Reading is a complex, dynamic activity. It involves actively constructing meaning from texts. To do this a reader must be able to understand letters and symbols and how they come together in words and sentences to form connected texts. A reader must be able to ask questions about a text for example: does it make sense, do I agree with the ideas or is this text accurate? Perhaps the area of greatest importance in teaching reading is motivation. Modifying existing texts or creating new texts to suit the interests and needs of the learner ensure that all learners have the best opportunities to construct meaning from text.
Writing: Learners need to be supported as they develop control over the processes of composing and shaping texts. They need to write in different genres, for example, poems, recounts, instructions, explanations, articles for a newsletter, and letters. Contexts for writing should be varied and involve meaningful tasks. Learners need real audiences for the publication of their writing so they can begin to understand relationships between reading and writing.
Teaching Methods: The Latch-On programme is comprised of interwoven elements; speaking and listening, viewing, reading, writing, the use of technology, sequencing and creativity.
Talking and Listening: Speaking supports literacy activities as well as being an important aspect of literacy in its own right. Talking is central in Latch-On. By talking, learners use language to communicate effectively. Every literacy activity should begin with talking and talking is an integral component of all reading and writing activities, for example, brainstorming, talking about ideas, talking about experiences, and talking about the task.
Technology: The Latch-On program has focused on using computers that learners would encounter in their everyday environment – home/libraries/workplace. Computers are no longer a tool for an elite group; they can provide opportunities for diverse users. Using computers to word process writing, to search the web, and to send and receive e-mails are regular activities in the programme.
Creativity: Some activities within each module lend themselves to drama, art, poster making, photographic essays and displays. Literacy activities draw on learners’ creativity and imagination allowing them to express ideas, and their relationships with their communities, in genres that are not restricted by more formal text types of reading and writing.
Viewing: Visual literacy is developed through activities such as viewing and discussing pictures, illustrations, photos, TV programmes and movies. These activities also provide a bridge from talking to reading and writing tasks as the verbal analysis of concrete objects such as photos both aids memory and provides a focus for such tasks.
Latch-On adopts a method of theme-based teaching; which allows for differentiation of work for students of varying levels of ability. Each lesson comprises the following varied components in terms of teaching methods and materials: Sight word development, vocabulary development, letter recognition/phonics/phonemic awareness, grammar/syntax, comprehension, cognitive development and writing genre.