On Saturday last, April 18th, accompanied by Ms Frampton (Learning Support Dept) I attended the PDST Literacy event titled Unlocking the Door to Learning: Post-Primary Literacy Conference. In attendance were over 230 delegates from across the country made up of post primary teachers of varying subjects and a number of school librarians.
It was a very well organised conference and there was a general atmosphere of positivity and openness to learning new ideas in relation to literacy.
The keynote address was given by Finian O’Shea, lecturer in Education at Church of Ireland College of Education. It was excellent – humorous and motivating. He highlighted that we can’t speak of literacy without acknowledging literacies and the whole school approach to delivery –
“Every teacher is a teacher of literacy”
He pointed out that literacy today is far more complex that it was in the past. Literacy is not just about the ability to read and write.
“We, as educators, often place so much emphasis on the writing skills of our students yet this is the last of the four skills that are developed. Firstly, our students need to be effective listeners, speakers and readers.”
We were reminded that literacy is about communication in all its formats. Of particular importance today is digital communication and the specific skills required not just to access and share information but also those required to evaluate the relevance, source and authenticity of the information.
He highlighted also that there is no one single approach to the teaching of literary. It has many strands but the most important outcome is that the techniques we use make it possible to learn.
Following the keynote we attended a number of workshops ranging from topics dealing with creating confident learners to the exploration of visual literacy to critical thinking to digital tools for formative assessment.
We came away from this well organised conference with new ideas but also affirmed that Clongowes is already making great strides with bringing our literacy policy to life and we look forward to registering the school for the WellRead National Award that was launched at the conference.