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The Motivation Myth

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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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Words, Words Everywhere!

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This post was first published in 2020 and is now re-released with revisions. 


‘Environmental print’ is something that we have heard about forever and there are many different ways to look at this concept.

I have seen environmental print placed around a room with the hope that children will ‘pick up’ the words and be able to use them for a variety of purposes.   This might take the form of labels around the room or lists of words placed on the wall by the teacher.

I have also seen word…

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Is this the Science of Reading?

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One of the most common questions asked in Facebook groups about literacy instruction is “Is this a science of reading resource?”   It’s a question that usually ends up with a variety of answers ranging from, ‘No! Don’t touch it!’ to ‘Ooooh, I love that one’.  Neither of these answers is very helpful if you are the teacher trying to wade your way through complex decision making to get the best outcomes for your students.  This week I’d like to provide a little information and some ideas to consid…

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Pinterest

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This post was previously published under the title, 'A Review of Online Resources - Pinterest'. 

 

Teachers LOVE Pinterest. We try and have a Pinterest perfect classroom, with cute displays on our doors. (Here’s mine from a few years ago)

Oh, how much time I spent on that house!


I’ve made rain clouds out of balloons, paper Mache and cotton balls. I’ve created a box of paper fruit and veg for my dramatic play area. I’ve even made whole immersion experiences for my kiddos usi…

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Is Your Assessment a Waste of Time?

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I love data. I love it so much that the other night I had a dream about going to a school and volunteering to assess every child’s reading. I actually woke up wondering whether I had time…

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Data has always been a cornerstone of my practice, both as a teacher and a school leader.  I wanted to know where students were up to. I wanted to know what the journey forward looked like. I wanted to know what it would look like when students had learned the things I planned for them to learn. I also wa…

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Context Embedded vs Context Reduced Reading Instruction

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The release of John Sweller’s recent report about inquiry learning has been followed up with a range of tweets, Facebook posts and articles either coming out in favour of either explicit teaching or inquiry learning.  In this post I am going to share my own thoughts on this in a way that I hope is measured and nuanced. But let’s be clear, I am not going to go down the road of ‘teachers use a range of techniques based on what they believe is best for students so just leave them alone to make thei…

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My students are learning things. Aren’t they?

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 Early in 2021 I held a Masterclass called ‘The Top Three Mistakes Foundation Teachers Make in Reading Instruction – and How to Avoid Them’.  This week’s post revisits mistake number 2

Assuming that because you have taught something, students have learned it.

Every single one of us has made this assumption at one point or another only to realise later that we were so wrong!

The first thing to consider are three little words -

Engage, practice, apply

Essentially, students need to do something with and think about…

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Simple Phonics Solutions For Home Learning

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One of the struggles I have seen teachers have in put together their home learning packs for phonics is ‘what on earth do we give our children who can’t read anything yet?’   This is especially challenging if your school is not offering live stream lessons or families do not have access to unlimited internet data.   In our regular phonics lessons the teacher is absolutely crucial to scaffolding and leading learning. No worksheet or set of instructions for parents can replace that.   So, how do…

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Struggling with Self-Doubt? Don't Believe Everything You Think.

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For a while now I have been in contact with an early career teacher who co-teaches with a teacher who is more experienced than her. This arrangement might work out beautifully, except that the more experienced teacher is an ‘expert’ in a balanced literacy approach and the early career teacher is firmly ‘on the bus’ of evidence informed practice. This leaves my young colleague in the precarious position of taking 2 steps forward and then doubting everything she does.  I know that there are so man…

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10 Tips for Teaching the Complex Code

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You may have heard that English is way too complicated and illogical to teach explicitly.  This myth is one of the reasons that memorising words persists as a spelling strategy, but it is simply not true. What is true is that English has an opaque orthography. This means that the relationship between phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters that represent those phonemes) is, well….busy. The ‘basic code’ is reasonably simple. One alphabet letter represents consonants and the short vowels, with a …

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