Chapter 7 focuses on responsive approaches to assessment; while Chapter 8 addresses effective school and community literacy partnerships. Finally, Chapter 9 summarizes the key elements of sociocultural approaches and their particular importance for understanding literacy.

Traditionally, literacy has been understood as a unified individual achievement which paved the way for the development of cognitive and intellectual skills. Prevailing educational practices emphasized the acquisition of basic technical literacy skills as prerequisites to becoming literate. Gregory, Long and Volk (2004) note that literate people were thought to engage in thought independently from the context to which it related, to think logically and in abstract terms, and to see things from variable points of view, and that these outcomes were due to literacy itself.

Sociocultural perspectives, on the other hand, argue that it is not literacy . . .

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