Write To Read (W2R)  Literacy program

Our Journey: Since 2008, the School Principal, Mr David Foley committed to train all staff in the Write To Read (W2R) literacy method as a strategy to further embed the essential components for successful literacy instruction. Before this, we had introduced a direct instruction program named, Spelling Mastery (Years 1–4) and observed an immediate and noticeable improvement in our spelling data both for NAPLAN and teacher judgement at these levels. With W2R, the greatest improvement has been in the reduction of the number of students performing below the expected level. This pattern of reducing the tail at the lower end of the achievement scale is pleasing. Between 2010 and 2017 our students have scored exceptionally higher than the state and like school groups at the 10th percentile – indicating our lowest 10% of students are significantly outperforming the lowest 10% of students in state and like school groups. Student performance in the mid range and the top end of the scale have made significant growth as well.

A short powerpoint explanation about the Write To Read (W2R) program

Write To Read philosophy: W2R is based on multi-sensory learning of essential skills in all instructional literacy areas: listening, speaking, spelling, reading, writing, handwriting and comprehension.  Using the Write To Read method teachers employ highly effective strategies for instruction which develop their teaching style as well as assist in the organisation of their classroom. Quality professional learning is provided by an expert Literacy consultant (Marian Dunne) to increase teacher knowledge in the use of our linguistic system of English resulting in more targeted teaching, more explicit and powerful teaching conversations and a greater ability to tailor teaching to individual needs and developmental stages of learning for students. Phonological Awareness skills such as segmenting, blending, analysing and manipulating sounds are taught and learned skills. Teachers focus on the need to distinguish between ‘phonics’ as a teaching method and ‘phonics’ as a critical component of literacy that all children require to become effective readers and writers. i.e. teachers are learning to teach the necessary phonic information without using fragmented, lockstep, drill based teaching methods and students learn how to use ‘sound’ as a spelling strategy.

In the first years of the program, classroom teachers completed certificate 1 & 2 training over 8 days.  We then trained our Support teachers and integration and teacher aides. The financial commitment has been substantial and continued in 2010 with all staff completing Certificate 3 in Writing. It is quite observable that the teachers have become passionate about training themselves so they can be involved in the success of this program as indicated by their commitment to formalised training during school time, weekends and holiday period to effectively complete and implement the training program. During the period 2011 - 2015, new teachers into the school have been 'fast tracked' in building their professional learning and hands on experience in delivering the W2R program with students.

Our teachers have reflected that Write To Read instruction supports the ‘struggler’ and extends those children who are naturally gifted in literacy skill. The program covers all areas of literacy development. Parent workshops are provided to support parents with the ways in which they can help their children at home. This level of support focuses on areas such as the general overview, handwriting principles, grammar and spelling rules. 

The Write To Read method: W2R is based on worldwide research that identifies the following essential areas: phonemic awareness, explicit phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension as being critical for successful literacy instruction.  Romalda Spalding’s book,  ‘The Writing Road to Reading’ is a valuable resource. It is a total language approach that uses explicit instruction to teach ALL students the skills essential for success in listening, speaking, spelling, writing and reading. The Write To Read method consists of instruction in the three elements of Spelling, Writing and Comprehension.

Spelling instruction consists of three parts: phonograms, vocabulary and spelling/language concepts. Students learn the 70 symbols called phonograms, which represent 45 common English speech sounds, by hearing, saying, seeing and writing them, until this reaches automatic recall.  Students are taught to analyse each word using a marking system and to articulate any rules encouraging higher level thinking skills.  Rules are essential to aid spelling and/or correct pronunciation of words. Students understand ‘how words work’.  

In writing instruction, students learn the critical attributes of sentences and by teacher modelling come to appreciate what makes quality sentences. They learn about related sentences, and then build sentences into paragraphs and passages composing both narrative and informative paragraphs.

During comprehension instruction, students learn to enjoy quality literature and analyse the characteristics that make a piece of writing exemplary. They learn that authors write for different purposes and organise their passages differently according to their purposes. They also learn five specific mental actions that are necessary for comprehension of any type of writing.

  •  Monitor their own comprehension (vocabulary, use a dictionary)
  •  Make connections (with what they know/have experienced)
  •  Predict, test hypothesis (who do they expect?)
  •  Mentally summarise
  •  Reformat information

These mental actions then carry across the curriculum to their

lessons as well as to their own reading for pleasure and other work.

Essential components include:

1. Phonemic Awareness: 

 * The understanding that spoken words are made up of a sequence of sounds and the ability to identify these sounds to blend and segment e.g. p/o/t = pot (blend) , pot = p/o/t (segment)

 * Testing children's phonemic awareness was found to be the best indicator of those students at risk of reading difficulties.

In Write To Read, phonemic awareness is explicitly taught through:

  •  explicit phonemic awareness activities;
  •  oral phonogram review;
  •  written phonogram review;
  •  spelling dictation lesson.

2. Explicit Systematic Phonics

  •  The understanding that the sounds of our language are represented by written symbols (code)
  •  Improves word recognition, spelling and reading comprehension- most effective when started in prep/first class ;
  •  Needs to be taught explicitly and practised to automatic recall;
  •  The ability to decode words is the essential foundation of reading - to free the mind to concentrate on meaning.

In Write To Read, Systematic Phonics is explicitly taught during:

  •  sound-symbol matching activities
  •  oral phonogram review
  •  written phonogram review
  •  spelling dictation

Students are explicitly taught to say and write 70 symbols (phonograms) for 45 speech sounds and blend phonograms into whole words. Students are explicitly taught to make the sound-symbol connection in words.

3. Fluency

Children need to be able to decode automatically to read fluently. This is essential for comprehension. Students need practice in guided oral reading with teacher modelling fluency and expression. Repetitive oral reading of same text was found to be beneficial.

In Write To Read, Fluency is taught through:

  •  reading for spelling and reading in spelling dictation
  •  reading own sentences using spelling dictation words using phrasing and expression
  •  reading own compositions
  •  teacher modelling fluency and expression during oral reading

4. Vocabulary Development

 Is essential to gain meaning from text (comprehension). Needs to be taught directly and indirectly. Students need multiple exposures to words in different contexts

 In Write To Read, Vocabulary development is taught:

  •  during vocabulary development lesson
  •  during writing lesson, constructing oral/written sentences
  •  during reading lesson
  •  oral comprehension
  •  when teacher models comprehension strategies (context clues)
  •  with exposure to good quality literature

5. Text Comprehension

Explicit teaching of comprehension strategies

In Write To Read, Comprehension is taught through:

 5 Mental Actions:

  •  monitor comprehension
  •  make connections
  •  predict type of text and events
  •  reformat information
  •  mentally summarise
  •  Literary analysis
  •  Identifying Text Structure

6. Teacher Training

 To improve reading instruction, all of the above essential components are an integral part of teacher training.

 In Write To Read, Teacher training involves:

 Certificate I  'Introduction to Write To Read' 

 - The Spelling Lesson, phonograms, handwriting, language rules

 - identifying students at risk

 Certificate II'Intensive'

 The Spelling Lesson, Vocabulary Development, Introduction to

 Fluency, Vocabulary and Comprehension/Reading lessons.

 Certificate III'Advanced course' in Writing

Download our W2R Diagram

Go to MySchool web site to view latest results updated 2017 ie     http://www.myschool.edu.au/