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The C Grade

This post has previously been published, and has been republished on 27/11/2021

It is report time in Australia right now and tens of thousands of parents are either reading, or about to read about their child’s academic progress over the last two terms.  All schools in Australia are required to grade children’s academic results on a 5 point scale.  In many schools this is represented through A – E grades, with a C grade meaning that the student has learned to complete the skill or task reason…

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Differentiation and the Literacy Block

In last week’s post I wrote about how you can arrange your structured literacy block to get the biggest bang for your buck.  The inevitable questions that arose from that post were, “how do you differentiate?” and “How do you fit everything in?”

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 These two things are separate, but related so I’ll tackle them one at a time and go from there.  The first thing to note is that there is no, single, one way to make all of this happen. I could poll 100 teachers and come up 100 variations of the bloc…

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The What, Why and How Long of the Literacy Block

It’s one thing to understand the basic of a systematic phonics lesson and the need to use decodable texts, and it’s another thing to know where that all fits in with the big picture of the literacy block. In this post I’m going to briefly outline the what, when, why and how long of what one option for a literacy block set up could look like.

Daily Review – approximately 15 minutes

Your daily review is a short, quickly paced chance to consolidate phoneme/grapheme correspondences, blending, segm…

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The Surprising Recommendations about Teaching PA

It’s a great thing that our understanding of the role of phonological and phonemic awareness has increased in recent times.  This shift in awareness means that the largest number of children possible have the active ingredients necessary to learn to read well.  Phonological and phonemic awareness is divided into two sections:

  • Phonological sensitivity – the awareness of language units larger than phonemes. This includes syllables, rhyming, onsets and rimes, phrases and words.
  • Phonemic awarene…

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Start Strong, Stay Strong

This week I had the great pleasure of presenting for Think Forward Educators.  This excellent organisation is committed to bringing quality, accessible information to us teachers about the science of learning and the science of reading.  It’s completely free to join. Members enjoy access to all previous webinars and presentations as well as a terrific array of resources and guides. You can find Think Forward Educators (and access the recording of my presentation from this week) here

Before th…

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Why don't I feel confident yet?

There’s a curious phenomenon that many teachers experience when they begin to shift practice towards structured literacy.  They start to do a bit of reading before quickly ‘going down the rabbit hole’. After a little while they come to understand (or hope they understand) the fundamentals of the evidence of reading instruction, then something funny happens. Suddenly, they feel lost and begin to doubt every single move they make.  They second guess every decision, every moment of instruction and …

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8 Reasons the 'Same Page' is a Great Place to Be

If we were to go for a visit to many a local school we would likely find a great deal of variation in reading instruction from one classroom to the next.  It’s not uncommon for one teacher to be using one program for phonics and decoding and another to be using something different. Even if both of these programs are evidence informed, this difference in programs and approach is problematic.   In far too many schools, teachers are left on their own to ‘figure out’ how best to teach reading.  This…

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The Complicated Simplicity of the Sweet Spot

We all came through our university training hearing about Vygotsky’s 1978 idea of ‘Zone of Proximal Development’. That zone between what the child can do on their own and what they can’t do.  It’s the spot where they can do something with help. The ‘sweet spot’ for learning, you could say.

These days we have the lens of Cognitive Load Theory to view this through.  Sweller’s theory outlines intrinsic load as the actual thing we want children to learn. We can optimise intrinsic load by comparing …

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The Motivation Myth

I woke a few days ago to this image having been shared by a teacher’s page on Facebook. It should have come with a trigger warning because reading it certainly did raise my heart rate. 

And here’s my smarty pants reaction

You might be wondering why I would be opposed to children having access to great books. The truth is, I’m not.  Of COURSE I want every child to have access to books that ignite their imaginations and take them anywhere in the world they want to go. Of COURSE I want that a…

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