Linking Pedagogy: Scaffolding Literacy and First Steps: Using Linked Planning and Teaching to Improve the Language and Literacy of Students

By Rodrigues, Laurel; Smith, Bec | Practically Primary, February 2014 | Go to article overview

Linking Pedagogy: Scaffolding Literacy and First Steps: Using Linked Planning and Teaching to Improve the Language and Literacy of Students


Rodrigues, Laurel, Smith, Bec, Practically Primary


In this article we show how we have linked Scaffolding Literacy and First Steps in our language and literacy programs. We have a major focus in using linked planning and teaching to improve the language and literacy of our students. Working in different roles as a specialist EAL/D teacher and classroom teacher respectively, we began using Scaffolding Literacy. We became interested in the pedagogy and how we could use it in the classroom to support all students but specifically those who had been identified as requiring explicit teaching in the English language. We also wanted to explore how Scaffolding Literacy could work alongside established Literacy programs in our school. We investigated how Scaffolding Literacy could work with and support our use of First Steps Resources and work within a Balanced Literacy Program.

What we believe

* We believe that for students to become literate we must teach language first.

* We believe that our students need to be taught the language of school and how literacy texts work.

We have found that our students do not all walk into our classrooms with the same level of life experience, background knowledge or understanding of the English language that we would traditionally expect. We realise many of our students do not have a solid understanding of the English language and how it works. We felt that in many ways we needed to get back to basics in order to level the playing field for all students. Not many of our students come to school using Standard Australian English. We believed it was important for language to be a real focus in our programs and that explicit teaching of language was important for all our students, not just our EAL/D students.

After starting to use Scaffolding Literacy we needed to improve our planning to show links to what was being done already in classrooms. We needed to continue to use the common language that our teachers were using but also incorporate the strategies that we were using and having success with. Firstly we examined the Australian Curriculum and made broad curriculum links. We looked explicitly for First Steps links to the Scaffolding sequence. We began to explore the links between First Steps and Scaffolding Literacy to strengthen our planning. Now our planning document shows all links and uses common language for both specialist EAL/D teachers and mainstream classroom teachers who value the pedagogy and wish to use the sequence in their classrooms. By linking Scaffolding Literacy and First Steps we believe we can explicitly teach language and literacy. We know how to use a text to teach vocabulary, reading, writing and spelling in one sequence.

What is Scaffolding Literacy?

Scaffolding Literacy provides a teaching sequence to teach language explicitly. It is a sequence that can teach reading, writing and spelling. Each step in the sequence prepares the children for the next (hence the name scaffolding). The sequence is based on one text, chosen for what it can teach children about reading and writing. The text is revisited in many ways. These include building field knowledge, language orientations, transformations, word study and patterned writing.

Building field knowledge

First Steps Reading link Contextual Understanding

This is a powerful part of the sequence for us. Before we look at any text we make sure our students have the knowledge, experiences and vocabulary to engage with the text. We do lots of activities at this stage, including craft and art activities, cooking and watching film clips. We have drunk from teapots, weaved spider webs and been on picnics.

Author's language   She            stroked

What the language   Tells us who   Tells us what they
does                               did

My sentence         Matthew        ate

You write

Author's language   his                  shiny black coat

What the language   Introduces another   Introduces what that
does                character            character has

My sentence         her                  yummy chocolate cake

You write

Text Orientation

First Steps Reading link Use of Texts

Before we read any text we tell the story orally to our students in our words. …

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