Asian Primary & Preschool Teachers Congress, 8 May 2010

The key objective of Literacy Instruction is the development of proficiency in reading and writing. This is also a fundamental concern of schools in Asia today. However, Asian educators are still grappling with the notion of comprehensive literacy instruction. They need to be clear about what it constitutes and the resources to realize their goals.   Since comprehensive literacy instruction aims to instill in students a vast array of skills ranging from print awareness to critical reading and creative writing, the speakers and workshop leaders at the Asian Primary & Preschool Teachers Congress (APTC) will collectively provide an overview of comprehensive literacy instruction and showcase its best practices to educators, teachers and parents to help bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Congress Directors : Dr. Chitra Shegar and Dr. Susan Harris-Sharples

Target Audience : Primary, preschool and kindergarten teachers and parents

9.30am – 10am : Keynote 1 – Comprehensive Literacy Instruction Programme – What Does it Constitute?, Dr. Susan Harris-Sharples

Literacy instruction forms an integral part of the English language curriculum in several Asian countries as it is one of keys ways for developing proficient readers and writers who are able to perform competently in the globalised economy. This address focuses on the notion of comprehensive literacy instruction, what it constitutes, what extent literacy instruction is comprehensive in the Asian context and how it can be enhanced.

10am – 10.30am : Keynote 2 – Facilitating Literacy Development through ICT, Dr. Mark Evan Nelson

Digital technologies are increasingly present in practically every facet of life. We have at our disposal myriad means by which to say who we are, with written and spoken words, images, sounds, and movement. But what are the implications of digital technologies for language and literacy education? In this presentation, we will concretely explore ways to incorporate multiple communication modes and media into pedagogies in the digitally supported literacy environment.


10.45am – 11.45am : Concurrent Sessions

– Integrating Information Technology into the Classroom: Creating Electronic Books with Young Children to Support Literacy Learning, Cynthia Tan & Geraldine Zuzarte

The creation of electronic books provides children the opportunity to collaborate, learn and create original products. The role of the educator involves helping children make use of technology in ways that are relevant to them. Geraldine and Cynthia will present The Caterpillar’s Cove Child Development and Study Centre’s project on connecting the use of technology with children’s exploration of their emergent curriculum.

– Inspiring children to read & love reading: strategies that work, Dr. George Jacobs

The most important gift a teacher or caregiver can give to a child is the love for reading. This love for reading can be inculcated by the use of techniques such as prediction, reading aloud, K-W-L, literature circles and reader response. In this workshop, participants, apart from being given demonstrations of the various techniques, will also be given opportunities to try them out.

– Effective strategies for developing pupils’ vocabulary, Claire Yio

Vocabulary knowledge and reading achievement are highly correlated. Pupils with larger vocabularies are more capable readers. These pupils have a wider repertoire of strategies for figuring out the meanings of unknown words. One way in which pupils can develop a large vocabulary is by having knowledge of vocabulary strategies. This workshop orientates participants to the various strategies through lively hands-on activities.


12pm – 1pm : Plenary 1 – Enhancing READING and Writing Instruction, Dr. Chitra Shegar

Based on the observations gained from language lessons in various schools as well as an authentic implementation of comprehensive literacy instruction in a local primary school carried out as part of a “The School-based Reading Innovation Project” the speaker will highlight the strengths and weaknesses in reading instruction in Singapore and how it can be enhanced to meet international standards.


Plenary 2 Enhancing Reading and WRITING Instruction, Dr. Antonia Chandrasegaran

There is a tendency among teachers to be over-preoccupied with accuracy in grammar and other surface aspects of writing, and to believe that narrative and recount are the only types of texts primary school children can write. The paper on writing in this session calls for a shift in mind set when reading children’s writing, a shift from error hunting to explicit appreciation of the creative language acts that may be present in a nascent form in primary school children’s compositions, and suggests that creativity may be developed by encouraging children to write genres other than narrative and recount.


2.30pm – 3.30pm : Concurrent Sessions

– Emergent writing developmental stages and their benefits, Dr. Susan Harris-Sharples 

Learning to write requires children to use a combination of various physical skills and mental processes. Every child goes through various developmental phases in writing such as squiggles, letter stringing, invented spellings, before they approximate towards conventional spelling. This workshop will examine the developmental phases of emergent writing, as well as the need to support these phases as they are fundamental to a child’s literacy development.

– Developing Reading Skills in Children at Risk for Reading Failure, Sylvia Foo

There are some children who have difficulty developing their reading skills because of learning issues such as dyslexia. However, these children can achieve reading success if they receive specialist teaching at early stages. The pedagogical recommendation is phonics with exposure to books and oral language activities. In this workshop, strategies for phonics instruction to help learners who are at risk for reading failure will be disseminated.

– Introducing Visual Literacy to Lower Primary Pupils, Dr Carmelita C. Ballesteros

In today’s multimedia world, visual literacy or meaning-making through images is an important literacy skill. Visual literacy can be enhanced through an understanding of some basic elements of design and composition in picture books. Through this workshop, parents, caregivers, and primary school teachers will learn how to anchor the teaching of the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing on the most fundamental skill of seeing or viewing.


3.45pm – 4.45pm : Concurrent Sessions

– Shared Book Approach: Big Books for the Early Readers, Maureen Khoo  

This workshop aims to guide pre-school, and P1 & 2 teachers in reviewing a sample of locally available Big Book stories including Singaporean authored stories used in Shared Book Approach lessons.  Drawing on theories on learning–to-read processes, understandings of the Shared Book Approach, including teachers’ use of ‘ mediating talk’, the speaker will share her  insights  into how each book’s content, language, story pattern and illustrations  offer variable opportunities in supporting learning–to-read instructional in young readers. 

– Digital Storytelling: the multiplier effect, Kwah Poh Foong

Digital story-telling refers to the use of computer-based tools to create a story. These stories often contain a mixture of text, images, audio narration, music, etc. The story focus can range from one’s personal life to historical events. Besides orientating participants on the know-how of digital story telling, this session also examines its benefits as a teaching and learning process for teachers and students.

– Effective Strategies for developing children’s oral skills, Dr. Barbara Spilchuk

Following book read alouds various oral activities can be carried out so that the book exploration becomes an enriching activity. Some of these activities are hot seating, puppet play, choral reading, reader’s theatre, tableau, and others. This workshop provides teachers with the opportunity to design as well as personally experience these activities.


5.00pm – 5.45pm : Discussion Clinic: Meeting the requirements of comprehensive literacy instruction and demands of educational stakeholders

The sessions today are designed to equip the participants with knowledge on comprehensive literacy instruction. But the question that still remains is how can Singapore teachers meet both the requirements of comprehensive literacy instruction and the demands of educational stakeholders? In today’s discussion clinic, five knowledgeable presenters, Susan, Mark, Antonia, George and Geraldine will share their perspectives on this matter drawing on their personal professional journeys with preschool and primary school teachers.

Facilitator : Dr. Chitra Shegar

Panel : Dr. Susan Harris-Sharples, Dr. Mark Evan Nelson, Dr. George Jacobs, Dr. Antonia Chandrasegaran, Geraldine Zuzarte


5.45pm – 6pm : Converging Trends and Concluding Thoughts : Where Should We Go From Here?, Dr. Susan Harris-Sharples


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