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teaching reading

The Complicated Simplicity of the Sweet Spot

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We all came through our university training hearing about Vygotsky’s 1978 idea of ‘Zone of Proximal Development’. That zone between what the child can do on their own and what they can’t do.  It’s the spot where they can do something with help. The ‘sweet spot’ for learning, you could say.

These days we have the lens of Cognitive Load Theory to view this through.  Sweller’s theory outlines intrinsic load as the actual thing we want children to learn. We can optimise intrinsic load by comparing …

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Simple Steps for Big Change

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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…

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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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No More Three Cueing! What's Next?

no 3 cueing

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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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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Top 5 Tips to Maximise Reading Success – Part 4

Building Sight Recognition

Tip No. 4 - Ditch the Sight Words

In a previous post I challenged the popular practice of giving beginning readers predictable texts. This week I’m REALLY asking you to go against everything you know and ditch the sight words. Yes, that’s right.  I said it. DITCH THE SIGHT WORDS.  Why? Basically, because they are not a thing.

For years and years we have been attempting to teach children to read using flawed methodology based on misunderstandings of how our brains process words.  Personal…

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