Reading Fluently


The goal of literacy success is often one of the main motivations for engaging a home literacy educator for your child. Capable and confident literacy skills coupled with capable and confident numeracy skills are the backbone upon which most academic success will rest. Combined with a Growth Mindset (written about in previous blogs) and  committed work ethic, improvement in literacy and numeracy will inevitably result in improved academic performance, regardless of context.

As is the case with numeracy, literacy is not one single skill but rather a co-ordinated combination of a number of essential sub skills. Research has identified many of these sub skills and it is these sub skills which students should target as SMART goals (see below) to improve systematically.

For example, “Reading fluently requires a high knowledge of skills that include decoding, rich vocabulary, comprehension abilities, world knowledge, and understanding grammatical features of different genres.” ( Campbell, 2020). Thus to improve reading, it is necessary for students to develop an enriched vocabulary, and to expand their knowledge of the world around them. This can be achieved by regular reading of good quality articles and fiction. While tasks focused on developing inferential comprehension skills, or revising grammatical structures are an expected part of literacy development and lessons, just as important is the opportunity to engage with challenging vocabulary and diverse well-written texts.

Consequently, students might identify the development of a more extensive vocabulary or more regular reading of academic articles as SMART goals to improve literacy. SMART goals involve breaking broad goals (which are more akin to wishes) such as I want to improve my literacy into more targeted goals which are

Strategic
Very specific goals that target a specific behaviour or skill
Measurable
Goals need to be measurable. This might be quantitative (for example, 10 new words per week) or qualitative (feeling more confident to join class discussions) or a mixture of both.
Achievable
SMART goals must be accompanied by a strategic plan of attack. This might take the form of a flow chart or a to-do list.
Relevant
The specific sub skill goal must be clearly aligned to larger goals. For most students, this can be determined by identifying the criteria demands of their subjects.
Time-Bound
A clear identification of when the action plan is to be implanted and when it is to be evaluated is vital.


The selection of specific SMART goals should follow the 80/20 principle. 


Wikipedia explains the 80/20 principle, also known as the The Pareto principle, as “ the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity”. Identified in 1896, the principle first identified relationships such as 80% of land being owned by 20% of the population. Management Experts suggest that the same principle should be applied to effort. They argue that 20% of skills or behaviours will produce 80% of required results. Thus, identification of these high impact skills and behaviours produces the most effective improvements.


Reference: Campbell, S., (2020) A 21st Century approach to emergent literacy: No flashcards in preschool please!  Australian Association for Research in Education Online Journal EduResearch Matters, viewed February 5th, https://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=5076

BY SUE BURVILL-SHAW

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