Tag Archives: Oral Language

Integrated Literacy: The Workshop Method improved… using Whole-Part-Whole structure.

I’ve been working this year with Steve Peha author of Be a Better Writer. I’ve actually used Steve’s material for many years and knew his book would be an outstanding resource for students and teachers. We’ve been looking at ways to structure curriculum and I can see enormous merit in Steve’s Integrated Literacy as a starting point for conversation about best practice.

The term community of learners is a meaningful descriptor for any group of students.

There is concern among educators that the teaching of literacy has moved away from an holistic approach to a segmented  approach e.g. one hour reading & one hour writing, without highlighting the conceptual links between reading, writing and oral language.

Integrated Literacy is a framework for K-12 instruction that leverages the complementary nature of reading and writing to make learning easier for kids and teaching better for teachers. Steve Peha

Integrated Literacy

Steve explains how Writer’s Workshop and Reader’s Workshop fit well into an integrated literacy approach. Our programs need to provide explicit teaching but there are many approaches to workshops to achieve this.

Workshops clearly have to meet students where they are at, often referred as ‘point of need’. Once assessment has been completed, workshops can be structured using a variety of teaching approaches depending on where a student or group of students are at e.g. modelled, shared, directed, suggested and facilitated.


Steve’s article explains the elements of a workshop e.g. Lesson, Status, Work, Conferencing and Sharing (Reflection). Read further and Steve explains the different ways to workshop.

The workshop approach requires a detailed curriculum planning guide covering all aspects of writing and reading using our curriculum, the IB-PYP and Inquiry. The planning guide needs to cover the study of genres, strategies and punctuation.

Steve’s book covers: Better Topics, Better Ideas, Better Organisation, Better Voice, Better Words, Better Sentences, Better Punctuation and Better Fiction.  

This approach does not mean students are unable to explore writing and reading themselves, however, it is about ensuring explicit instruction is in the mix. I want students to see the interconnectedness of reading, writing and speaking.

Read like a Writer… Write like a Reader…Read as a Writer…Write as a Reader.

Steve and I are working on a curriculum framework based on the Australian Curriculum incorporating inquiry with links to material which supports explicit teaching within an holistic approach. This may take some time…

Cheers Nina


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Assessment (Initial) of Prep Children: Assessment Tools & How?

I wrote this post some time ago and my assessment of young students has changed. Now I use the PM Benchmark RAR and digital program for reading. The digital program is what we need as teachers. Follow the link above.

Our initial assessment of all Prep students (first year of formal schooling) is well organised and supported by the school. Our preps have Wednesdays off for the first five weeks of the year. Assessments are completed on Wednesdays with assessment interviews organised. All initial assessments are ‘one on one’ and comprehensive. Each assessment interview is 40 minutes. The parents can watch, drop off or wait outside. I leave this decision up to them.


Auditory Processing Assessment




This assessment identifies students who have auditory processing issues which may affect their learning. It tells me how many words a student can ‘hear and understand’ before understanding is lost. Students who score poorly on this assessment, need careful instructions and very close monitoring in the classroom. They may require further assessments and be identified as ‘at risk’.

Concepts About print – Letter Identification


This assessment tells me what a student’s alphabet knowledge is. I quickly find out which letter names and sounds they recognise.   

Concepts About Print


From this assessment I discover what a student knows about books and how they work. This assessment is extremely valuable as it tells me how ready a student is for reading. I use this information to plan my focus for Shared Big Book reading.

Phonological Awareness


Can a student hear an initial sound, pick out a rhyme or say another word starting with a sound? This assessment assesses a student’s phonological awareness.


Running Record




Early Numeracy Interview- On Line : Detour

All students read a Level 1 book. If they seem confident when reading a Level 1, we’ll try a Level 2. My aim is to find their instructional level if they can read. The level 1 book tells me if they can remember sentence structure, key words and how well they use the picture to support meaning.

Oral Conversation


My experience tells me that student’s who have poor oral language find learning to read and write tougher. When having a conversation, I’m listening to their sentence structure, vocabulary and depth of information.



Our initial testing for numeracy is the Early Numeracy Interview – Detour. The Detour is quick and assesses early concepts and counting.

Please let me know if you are using any other assessments that you find useful.

Cheers Nina


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