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Phonics Without the Froo Froo

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We all know that phonics is one of the 6 essential components of reading instruction and, in and of itself, is not sufficient to help children become proficient readers.  It is, however, critical that we get the teaching of phonics, starting with phoneme grapheme correspondence, right so that children have a firm foundation on which to base their reading skill development.

The title of today’s post gives away where my head has been this past week! A slew of Facebook posts and shared links revea…

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Decisions that Define Our Practice

6 Key Decisions of Early Years Reading Instruction


We teachers make literally hundreds of decisions each day about a great many things. When it comes to reading instruction, there's a very real chance that we are using methods, resources and techniques without having given them a great deal of thought.  This doesn't happen because we are 'thoughtless' in our work, but because in our complicated professions, there is always an element of 'doing what we have always done'. Now, let's be clear. There are no perfect decisions, but there are often b…

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Phonemes and Graphemes

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When first learning about teaching phonics it can be challenging to wrap your head around how it all works.  For teachers who are used to teaching with letter names, it can be tricky to know what a ‘sound’ is and what it isn’t.  So, here are some fundamentals of sounds and letters to help get you on track.

Firstly, it is important to call things by their right names and to teach these names to students. 

There are 44 phonemes in Australian English - 24 consonant phonemes and 20 vowel pho…

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Key Questions for Grading Early Years Reading

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One of the ‘hot topics’ right now is how to grade reading when we are moving towards a more evidence informed method of assessment.   In a previous post, I wrote about how you might conduct that assessment (here) but the next natural question is, “How does this align with the Australian Curriculum from which we have to grade?”

I warn you, this post is a monster, but I wanted you to have some solid, simple information from which you could make a judgement about reading grades.

The first thing t…

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The Value of a Quality Program

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Imagine going to the hardware store knowing you need to fix the mould in your bathroom. You look for ‘mould products’ and discover a wonderful looking bottle of mould killer that promises to eradicate all of your bathroom problems. You take it home, spray your bathroom liberally and regularly and the problem seems to clear up (you can forgive the bleached areas of paint on the untiled sections of your bathroom. After all, the mould is gone). Except, that it hasn’t. Your tiles look lovely and c…

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Vocabulary Instruction Made Easy

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In  a previous post about vocabulary, I discussed how we can choose great Tier 2 words and suggested a couple of ways that we might teach them. You can read that post here.

This week, I’d like to unpack a little more from the absolutely fantastic book, ‘Bringing Words to Life’ and share more about how we can make it all happen in our classrooms.

May be an image of text that says 'SECOND EDITION Ower450,000mPrint! Over 450,000 in Print! Bringing Words toLife Instruction Robust Vocabulary IsabelL Beck, Margaret G. McKeown, and Linda Kucan'

The first thing to know is that there are three phases to vocabulary instruction.

  • Introducing the words
  • Working with the words
  • Keeping the word…

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Where do I start?

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I am due to write about vocabulary instruction this week, but today a member of my On the Science of Reading Bus Facebook Group posted about how confused they felt starting their Science of Reading journey and so I am shifting focus for a bit to help them (and others) out.   Over the past 2 years I have written 125 blog post, all intended to support teachers to implement the recommendations of research in classrooms.  125 posts is a lot to read (and to be honest, most haven't made it to be re-pu…

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No More Three Cueing! What's Next?

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There has been a lot of talk lately about the very encouraging announcement that Arkansas in the United States has banned teach children the three cueing method in reading instruction.  This means that teachers will need to find an alternative to teaching children to do any of the following:

  • Look at the first letter, look at the picture and think about what makes sense
  • Skip the word, read on and then come back after you think about what makes sense
  • Trying a word that makes sense
  • Using …

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Choosing the right words for Tier 2 Vocabulary Instruction

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In last week’s post I shared with you some key insights from my recent conversations with Margaret McKeown and Pamela Snow.  These amazing women very generously gave their time to help all of us better understand what it takes to teach vocabulary and language well.  Some of the key messages from these conversations involved the fact that you can’t teach all the words and that there are no set ‘word lists’ to teach from.  There have been some academic words lists compiled as guidance around this,…

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Vocab Tips from the Experts

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You may have heard of my Facebook group, On the Science of Reading Bus.  This group explores one of 8 Key Actions of evidence-based reading instruction over a 5 week period and has a focus on learning, sharing and taking action. The current Key Action we are working through is ‘Explicitly teach vocabulary and background knowledge.’

To help give teachers a better understanding of the key actions I interview respected experts and share these interviews in the Facebook group. I recently had the …

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