10 SES 05 D, Learning to Teach: Literacy, Diversity, Enquiry
In Pisa 2009 research Slovenian 15 year old adolescents achieved 453 points in reading literacy, which is below international (500 points) and EU member states (490,5) average. 21,2 % of the Slovenian 15 year olds were ranked below the second, basic level of literacy. At the same time both the percentage of students with high performance (SI 5%; OECD 8%) as well as the percentage of students with the highest performance (SI 0,3; OECD 0,8) were not satisfactory. In order to improve the situation in literacy the school policy decision makers decided to implement the project Empowering Learners through Improving Reading Literacy and Access to Knowledge, with the aim to: contribute to assuring equal learning opportunities; improve access to quality education (integration of efficient didactic strategies to achieve higher levels of reading literacy in formal education); contribute to the implementation of the national strategy (a set of activities) for the development of reading literacy (RL). Taking these aims into consideration, the schools which participated in the project set their own goals according to their needs in reading literacy. Selected through public tender, 42 primary schools took part in this project led by the National Education Institute.
In order to reach the project objectives we followed the current national as well as the international theoretical and empirical findings (primary and secondary PISA, PIRLS, TIMSS studies) on pedagogical strategies for successful early literacy and further development of reading and other communicative competences. Further, we founded our work on didactic trends in teaching, learning, monitoring pedagogical work, and students' achievements as well as on school culture and leadership for effective improvement of school practice. In accordance with the previously stated foundations the project was managed with the action research methodology. We used different action research phases to realize:
- the principles (teaching reading in natural, authentic situations, using authentic texts in relation to all communicative skills) and objectives (raise the motivation and interest for reading, improve reading comprehension and develop metacognitive processes) of integrative reading instruction;
- student-centred instruction;
- formative assessment of knowledge;
- cross-curricular approach to planning, teaching and learning, utilising team work ;
- the teachers' and students' autonomy, responsibility and self-regulation.
The whole project was divided into three action research phases. In each of them, our schools had the opportunity to plan certain activities, test them in classes, monitor, analyse and keep a record of both advantages as well as disadvantages of such work. They used self-evaluation reports to plan and incorporate improvements in the following action plan phase.
The school self-evaluation reports and evidence, alongside with other instruments, were a part of the final summative project evaluation. Its purpose was to find out how successfully the general as well as the school objectives were met. The summative evaluation tried to answer the following research questions:
- how successfully schools realized the objectives of the project and those set in their school plans;
- how these changes influenced the students’ National Examination achievements;
- how successfully schools responded to differences arising from disadvantaged domestic environment (low socio-economic background, cultural and socio-economic capital);
- how the project contributed to the professional growth of professional staff in the schools (Project Methodological Plan, 2012).
In accordance with the research questions the project evaluation covered the following research fields: motivation for reading, reading and writing techniques, reading comprehension, reading learning strategies (RLS), reading literacy with all subjects, metacognition and teacher's reflection, National Examination achievements. Following the project objectives and theoretical findings, the key variables (defined by the methodology group) for all research fields were included in the data gathering.
- Fani Nolimal, Ph.D., Head of Primary (Basic) School Education, National Education Institute; - Ph.D. in pedagogy, in the area of team teaching; - 25–26 October 2011: Member of Program and Organizing Committee of the National Conference Reading Literacy in Slovenia and Europe; - September 2011– October 2013: Manager of the project Empowering learners by improving reading literacy and access to knowledge, where I was conducting involved schools as well as group of experts and taking active part in planning, implementation and evaluation of the project, e.g.: - trustee of three schools involved in the project (continuous professional support and monitoring of activities and specific objectives set by schools); - member of the expert team for methodology in evaluation (author of several research instruments related to the pursued objectives of the project, e.g.: Scale for monitoring of learning activities and strategies in connection with reading literacy). Project presentation • national level: - 3 December 2013: at the expert meeting with the members of the Centre for European Policy Studies – CEPS, Faculty of education, Ljubljana. • international level: - November 2012: Pestalozzi workshop in Ljubljana, organised by the Council of Europe and the National education institute of Slovenia. Author of several articles concerned reading literacy, for example articles published in 2013: • Nolimal, F. (2013a). Developing reading literacy in primary schools – from baseline to the empirical findings of the project Empowering learners by improving reading literacy and access to knowledge/Razvoj pismenosti osnovnošolcev – od izhodišč do empiričnih ugotovitev projekta Opolnomočenje učencev z izboljšanjem bralne pismenosti in dostopa do znanja. V: F. Nolimal in T. Novakovič (ur.). Reading literacy in kindergarten and primary schools/Bralna pismenost v vrtcu in šoli. Ljubljana: National Education Institute/Zavod RS za šolstvo, str. 15–48. • Nolimal, F. (2013b). Spodbujanje razvoja bralne pismenosti (v vrtcih in) osnovnih šolah. Vzgoja in izobraževanje, letnik XLIV, številka 2-3, str. 8 – 15. Main studies, concerned the proposal: • Cankar, G. (2013). Dosežki pri NPZ in SES učencev (kompenzacija primanjkljajev). V: F. Nolimal et al. (2014). Opolnomočenje učencev z izboljšanjem bralne pismenosti in dostopa do znanja. Evalvacijsko poročilo projekta. Dostopno na: http://www.zrss.si/pdf/Evalvacijsko-porocilo-bralna-pismenost-2014.pdf • Pečjak, S., Potočnik, N., Cankar, G. (2013). Bralne zmožnosti učencev ob koncu prvega triletja (3. razred). V: F. Nolimal et al. (2014). Opolnomočenje učencev z izboljšanjem bralne pismenosti in dostopa do znanja. Evalvacijsko poročilo projekta. Dostopno na: http://www.zrss.si/pdf/Evalvacijsko-porocilo-bralna-pismenost-2014.pdf
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