The whole school follows the Big Write and VCOP (Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation) Program for writing. It is based on the premise that ‘if they can’t say it, they can’t write it’. The learning is scaffolded to allow students to become articulate thinkers and speakers, who will then become articulate writers.
Through games, activities, writing tasks, conversations and discussions, students learn not only where their abilities lie in a fun and engaging way, but also the steps they need to take in order to continue to improve. Students participate in a whole school writing session fortnightly using a writing prompt given to them the night before for “Talk Homework”. Students are encouraged to discuss the topic with their families and develop their vocabulary, ready to use in their writing. Students set personal writing goals which empowers them to take ownership of their own growth in writing.
Our junior school phonics program is taught using Jolly Phonics, an engaging resource which teaches students the 42 sounds in English. Students begin to listen for the sounds in words and use their phonemic awareness to improve their spelling and reading. Junior students are also taught “Tricky Words”; words that appear frequently in texts but may have irregular spelling patterns.
Students from grades 2 to 6 are taught phonics with the Soundwaves program. Soundwaves is based on the phonemic approach, which is recognised as one of the most effective ways to teach spelling and reading skills. Each week explores the letters that represent sounds and how they can be put together to form written words.
Handwriting is also taught explicitly in the classrooms.