UYSC is a leading school in the teaching and learning of literacy; a school where students have the opportunity to realise their full potential. Our students are engaged in their learning, confidently and competently using a wide range of literacy strategies across all curriculum areas.
The teaching of literacy is the responsibility of all teachers and leadership at Upper Yarra Secondary College. We support literacy improvement in every student, in every class, implementing a whole school approach.
At Upper Yarra Secondary College I have learnt that reading is not just reading, but about thinking and rolling out a movie in your head.”
Year 7 Student
Our Definition of Literacy
“Literacy competence is being able to think deeply, comprehend, respond to and produce a diverse range of text types, across all areas of learning and life.”
Current Literacy Focus
Student literacy is prioritised at UYSC. The school has a documented, whole school, four year literacy plan developed by the literacy team at UYSC. We believe Reggie Routman when she says:
“Students who read more, read better, have higher reading achievement. Common sense tells us that if we want to get good at an activity, regardless of what that activity is, we have to practise it.” (Reading Essentials Reggie Routman)
As part of our endeavour to improve student literacy, the following strategies have been implemented:
Reading Workshop Years 7, 8 and 9 English Classes (Cafe Model)
All English classes from Year 7 to 9 have either Readers Workshop or Literature Circles every English lesson.
During this time all students read texts of their choice independently for an extended time. Students are explicitly taught a range of reading strategies and the teacher sets individual and class reading goals.
The school has a well-resourced school library to support the reading focus, and the school is well supported by the local library. This means students at UYSC have access to many literary resources.
Writing to Learn (WTL) Across All Learning Domains
“Research shows that writing also plays a key role in learning, and that writing to learn is not the same thing as writing to communicate, or to demonstrate learning. Writing helps students to make connections between what they read, view and hear, and what they think and understand. Writing to learn provides a significant tool that strengthens reading comprehension, and enables students to reflect on and question information and ideas. Writing-to-learn strategies help students to become more active learners.” (Victorian Institute of Teaching Research Digest 2008/1 Meiers & Knight)
Writing to Learn includes a wide number of writing tasks and strategies which are used to improve student learning and deepen their thinking.
Content Area Writing Daniels, Zemelman and Steineke
Making Thinking Visible ‘Richart, Church and Morrison’
Writing to Learn Victorian Institute of Teaching, Research Digest 2008
Learning to Write
At UYSC, a love of writing and the confidence to write, is an underpinning philosophy to engage students in the writing process. The teaching of writing is an explicit and clear process, which is research-based and consistent across the learning areas. Teachers of the majority of subjects build knowledge and skills in:
• Different text types
• Writing structures
• Writing fluency
• Grammar, spelling and punctuation
Further information can be sourced from the school, the internet and professional texts such as 6 Traits of Writing.
Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR)
The key elements include:
- Learning intentions and success criteria
- Mini lesson – explicit teaching and modelling
- Work time, including conferring
- Catch – opportunity for clarification