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reading instruction

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It’s Time to Rethink the Make-it-from-Scratch Mindset

A quick look on Pinterest could leave you thinking that the most effective teachers create the cutest resources and do everything from scratch. If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you’ll know I don’t subscribe to that viewpoint. I think that the most effective teachers draw on quality, targeted resources that help give their students the most direct path to learning and save them time so that they have the energy to meet students where they are up to. Last week I wrote about text-base…

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Anatomy of an effective English unit of work

We have recently heard much about teacher workload in the media. Teachers being time poor is not news to any of us. It’s just taken a teacher shortage for the rest of the world to figure it out! One of the suggestions that have been made is that teachers be provided with ready-made resources and units of work to ease the planning pressure. I’m a huge fan of this idea. As a teacher, I adore having high quality, premade resources at my fingertips. I value knowledge rich information texts and well-…

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Spaced Practice and Interleaving in the Reading Classroom

It’s likely that you’ve heard of spaced practice and interleaving. These terrific teaching techniques can make a great deal of difference to our students’ learning.   Spaced practice refers to the practice of practising a skill or retrieval of knowledge a little bit at a time, over a period of time. This is far more effective than massed practice or practising all at once. Interleaving involves mixing up the questions you ask from within a subject area rather than grouping the questions together…

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It’s just too loud!

Have you ever tried to teach in a loud, echoey classroom?  I have, and it left me irritable and with a headache.  If you aren’t sensitive to noise, you may not pay much attention to classroom acoustics, but I can guarantee that you have students who do.  I once worked in a school where teachers complained that children were getting up and leaving the room without permission.  At the same time, teachers also commented that they had headaches and that their classrooms were just too loud.  See a co…

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The Value of a Longer Text-Based Unit

If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know that I LOVE a good text-based unit. Using quality picture books, novels or informational text to teach English is enjoyable for both students and teachers alike. This idea has been embraced by many teachers, which is wonderful. However, I’d like to talk today about the value of a unit of work that goes for a little longer than a week.

Using a different book each week feels neat and tidy. We can write the title of the text in our planners and keep …

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How Not to Overcomplicate Your Text Based Units

Using mentor texts to teach writing and the ‘top of the rope’ concepts of reading can be a highly effective method of instruction. Mentor texts provide context and modelling for vocabulary, syntax, parts of speech, text structure and language features. The challenge with using mentor texts is that it’s really easy to overcomplicate our units. Even if we create targeted units that walk our students step by step through the skills and knowledge we want to teach, it’s not always easy to align the c…

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Teaching the ‘Top of the Rope’ with Mentor Texts

There is so much information available about phonics and PA (bottom of the rope concepts) that you might be forgiven for thinking that that’s all there is to reading instruction.
However, it is important to remember that the ‘top of the rope’ concepts also need to be taught explicitly. One of the best ways to teach this is through mentor texts. Mentor texts provide a wonderful stimulus for reading comprehension and writing instruction. You can teach many concepts through mentor texts including...…

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Why Explicit Teaching is Student Centred

Ever hear someone say that they prefer a ‘student centred’ approach over explicit instruction? I have and I have to say that it left me shaking my head. You see, I think that structured, explicit reading instruction IS student centred. Here’s why.

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Teaching Success Framework

Knowledge is Critical, but Don’t Forget Skills

We all know that teacher knowledge is way more important than just having a program in our classrooms. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing can be the difference between highly effective practice and random acts of improvement that don’t lead to great results.
In considering how to create sustained, effective practice, I have developed the Teaching Success Framework. There are 8 parts of the framework…

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The Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given

As a teacher and school leader, I’ve had loads of advice from others throughout the years. Some of it has been helpful. Some of it has been downright diabolical and some of it invaluable. In today’s post, I’d like to share five of the best pieces of advice I’ve received in working towards school level change.

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