I've set this page up so that I can have a working space for articles etc -Amanda

The NALP (National Accelerated Literacy Program ) uses Vygotsky’s ZPD theory as a basis to engage students who are below the literacy achievement levels of their mainstream peers. In this way students are able to engage in tasks beyond a level in which they may do so unassisted. The use of this model and the aim of AL is to move students as quickly as possible towards age appropriate literacy activities. It is not uncommon for Indigenous students to be years behind in their literacy skills and thus taking them back 3 or 4 grades and starting again is not an option. Using AL teachers are an integral part in joint construction of literacy skills and collaboration is favoured over individualized pedagogies. The NALP looks at the whole and progressively breaks it down into its parts. The idea is that students need to see what the finished product looks like before they can learn themselves how to create it (Gray, 2007).

I observed and ran AL classes on my teaching rounds and while the concept was totally foreign to me I am beginning to understand more the reasoning behind it. The repetition can be a challenge for teachers as can the fact that in AL classes the teacher does the majority of the talking and the program is very prescribed. However my supervising teacher informed me that the results were showing that using this formula was raising literacy levels. At recent conference at Charles Darwin University (2008) on the NALP it was found to be achieving good results. Anecdotal evidence shows that the gap is slowly closing with AL participants averaging 1.74 reading levels per year compared to the norm of 1. Furthermore as the NT government has rolled out the program territory wide students who move between schools and communities are not being disadvantaged.

AL is taught for 60-90min every day and a set routine is followed. A single text is studied for a term, with a particular passages the focus of literacy education. The choice of text is important and there are suggested texts with comprehensive teaching notes available. It is imperative that the text chosen is written in a literate not everyday language, is age appropriate and is a text the students can enjoy reading fostering motivation and excitement (Cowey, 2007). The text chosen in the school I worked in was Paul Jennings Lighthouse Blues (Appendix 1) and offered further development activities such as watching the Around the Twist TV. The students also created a song based around the story.

The teaching sequence follows a set routine daily to allow students to concentrate on the content rather that the procedure and to lessen the impact of absenteeism.

The teaching sequence is as follows:
• Literate Orientation
• Transformations
• Spelling
• Writing
(Gray, 2007)

Literate Orientation
• Low order: The teacher builds a common language with the students modeling a literate interpretation of the text. In essence the teacher lends their mind to the students spoon feeding them literate information, how to read illustrations, choice of language, setting, characters, why the author has made such choices etc. The teacher never asks a question of students that they have not previously explicitly taught. Following this the passage is read fluently with students encouraged to follow along. As the text my school was using was a chapter book each day a chapter was read however the same paragraph was studied intently each day for a week.
• High Order: Links between languages choices (grammar and vocabulary) and meaning are scaffolded. Text marking is often used where the passage is placed on an overhead and students are invited to come and underline specific words.

Teacher facilitated movement to engagement with word analysis, a precursor to later writing activities. The sentence/passage is written on strip cards large enough for the whole class to gather around and see. Activities such as picking out a word that tells us the scene is at night, picking out grammatical parts, coming up with other words that could be used instead while keeping the texts meaning and so on are used. The strip cards work well here because the students are actively involved in cutting them up and re writing them. Transformations allows for students to further engage in textural language choices, provides a platform to move into writing and spelling activities and provides a means to move the readers into the role of the writer while being supported.

Based on word identification and moving students to the recognition of words out of their contexts. Strategies such as visual pattern relationships and onset and rhyme are used. There is greater room for movement in teaching strategies employed during this stage. Breaking up words from the text into syllables and focusing on parts of words is a common strategy. In the class I was in personal whiteboards were used for this section for the writing of words.

• Joint reconstructed writing: This introduces the writing phase. The students rewrite the section of the text passage studied in the transformations section just as the author did. The students become very familiar with the passage and eventually will be able to rewrite the whole of it. This may seem like a foreign concept in teaching for us but reducing the stress of writing is important for these students so to is experience writing as an author does.
• Writing workshop: Students now attempt to employ strategies they have learnt about in the lesson. This is teacher directed. For example if the passage has used similes ‘like…’ students will attempt to write their own similes. Students need to have a go here and limiting the amount of writing they have to do is useful and as the students become more comfortable, and this may take some time, they can be led into Free Writing workshops where they can create their own passages of text, using strategies that have been made explicit to them through studying strategies authors use.


Charles Darwin University (2008) Newsroom: Deputy PM endorses Accelerated Literacy program, accessible at <http://www.cdu.edu.au/newsroom/story.php?nID=2490>

Cowey, W. (2007) The Accelerated Literacy Teaching Strategies, notes obtained from Nic Trengrove, Bulla PS, NT

Gray, B. N. (2007) Accelerating the Literacy Development of Indigenous Students: the National Accelerated Literacy Program, Charles Darwin University Press, Darwin