Blog

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

good_bad

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…

Read more…

10 Tips for Teaching the Complex Code

alphabetic-code-chart-PI-705x1024

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 …

Read more…

Decodable texts - how do we get it right?

decodables



It is now generally accepted that decodable texts of one sort or another are a key part of a systematic approach to reading instruction. Decodable texts provide the practice students need to develop strong decoding skills with reading material containing limited graphemes and sentence structures. In light of the announcement that all NSW Foundation classrooms will receive a delivery of decodable texts, let’s dive deeper into the what, when, who and how of decodables in learning to read. 

What, when, who

Read more…

Clarity for the next 6th months of reading instruction.

photo-1435527173128-983b87201f4d

If you are an Australian or New Zealand teacher you are more than likely actively planning for Semester 2 and if you are a US or Canadian teacher you will be contemplating your new class and the brand new school year ahead. Whether you are looking down the barrel of online lesson delivery or in-person school, the same principles apply when it comes to comes to creating a classroom program to maximise student learning in reading.

The first thing we need to do is understand what reading developme…

Read more…

Simple Steps for Big Change

Hand drawn quote6


It is the school holidays and I know that it is very likely you have half of your brain occupied by what you’ll be doing next term to create great learning opportunities for your students.  You might have big plans that you are excited about, or you might have big wishes that you know you can’t implement because your school still follows a balanced literacy approach.  Whether you are in the first or second situation, I want you to know that while our goal is to have a fully evidence aligned cl…

Read more…

“Watch out!” – Avoiding the pitfalls of shifting practice

photo-1512621387945-efb0d554f388

With all that we hear about the science of reading, we can get caught up in the idea of ‘one big thing’ that will make our reading instruction the best in the universe. If only it was so!  The reality is that creating a really strong, systematic reading approach in our classrooms comes from an infinity of small things (that might seem massive as we make the leap) that we will never finish learning about. Now, before you log off and reach for the ice-cream, know that I am not saying the task of l…

Read more…

Harnessing the 4 Pillars in Phonics Instruction

photo-1436450412740-6b988f486c6b

In last week’s post, ‘Phonics without the Froo Froo’, I wrote about the need for phoneme grapheme instruction to be direct, simple and explicit. If you haven’t read that post, you can find it here.  In this post I also outlined Stanislas Dehaene’s 4 pillars of learning. You can learn more about these pillars in his book, ‘How We Learn’.

How We Learn : Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine... for Now - Stanislas Dehaene

This week, I’d like to take the discussion even further and evaluate some common classroom practices against Dr Dehaene’s 4 pillars to help you maximise the i…

Read more…

Phonics Without the Froo Froo

photo-1598382143663-011f7ef14529

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…

Read more…

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…

Read more…

Phonemes and Graphemes

alphabetic-code-chart-PI-705x1024

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…

Read more…