Week 2 Newsletter - From the English Department

Welcome back to 2023! We hope you’ve all had a great break and hopefully read a good book over the summer.

As you may be aware there are some changes coming to NCEA and as part of that the literacy and numeracy requirements are changing. 

This year SOHS is having a collective focus across the school on improving literacy skills for all students. Each week staff will be focusing on a simple literacy strategy in their classrooms which we will explain to you in the newsletter. We would love your support and a simple way you can help is by asking your child about what is covered each week, or even better, practise it with them yourselves.

Alongside this we will be sharing what we’re reading. Each week one member of staff will share a book they’ve read, what they thought about it and who they’d recommend it to. Encouraging your child to read is a simple yet powerful way to support their learning, if you read at home and model it to them, even better! There are plenty of recommended book lists out there such as THIS ONE if you are looking to help make suggestions for them. There is also a great website www.goodreads.com where you can make a profile to add books you’ve read. It will make suggestions for you based on your preferences. You can also set a reading challenge for the year - maybe a book a month?

Next week we kick off our literacy strategies with explicit teaching of vocabulary. This involves stopping when sophisticated language is used to ask students if they know the meanings, and if not, discussing them. Often students are exposed to unfamiliar words but we don’t stop and explain them. In practising stopping to unpack unfamiliar words the hope is that it will become a habit to be curious and seek out meaning, therefore growing vocabulary and improving comprehension. 

At home, you could be doing the same with words in your everyday conversations or even words specific to your work. See if you can stop and ask your child, “Do you know what that word means?” - and even if they do know you will be reinforcing the skill they are practising at school which is immensely powerful to their learning. 

Katherine Beaumont, Head of English.