Literacy learning is central to success at school, in the workplace and throughout life. We aim to create lifelong learners who are confident using their literacy skills in the 21st century.

Students need to be able to read, write, talk, listen and think critically in order to access written, visual and technologically based information in all areas of society. Being confident and competent with literacy is vital to achievement in all areas of learning and we aim to do this though a broad range of activities and teaching methods that cater for all children.

VCOP is the writing approach used at Mornington Park PS. It is a program designed to bring the fun back to writing, to make the children want to write and to be challenged in their writing. It focuses on the four main aspects of the writing process: vocabulary (WOW words), connectives (joining words), openers (beginning sentences to make them interesting) and punctuation. Students work on a variety of skills throughout the week through games, activities, writing tasks and discussions. They are then introduced to their topic and text type where a discussion of ideas takes place. The students are encouraged to discuss the topic with their families at home and return to school the following day fully prepared for their “Big Write” session. During this session, the students work independently and silently at their own pace to produce their piece of writing. This approach also teaches children the skills to develop and improve their writing skills through editing and self-assessment.

For the past two years Mornington Park PS Prep-Year 2 students have been involved in trialling the ‘Say I Can’ Handwriting pilot program which has been designed to help children learn how to write. The Say I Can Project has been developed by Maria McKenzie, an Occupational Therapist who is experienced in working with children of all ages to develop their drawing and writing skills.

Learning to write is a complicated task. In their first two years at school the children will learn to write 26 lowercase letters, 26 capital letters, 10 numerals, 5 maths signs and 6 types of punctuation making 71 characters in total. Not only do the students learn to write the letters and numbers but are also expected to be able to place each correctly on dotted lined paper and to use these to write their own ideas into words, sentences and stories.

Using the Say I Can method, the process of learning to write is simplified by teaching the children that there are 16 different writing shapes that are used to create all letters, numbers, maths signs and punctuation. When these shapes are drawn in a certain order then different letters, numbers or symbols are formed.

Maria has developed Power Point stories, which include many characters to demonstrate the correct formation of letters and writing shapes in a fun, interactive and engaging way.

At Mornington Park PS we use a variety of strategies in our reading programs to ensure optimum opportunities for students to learn to read and develop a love of literature. Within the Prep classroom the students become friends with a monkey called Milo who introduces all of his friends to assist the children in learning their letter names and sounds. It is a fun and engaging way to introduce our Prep students to the world of reading. In Grades 1 and 2, students use raps, songs and visual cues to assist in further developing their reading and writing by learning more complex phonograms.   Each day, all Prep-2 students participate in Literacy groups. Here they are given the opportunity to complete a variety of tasks where students different learning styles are catered to. During this time the classroom teacher works with a small group examining a text chosen for the specific learning needs of each child.

In the senior grades we ensure that the children are engaged in their reading and developing deep comprehension through structured reading lessons. These lessons include whole class teaching focussing on particular reading skills, individual conferences, independent reading time, reading response activities, focus or guided reading groups and time for sharing texts with the whole class or in small groups. We understand the importance of selecting books at the right level, that challenge and interest the reader. We provide a variety of texts for children to choose from and support them to choose books that are right for them.

During spelling in the Prep class, the children are introduced to the letter and sounds through Milo the Monkey. Milo is a character in a book that has a surprise birthday party coming up and he invites all his friends, whose names all start with different letters of the alphabet. The program incorporates a multi-sensory approach that supports the explicit and sequential teaching of literacy skills. It teaches phonemic awareness – the ability to hear sounds in words, segment and blend sounds, as well as syllabification. The program links sounds, letters, reading, writing and spelling through fun activities and phonic based books. Some of the activities that we engage in are rhymes for each one of Milo’s friends, art and craft, robot walk for syllables and chitter chatter chants.

At Mornington Park Primary School we use Spelling Mastery to teach students from Grade 1-6 strategies to become successful life-long spellers. Spelling Mastery uses a combined approach of phonemic, morphemic and whole-word strategies to help students to understand the relationship between sounds, word parts and spelling patterns. Students are taught in small steps at their level so that they comprehend how spelling works and can become proficient writers.