New programme aims to lift literacy

By Genevieve Helliwell

A Western Bay school has launched a new programme to help boost achievement and get students back to core reading.

Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti says watching movies in the classroom with English subtitles, together with classroom activities, is an exciting new way to raise literacy achievement.

The school launched the six-week interactive programme this week with its Year 5 and 6 students.

"It's early days but I love it and the kids love it," Mrs Tinetti told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"We went into it because of the credibility of the research behind it and what it's shown. We're very excited about it."

The Audio Visual Achievement In Literacy Language and Learning programme uses DVDs with English subtitles to help improve literacy and increase reading mileage. The DVDs are partnered with books and in-class worksheets and activities.

The programme is designed to complement the school's reading curriculum and has undergone five studies in low-decile schools across the North Island, led by University of Canterbury education researcher Faye Parkhill.

Students in the studies were tested on comprehension and vocabulary before and after the programme, then again six months later. Results showed students had maintained or improved their literacy level and truancy levels dropped when the programme was being run.

Mrs Tinetti was excited about the programme, and said it encouraged children, particularly boys, into reading when they were interested in other things.

"Literacy is something that needs to be addressed and we're getting there," she said.

"I think reading is something that's not a priority and people do forget to do it and this is just another way of providing the opportunity for kids' reading."

She said reading as a past-time was not as popular as it used to be and schools needed to change to keep up with technological advances.

Merivale teacher Kathryn Farthing attended a professional development workshop last month, learned about the programme and brought it back to the school, Mrs Tinetti said.

Tauranga RTLB (resource teacher, learning and behaviour) teacher Kate Preston also attended and was impressed.

"We watched the DVD and did some activities and we loved it. It can be done individually or as a group, which is great because it nurtures the students that don't feel as confident. If students aren't engaged they aren't learning and this really engages with students who are struggling."

The DVDs were fiction and non-fiction and included Holes, Charlotte's Webb and Walk of the Penguins.

It is understood Tauranga Intermediate has tried the programme but no one was available to comment for this edition.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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