Literate Orientation is a strategy through which students gain a literate interpretation of a text – including where appropriate its illustrations – right from the start of their study. This helps them understand what the text is about and they can then draw on this meaning to develop skills in decoding and monitoring.
Literate orientation has two dimensions:
Low Order Literate Orientation tunes students in to literate interpretations of text and illustrations and comes at the start of the lesson to make the lesson’s goals clear to all students; once it is done, the teacher reads the text aloud
High Order Literate Orientation involves reading and discussion of the wording of the text and this close attention to the wording develops the meaning prediction skills students need to help them read text that is much harder than the level at which they could work without this support.
The fact that students cannot do this presents the next challenge: how to work on the study text productively, exploiting the students’ growing competence with the text.
Literate orientation uses questioning techniques that allow students to answer questions successfully. By giving cues, called ‘preformulation’ in the program, teachers signal their purpose in asking the question that allows a student to answer correctly.
Explaining why the question was important, why it was asked and what it meant is called ‘reconceptualisation’. It allows teachers to accept students’ answers and ‘broadcasts’ the reason for asking the question. This information feeds into the next lesson as common knowledge. It also alerts students to the fact that the teacher asks a question expecting them to find the answer in the illustration or the actual wording of the text.
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