Literacy development in 2019/20
As part of general school improvement schools are required to focus annually on areas in which improvements can be made in teaching and learning. Currently the main focus for Rockbrook is on improving Assessment and Reporting, driven by necessary changes in the new Junior Cycle. As the school year progresses this focus will be seen on Homework.
The school also has an ongoing focus on literacy. The main strengths of the school in this regard are:
- The school has a majority of students with a moderate-to-high literacy level, which helps to set high standards. Practically all students take this subject at Higher Level in the Junior Cycle and a majority do so in the Leaving Cert.
- There is a willing staff, which is motivated to learn more about literacy and how they can improve it in the school.
- There is a very good staff-student relationship in the school, aiding the implementation of literacy improving measures. There are also good opportunities to promote literacy through co-curricular activities, especially through school clubs (especially debating, writing & documentary clubs), leadership activities and Clanns.
- There is a majority of school parents with a positive attitude towards literacy and its importance for their sons.
For the school every teacher is a literacy teacher. Teachers seek to make students aware of the three connections of reading in their subject: text to self (the text relates to the student and his own life experiences), text to text (the link which can be made with this text and previously experienced texts), text to world (the connection made between the text and something he has seen or can imagine in the world at large).
Teachers aim to prompt students to:
- analyse the text to look for key concepts, terms, vocabulary, phraseology
- make predictions about what could be discovered and comparing this to what is finally learned
- learn to understand context and where and when the language is and isn’t applicable
- learn how to form an opinion on the text.
Teachers will give short spelling tests using terms relevant to their subjects. Teachers will enrich the subject classrooms with relevant terms and definitions. Teachers will ask students to pronounce challenging words and explain important phrases on a regular basis. Teachers will liaise with mentors & AEN to help develop students’ literacy.
Numeracy in Rockbrook
In the context of numeracy the main strengths of the school are identified as follows:
- The school has a significant majority of students with a moderate-to-high numeracy levels. A significant majority of students take subjects at Higher Level at Junior Cycle.
- There is a willing Mathematics staff, which is motivated to improve numeracy, and Business, Geography and Science departments are also keen to cooperate.
- There is a very good staff-student relationship in the school, and parents have a positive approach to any developments rolled out by the school.
Teachers seek to develop students’ capacities to comprehend written and verbal questioning around mathematical concepts and to respond appropriately to it. This is helped by rich classroom displays, teacher’s referring to key words in questioning, teachers prompting students to use key words, students being asked to design questions for exams.
Teachers wish to make mental mathematics an embedded process across all numeracy elements in the school curriculum. To this end teachers will minimise use of calculators in first year. Maths Week and Science Week will be promoted in the school. Internal school competitions will feature as part of Maths Week.