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Support Material for teachers

Welcome to the Support Material for teachers page. The Support Material include practical advice or the 'how to' that will inform the teaching of language in both the first and second language of the school. Items of Support Material are illustrated using videos and photos to support practice within the classroom. The Support Material are organised by Strand. Using the left-hand navigation bar, you can filter by stage and by language to find particular pieces of Support Material. You can find the list of Support Materials for teachers that is currently available here.

More items will be added over the coming weeks and months.

The Primary Language Curriculum is an integrated curriculum. This means that it has the same curriculum structure and the same strands for English and Irish to support integration across the two languages. There are Learning Outcomes in place of Content Objectives shifting the focus from the teacher to the child and his/her learning. For each strand - oral language, reading and writing - the curriculum includes a continuum (map) of significant Progression Milestones and detailed Progression Steps involved in children's language learning and development. These are complemented by Examples of children's language learning to help teachers to support children's achievements and progression across both languages. Finally, the curriculum incorporates the priniciples and methodologies of Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (NCCA, 2009).

The Primary Language Toolkit includes a range of Support Material for teachers to use with the Primary Language Curriculum in the school’s first and second language. The Toolkit is published on the curriculum online website at www.curriculumonline.ie and is also available on a USB key disseminated to all primary teachers along with a hard-copy of the curriculum. The Support Material for teachers in the toolkit includes practical advice (published as a printable PDF) illustrated with videos and photos, to inform the teaching of oral language, reading and writing in the school’s first and second language. The items of Support Material outline the ‘how to’ of practice grounded in research. Teachers can refer to the variety of Support Material provided and are encouraged to reflect on how they might implement and adapt the practices shown in a manner appropriate to their own class and school context. The toolkit is a rich resource for supporting practice within the classroom and it will continue to be populated over a period of time as needs and new practices and resources for teaching English and Irish are identified. The Support material will reference existing and new resources for teachers of children with SEN.

Teaching and the Primary Language Toolkit

The Primary Language Curriculum has been informed by a wealth of research into language and literacy development (NCCA reports numbers 14, 15, 16, 2012) along with earlier developments such as Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, (NCCA, 2009). Aistear’s principles are relevant for all children in the infant classes in primary school. These principles together with principles on children’s language and literacy development, are reflected in the rationale, aims, and strands and elements sections of the Primary Language Curriculum. Drawing on Aistear and research on language development, the language curriculum recognises the importance of positive dispositions, the individuality and agency of the child, the centrality of collaborative learning, play as a pedagogical approach, and the integrated nature of learning. Aistear's aims and Learning Goals, in particular within the theme, Communicating, are also reflected in Learning Outcomes for stage 1. The Primary Language Curriculum also uses the communicative approach to second language teaching and learning.  

Teacher-child interactions are at the heart of schools’ work in supporting children’s language learning and development. Building on the concept of reciprocity which is central to Aistear’s principles and to language acquisition, the Primary Language Toolkit includes material on a range of teaching strategies and methodologies to support children’s learning and development across the Learning Outcomes in the school’s L1 and L2. These strategies and methodologies provide opportunities for interactions to be child-initiated with the teacher following, at other times teacher-initiated with children following the teacher’s lead, and at other times with children and teacher taking turns to share the lead (Figure 6 adapted from Aistear (2009, p.28).

Example 1

During child-led play, children in an infant classroom might invite the teacher to visit the vet’s surgery with his/her sick pet snake. The teacher enters the play in role and joins the conversation following the children’s lead. With particular Learning Outcomes in mind, and where appropriate, the teacher might introduce a new word in the ongoing conversation in the surgery or inquire as to how he/she might complete a form needed to fill a prescription.

The teacher plays a critical role in organising and providing a rich language-learning environment for children; modelling language, observing and tuning in to children’s language and literacy across a range of experiences and activities with different text genres. Information gathered in this way enables the teacher to make informed judgements about the Progression Milestones children have reached on the Progression Continua and plan appropriate experiences to help them progress further. Through these experiences and interactions, children learn language and learn to use language for a variety of purposes and for different audiences, and learn to work with and create increasingly sophisticated texts. This learning is achieved through reciprocal exchanges—sometimes the teacher initiates an exchange and children respond, while at other times, children initiate and the teacher follows. The examples below illustrate this further.

Example 2

During the writing workshop, the teacher reviews and takes the lead from children’s writing. Using Learning Outcomes for stage 2, the teacher might plan a mini-lesson on creating strong introductions in text as part of the workshop. Children use this new learning to write on topics of their choice.

This combination and interplay of child-initiated and teacher-initiated experiences play a significant role in enabling all children to develop as confident and competent oral communicators, readers and writers. A balance between child-initiated and teacher-initiated work is especially important in the early years of primary school when strong foundations for and a love of language and literacy are being nurtured in the school’s L1 and L2. The Primary Language Toolkit includes video clips and practice guides showing a variety of strategies which are important for supporting children’s language learning. Some of these materials focus on language concepts and skills specific to a language (English or Irish) while others focus on concepts and skills which underpin both languages.

Oral Language

Reading

Writing

Relevant across strands