Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

All My Students Are Reading the Same Book and They're Successful: An Inclusive Teaching Approach

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

All My Students Are Reading the Same Book and They're Successful: An Inclusive Teaching Approach

Article excerpt

Introduction

Catering for diverse groups of literacy learners in a classroom is a daily challenge for teachers. Those students with a learning difficulty may readily be identified, but the dilemma for class teachers is how to plan, program and facilitate learning experiences that allow these students to access, participate in, and be successful in their literacy learning. While teachers may wish to provide withdrawal support for students with literacy learning difficulties, the reality is that most of these students spend much of their school day in the classroom. Additionally, while teachers may see withdrawal as a preferred method of support, some students don't want to participate in these programs. This may be because of actual or perceived peer group pressure with comments made about their low literacy levels, or they may not want to be away from the classroom and miss out on what everyone else is doing. We are reminded that regular, small group instruction with explicit and systematic instruction assists with the development of faster reading gains (Vaughn et al. 2002, Torgesen et al. 2001) and Winebrenner (1996) states that real literature is ideal for reading programs, provided that it is used to teach reading and writing skills.

An action research project

An action research project initiated and managed by the Learning Difficulties Support Team (DETE, South Australia 1999) explored whether a junior primary in-class programming support model proposed by Taylor et al. (1992) might be a literacy intervention that teachers could successfully implement and manage in their classroom. Moving beyond the junior primary years, the team also investigated if the model could be used with older primary and secondary students.

The teachers (Reception--Year 9) who volunteered to be involved in the research project were provided with a grant to purchase resources, have preparation time and fund replacement teachers when they attended professional development sessions. The questions to be explored by the teachers were:

1. How can I use a single text to provide opportunities for inclusive learning?

2. Under what circumstances can I advance the reading skills of the targeted students using a single text for the whole class?

Associate Professor Colin MacMullin (Flinders University) provided information about the principles of action research and teachers were asked to keep a journal that documented their planning, programming and the outcomes of each literacy intervention session. The descriptive notes were to contain the teachers' best efforts to record objectively the details of what had occurred, along with a description of the students, setting, account of events and activities. The reflective notes were for teachers to reflect critically on their teaching methods, to provide impressions and to express feelings and hunches about what they had done and were about to do. Additionally, information was shared about the reading intervention model and suggestions were made about how teachers might plan and organise their research. The benefit, for teachers, of using action research was highlighted by Associate Professor MacMullin who stated that it was:

 
   A systematic process whereby practitioners voluntarily engaged in a spiral 
   of reflection, documentation and action in order to understand more fully 
   the nature and/or consequences of aspects of their practice with a view to 
   shaping further action or changing their situation preferably in 
   collaboration with colleagues. 

With the use of action research the teachers were going to be in a constant spiral of action and reflection where they critically reviewed the outcomes of a day's literacy lesson and subsequent lessons were planned based on this feedback.

The aims of the research were to have teachers provide an inclusive, within-class model for programming that provided an approach that included a small group focus for targeted students. …

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