Teaching Literacy

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

​​​​​​​​The Literacy Teaching Toolkit

The Literacy Teaching Toolkit provides practical advice and high impact teaching practices that improve outcomes in reading, writing and speaking and listening. It covers three main elements of literacy:

Release of the toolkit

The toolkit is in development and will be released in stages from October 2017.

The toolkit currently includes:

  • reading and viewing, for primary schools
  • the first part of writing, for primary schools
  • a new expert video on the importance of oral language in the early years
  • new primary pedagogical videos demonstrating practices in reading and viewing.

The complete toolkit will be available from March 2018. ​

​Toolkit backg​round

The toolkit supports teachers to understand what excellence looks like for language and literacy, and to:

  • activate their knowledge
  • understand what excellence in practice looks like for the teaching of language and literacy
  • understand the manageable steps that teachers can take in the teaching of language and literacy in each domain of practice
  • understand the learning continuum for literacy as it relates to the Victorian Curriculum, to locate a student’s progress and a teacher’s next steps.

It is designed to provide access to evidence informed understandings about effective language and literacy teaching and learning through:

  • detailed accounts of essential elements of what needs to be taught
  • descriptions of key language and literacy teaching practices and their role in scaffolding learning
  • linking theory and practice
  • detailed instructional guides and sequences of lessons which illustrate practical examples of language and literacy teaching
  • video vignettes which demonstrate literacy teaching practices
  • video vignettes of experts discussing various dimensions of literacy for use in professional learning or discussions within schools.

Teachers can use the toolkit to:

  • strengthen classroom literacy teaching and learning programs
  • support professional learning meetings
  • develop school-wide literacy plans
  • plan for teaching and learning to build success in literacy
  • personalise student learning experiences
  • support self-reflection
  • develop a scaffolded approach to building their language and literacy knowledge and practices.
  • develop subject matter knowledge across curriculum.

Guide to the Literacy Teaching Toolkit

A guide has been designed to support school leaders and teachers to understand and use the toolkit:

Literacy and the Education State

​​​Literacy education is foundational to engagement in learning and lifelong achievement. Providing schools with clear direction and priorities to focus on student learning is a key part of the Education State. Ambitious targets in literacy and numeracy have been set as part of the Education State reforms. For more information, see: Target: Learning for life

The Victorian Curriculum and the VEYLDF set out what students are expected to learn about literacy in primary and secondary schools. Both require teachers to have sophisticated knowledge about language and literacy content. Teachers also require an appreciation of effective teaching practices that allow them to incorporate informed content and pedagogical knowledge into their practice. The toolkit supports teachers by providing detailed evidence-based guidance on effective literacy instruction. The current version of the toolkit contains guidance on reading and viewing for primary and secondary schools (for students working up to Level 6).

School leadership teams use the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) to drive strategic and annual planning for excellence in literacy teaching and learning at the whole school level. The toolkit supports schools and teachers in the FISO priority area of Excellence in teaching and learning.

Recent research has shown that when school and early childhood educational leaders develop their specific knowledge about literacy teaching and learning, their educators and teachers feel supported and engaged in raising achievement in literacy.

The role of professional learning in literacy has taken ‘centre stage’ in leaders’ planning across the whole school setting.

Development of the toolkit has drawn on extensive research that shows to be an effective reader requires skills and understandings in decoding, text use and text analysis. Teachers should employ a range of evidence based literacy approaches to tailor teaching and learning to the needs of their students. Teachers are expected to teach phonics explicitly, for example, alongside supporting students’ literal, inferential and evaluative comprehension. It is important to support students’ interest, engagement and enjoyment with books and other texts that they read and view. The toolkit is a web-based resource that supports teachers to implement the Victorian Curriculum and the VEYLDF.

Literacy background

Literacy education is fundamental to children’s success at all levels of education from early childhood to tertiary (Freebody, Barton & Chan, 2014). Literacy teaching is a central component of every school’s business.  

Effective literacy programs enable students to see connections between, especially, reading and writing and allow them to engage in extended dialogues about their learning. In acknowledgment of  the theoretical links between language and literacy, Snow (1991) proposed a four domain model: conversational language skills, decontextualized oral language skills, print skills, and emergent literacy skills.

Snow described the variety of language purposes in each domain and how specific domain skills related to literacy, for example the connections between decontextualized oral language and reading comprehension in the middle primary years.

Each subject or discipline, such as science or history, has its own distinctive literacy demands (Christie & Derewianka, 2008). The toolkit promotes an informed understanding of texts common to various disciplines, including english, which contributes to teachers’ capacity to support children’s interpretation and composition of a variety of print based and multimodal texts (Myhill, Jones & Watson, 2013).


Callow, J. (2013). The Shape of Text to Come: How Image and Text Work. Primary English Teaching Association (Australia) (PETAA).

Christie, F., & Martin, J. R. (Eds.). (2007). Language, knowledge and pedagogy: Functional linguistic and sociological perspectives. London and Oakville: Continuum.

Christie, F. & Derewianka, B. (2008). School Discourse: Learning to write across the years of schooling. London: Continuum.

Cox, R. (2015). Contextualising multilingualism in Australia today. English in Australia, 50(1), 13-20.

Cummins, J. (1998). Beyond adversarial discourse: Searching for common ground in the education of bilingual students. Presentation to the California State Board of Education. Sacramento, California.

Dempster, N., Konza, D., Robson, G., Gaffney, M., Lock, G., & McKennariey, K. (2012) Principals as literacy leaders: Confident, credible and connected. Canberra, ACT: Australian Primary Principals Association.

Fang, Z. (2016). Teaching close reading with complex texts across content areas. Research in the Teaching of English, 51(1), 106-116.

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Hattie, J. (2016). Visible learning for literacy, grades K-12: implementing the practices that work best to accelerate student learning. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Literacy.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 metaanalyses relating to achievement.  Routledge UK.

Hattie, J. (2013). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. Routledge UK

Jewitt, C.  (2008). Multimodality and Literacy. School Classrooms. Review of Research in Education, Vol. 32, pp. 241–267.

Kalantzis, M., Cope, B., Chan, E., & Dalley-Trim, L. (2016). Literacies. Port Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Cambridge University Press.

Konza, D. (2014). Teaching Reading: Why the “Fab Five” should be the “Big Six”. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(12).

Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: a social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London; New York: Routledge.

Kress, G., & van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading images: the grammar of visual design (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Luke, A. (2014). On explicit teaching and direct instruction​. ALEA ‘Hot Topic’. Australian Literacy Educators’ Association

Myhill, D., Jones, S. & Watson, A. (2013). Grammar matters: How teachers’ grammatical knowledge impacts on the teaching of writing. Teaching and Teacher Education, 36, 77-91. National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (Australia) (2005)

National Reading Panel (U.S.), & National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U.S.). (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel – Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction: Reports of the subgroups. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

New London Group. (2000). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: designing social futures. In B. Cope, & M. Kalantzis (Eds.), Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures. Melbourne, Australia: Macmillan.

Paris, S. (2005). Reinterpreting the development of reading skills. Reading Research Quarterly, 40(2), 184-202.

Snow, C.E. (2004). What counts as literacy in early childhood? In K. McCartney & D. Phillips (Eds.), Handbook of Early Child Development (pp. 274–293). Oxford: Blackwell.

Snow, C. & O’Connor, C. (2016). Close reading and far-reaching classroom discussion: Fostering a vital connection. Journal of Education, 196(1), 1-8.