At Wantirna College we are extremely fortunate to have the QuickSmart Numeracy and Quick Smart Literacy Programs. The programs are oveseen by the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales and have dramatically improved the numeracy and/or reading skills of students. Two highly trained tutors operate each program from dedicated spaces, Numeracy in Rees House and Literacy in Byrne House. Data from a range of tests is used to select students, who are working below their age range, and would benefit from the program, which generally lasts for 30 weeks.
The QuickSmart Literacy program focuses on improving a student’s automaticity of word recognition and fluency in reading connected texts. It is based on our growing understanding of neuroscience and how our brains work when learning. Students are withdrawn from mainstream classes three times per week for 30 minutes each time, which allows them to build new neural pathways to aid learning.
Instruction is organised into units of three-to-four weeks’ duration (i.e., 9-12 lessons) that centre on sets of focus words. The sets of around thirty focus words range in difficulty, beginning with high usage three and four letter words, to more complex and demanding sets. The sets of focus words are either linked to a curriculum learning area, a quality literary text, or a theme of interest to the students. The focus words are incorporated in two or more passages of connected text relevant to the topic.
QuickSmart Literacy sessions are structured to include a number of short and focused activities aimed at improving a student's speed of word recognition, reading fluency, and comprehension skills. Each week, the three reading intervention sessions include:
- timed flashcard activities based on a set of focus words selected from a target text;
- vocabulary activities;
- repeated readings of the target text to improve a student's reading fluency;
- scaffolded use of comprehension strategies;
- reading games designed to consolidate a student's word recognition and word meaning knowledge;
- regular testing on selected tasks.
- Sessions are timetabled so as to cause minimal disruption to student's normal classes.
QuickSmart Numeracy is an educational program designed to support numeracy skill development.
QuickSmart Numeracy emphasises the role of automaticity in learning. Automaticity is the immediate recall of basic information. QuickSmart focuses on developing students' understanding and quick recall of basic academic facts with a particular focus on times tables. The program is called QuickSmart because it encourages students to become quick in their response speed and smart in their strategy use when learning basic academic skills.
Ultimately, QuickSmart aims to free up working memory so students can engage meaningfully in demanding school activities like problem solving and multiple computations. The more automatically a student can complete basic computations such as 9 x 9, the more space they create in their working memory to engage in the higher levels of thinking. Becoming faster and more confident in recalling basic mathematics facts, for example, can mean that students have more time, energy and attention available for tackling more challenging mathematical problems.
The QuickSmart Numeracy program provides instruction that meets individual students' learning needs, with tools such as flash cards building the speed and accuracy of recall.
An important part of both programs is that the students self-monitor their progress and receive and generate immediate, informative feedback. This creates a sense of success, which motivates students to continue at a higher level with this intensive learning. Students in both programs show the equivalent of up to three year’s growth in the 30 week program.