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reading instruction

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Making the Switch from Guided Reading to a Structured Approach

So many teachers have guided reading as the foundation of their reading instruction approach. With a growing understanding of structured literacy, many of us have seen that it’s time for a change. When making the switch from traditional guided reading, there are two components to consider. 

The first thing to think about is the ‘what’.
Traditional Guided reading involved: 

  • Assessing students using benchmark assessment
  • Grouping them based on this assessment 
  • Teaching lessons using levelled t…

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Keeping Planning Simple

Keeping Planning Simple

Planning is one of the necessary, time sucking things that we do as teachers.  I’m actually one of those nerdy people who like planning and curriculum design.  It really floats my boat!  BUT, what I don’t like is spending more hours planning and preparing than I spend teaching.  I would much rather have easy ways to plan and prepare that leave me free to spend time on the fun stuff (like writing text based units using mentor texts) or watching Netflix.  As a Teaching Pri…

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Instruction to Reduce the Need for Small Groups

It’s not a secret that I’m not a fan of group rotations. The minute you divide up your students and put them into groups, you cut down the time students can experience fully guided instruction. However, I am aware that some students with additional needs do much better in small groups for various reasons. There are simply times when the range in our classes and lack of adult support means that small groups are the only option available to you.

But a wide range or doing it on your own doesn’t me…

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6 Potential Roadblocks to Early Reading Results

So, you’ve adopted a structured approach to phonics but aren’t seeing the growth you had hoped for?  This lack of growth could be evident in some, most or all students and leave you scratching your head, wondering what went wrong?  This week, I’d like to point you in the direction of a few things that might need tightening to get those results you are looking for. 

Reason #1 – Student focus is not what it could be

Our early years students are little people.  Their ability to pay attention ofte…

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Comprehension Strategies - Still a Thing?

I recently wrote a post about my impressions of the English component of Version 9 of the Australian Curriculum. You can find that post here.  There is much to be celebrated in the update including the removal of references to predictable texts and 3 cueing strategies.  In reading through the content descriptors, however, I was a little disappointed to see that comprehension strategies,

“such as visualising, predicting, connecting, summarising and questioning to understand and discuss texts list…

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Structured Literacy: a Solution to Teacher Overwhelm

There has been a lot of talk in the media in recent weeks about the difficulties experienced by the teaching profession. The television show, 60 Minutes presented a story about teacher workload and teacher shortages. A former teacher recently spoke on stage about how “…Teachers’ hearts are broken” by the work we are asked to do, and we have seen industrial action on the news. I don’t, for one minute, want to imply that there are no issues that need attention in education. What I do want to do in…

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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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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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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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