Young Learners: Embedding literacy in rich contexts
for learning
Janet Scull, Andrea Nolan*, Bridie Raban
The University of Melbourne
* Victoria University
ARECE, January 2010
Chief Investigators:
Associate Professor Margaret Brown (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor
Esther Care, Professor Bridie Raban, Professor Field Rickards, Mr Terry O’Connell
(Australian Scholarships Group)
Research team:
Associate Professor Brown (Team leader), Ms Emelie Barringer, Dr Anna Bortoli, Mr
Robert Brown, Dr Linda Byrnes, Associate Professor Care, Ms Esther Chan, Dr Amelia
Church, Ms Jan Deans, Ms Lucy Jackson, Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey (now at Deakin
University), Dr Andrea Nolan (now at Victoria University), Dr Louise Paatsch (now at
Deakin University), Mr Derek Patton, Professor Raban, Dr Maria Remine, Dr Janet
Scull, Ms Lena Tan, Ms Jessica Taylor and Dr Linda Watson (Birmingham University,
Funding Support:
Australian Scholarship Group (ASG); Australian Research Council (ARC): Linkage
Projects funding scheme (Project number LP0883437); Melbourne Graduate School of
Education, The University of Melbourne
Australian Scholarships Group
A not-for profit organisation, a parent co-operative focused on providing
educational opportunities for children
ARC Linkage Grant
Easier to access if your partner puts up real dollars
University of Melbourne
Through individual staff grants and Early Career Researcher funds
Federal and State Reports dating from 2005 and earlier underline the
importance of the early years and the role of parents in children’s
Literacy (and Numeracy) success:
• DEST (2005) National Inquiry in the Teaching of Reading
• DEST (2005) Teaching Reading: A guide to the Report and
Recommendations for Parents and Carers
• COAG (2006) National Reform Agenda
• Dept of Prem+ Cab (2007) COAGs National Reform Agenda: Victoria’s plan
to improve literacy (and numeracy) outcomes
• DEECD (2008) Blueprint for Early Childhood Development and School
Reform: Early Childhood Discussion Paper
• DEEWR (2009) The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia:
Belonging, Being and Becoming
• DEECD (2009) Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework:
for children from Birth to Eight Years
Teacher research project
Develop up to 30 early childhood teacher profiles that:
a) identify theoretical constructs that underpin teacher practices
in the preschool and first years of schooling.
b) identify distinct literacy teaching strategies/practices.
c) investigate congruence and connectedness
between teacher and family literacy beliefs and practices.
d) correlate literacy outcomes of children, tracked through to the
first year of school, with teacher profile characteristics.
The following points define the focus of this presentation:
• Exploring teacher’s understandings of literacy in early childhood
contexts and how these understandings translate into practice
• Mapping practice in relation to the Early Years Learning Framework
The Research Process
Funded preschool programs – opportunity sample
14 complete data sets (2008-2009) consisting of 10 Bachelor degrees, 4
Diploma of Teaching; 7 have primary school teaching experience, other
experiences include OSHC, intervention services, nanny, LDC
Data set included: video, survey and interviews relating to the learning
experience teachers personally selected to support children’s literacy
Analysis of the teaching interactions as a way of providing an insight into
how teachers conceptualised literacy in preschool contexts
Opportunities for Literacy Learning
Engaging & enjoyable
Purposeful and rich with meaning
.......leading to different implications for individual practice
I prefer the term ‘literacies’. I see it as a practice that reflects how individual
children (and groups) see and ‘read’ the world and interpret it through many
Literacy is a dynamic and interactive process where the child expresses/
communicates his/her ‘inner world’ to his exterior world.
Here I am trying to achieve the notion of sensory's sort of for the
children to be connected with the land and whatever is happening around
them, and not to be indifferent to anything
It’s not just reading and writing, but also encompasses a range of things:
talking, listening, thinking, doing/playing, observing, creating.
When we are learning about a concept we don't just learn about it from one
angle, I would use maybe a visual cue, an auditory cue, a sensory cue,
because I think children have different styles in learning, and that sort of
interdisciplinary approach probably works best.
In literacy, reading the recipe, you know print conveys meaning. That writing has a purpose,
so it's meaningful. We've got pictures there, and so, understanding that these little symbolic
representations actually mean something. I've got the written word as well as the picture word,
and I think it's just to show them different ways of reading, that you can read pictures, that you
can read words, you can read symbols, you can read signs.
Gaining meaning from print, print as constant. Gaining pleasure from books.
The ability to communicate through print.
It’s sort of the idea with literacy, it needs to be fun, it needs to be enjoyable.
It needs to feel like you can do it and it’s successful. And if you feel like that
and if you’ve got the ‘I can’ attitude, then the actual skills that you need,
those word attack skills and those things will come, will come easier.
What they’re doing is they’re playing a game where they pick up a letter, and if they
need it in their name they can put it on their card in the box in the appropriate
place, which is showing quite a lot of knowledge of the alphabet.
Literacy contexts provide opportunities for children to learn across the five outcomes of
the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)
•It needs to be fun, it needs to
be enjoyable, it needs to feel
like you can do it.
It’s successful.
•If you feel like that and if
you’ve got the ‘I can’ attitude
then the actual skills you need
will come easier
•Using print resources
•Knowing the components of their
•Knowing about capital & lower
case letters
•With children also
supporting each other
•Recognising their name, how
their name is written.
•Knowing their names
A literacy experience?
Yes and also a social experience – so I think when I plan experiences I
don’t just plan thinking about this is just literacy. I think this is going to help
… with his social skills or his language skills, so I do have certain areas
where I just think literacy, but again I think every experience, they interlock.
So it’s just about getting as much out of the one experience as
For further information:
Young Learners’ Project
Dr Janet Scull
Ass.Prof. Andrea Nolan -
Professor Bridie Raban -