Podcast and Blog

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What About the Play?

There is a huge push (and rightly so) for strong literacy foundations  to be built in the first year of school, but with children entering formal schooling as young as four and half years old, the question is to be asked, “What about the play?”.

If you have been reading my blog of any length of time you will know that I am a MASSIVE advocate for explicit teaching in early literacy skills.  I write and teach others about teacher led, systematic, instruction in reading and spelling. What you …

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The Strugglers Among Us

Here in Australia the school year is a few weeks in and teachers have been busily getting to know their new students.   As part of this process, it is customary to spend some time learning to understand the needs of our students with additional needs.  We meet with parents, review files and familiarise ourselves with individual education plans.   But what of the students who don’t have a diagnosis, individual education plan or record of ongoing additional needs?  How do we identify and support t…

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5 Classroom Practices to Boost Language

Oral language is at the heart of all academic learning. After all, If you can’t say it, you can’t read it and you can’t write it.  As teachers, we know this to be true, but often struggle to understand exactly what we are supposed to do to make it happen.  So, here is a handy list of things to take into consideration when planning for oral language teaching in your classroom:


  1. Make your classroom a language rich environment where discussion and use of complex vocabulary is the norm.  D…

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Why bright shiny things are not the answer

The new school year has started and most people here in Australia are a week or more into their new class. I remember when I was first teaching and every year I would imagine how it was going to be when the next batch of shiny eyed cherubs landed in my room. I would spend  hours programming, preparing and trying to ‘up the anti’ on what was happening in my room. Inevitably I exhausted myself before school even started.   And then of course, what came from that was actually not good. Because I ha…

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Using Rich Text to Build Language

 Once we understand the need for explicit language and writing teaching, the question becomes, “Exactly what does this look like in a classroom?”  This post aims to begin to answer that question.  


Quality picture books.



A particularly engaging and effective method of building language is through the use of quality picture books.  This is by no means a new way to explore and contextualise grammar.  I highly recommend Joanne Rossbridge and Kathy Rushton’s book “Convers…

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Introducing the ‘On the Science of Reading Bus’ Facebook Group

Many of us know about the science of reading. We know the importance of phonics, oral language, decodable texts and phonemic awareness and we are hungry for ways to develop our classroom practice so that we can get the best outcomes for every child.

If this is you, I want to invite you to join me on the Science of Reading Bus in 2021!  Being on the bus is an idea that really appeals to me.  The bus is the network of teachers, education assistants, parents, intervention specialists, university…

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Thinking of running in-house PL on the science of reading?

So, you have been lobbying your Principal and they have finally let you have 20 minutes of your staff meeting to share your passion for the reading science.  What do you do?  Do you hand out a journal article showing that systematic phonics is more effective than whole word reading and workshop responses? Do you share a clip explaining how balanced literacy has failed students?  You could do those things, but if you are hoping to start the seeds of conversation about changing practice in your sc…

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The Three Ps - Don't Mix Them Up!

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

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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Making Your Classroom a Beacon of Reading Science

As we begin 2021 I am hugely optimistic for education.  I know that there is still much work to do and I know that we are nowhere near where we want to be, but it seems to me that there are now more teachers than ever asking questions about how to apply the science of reading in their classrooms.  This is great news for students, families and our society in general. The more literate someone is, the more likely they are to engage in education, whether that be in their school years or post school…

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