Rich Literacy in the Primary School

Rich Literacy in the Primary School

Thursday, 21 May 2015  | Melissa - Assistant Primary Coordinator & SP Coordinator
According to the ‘’ app on my phone, ‘rich’ means various things, including the obvious ‘great material wealth’ but also, ‘made of or containing valuable materials’ and ‘magnificent and sumptuous’, ‘abundant and productive’ and ‘containing a large amount of choice ingredients’.

It is more these later definitions of ‘rich’ that we refer to when we aim at MECS Primary to provide a rich literacy program for our students.

How do we provide for our students a program full of choice ingredients, that is sumptuous (awesome word!) and abundant and productive?

As with all of his creation, God calls us to ‘discover’ literacy in all its fullness; to explore it and to use it. We naturally encounter and use literacy in almost every moment of our lives – we want our students to be purposeful and explicit in gaining a deeper understanding of what literacy is and how they use it.

So, what is ‘Rich Literacy’? We, as teachers, want to make sure our program is indeed ‘rich’ and that we are achieving what we set out to. It’s a work in progress and, in order to tackle it, we are asking ourselves some questions:
What are all the elements of Literacy? Writing text, reading text, verbal and non verbal communication, visual texts such as illustrations, movies, youtube clips, diagrams and charts, genres of text and more. Are we exposing our students to a wide variety of literacy?

How can we ‘immerse’ our students in rich literacy? What examples of great literacy are we surrounding our students with? Are we giving great examples – giving them inspiration and models to follow?

How can they tell the good stuff from the bad? How do we teach students to evaluate and to be critical – analysing why, or why not, this would be ‘good’ literature, seeing the world views and thoughts forming the literacy?

How do we bring our students into just the right depth? How do we teach our students to go further than just dipping their toe in – gently pushing them deeper in their skill development and understanding of what literacy is and how to create it well? What are the best assessments to use? Does our program allow for each child to work at their optimum level?

How do we show our students Literacy as a whole entity? How can we help them see, and  understand, the interrelatedness of literacy – that reading and writing are the same thing from different ends, that talking and writing, and words and pictures all connect together in our attempts to communicate? Are we showing the relationship between spelling and word history and vocabulary? Is our program too segmented and broken up into isolated skills and components?

How can we help our students learn to negotiate and effectively employ all these elements? What strategies, rules, patterns, skills and insight can we guide them in?

How do we celebrate the complexities of the English language rather than being frightened of them? Are there things that we can teach that help it make more sense?

How can we immerse ourselves into rich literacy? Are we learning more ourselves about literacy as teachers and pushing ourselves to be immersed and experience literacy in new ways? Are we finding excellent resources to enrich our program?

How do we create a program that celebrates the gift of Literacy? Are we ‘playing’ with literacy – having fun and being adventurous, working together, enjoying literacy, revelling in the diversity and beauty of this area of our life?

What about the students who aren’t ‘into Literacy’, or who don’t seem to connect with it? Are we accepting that; or are we instead finding ways that are meaningful for them, that work for them? Is our program diverse and broad? Are we using different teaching and learning methods? Do we limit literacy and the way we present it?

How are we showing our students the power of Literacy? Are they learning about literacy’s power to convince? To create? To comfort, to connect, to destroy, to reflect? To bless, to persecute, to humour, to bring truth, to present lies, to unite, to divide? Are we encouraging our students to see their opportunity for using the power of literacy?

And now, some questions for you as parents:
What does this have to do with you? What are your responsibilities in developing rich literacy for your child? Are you exposing yourself to rich literacy? Do you talk about it?  Are you celebrating literacy in your family? This is a vital part of our curriculum – God has designed us as beings able to, and needing to, communicate. He calls us to do this with passion and vigour and joy. He calls us to do this well and to do this faithfully, immersing ourselves in the richness of the literacy he has blessed us with. Let the adventure continue….

Got something to add?

  • Your Comment