Active Literacy: Whole School Literacy Framework

My whole school literacy framework is made up of the following elements:

  1. Professional development for staff
  2. Literacy elements embedded in learning sequences
  3. Intervention for those students working below level

Literacy elements are taught explicitly in English, but expanded upon and made specific in other Domains.

(Victorian Curriculum, 2015)

Literacy elements:


Whole school vocabulary initiative based on the Marzano 6 step process

ESC Vocabulary model

Reading and viewing

Reading and annotating text

Active Literacy reading program


Whole school writing – Text Types

Whole school writing – Write to Learn

Information literacy – Effective Research

Speaking and listening

Year 9 Your voice, your choice

Substantive talk




The transformative power of reading

This is a wonderful article featuring a speech by Nancie Atwell, speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative.
In March, Nancie was awarded the Global Teacher Prize.
By Valerie Strauss.  The Washington Post, October 17, 2015.


Claire Zorn – Winner CBCA Book of the Year 2015



I often say that I write for my seventeen year-old-self, right now my seventeen year-old-self is standing here saying ‘What the frig? How did this happen?’. I’m the kid who had a panic attack in the middle of her first HSC English exam and left. I’m not here because of the wonders of our education system, I am a glitch in the system. I’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of high schools recently and I’m not sure all that much has changed. When it comes to education we are very concerned with rankings and bell curves.  It’s worth noting that I was discouraged from taking on what was then called three unit related English because my ranking wasn’t high enough. We want our kids to perform. We teach them to play Tchaikovsky by rote, but disable their ability to write their own music. I had teachers who fought against the obsession with marks and rankings and focused on nurturing my creativity, but I think that is like trying to light a candle in a cyclone, if you will allow me to get a bit Elton John.

Read more…

Active Literacy – Reading comprehension program

Why read?

Reading is an essential life skill, but more than that, it is the ticket to success in life.

Every day we see that literacy is the catalyst for positive change. It allows individuals to develop their knowledge and potential, earn their livelihood, participate fully in their community and wider society, and enjoy continuous learning and the fullness it brings to their lives.




Active Literacy at Emerald Secondary College

Students are invited come along to a reading session in the library on a fortnightly basis.  Students complete the following passports to develop their comprehension skills across fiction and non-fiction.

Section 1: Monitoring comprehension – The inner conversation

a Following the inner conversation
b Notice when we stray and how to fix it
c Knowing what you know and don’t know
d Noticing and exploring thinking
e Read, write and talk

ESC Library Active literacy continuum student book section 1

ESC Library Active literacy Teacher guide Section 1

Section 2: Activating and connecting to prior knowledge

a Beginning to make connections: It reminds me of…
b Text to self-connections: Relating the characters to ourselves
c Distracting connections
d Text-to-text connections: finding common themes in author studies
e Noticing and thinking about new learning
f Rethinking misconceptions: New information changes thinking

ESC Library Active literacy continuum student book section 2

(Teacher guide to come)

Section 3: Questioning: The strategy that propels readers forward

a Share your questioning about your own reading
b The more we learn, the more we wonder
c Some questions are answered, others are not
d Gaining information through questioning: Thick and thin questions
e Reading with a question in mind
d Questioning that leads to inferential thinking

ESC Library Active literacy continuum student book section 3

(Teacher guide to come)

Section 4: Visualizing and inferring

a Visualizing from a vivid piece of text
b Creating mental images that go beyond visualizing
c Inferring the meaning of unfamiliar words
d Inferring with text clues
e Visualizing and Inferring to understand information

ESC Library Active literacy continuum student book section 4

(Teacher guide to come)


ESC Active Literacy Book mark – respond to reading with Reading comprehension strategies; prediction, clarify, question, summarise.










ESC Active Literacy bookmark


My grateful thanks go to the staff at Rowville Secondary College for sharing their resources which formed the basis for this program. 

This program is adapted from the following resources:

Harvey, S., & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work: teaching comprehension to enhance understanding. York, Me.: Stenhouse Publishers.

Oczkus, L. D., & Pearson, P. D. (2010). Reciprocal teaching at work: powerful strategies and lessons for improving reading comprehension. (2nd ed.). Newark, Del.: International Reading Association.

Witter, M. (2012). Reading without limits: teaching strategies to build independent reading for life. Sydney: John Wiley and sons.

School Library Association of Victoria, (2014). Build community through reading. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Nov. 2014].


Top 10 YA books to kick off 2015

This article:

  • Posted by Centre for Youth Literature |
  • Tuesday 13 January 2015, 11:17 AM (EST) 

Are your teenagers after some great reading to get the new year started? We’ve enlisted the expertise of the fine folk at the Centre for Youth Literature in Melbourne to bring you a list of top ten reads to kick off 2015. Feast your eyes on these…

1. Every series – Ellie Marney 
Every Breath / Every Word / Every Move

A thrilling, modern adaptation of the world of Sherlock Holmes. It has all the crime you need, with a dash of the romance you want. If you haven’t yet started the series, now is the perfect time – the third book is due for release in March 2015

2. The Summer of Kicks – Dave Hackett

A warm, contemporary story of a dorky boy’s attempts to woo the popular girl by starting a band. A read that will have you laughing out loud.

3. Nona & Me – Clare Atkins

All the trials of high school, with added layers of rural hardships and racial tension. When Rosie’s childhood best friend returns after six years away she has to confront the divisions between her family ties and her current friendship group.

4. The Colours of Madeleine series  Jaclyn Moriarty
A Corner of White / The Cracks in the Kingdom / A Tangle of Gold

A gorgeous fantasy series about parallel worlds and the colours that bridge them. A Tangle of Gold is due for release in late 2015.

5. The Protected – Claire Zorn

An intimate story about grief, family, and high school bullying. Hannah is one of those characters that sticks with you, but be warned – this book is a heart-wringer.

6. There Will Be Lies – Nick Lake

After Shelby is hit by a car, everything she knew about her life begins to unravel. There’s a rise of psychological thrillers in the young adult market and There Will Be Lies is the next plot-twists-aplenty getting people talking.

7. All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

The trend of gritty contemporary stories continues in 2015. In All the Bright Places Finch and Violet have very different lives, but are brought together through their experiences of mental illness. Serious issues of grief and suicide are handled tenderly, and with beauty.

8. Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean – Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar and Anita Roy (eds) (February 2015)

This collection has something for everyone, including a playscript and six graphic stories for those who like to feast upon
more than just prose. What they all have in common is a thread of the surreal, and characters with strength.

9. The Flywheel  Erin Gough (February 2015)

The Flywheel is – first and foremost – a great, contemporary book. Delilah is struggling to keep her Dad’s café in business
while he travels overseas, and to keep her friend Charlie out of trouble. It’s also an LGBTQI book that isn’t a coming-out story –
a reflection of the growing demand for more diverse stories.

10. Lockwood & Co series  Jonathon Stroud 
The Screaming Staircase / The Whispering Skull / The
Hollow Boy

If you like your mystery with chills you can’t go past Lockwood & Co – where London is overrun with ghosts and young people are the only ones able to see them. This is not a cuddly take on the paranormal – prepare to leave some lights on. The Whispering Skull has not been on the shelves for long, and The Hollow Boy is due out late 2015.

Image: Pixabay

Online storytelling

I am looking at the way students are engaging with stories and storytelling in the online environment.

I will list sites, games and digital media that I have come across.  If you are familiar with any of these, please leave a comment  this medium, and other online story related content you are involved with.

Some sites I have heard about:

Telltale games – The walking dead

  • Based on the comics, tv show by Robert Kirkman.


I would love to hear:

  • What mediums you engage with
  • In what way you engage: reading, writing, game playing
  • Who you think would also enjoy this medium


Mrs. Ferguson



Online reading – local author Steph Bowe

A great read…particularly for the romantics amoungst us… click on this banner (link)  to read this short story by local author, Steph Bowe.  She has also provided links to songs you can play while you listen.

You can use this short story as one of your reading assessment tasks.  See below…

Add a commnent – what did you think?  (Click on ‘no comments’ to add yours!)




Reading assessment task (RATS) – Horror fiction


 Many people enjoy reading scary fiction, watching horror movies, and telling ghost stories.  Choose a book from this genre to read.

List your favourite:

Scary movie

Scary book

Scary story

Why do you think people enjoy getting scared? Do you? What scares you?

Horror fiction is defined by the characters, setting and plot.

Describe these elements in the book that you have read.

You can write your responses, or send them in an email to your teacher.


Print your task sheet here: Horror fiction task sheet

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