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The Surprising Recommendations about Teaching PA

It’s a great thing that our understanding of the role of phonological and phonemic awareness has increased in recent times.  This shift in awareness means that the largest number of children possible have the active ingredients necessary to learn to read well.  Phonological and phonemic awareness is divided into two sections:

  • Phonological sensitivity – the awareness of language units larger than phonemes. This includes syllables, rhyming, onsets and rimes, phrases and words.
  • Phonemic awarene…

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Start Strong, Stay Strong

This week I had the great pleasure of presenting for Think Forward Educators.  This excellent organisation is committed to bringing quality, accessible information to us teachers about the science of learning and the science of reading.  It’s completely free to join. Members enjoy access to all previous webinars and presentations as well as a terrific array of resources and guides. You can find Think Forward Educators (and access the recording of my presentation from this week) here

Before th…

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Why don't I feel confident yet?

There’s a curious phenomenon that many teachers experience when they begin to shift practice towards structured literacy.  They start to do a bit of reading before quickly ‘going down the rabbit hole’. After a little while they come to understand (or hope they understand) the fundamentals of the evidence of reading instruction, then something funny happens. Suddenly, they feel lost and begin to doubt every single move they make.  They second guess every decision, every moment of instruction and …

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8 Reasons the 'Same Page' is a Great Place to Be

If we were to go for a visit to many a local school we would likely find a great deal of variation in reading instruction from one classroom to the next.  It’s not uncommon for one teacher to be using one program for phonics and decoding and another to be using something different. Even if both of these programs are evidence informed, this difference in programs and approach is problematic.   In far too many schools, teachers are left on their own to ‘figure out’ how best to teach reading.  This…

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The Complicated Simplicity of the Sweet Spot

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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The Motivation Myth

I woke a few days ago to this image having been shared by a teacher’s page on Facebook. It should have come with a trigger warning because reading it certainly did raise my heart rate. 

And here’s my smarty pants reaction

You might be wondering why I would be opposed to children having access to great books. The truth is, I’m not.  Of COURSE I want every child to have access to books that ignite their imaginations and take them anywhere in the world they want to go. Of COURSE I want that a…

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Words, Words Everywhere!

This post was first published in 2020 and is now re-released with revisions. 


‘Environmental print’ is something that we have heard about forever and there are many different ways to look at this concept.

I have seen environmental print placed around a room with the hope that children will ‘pick up’ the words and be able to use them for a variety of purposes.   This might take the form of labels around the room or lists of words placed on the wall by the teacher.

I have also seen word…

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Is this the Science of Reading?

One of the most common questions asked in Facebook groups about literacy instruction is “Is this a science of reading resource?”   It’s a question that usually ends up with a variety of answers ranging from, ‘No! Don’t touch it!’ to ‘Ooooh, I love that one’.  Neither of these answers is very helpful if you are the teacher trying to wade your way through complex decision making to get the best outcomes for your students.  This week I’d like to provide a little information and some ideas to consid…

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SATISFACTION LEVEL

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Pinterest

This post was previously published under the title, 'A Review of Online Resources - Pinterest'. 

 

Teachers LOVE Pinterest. We try and have a Pinterest perfect classroom, with cute displays on our doors. (Here’s mine from a few years ago)

Oh, how much time I spent on that house!


I’ve made rain clouds out of balloons, paper Mache and cotton balls. I’ve created a box of paper fruit and veg for my dramatic play area. I’ve even made whole immersion experiences for my kiddos usi…

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Is Your Assessment a Waste of Time?

I love data. I love it so much that the other night I had a dream about going to a school and volunteering to assess every child’s reading. I actually woke up wondering whether I had time…

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Data has always been a cornerstone of my practice, both as a teacher and a school leader.  I wanted to know where students were up to. I wanted to know what the journey forward looked like. I wanted to know what it would look like when students had learned the things I planned for them to learn. I also wa…

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