“ Literacy Is Far More Than Reading and Writing; It Involves Critical Thinking as Well”

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“ Literacy is far more than reading and writing; it involves critical thinking as well”

Within today’s teaching practices literacy has come to be a major part of the course curriculum when teaching early years, it has numerous definitions and meanings to individual people as it continues to be developed through our rapidly changing world. The definition of literacy “ has to do with having the skills and knowledge to create, locate, analyse, comprehend and use a variety of written, visual, aural and multi-model texts for a range of purposes, audiences and contexts”(Wing, J. L.2009.p3). Literacy is far more than reading and writing, it also involves critical thinking where it tests someone’s understanding of a balanced literacy program which in turn addresses the issues that promotes active and critical learners.

Literacy involves important underlying principles. These principles include the cueing system also known as sources of information and the socio-cultural perspective. These principles are essential when acquiring literacy.

The cueing system is used for the reading process, it is being able to construct meaning using the 4 reading cue systems or sources of information. Grammatical information cues which relate to the reader’s knowledge of the language, the way sentences are formed and the text and words that are used to construct meaning and its purpose. This also includes the grammar of the language (Winch, G. Johnston, R. March, P. Ljungdahl, L & Holliday, M. 2001). For example you see an unknown word in a sentence and by using your knowledge of language structure, help to make it sound right. This is in reference to a structural cue (Bradbury et al. 1997). The semantic information cues are cues that refer to the meanings in the text according to previous knowledge, predictions and use of prior knowledge and familiarity with the topic. Semantic knowledge helps them to predict what will come next and if it makes sense (Winch et al. 2001). The final reading cue system is the phonological- graphological information system which are visual cues that “enable the reader to predict text based on the readers understanding of letters words and sound relationships and the ways theses are represented in print: what looks like and sounds write”(Bradbury et al. 1997. p5)

An additional principle includes the socio- cultural perspective. Literacy teaching today has developed to the stage where we need to stay open minded and must highlight the diversity of our schools and communities to teach children with a socio cultural approach which emerged from Vygotski and his socio- cultural learning theory. Vytgotski argues that a child’s development cannot be understood by the study of the individual. The social world must also be considered within the development of an individuals life (Vygotsky, L. 1978). This shows an individuals home needs to be taken into account in order to relate to their interpretations of reading and writing. Teachers need to be aware what the children are bringing from home to the classroom in order to understand how and what we need to teach the children (Hill, S. 2006). A balanced literacy program includes teaching in all areas of reading, writing, speaking, listening, communication and interaction with others and the text. It also consists the use of all the multilateralism such as computers, internet, dvds, digital cameras, digital music cd’s and any other type of multimedia, communications and technologies. Teachers need to know varied strategies and spend time learning about the students individual needs to design a balanced literacy program. “A Teacher may select strategies from different learning theories to provide balance” (Morrow, L. 2007. p21).

Children become literate through a range of semiotic systems, strategies, tools and experiences as Bull & Anstey (2005) discuss in there composition. “A successful reader in our society needs to develop and sustain the resources to adopt...
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