As a teacher of students in their first 2 years of school I have explored ways to make the writing process more explicit to the students with the full knowledge of the importance of oral language within this process.

Many years ago I explored the 'First steps' programme which was researched and developed by the education department of Western Australia. I was particularly taken with the way they outlined strategies and skills for developing literacy understanding through oral language.

In particular they outlined how news telling requires children to recall, sequence and summarise experiences or events for presentation to an audience and students could be assisted in their planning for this through a news framework that included the elements - when, who. where, what and why.
They went on to outlined the link between news telling and writing,how the elements of a recount are similar for oral or written text and how a news plan can be used to prepare written texts.
(ref: p72 Oral Language Developmental Continuum 1994)

With this in mind I began to use a visual planner when students recalled their weekend news. The planner has always been passed around the circle as the students recall their news. I noticed over time that the more able writer would glance at the planner briefly and launch into their news confidently conveying their ideas and thoughts while the less able writer in comparison would point to each picture as they constructed their oral text which assisted them to construct oral text that was sequenced - the benefits for these learners were obvious.


This led to the introduction of a planner for their written work based on the symbols used in their news telling. For the new entrant students I divided the picture section of their exercise books into 3 sections so they could plan their written text with drawings.- In the first box they had to draw where they went and who they went with. In the second box they drew something interesting that happened while they were there and in the third box something else interesting that happened while they were there.
From this small beginning the format for a story having a beginning , middle and end was laid. Having rehearsed the language orally I found the students written text flowed more easily and was sequenced.

For the new entrant student who became confident writing with the above format I introduce 'when'
the event took place by drawing a clock on the first line they write on to remind them to tell the reader when the event occurred.


As the students became proficient writers in their first year of school I moved them on to a written planner again using the symbols they were use to.


Having seen first hand the benefits of using a powerful oral language activity prior to writing I have gone on to develop symbols for writing narratives, information reports and poetry aligned to an oral language activity.
U learn 2008
Attending U learn 2008 I went to an inspiration session run by Sara Taylor and was inspired how students were using keynote and video clips to retell a shared book.


This was what I was looking for - a way for students to return to an oral language activity having written a text.I had used voice thread before but I liked the fact that the students could make a digital book of their own. Back in Auckland with the year 2 class I was teaching I began to get students to turn their written text into a movie using KidPix and video clips just as I had seen at conference. The students I tried it with were highly motivated and engaged with the whole process.

Juwon's work is below - click on the image after she has finished talking and the page will turn.

Information report


The cyclical nature of literacy - was evident - oral language to written language back to oral language.
e-learning fellowship I applied and won an e-learning fellowship - a wonderful opportunity to work alongside other educators who are using e learning in innovative ways and a chance to reflect on my own classroom practice as well so many other things e.g the role of oral language , the cyclical nature of literacy and engaging the 21st century learner.

In February the e fellows met in Wellington and we shared an outline of our project- they are so varied and interesting. Below is the keynote I presented to the the group when we talked about our topics of study.

Learning at school conference

Attending conference such as learning at school is always stimulating and thought provoking. When I listened to Andy Hargreaves and he said children are the messengers we send out into the future I reflected on the fact that literacy practices are changing so rapidly. The students I teach will be/are constructing text in ways past generations couldn't have possibly have dreamed of after all the digital world we live in has enabled so many more people the opportunity to compose text. I can't help but ponder what will future literacy practices look like?.

The students I teach will be composing texts for a variety of purposes from pen and paper to face book entries to text messages, to emails to blog posts. Reflecting on this as an educator I strive to ensure that students have the skills to write well in a variety of contexts as they respond to the audience at hand and to this end I strive to ensure that students know what is required to write well constructed texts with their audience in mind and that they are given the skills to become reflective learners.
Literacy Cycle
As I began to explore the notion of a literacy cycle I was drawn to Dorothy Burt's blog and the work that has been done at Pt England school with podcasting and the development of their literacy cycle.


A closer look that their literacy cycle highlights how the literacies are interwoven with each other.