We believe that literacy is the greatest life skill we can teach our students and therefore have a strong focus on developing the literacy skills of students at Adelaide West Special Education Centre. A balanced literacy program ensures that all students experience a range of literacy activities every day.

Students who do not yet know all of the letters of the alphabet and are unsure of the basic concepts about print (e.g. what is the front cover of this book, where do I start reading, what is the difference between words and pictures etc.) are considered to be emergent readers and writers. 

This group of students are offered daily activities including:

  • Shared reading, which aims to promote pleasure and enjoyment in reading books, both in small groups and individually. Structured commenting and questioning supports the students to focus on different aspects of the book that is being read to them.
  • Self-selected reading which involves students choosing books to be read to them or to enjoy as ebooks on the class whiteboard or iPads. This is a great way for students to develop their self-confidence by making independent choices.
  • Working with words; this involves lots of alphabet learning, often through having a couple of “Letters of the Week.”
  • May of our students cannot use conventional writing tools such as pens and pencils. They are supported to use ‘alternative pencils’ such as keyboards, iPad apps or flip charts so that they can concentrate on the message within the writing rather than the mechanics of writing.

Students who have mastered the basic concepts about print and know all their letters are well on their way to becoming conventional readers and writers. 

This group of students move on from Shared to Guided Reading activities that involve asking purposeful questions about the texts that they are reading. 

They will also start investigating rhyming and phonics within their Working with Words activities but continue to be taught to develop their independent writing skills and provided opportunities for self-selected reading during the school day.