Duration and pathways: Using this unit in the classroom
This unit of work is designed to be taught from Sequence 1 to Sequence 12 in order. The unit of work uses rich children’s literature as its foundation and has been designed to explore and investigate patterns in literature and language. As such, the chosen picture book or informative text determines the focus of each sequence.
The unit of work is underpinned by modelled/shared, guided/joint construction and independent reading and writing activities. Most sequences include modelled reading of the focus text. The small group and individual reading and writing activities outlined in each sequence may be implemented during ‘literacy group’ time when students are engaged in small-group activities, so you can focus on guided reading with one small group of students. Suggestions for small-group activities include listening post reading, independent reading, sight word or phonics games, handwriting practice, computer typing/keyboard skills practice, journal writing or free choice writing and reading with a parent helper or buddy.
The choice of guided reading texts is left to you so that texts may be chosen that best suit the needs of students and the resources available in a school. It is suggested that the guided reading texts chosen are consistent with the themes of each sequence and include written and visual texts that allow students to practise the skills modelled during the modelled reading activity.
A number of sequences suggest teacher-made texts to be used during independent reading time. These suggestions should be supplemented with print-based and multimodal imaginative and informative texts to create a class library. The theme for the class library is suggested at the beginning of each sequence. The unit of work has been designed so that each sequence contains aspects of reading/viewing and writing/creating texts.
Sequences 1 and 3 involve students in activities that teach the difference between capital letters and lower case letters, along with the correct formation of letters. Sequence 4 then builds on this basis and introduces the sentence as a unit of meaning. It explores the use of capital letters at the beginning of a sentence and full stops. In Sequence 6 sentence grammar is expanded to look more closely at the types of words that make up a sentence, and the concept of verbs is introduced via a study of words that tell ‘what is happening’. These words are one type of verb that is more easily recognised by young students and provides a way in to the later, more extensive study of different types of verbs. Each sequence builds on the one before, revising and consolidating previously taught concepts throughout the unit of work.
A number of the sequences include the exploration of the visual text or images in the focus text. These sequences work in tandem with the language lessons to bring students to an understanding of the way words and images work together to make meaning in texts. In this unit of work, students are asked to look closely at images but no formal visual grammar is introduced. However, if you determine that the students are ready to use visual grammar terms to discuss images, the terminologies of Kress and van Leeuwen are suggested. By teaching and using these visual grammar terms in the classroom, you and students have a shared metalanguage to discuss texts and express understandings. Further reading on the analysis and grammar of visual texts can be found in the Resources.
The theme of patterns is supported by and supportive of the teaching of a number of Mathematics content descriptors. Some of the language-based activities are simultaneously mathematical in nature. At other times Mathematics activities are suggested that could follow on from the English content of a sequence. The content of the chosen children’s literature lends itself to a natural integration of counting, reciting days of the week and recognising shapes and patterns.
The assessment tasks that form part of this unit of work are designed to be undertaken during and at the conclusion of the teaching of the appropriate sequences. They are designed to assess the effectiveness of the learning of the content descriptors included in the sequences. You should alter the tasks to best suit your students and to best obtain information about the lessons taught. The data gained from the assessments should guide the teaching of subsequent sequences. In addition to the assessment tasks provided, you may wish to also assess in the following ways.
Conduct running records during guided reading to check on each student’s mastery of the predicting skills and word attack skills at the beginning and conclusion of the unit of work. Keep a reading log to record the texts students are reading during independent reading.
Collect work samples from each small group and individual writing activity to track progress and mastery of modelled skills. The skills include:
- correctly forming upper and lower case letters
- recognising that names (of people and days of the week) begin with capital letters
- constructing grammatically accurate sentences that begin with capital letters and finish with full stops.