Research to the Classroom - Dyad Reading Part 3 - Teacher Talk

Cover Art

Subscribe to the Podcast


Jocelyn: Hey Kirby, how are you going?

Kirby: Good. Thank you. How are you?

Jocelyn: I'm excellent now that you're here. It's so fantastic to have you here for our very first teacher talk episode of the podcast. Kirby, why don't you share with our listeners who you are, where you teach, what you do, how long you've been teaching for and all the things?

Kirby: Sure. So my name's Kirby. This will be my 12th year of teaching. I worked out earlier, which sounds like a really long time, but it certainly doesn't feel like that long. I'm a teacher at Trinity Anglican College in Aubrey, which sits on the border of New South Wales and Victoria. So I currently teach a year five class, which I love. I love teaching the upper primary. I've been in literacy leadership in the past. I've done a little bit of work for the Department of Education in Victoria, and now I'm focusing on some numeracy leadership. So a little bit of a mixed bag, but that's what I like, I like being able to dabble in a little bit of everything.

Jocelyn: Wonderful. One of the things that I've always admired about your practice, Kirby, is that you run a tight ship, that you're quite specific and clear on what is important for your students' outcomes and you see what needs to happen and you just do it and having spent a couple of days with you and your kids in your classroom, can absolutely see that that has paid dividends because they were a fantastic group of kids. As we know, good kids come from great teachers. So well done to you.


Jocelyn: Kirby, we're here today to talk about fluency and assisted reading that happens in the classroom. So listeners, if you've listened to the previous two episodes, you will have heard me share a research paper about dyad reading or assisted reading and the benefits of that particular practice. Then, in the second episode of this series, I shared a fluency development lesson structure that you might like to have a go with and that comes from Tim Rasinski and Chase Young. Kirby, I would love for you to share with our podcast listeners today what practice in fluency in your classroom looks like and, before we get to that, tell us a bit about what reading practice looked like when you first started teaching or before you came to this understanding of structured literacy that you have now.

 Kirby: Sure. So reading practice in, I suppose, the years gone by was really based on independent reading. So kids were selecting their own texts, and then they would read for 15 to 20 minutes per day and this is kind of going from when I taught kindergarten or foundation all the way through to year six. So kids were self selecting their texts, independently reading their texts. I would listen to them read because I do believe that's good practice, and we were holding reading conferences with the kids, but I've certainly seen much more of a shift now that I've switched across to structured literacy and the reading fluency practices that sit within that.


Jocelyn: So what prompted you to make the change from that independent reading to the assisted reading that you do now? What weren't you seeing in the kids, or what wasn't working 

Kirby: I think it was just hard to know unless you were specifically sitting down side by side, listening to a particular child read. It was hard to know if they were engaged in real reading or if it was fake reading. It's not hard for kids to work out how to look like they're reading and then to think that they'll be left alone if that's what they look like they're doing. But I think, obviously, over the last couple of years, there's been so much talk and interest in structured literacy and what that looks like, and that certainly piqued my interest and then, as information became more readily available, I really started to engage in the research and the learning, blogs, podcasts, YouTube clips around what reading practice could look like in a structured literacy classroom.


Jocelyn: How did you get started in shifting the independent reading to what you do now? What were your first steps? 

Kirby: I'm a big believer in just giving things a go. Like what's the worst that can happen if it doesn't work, we're the ones, the teacher is the one that knows that it didn't work. It's not necessarily the kids, and I was just really open with the kids after I'd done a lot of reading, and lots of that reading came from your blog posts, in looking at what reading fluency could look like. I just found them really relatable, and I felt like they spoke to me as a teacher and just gave me a real sense of what it could look like in a classroom. I think for me, I'm willing to jump in and give things a go, but I do want to be fairly confident around what the practice should look like and I felt that your blog posts in your YouTube clips really resonated in that regard. I could visualize what it was going to look like in my classroom. Then I just said to the kids, things are changing a little bit, and we're going to give this a go, and I gave them some of the reasons why, like why we wanted to focus on this particular practice of reading fluency and reading. What I was hoping for from them. How I was hoping that it would improve their vocabulary, their comprehension, their reading rate, et cetera. And then we just jumped in and started to give just tweak little things.


Jocelyn: So if we were all to come and stand in the back of your classroom in an average week, what would we see in your classroom in terms of fluency practice?

Kirby: So currently, and this is probably one of the first things that I did, I developed for my own classroom initially, and then we've rolled things out at a greater school level. But for my own classroom, the first thing that I did was I wanted to know what the routine looked like across 5 days; I felt like I could commit to 5 days of reading fluency. Interruptions happen, so if we lose a day here and there, that's okay. But knowing that we've got a pretty rigorous approach and for the most part, for most weeks, it does happen 5 days a week. I felt confident in implementing that. But what I wanted to do was focus on drawing up, and then I wrote it out, typed it up, and made it look like a pretty poster for myself and for the kids in terms of what each day of our reading fluency routine was going to look like. Then, we went through it really specifically, broke it down, and modelled it. Okay, this is what our Monday fluency practice looks like: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, etc. So the kids could visually see what the routine was going to look like for that day. I could see what the routine was going to look like for that day. And then we just started to chip away at it from there.

Jocelyn: And what does it look like?

Kirby: So, on a Monday, we look at a poem. Kids don't really get exposed to poetry all that much unless you're studying. Well, they're exposed to it, but they don't realize they're exposed to it. So it might be song lyrics, although I'm not singing in front of the class ever. It could be song lyrics, or it could just be a poem that I've found online. We've got so many incredible poetry books in our library. So taking a photo and displaying it on the screen or finding something online so it looks like a poem for the Monday. Our Monday fluency routine is a little bit shorter, I'd say it's probably 5 to 10 minutes and just because our Monday spelling routine is a little bit longer, I wanted to make the Monday fluency routine a little bit shorter so that I wasn't feeling pressured by time. I wasn't willing to drop anything, but I knew I could be flexible in my approach to make sure that all of the components were still valuable and rigorous, but they did all fit in. So the Monday looks like a poem, and that's echo reading. So I'll read the poem start to finish modeling and we set it up at the beginning of the year so that the kids know what's involved in reading fluency. So we're looking at our accuracy. We're looking at rate. We're looking at prosody, and we unpack what those things mean. So we unpack them with both strong examples and non-examples, which is usually me modeling that. So, what does accurate reading look like? Sound like? What does a good rate look like? Sound like? What does prosody sound like? So I model the poem start to finish, and then we go through kind of line by line or stanza by stanza, depending on the structure of the poem, and I'll read it, the kids will read it back. I'll say to them, I'm trying to model appropriate accuracy rate and prosody for this particular text, and they're trying to echo that back to me. So I find that works really well because they've got that strong example, and it's not threatening or intimidating for the kids because they've heard me read it, and then they're just repeating it back. So that works really well for a Monday. Then, on a Tuesday, we move into a whole class choral read, and that will be the text or the passage that we're using for the remainder of the week. So, in that period of time, in that 10 minutes again, I'll read the text or the passage start to finish, to begin with, and then we're going through, and we're chorally reading that passage together, making sure that this whole class engagement, you know, everyone's joining in, everyone's voice is heard and we'll go through and we'll unpack any vocabulary. We don't deviate and make that the lesson focus, but I'll just quickly go through and, oh, this is the word, this means such and such. Keep reading. I'm not trying to go off on a tangent and start heading down that train track. Then, on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, they move into assisted pair reading. So, using the same passage from Tuesday, which is usually around 200 words, I'd say they will be working in mixed-ability pairs. So I will set the pairs, and I usually set them at the start of the year. I only make changes if I need to. So consider the kids and who they work well with, but I've also considered who's the stronger reader, who's the weaker reader and how, but also how can I pair them? So it's not necessarily... it works for the social dynamics, it works for the friendship dynamics, but it also works for their confidence as well. So, if I've got a student who I know is a weaker reader, I might not necessarily pair them with the strongest reader in the class, but I will pair them with a stronger reader, but also someone who I know that they're going to get some really positive role modelling from. So I want them to feel supported in that pairing because they work with that pair so closely for however long. Sometimes I don't change the pair for the whole year.

Jocelyn: Yes. And that's a really good point, in that teacher knowledge about the students as a whole is so important in this. It's not just about looking at a score. 


Jocelyn: So how precise did you feel you needed to be in that pairing in terms of stronger and weaker reader? How did you determine who was what? Because we know that these things can be a little bit fluid or imprecise at times. So what did that look like for you?

Kirby: Well, my school is just starting to go down the DIBELS journey at the moment. So, in future, I will probably look a little bit more closely at the DIBELS data. But initially and prior to using DIBELS, it was more observational. So I'd listen to everyone read, and I was just making rough notes as I was going and thinking, okay, this person with that one and whatnot. So we just call them Reader A and Reader B. It's upper primary, so they know without explicitly saying it, they've got a little bit of an understanding of who the stronger readers are and who the weaker readers are. But I've never had anyone say, Oh, why am I read a B or. How come I don't get to read first? They just have a little bit of an understanding. I suppose that depends on the classroom culture and the environment that we've set up as well in that, you know, in that everyone is learning. Everyone makes mistakes

Jocelyn: And I, and I guess too, you've, you've set the students up for success so well that because this is a successful confidence-building undertaking that, they don't have the negative feelings that might come with feeling like, you know, I'm the dumb one. Actually, it's not how your classroom works at all, and I think you've hit the nail on the head talking about classroom culture. The other thing that's interesting is I reflect on the research paper that you shared in this series is the fact that the students did know who was the lead reader and who was the supported reader. And the students who were the lead readers were really given the responsibility of being the ones to provide the model and so they felt quite invested in being a great model reader for their partner and in turn, the researchers suggested that that led to them improving their own fluency because they were explicitly focusing on the expression, the prosody, the accuracy and the rate, as you've described. So. that all matches with what was in the research, so well done you. And I love that you were, just gave yourself permission to use your teacher's judgment, and that had you, and I'm guessing had you discovered that there was a pair that was not perfectly matched or well matched, you would have just changed it

Kirby: Yeah, absolutely. I don't need to wait for an assessment. We can just make a change.

Jocelyn: Yes, that's it, based on what the needs of the students are.


Jocelyn: So, in those three days of assisted reading, tell me more about that and about the mechanisms of feedback that you've built in.

Kirby: So, those three days of assisted reading will look like... So again, to start us off for that lesson, I'll quickly just read the passage, start to finish, again modelling accuracy, rate, prosody, and it's not long, that's 30 seconds to a minute, and I'll just say, okay, like reading fluency partners off you go, and they'll all go and choose somewhere to sit. They know that they need to be sitting side by side, and each student has a copy of the passage. But I also want them sitting side by side so that they can kind of track where the other person is up to. The lead reader, so Reader A, and that's probably something I'll explore for next year making sure the kids know who is the lead reader and who's doing that modeling, but the lead reader will read the passage first. So start to finish and then the second reader, the weaker reader, will read the passage, and they'll just go back and forth reading the passage for a specified amount of time. It's usually not too long. I'd say 4 to 5 minutes, and within that time, they've usually each read the passage 2 to 3 times each, and during that time, I'm going around and just sitting alongside pairs listening and obviously, I generally try to listen to the weaker readers first, but in doing so, I'm still getting to the stronger readers, of course. At the end of that specified time, and this is probably a strategy, it maintains engagement, but I also think it means that no one can opt out; I will just choose at random; well, I tell the kids it's at random. When we say things are at random in the classroom, we usually have a little bit of an agenda to it. But I will choose kids to provide feedback. So say if there's Johnny and Sally that are partnered up and reading together, I'll say, oh, Johnny, can you tell me how Sally went with her reading fluency today? So that means that that particular student is responsible for staying engaged, making sure they are listening to their partner and then providing feedback and the feedback component we will have set up at the beginning of the year in terms of what that could look like. So I'll say to the students at the start of the year, and I'll model this, I'll have a student up with me, and we'll model the feedback process. I'll say we're going to give feedback based on the student's accuracy rate and prosody, and then I'm really rigorous in holding the kids to that. So, for example, if Johnny says, Oh, well, Sally read well because she read with the expression, I'll reframe it and say, is it because Sally read with great prosody today because she used different voices to model different characters tones. So I want them to be specific in their feedback and it doesn't take them long to realize that if they say, oh, Sally had good rate, they know pretty quickly that I won't accept that as a form of feedback. I'll say, Oh, Sally had good rate because... and I'll expect them to finish the sentence and to provide some more detail. So if they're not sure, I'll help them out, and I'll give them some prompts, but it doesn't take too long for them to be able to work out what good feedback actually sounds like, what specific feedback sounds like. Then in providing that feedback to their partner, they're also having to think about what they've done with their reading fluency.


Jocelyn: Yep. It occurs to me that this can connect to some sort of goal-setting focus for each child. Is that something you've explored? And I'm putting you on the spot, sorry. What are your thoughts on setting reading goals and what they might look like, and how this process can help?

Kirby: Yeah, absolutely. We probably haven't used the reading fluency to set goals in, I suppose, an explicit way. In an informal way, yes, but that's something that I could definitely work on next year because that's what they're doing every single day in giving feedback and thinking about their own reading fluency and thinking about their partner's reading fluency. They're still thinking about what's something that they could focus on and improve on. So, yeah, I think that could definitely work for goal setting.


Jocelyn: Yeah. What are you seeing as the impact on student learning? You mentioned that you've just started using DIBELS in your school, and so I'm assuming that moving forward, you'll be looking at the DIBELS data and hoping to see that improvement in the data, but up until this point, how were you measuring the impact of this practice?

Kirby: Yeah. So with DIBELS, we'll definitely use that going forward as more of that formal assessment tool. But up until now, it's been more, I would say, observational data for the specific practice of reading fluency in terms of listening to them read and then hearing them present that passage to the class on a Friday...I suppose when you know what you're looking for, then when I know that I'm looking for the accuracy rate, prosody, then I can hone in on that, and I do see it also pay off in other areas of the curriculum as well, not necessarily just during reading or just during English, but across the board, just generally, I've seen a big uptake with the reading fluency and that's something that we've just been so rigorous with all year. But I'm seeing a bigger payoff in their knowledge of vocabulary and their reading comprehension; they're able to get through greater chunks of text now with greater accuracy and, with that, I suppose, improved rate. Therefore, their comprehension has been improving, and I would say, because we have such a heavy focus on morphology as well... with the morphology linked in with the reading fluency, just seeing that reading comprehension come through. So it's hard to pinpoint, I suppose, one particular area because we know it's a combination of all of the components of structured literacy coming through, but I would say that the reading fluency is not something that I would be willing to drop now because I do see such an improved benefit across the board.

Jocelyn: Yeah, absolutely and that interconnection, I think, is so important. I always say a good literacy block is like a permaculture garden; Everything is interconnected and has more than one purpose. As you say, there are so many positive knock-on effects of this particular practice.


Jocelyn: Some of the questions that I'm anticipating that our colleagues might have will be things like where do you get the passages from, how do you choose them, how do you make sure they're at the right inverted commas 'level'?

Kirby: Yeah, the level one is an interesting one, because, you know. What is a level? I suppose there's so much variation within a particular level. Initially, what we were doing is we were having a look for passages, online or taking photos of some of the texts that we were reading and using those as passages and bits and pieces. But I was just finding that was taking a really long time and it wasn't necessarily... you can find heaps of fluency passages online, but they were never quite what I was after, so I started using chat GPT and other forms of teacher AI to generate our own passages, and that's where I suppose I found a lot of time-saving... could generate a passage in a minute, really. Popping in a specific prompt. So at the moment, we link our passages to the particular genre that we're studying. So if we're looking at narrative, then we've got narrative passages. So I might enter a prompt into chat GPT. You're a year 5 teacher in New South Wales, Australia. Create a 200-word reading passage that's a narrative and something that I haven't done this year, but I would like to do for next year would be to link in now that my school has got a pretty solid understanding of morphology and our teaching routines associated with that using the presentations in the Resource Room that I could link in. Can you also include some words that contain the base left, just so that I can make sure we've got some exposure to the morphology as well? But those passages that you can create through chat GPT... The more specific you are with the prompts, the better the passage, and it's just so quick and easy. You really can't stuff it up.

Jocelyn: Yes.


Jocelyn: And I think that that sort of leads into the next question that people will have, which is, how do you make sure the kids don't get bored with the repeated reading?

Kirby: that I haven't had an issue with. I would say not once this year, and for the most part, we've had our reading fluency every single week, five days a week. But I suppose because, on a Monday, it's a poem, so that's a different text. That one kind of stands alone and that's more so that exposing the kids to that form of reading fluency and oral reading. But then on the Tuesday, because we're reading the passage all together, I suppose it's not just on the kids. So, really, it's three days of the week where they've got the repeated reading of the same passage, and I haven't had anyone say bored or whatnot. I think because we've set the kids up and said to the kids, the more that you read a particular passage, the better that you get at it, and they really would read it two, three, four times, depending on the length. Maximum four times each day. And I think, too, it's the tone that the teacher sets for that particular practice. So if I'm saying to the kids, oh, here's your passage off you go. You know, at five minutes, time is on; get started. Then the tone that I would be setting would be that I don't value this. There's no interest, there's no engagement. Then, therefore, that's what I would be expecting to come back from the kids in terms of their attitude towards it. Whereas I'm modelling like enthusiasm and engagement. We're talking about why, like, why this is so important. And the passage does change each week, and I suppose to the kids because they improve with it... and when we generate the passage on chat GPT, I make sure that it is of interest, and you know, I don't want it to write a passage about toast. Or if it was about toast or bread or something, then I'd make sure that the passage had some sarcasm or some humour or there was something in it so that the kids are engaged, and they can experiment with that prosody and the expression that they're using. But I think, too, a lot of it just comes down to the teacher setting the tone and setting the energy for the room for that particular practice, and I think the kids just haven't had an issue with it.

Jocelyn: I think the way that you've built that feedback mechanism into the lesson gives everyone an opportunity to feel good. We all want to hear that we've done a good job. So when the, dare I say it, learning is visible, and the students can see that they are achieving, they are improving, they are growing and someone told them they did a good job, then they're going to want to engage. Success breeds engagement. So it's not just about the reading itself. It's all of the other things that live sort of in the ecosystem.


Jocelyn: Another question I'm anticipating is that your class, like every class everywhere, has students with a range of reading development, and you do have a couple of students who struggle quite significantly, and you've also got some really high flyers. So what does it look like in your classroom for you to balance the needs of the different students?

Kirby: Yeah, you've definitely hit the nail on the head there. There is such a diverse spread, not just within my classroom but within all classrooms. I would say making sure that the passages do kind of peak student interest. Making sure they're engaging passages holds them to it. Those stronger readers, they will find ways to kind of extend themselves with the way that they're reading the particular passage and the prosody that they're using and kind of experimenting with their rate a little bit as well. Whereas those students that are the weaker readers... whilst the Wednesday might be a little bit more tricky for them because it's their 1st go at a particular passage. They improve each time they read that passage. So there again, that success breeds success. So their confidence is starting to build as the week goes on. If it were a huge issue, I suppose, then I would have a standard passage that I've generated, but I'd also probably get chat GPT to make one passage a little bit easier or one passage a little bit harder, still focused on the same thing and then maybe the stronger reader reads that harder passage, the weaker readers read the slightly easier passage, but with the goal that they're getting to the same passage. I would use my teacher's judgment. It might be that the weaker readers perhaps start off their reading fluency practice by reading with me more so than reading with a partner, or they might be reading with me as a group until they've developed their confidence enough to be able to go and just join in with their partner and keep the routine going as the rest of the class does. 


Jocelyn: So this is not something that has come about in your class this year, to my understanding, but drawing on your experience, if you had a student or two in your classroom, who really were only working at that basic code level, starting to, you know, build phonics, what would possible solutions be, for them in that fluency lesson?

Kirby: Yeah, so I'd have them working at a sentence level if that were the case. Yeah, it hasn't happened for me this year or so far in my reading fluency journey, but I probably would have them working with me at a sentence level until I could catch their code knowledge up to a level where they were okay to start engaging in slightly harder passages because I just... I can't leave things to chance; that's not fair on the kids. I would potentially use that time to do a little bit of phonics catch up with them at that sentence level, just knowing that that's another exposure and that's their point of need. I think you just have to meet the kids where their point of need is.

Jocelyn: So they would be essentially reading decodable sentences as their fluency. So the point is, everybody is engaging in the fluency routines, but what they read will depend on what they need, but for most students, other than those students significantly struggling, and still developing those foundations of phonics, they're all getting the same passage. And that's a feature of your classroom I've seen in other areas too, Kirby. So in the morphology work, have the differentiated word lists or the parts of the list, and so your students who need more help, they start with the simpler words, but then you've been able to work it so that across the week, they're actually building up to be reading those longer, multisyllabic, multi morphemic words as well. And what I really like about that is that you're not putting those kids in a box and saying, well, no, that's your level. You can't read beyond that. Once they've got foundations of phonics, then we do need to stretch them because without stretch, we're not going to have learning, so that's a feature of your classroom that I see across the board that you're not scared to stretch the kids, but provide oodles of support. Around that, we still recognising that there's some phonics catch-up work to happen just to strengthen spelling and reading, but we don't deny the age-appropriate work to the older children, which is, which is fab. 


So what were some of the challenges that you encountered introducing this in your own classroom, but then also as a school, because this is a practice you've mentioned is now sitting across your whole junior school? What's it been like for you as a teacher and for your team to implement this practice?

Kirby: it was tricky, I suppose, when I started introducing it. Whilst I could do a lot of reading and listening around what it could look like. I couldn't necessarily see it in action. I really like to. See what something could look like. It just helps me to be able to visualize and then implement what I'm going to do in my classroom. So some of the challenges were sitting around time. That's obviously a big one, and that's one that most people would say, well, how do you fit it in? So it was just looking at how I can set up and structure routines so that all of the components of structured literacy can still fit within a literacy block, and I can just make sure that things are pretty tight time-wise, but my routines are solid enough think when you set things across a week or you look at your routines, you're thinking about, well, how am I going to be able to teach what I need to teach within the specified time frame? How are the kids going to be able to learn what they need to within that time frame? And looking at, well, is there anything fluffy that sits within there that's really not having any impact on student learning? It doesn't mean we don't have fun. We still have heaps of fun. You can have a laugh. You can have a laugh. Lots of humour, especially in upper primary, but some of the things were a little bit fluffy. We just thought, well, they can just go.


Jocelyn: Can you give an example of the fluffy?

Kirby: Oh, we haven't had much fluff this year. Had to be pretty structured and cut it all back. What's some fluff from the past? you know, it might just be that... and kids are very good, especially again, especially upper primary at procrastinating. So, if kids are going on and on about something from their weekend, absolutely, it's important to them, but also you get to the point where you can tell that they're just talking about their weekend now, or they're talking about something that's happened this morning as a way of procrastinating and avoiding getting into what they need to start. So I'll just say to the kids, you know, that sounds really good. I'd love to hear about it. Maybe you could tell me about it at the start of lunch and if it is really important to them, they'll stay and they'll tell me at the start of lunch. If it's not important, they're running out the door. So, little things like that, that I suppose could easily chew up, you know, 5 to 10 minutes getting started in the morning. Whilst absolutely, we have conversations, and we engage in things that aren't necessarily about the learning. It's when's the time for that to happen? Not undervaluing the importance of connection at all but I think it's when. you know, I can remember sitting in classrooms and thinking, oh, you know, if I tell the teacher about this from the weekend, then we don't have to start that,

Jocelyn: Ah, but you are laser focused on maximizing time on task, that's a difference there.


Jocelyn: If you were chatting with a teacher in a lift who was thinking of implementing this particular practice, what advice would you have for them?

Kirby: Persistence, I'd say, if you feel like something's not working, either persist with it until you get to a point where you do feel like it's working or just change your approach slightly, make adjustments, make some tweaks, go back, do some further reading research, reach out, ask people.  I suppose that's the power of social media these days as well. Like, if you can find and connect with particular people whose approach you feel really confident in and who you resonate with. You know, I've got this issue. How did you navigate that? What not? I think that's really helpful. But I'd say that it just comes down to persistence. You know, if something doesn't work, I'm not going to throw the whole routine out. I'm going to reflect and think, well, why didn't that work? You know, was it just an off day with the kids? Was I a little bit off? What can I do differently next time? And always going back and unpacking why with the kids. So I'm not throwing a new routine or a particular lesson structure at the kids and saying this is what we're doing. Go and do it. I'm trying to give them the why so that they can understand so that if things do fall off track a little bit, we can go back to what's the why. Why are we doing this? What does it need to look like? And lots of... if someone was implementing lots of strong verse, not examples. So I would always model the non-examples, but when and where I can, I'll use the kids to model the strong examples because the kids, you know, are so influenced by their peers. Particularly if there's someone who was a little bit challenging or disengaged where they're doing a really good job, well, then I'll try to use them as the strong example and try and pump their tyres and lift them up a little bit. So, trying to use strong versus non-examples to show what it should look like. I am pretty strong in always saying that the non-examples need to come from the teacher. I'm not ever going to say, you know, Sally and Johnny over there. That's what it shouldn't look like. Whilst I might model that of what I'm seeing from the kids. I want the kids to know that the non-example comes from what I'm doing, and yeah, the strong example comes from either myself or comes from another student in the classroom.

Jocelyn: Yep, I love that, and I've always done the same in terms of doing the non-example, but the way you just phrased that, I think, is really beautiful. Thank you


The three things that I'm getting out of your practice in this area, in all that you do, but in this discussion, today was that you're insistent, you know, there's nowhere to hide you are going to do it. It's not negotiable. It's not if you feel like it or how does it go today? No, this is you're insistent. It's going to happen that you're persistent, as you said, but also being consistent. So it's not something that you did four times in term one and then said, oh, we didn't see any gains from that. None of these things happen as a one-off or ad hoc, and this is any part of our practice; it has to be consistent and rigorous, and we have to do it over time because it's the time that helps children build the automaticity and as you've described to me before about the confidence that the kids now have in reading and that you don't require children to come to the front of the class to share the passage, you asked the volunteers, and over the course of the year, every single student chose to do that. So I love how you're working with emotional beings. They're, you know, you five, six, they can be pretty fragile, leading up into the adolescent years. But you've built that classroom culture where success is really valued and built. So the kids were confident to get up and do that, and that's really fantastic.


Jocelyn: Lastly, before we finish off, Kirby, What's next in this particular practice or in this area of fluency? What are you planning to try out in 2024 to extend on the success you've already had in 2023?

Kirby: Good question. I would like to... I suppose, explore and I know you spoke about the previous episode, some other forms of reading fluency or assisted paired reading. So there's some other forms that I'd like to give a go and try out. I suppose I would start off the year being set and solid in my routines first and foremost, and the routine that I've got going at the moment worked really well for last year's cohort of kids. So if that's working, I'll try and reestablish that for this year. But then I'd like to perhaps look at a   readers' theatre. I don't think I've done much of that in 2023. So I'd like to look at a little bit of readers' theatre, but just very conscious of keeping the main thing the main thing. So, if the reader's theatre was starting to kind of go off on a tangent or a different direction, then I'd need to pull it back and keep it pretty tight, but I would like to have a go at some other forms of fluency and I suppose as it becomes more common practice, there's more and more research and more ways of doing that are out there, but always making sure that it comes back to the main purpose doesn't turn into something that becomes fluffy. It's still quite rigorous and tight, and we make sure that we achieve what we intend to achieve.

Jocelyn: Yeah, absolutely, and I love that. Thanks so much for that reminder.


Jocelyn: I think it's really easy to get excited about the fluffy and go, oh, that'll be really fun. But as you say, if it's distracting the class from the main purpose of the lesson, then we probably need to pull it back. We can inadvertently create extraneous cognitive load because we make things fun and overcomplicated and we do the distracting from the main thing. I like that. Keep the main thing, the main thing.

Kirby. I think there's so many takeaways from this episode for teachers and leaders who are listening and I want to thank you for your generosity and sharing all of this with us. So exciting. I can't wait to get you back onto the podcast because there's about five things there that I would have loved to delve a little bit more deeply into, but we've got lots of time into the future for that. So Kirby, thank you so much for your time. Wishing you and your new class and all of your colleagues, all the best for 2024. 

Kirby: Thank you.

Jocelyn: We'll see you next time. 



I loved this! It was great to hear how the structured fluency program looks like. Kirby described what happens on Monday to Wednesday. What does Thursday and Friday look like? 


Read more
Read less
Jocelyn Seamer

Hi Julie, 

Here is the bit where Kirby describes the rest of the week. :) 

"Then, on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, they move into assisted pair reading. So, using the same passage from Tuesday, which is usually around 200 words, I'd say they will be working in mixed-ability pairs. "

Take care


Read more
Read less
Sandi Troncone

Fabulous Kirby !! What a comprehensive look at what happens in your classroom! I loved your approach and your honesty in how it works/worked. I loved 🥰 how you got your students invested and built on their successes. I hope that many teachers listen to this and give it a try , but most importantly follow your lead with non-examples and examples . Our kids need to shine ✨! 

Read more
Read less
Kat VdH

Do you have a transcript from part 2? I am not able to locate the episode website. There is always so much I want and need to remember and am finding the transcripts a great way to find the bits I need!

Loving the research series - brings the research to life.

Read more
Read less
Jocelyn Seamer

Read more
Read less

Leave a comment