In Years 3 and 4, Reading Mastery is used to improve the boy’s reading. Reading Mastery is a Direct Instruction program. Direct Instruction is a model for teaching that emphasizes well-developed and carefully planned lessons designed around small learning increments and clearly defined and prescribed teaching tasks. It is based on the theory that clear instruction eliminating misinterpretations can greatly improve and accelerate learning.
The program is designed to teach every student how to improve their reading. All instruction is direct and unambiguous and tasks and activities are specified in detail. Every reading skill and strategy in the program is carefully taught in isolation and then applied and reviewed. Students receive daily practice in decoding and in applying comprehension strategies. Teacher assessment of student performance is continuous, and errors are corrected when they occur. The program incorporates a wide variety of comprehension strategies and presents them systematically in four important areas: vocabulary, literal comprehension, interpretive comprehension, and reasoning.
Following initial testing, the boys are placed in four reading-ability levels for instruction using the program. The boys are continually assessed (in-program fluency and comprehension are assessed each 10 days, and three times a year, DIBELS Next, an external, research-based assessment tool is used to monitor oral fluency, and reading comprehension). The boys’ placement in these groups is reviewed and adjusted on an ongoing basis so as to reflect their level of achievement.
Each boy also has access to a classroom library that has several volumes of hand-picked quality literature available for borrowing. They also have borrowing access to the school library. Each boy has a reading log to record the frequency and duration of his reading. He is meant to maintain this and have his parents sign it on a weekly basis.
In spelling, The Spalding Method is used to provide explicit, sequential and multisensory instruction in phonics, spelling, and handwriting.
The lessons follow a standard pattern that includes:
- an oral phonogram review
- a written phonogram review
- a spelling dictation lesson
Spelling words are marked with numbers and underlines in a manner which is unique to the program and which is designed to make explicit to the children – with exceptions noted- the spelling and pronunciation of each word used in the spelling dictation lessons.
Morrison McCall diagnostic spelling tests are completed each month and the results are made available to the parents on request.
Grammar and punctuation
To assist with the production of written work, Shurley English is used to help the boys understand sentence structure and punctuation in a systematic and explicit manner. Grammar definitions are learnt and revised using rhyming jingles. The role of each word in a sentence is then analysed using a technique called a Question and Answer Flow. Here, a concrete set of questions about each word in a sentence is used to teach students how all the parts of a sentence fit together. Through repetition, fun and student-teacher interaction, students are helped to learn difficult English skills in a step-by-step manner.
English in Wollemi is taught in an integrated manner within the allotted English periods as well as being taught across the curriculum as part of all the other subjects. To assist this process, within the English timetable, Wollemi currently uses three distinct supplementary programs to help deliver particular aspects of the curriculum. These programs are designed to improve the boy’s reading, spelling and English grammar and punctuation.