Blog

Three Simple Ways to Make Oral Language a Priority

chat-2389223_1280

Have you ever reached reporting time in your semester, had a look at the ‘speaking and listening’ part of the achievement standard and realised that you don’t really have any strong evidence to assess? 

photo-1518384401463-d3876163c195

There’s also a really good chance that you haven’t intentionally planned for this beyond having children ‘do news’ and maybe participate in a group drama activity.  This is such a common story, not because teachers aren’t diligent in their duties, but because speaking and listening is somethin…

Read more…

Moving on from Sounding Out

photo-1528869336437-6003cdc57e4a

Sometimes our students get stuck in an apparently endless beginning phase of reading, sounding out word by word.  Where other children make steady progress in building fluency, reasonably quickly arriving at the point where they can recognise and read many words, our ‘stuck’ kids make little progress. 



We know that the first step in learning to decode is to use our knowledge of phonics and combine it with our phonemic skills to sound out words. Everyone works through this phase …

Read more…

Unsightly Sight Words

sight reading

There is much commentary about teaching sight words, with good reason.  This ineffective practice still runs rampant in most  Primary Schools.

Some of the most common questions I see asked in early years Facebook group are about this very topic.

How do you teach them?

What activities do you do with them?

How do we help students who are having trouble learning them? 

The answer to all of these questions largely lies in the definition of sight words and our understanding of how we learn t…

Read more…

What About the Play?

photo-1584515828432-06198c3196a8

There is a huge push (and rightly so) for strong literacy foundations  to be built in the first year of school, but with children entering formal schooling as young as four and half years old, the question is to be asked, “What about the play?”.

If you have been reading my blog of any length of time you will know that I am a MASSIVE advocate for explicit teaching in early literacy skills.  I write and teach others about teacher led, systematic, instruction in reading and spelling. What you …

Read more…

The Strugglers Among Us

photo-1516578318004-ea51f9153647

Here in Australia the school year is a few weeks in and teachers have been busily getting to know their new students.   As part of this process, it is customary to spend some time learning to understand the needs of our students with additional needs.  We meet with parents, review files and familiarise ourselves with individual education plans.   But what of the students who don’t have a diagnosis, individual education plan or record of ongoing additional needs?  How do we identify and support t…

Read more…

5 Classroom Practices to Boost Language

talk-1246941_960_720

Oral language is at the heart of all academic learning. After all, If you can’t say it, you can’t read it and you can’t write it.  As teachers, we know this to be true, but often struggle to understand exactly what we are supposed to do to make it happen.  So, here is a handy list of things to take into consideration when planning for oral language teaching in your classroom:


  1. Make your classroom a language rich environment where discussion and use of complex vocabulary is the norm.  D…

Read more…

Why bright shiny things are not the answer

unslumping

The new school year has started and most people here in Australia are a week or more into their new class. I remember when I was first teaching and every year I would imagine how it was going to be when the next batch of shiny eyed cherubs landed in my room. I would spend  hours programming, preparing and trying to ‘up the anti’ on what was happening in my room. Inevitably I exhausted myself before school even started.   And then of course, what came from that was actually not good. Because I ha…

Read more…

Using Rich Text to Build Language

IMG_20200624_173844

 Once we understand the need for explicit language and writing teaching, the question becomes, “Exactly what does this look like in a classroom?”  This post aims to begin to answer that question.  


Quality picture books.



A particularly engaging and effective method of building language is through the use of quality picture books.  This is by no means a new way to explore and contextualise grammar.  I highly recommend Joanne Rossbridge and Kathy Rushton’s book “Convers…

Read more…

Introducing the ‘On the Science of Reading Bus’ Facebook Group

Facebook Screen Shot

Many of us know about the science of reading. We know the importance of phonics, oral language, decodable texts and phonemic awareness and we are hungry for ways to develop our classroom practice so that we can get the best outcomes for every child.

If this is you, I want to invite you to join me on the Science of Reading Bus in 2021!  Being on the bus is an idea that really appeals to me.  The bus is the network of teachers, education assistants, parents, intervention specialists, university…

Read more…

Thinking of running in-house PL on the science of reading?

presentation

So, you have been lobbying your Principal and they have finally let you have 20 minutes of your staff meeting to share your passion for the reading science.  What do you do?  Do you hand out a journal article showing that systematic phonics is more effective than whole word reading and workshop responses? Do you share a clip explaining how balanced literacy has failed students?  You could do those things, but if you are hoping to start the seeds of conversation about changing practice in your sc…

Read more…