In light of the introduction of the new Australian Curriculum, and state-specific changes such as the NSW Curriculum Reform, we know that teachers want to know how InitiaLit and other MultiLit programs align with the new curricula.
We asked MultiLit School Partnerships Consultants, Therese Levins and Karen West for their assessment of the impact of these changes, and can reassure teachers that after mapping our programs against the new curricula, MultiLit programs will continue to meet the needs of schools following these reforms.
How can MultiLit help teachers deliver the new English curriculum?
MultiLit has a comprehensive suite of complementary programs which align with the new Australian curriculum, including whole-class instruction for Foundation to Year 2 with InitiaLit, based on the science of how children learn to read.
InitiaLit features scripted lessons and programming that helps teachers get back some of their valuable time that would otherwise be spent planning and writing lessons.
“Teachers tell us that InitiaLit has given them their zing back,” says Therese. “They’re getting back to what they need to do to achieve positive literacy outcomes, and they’re seeing phenomenal results with the children.”
Are InitiaLit and the new curriculum based on the same research?
MultiLit’s programs are all underpinned by multi-disciplinary scientific research on how people learn to read and how to teach reading effectively. This extensive research has shown that there are five essential skills for reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. MultiLit’s programs address all five components (known as the Five Big Ideas), incorporating a systematic, synthetic approach to phonics, as well as oral language.
It is exciting to now see the science of reading being incorporated into the curricula being implemented in Australian classrooms, with the Five Big Ideas among the key areas of understanding outlined in the new NSW English K–2 Syllabus.
The science of reading concepts embraced in the new curriculum – including the Simple View of Reading, Scarborough’s Reading Rope, oral language and explicit phonics instruction – have always underpinned our programs, making teachers of InitiaLit best-placed to deliver the new syllabus and its expected outcomes.
Does InitiaLit only teach phonics? What about the curriculum’s oral language and writing outcomes?
MultiLit’s programs take a phonics-based approach to teaching reading and writing, as well as working to develop oral language, comprehension and vocabulary skills.
The new NSW K–2 English Syllabus covers content including oral language and communication, handwriting, spelling and creating written texts, which are addressed in all three levels of InitiaLit. For example, Storybook lessons make use of quality children’s literature to develop rich vocabulary, comprehension and writing skills. Children are explicitly taught the mechanical aspects of writing, including handwriting and spelling, throughout the program. They also create texts within InitiaLit lessons in dictation, grammar, spelling and extended writing tasks.
InitiaLit provides space for adjusting lessons for the needs of your students, or for providing additional programming outside of scripted lessons. Our assessment tools help you identify any gaps in knowledge, so you can go back and fill those gaps or provide extension opportunities for more advanced learners.
I’ve heard the NSW syllabus suggests a different phonics instructional sequence to InitiaLit. What does that mean for schools using InitiaLit?
During the first three years of schooling, it is vital to establish a solid understanding of how the alphabetic code works, starting with the basic code in Foundation and then moving to the advanced code in Years 1 and 2.
It is not unusual for different phonics programs to use their own carefully developed scope and sequence for teaching this alphabetic code. Beyond certain principles that need to be considered, there isn’t one perfect, definitive sequence. The power of a sequence is the fact that you are building knowledge in a logical, efficient way, from easier to grasp concepts to harder aspects of the code.
There are some minor differences in the instructional sequence of the new NSW syllabus and the order this information is delivered in InitiaLit. For example, the NSW K–2 English syllabus introduces the split digraph in the Foundation year, while this is not explicitly taught until InitiaLit-1. Teachers can introduce the split digraph when it arises during reading in the Foundation year, incidentally and as needed when encountered in reading texts or in writing tasks. These will be revisited in InitiaLit-1 where they are taught at a deeper level.
According to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), “the linguistic features listed in the [suggested instructional] sequence are not definitive, but are intended to be used as a guide”.
InitiaLit’s evidence-based sequence will help teachers achieve the required outcomes with their students.
The new curricula also require teachers to provide students with opportunities to engage with a variety of other texts, including decodable readers, picture books, Australian literature, poetry and texts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. What does MultiLit recommend in these areas?
InitiaLit is more than just a set of scripted lessons. MultiLit also provides a range of opportunities for engaging with different texts, which align with the specifications of the curriculum. Our decodable InitiaLit Readers are a core resource for the whole-class program, and can also be used alongside MiniLit Sage and other synthetic phonics programs. The new NSW English K–2 Syllabus highlights the importance of this kind of literature, stating that “across a year of learning, teachers must give students daily opportunities to read decodable texts.”
First Nations Australian authors already feature on the InitiaLit Storybook lists for each year level, with more to come. Four new storybooks by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and lessons for each year of InitiaLit will be available to download from the Members’ Area soon.
Picture books from Australian authors, published by our own Putto Press, and all our decodable readers, are available for purchase from multilit.com and The Bookshop by MultiLit.
Where can I find more information?
For teachers looking for a deeper understanding of the research behind the curriculum updates and the evidence that underpins MultiLit’s approach to literacy instruction, we recommend Five from Five’s free Professional Learning Seminar Series. There are four webinars, covering the science of reading, systematic synthetic phonics, reading fluency, and oral language and vocabulary instruction.
To further support our existing schools and those considering MultiLit programs for the first time, we’ve developed a series of free resources outlining how InitiaLit links to the ACARA English Curriculum V9 (in Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2, respectively), and the new NSW K–2 English Syllabus and the National Literacy Learning Progression.
For more information, contact MultiLit’s School Partnerships team or your local MultiLit centre.