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Version 9 of the English Curriculum Has Landed

The new Australian Curriculum is out and there is some exciting news.  The words ‘predictable texts’ and ‘combining contextual, semantic, grammatical and phonic knowledge’ are now gone.  Other worrisome phrases such as ‘visual memory’ have disappeared from the year 1 descriptors that relate to reading and writing high-frequency words.  These changes reflect the growing understanding of how we learn to read and are to be celebrated.  No longer will we have to try and counter arguments in favour o…

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Beyond Basic Phonics

As teachers seeking to work with the research evidence about reading and reading instruction, we acknowledge the Big Six Ideas of Reading and plan our classroom instruction accordingly.   However, this post is not about incorporating all of those elements. Today I am writing about going broader and deeper with the phonics we are teaching and how we can help our Year 2 and 3 students understand the full complexity of the alphabetic principle and how words work. I will also discuss how we can brin…

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I Asked Teachers to 'Tell Me What You Really Think'.


This week I released the summary report from the 2021 Teacher Voice in Literacy Instruction survey. 

DRAFT 2021 The Teacher Voice in Literacy  Instruction Survey Result

The survey had two purposes:

  • To give teachers the chance to have their voices heard
  • To take the temperature on current classroom practices

Despite the informal nature of the survey, I think we have done that.  

The survey summary report released this week draws no conclusions about what the data means for us and our schools, but today I would like to share my thoughts (and dare I say…

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Are Reading Groups Really that Bad?

One of the features often seen in primary classrooms, both upper and lower, is reading groups. Students are grouped based on their benchmark reading assessment and taught to use a range of strategies to read text such as looking at the first letter of a word and looking at pictures or skipping and word and coming back to see what makes sense. While the teachers works with a small group at a time on guided reading (often having 5 or 6 groups in the class), the rest of the students engage in ‘lite…

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5 Ways to Support Others Through Change

This week I spent some time talking with upper primary teachers about what structured literacy is all about.  I presented for an hour on the Simple View of Reading, Scarborough’s Reading Rope and what an upper primary literacy block might look like.  At the end of the presentation, a very brave teacher put her hand up and said (words to the effect of), “I just don’t know what any of this means”. It was clear that my well-meaning presentation was more than a little overwhelming and had actually c…

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How to Help Your Students Feel Safe in their Learning.

I have long said that there can be no separation between emotions and learning.  The way we feel significantly impacts the way that we interact with the material in front of us and our motivation to participate in lessons.  When I was learning to drive a manual car and stalled on a hill outside a mechanic’s workshop (you might well imagine how mortifying that was), I threw my keys on the kitchen bench after I arrived home and demanded my husband buy me a new car because there was no way I was dr…

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5 Things You Can Stop Worrying About

Let’s face it, there is plenty to worry about in our profession. Are our students learning? How does our community perceive us? Are our teaching methods evidence informed and effective? But there are also many things we might worry about that do nothing more than take up our precious energy and distract us from our core business.

Number 1 – How Pretty Your Classroom Is

Spending hours making your classroom look Pinterest perfect is, quite honestly, not the best use of your time.  In the same ti…

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You Don't Have to Eat the Whole Elephant Today

When we look at all of the things we are meant to do in a day the pressure of it all can leave us paralysed and feeling like a failure.  For those of us with a passion for the reading science, the drive to do it all NOW can overwhelm not only us, but the teams around us.  When we look at the Facebook groups and watch the webinars, it can be hard not to feel like a failure as we see that there are so many hurdles to jump to create change in our schools.  When we feel overwhelmed, the way to kee…

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When it comes to listening to students read, it pays to think outside the book box

Figuring Out Fluency

If you teach in Australia you are a little more than half way through the first term of 2022.  You’ve gotten to know your students and have identified their strengths and weakness in reading.  For some children you will have noticed that they can ‘read’ but they are lacking fluency.  

The first thing to note is that fluency is not an activity we do or a specific skill to develop, it’s the product of great reading instruction across a range of areas.  However, a quick search online for fluency a…

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Display or Decoration? That is the question.

How much time do you currently spend setting up your classroom displays? 1 hour, 3 hours, 10 hours?  Of those hours spent, how much of that time is for the purpose of setting up interactive records of learning and how much of it is purely for display purposes?

I have always loved making my classroom gorgeous. When I taught preschool and the students wanted to learn about rainforests, I made them a fully immersive rainforest experience. When they wanted to learn about the ocean, I made them a re…

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