What does the new Australian Curriculum specify about what Foundation students must learn when you start teaching them how to read?
Here is a set of clear learning intentions that explain what Foundation students must learn in plain English.
In general, Foundation students must know:
- The essential parts of a book (e.g. front cover, back cover, starting page)
- That there are different types of texts (e.g. stories, non-fiction books, lists), and that texts of the same type share some common characteristics
- All the letters of the alphabet (upper and lower case), as well as the most common sounds associated with each letter
- That words have an initial sound (e.g. c- in cat) and an ending sound (-at in cat)
Before reading, Foundation students must be able to:
- Identify and read the front cover
- Make predictions about what will be in the text that they are about to read
- Think of questions that may get answered in the text
When reading, Foundation students must be able to:
- Hold the book the correct way up
- Read from left-to-right, moving down to the next line when needed
- Recognise and read high-frequency words
- Sound-out unknown words
- Pause at the end of sentences
- Notice, when what they are reading doesn’t make sense to them
After reading, Foundation students must be able to:
- Recall one or two events from a story they have read
- Make connections between what they have read and their personal experiences
- Use stories as a stimulus for play
Text Level 5
Teachers often ask what level of book students should be able to read independently. Some teachers make up their own mind of what level is okay. Some schools set school-wide expectations, typically based on teacher opinion, what level past students achieved and what other schools are aiming for. But what does the curriculum say?
The new curriculum does not mention text levels per se, but it specifies that: students should master predictable and decodable texts, which have supportive images and familiar vocabulary. After analysing the common criteria used to level books, you can see that this equates to RR levels 1-5 or the broadband levels magenta and red.