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reading instruction

Phonics Without the Froo Froo

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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…

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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…

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The Value of a Quality Program

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Imagine going to the hardware store knowing you need to fix the mould in your bathroom. You look for ‘mould products’ and discover a wonderful looking bottle of mould killer that promises to eradicate all of your bathroom problems. You take it home, spray your bathroom liberally and regularly and the problem seems to clear up (you can forgive the bleached areas of paint on the untiled sections of your bathroom. After all, the mould is gone). Except, that it hasn’t. Your tiles look lovely and c…

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Vocabulary Instruction Made Easy

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In  a previous post about vocabulary, I discussed how we can choose great Tier 2 words and suggested a couple of ways that we might teach them. You can read that post here.

This week, I’d like to unpack a little more from the absolutely fantastic book, ‘Bringing Words to Life’ and share more about how we can make it all happen in our classrooms.

May be an image of text that says 'SECOND EDITION Ower450,000mPrint! Over 450,000 in Print! Bringing Words toLife Instruction Robust Vocabulary IsabelL Beck, Margaret G. McKeown, and Linda Kucan'

The first thing to know is that there are three phases to vocabulary instruction.

  • Introducing the words
  • Working with the words
  • Keeping the word…

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Where do I start?

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I am due to write about vocabulary instruction this week, but today a member of my On the Science of Reading Bus Facebook Group posted about how confused they felt starting their Science of Reading journey and so I am shifting focus for a bit to help them (and others) out.   Over the past 2 years I have written 125 blog post, all intended to support teachers to implement the recommendations of research in classrooms.  125 posts is a lot to read (and to be honest, most haven't made it to be re-pu…

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No More Three Cueing! What's Next?

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There has been a lot of talk lately about the very encouraging announcement that Arkansas in the United States has banned teach children the three cueing method in reading instruction.  This means that teachers will need to find an alternative to teaching children to do any of the following:

  • Look at the first letter, look at the picture and think about what makes sense
  • Skip the word, read on and then come back after you think about what makes sense
  • Trying a word that makes sense
  • Using …

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Vocab Tips from the Experts

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You may have heard of my Facebook group, On the Science of Reading Bus.  This group explores one of 8 Key Actions of evidence-based reading instruction over a 5 week period and has a focus on learning, sharing and taking action. The current Key Action we are working through is ‘Explicitly teach vocabulary and background knowledge.’

To help give teachers a better understanding of the key actions I interview respected experts and share these interviews in the Facebook group. I recently had the …

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Using Decodable Texts to Meet Student Needs

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We have all heard about decodable texts and the need to ditch 3 cueing.  It is now well established that children should only be given material to read in the early stage of learning to read that contains graphemes and high frequency words they have been taught and that 'sounding out' is the only strategy we should be teaching when children are lifting the words from the page.  However, even this switch to decodable texts does not mean that one size fits all. 

Before I talk about stud…

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The Three Ps - Don't Mix Them Up!

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Even as I write this post I am aware of the irony of the title – using the letter name rather than the phoneme in a post all about phonemes!  (But, the title was just too good to not use and I am prepared to live with this particular irony.)

There are three concepts that sometimes trip up the most seasoned professionals in teaching.

  • Phonological Awareness
  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics


It is important to understand the difference between the three because there are consi…

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Effective reading instruction may be closer than it appears

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We hear ‘Science of Reading’ and ‘evidence-based practice’ so often that it can start to feel like living up to the ideal is some kind of unattainable goal that we will never achieve in our classrooms.  After all, we are hard pressed to get to the toilet without having to  move at superhero speed. How are we supposed to have the head space and time to completely change the way we teach?  You might be thinking, “Isn’t it unrealistic to expect the super-human effort necessary to be a 6/6 in eviden…

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