This reflection was written by Eloisa Lytton-Hitchens after she attended an introductory Accelerated Literacy course in Sydney earlier this year.
I discovered the Accelerated Literacy pedagogy late in 2014 and in January 2015 I attended a five day course in Sydney run by Bernadette Thorne and Cathy Welsford. I enjoyed learning about the pedagogy and methodologies that are used to teach Accelerated Literacy. Not only did I learn the specific Accelerated Literacy Pedagogy, I also found holes and areas of knowledge that were lacking in my own skills, expertise and experience, such as my lack of deep grammatical knowledge. In the past this has negatively impacted on my teaching as I couldn't always explain the ‘whys’ or ‘hows’ of English to students. Now I feel I will learn and improve my own skills and understanding alongside the students.
I feel that Accelerated Literacy, if implemented well, has a lot of potential for students of any age who are learning English. The pedagogy aims to create a safe learning environment for everyone and due to its transparency grows confidence. I like that everyone in the class learns the same material. It is about extending each student no matter what their current abilities in a way that encourages learning rather than shaming, dumbing down or 'giving up' on the students. There is room for extension and there is opportunity to help those that need extra attention. The approach involves being explicit, logical, inclusive of all students, and addressing the reasons and skills of what, why and how you read and write, and how you understand 'literate texts’. This includes unpacking inferences and the 'hidden’ or ‘secret' English (things that are not said, and left to be inferred by the reader).
After attending the January course I went home with much to contemplate, in particular how we learn and in general currently teach. I feel that if we dealt with the emotional issues and the false beliefs we have, that prevent and inhibit learning from taking place, that education and the way we learn and teach would dramatically change in a positive direction. I feel we are often dealing with effects rather than finding the causes of the issue/s and genuinely dealing with them (this goes for both teachers and students).
I have been casually implementing the Accelerated Literacy methodology with our own kids (5, 6 & 7years old). I feel the pedagogy works best when it is consistently implemented, but I am finding that learning and the reinforcement of concepts can happen anywhere, anytime. Our evening reading sessions often incorporate exploring language techniques, text structure, discussions on author's choices and questions of why and how authors do what they do. I noticed that the kids pick it up fast, they understand what is going on and have began to notice similar techniques used in different books - either visual or written. We play language games and critically analyse text in all sorts of situations - both written and visual, such as signs on the way to town, advertisements on TV and in the books they choose from the library. I am integrating Accelerated Literacy techniques into our everyday lives and our whole family enjoys doing so. Though I realise Accelerated Literacy has been created for the school environment, I feel it is a great for parents also.