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5 Ways to Support Others Through Change

This week I spent some time talking with upper primary teachers about what structured literacy is all about.  I presented for an hour on the Simple View of Reading, Scarborough’s Reading Rope and what an upper primary literacy block might look like.  At the end of the presentation, a very brave teacher put her hand up and said (words to the effect of), “I just don’t know what any of this means”. It was clear that my well-meaning presentation was more than a little overwhelming and had actually c…

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How to Help Your Students Feel Safe in their Learning.

I have long said that there can be no separation between emotions and learning.  The way we feel significantly impacts the way that we interact with the material in front of us and our motivation to participate in lessons.  When I was learning to drive a manual car and stalled on a hill outside a mechanic’s workshop (you might well imagine how mortifying that was), I threw my keys on the kitchen bench after I arrived home and demanded my husband buy me a new car because there was no way I was dr…

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5 Things You Can Stop Worrying About

Let’s face it, there is plenty to worry about in our profession. Are our students learning? How does our community perceive us? Are our teaching methods evidence informed and effective? But there are also many things we might worry about that do nothing more than take up our precious energy and distract us from our core business.

Number 1 – How Pretty Your Classroom Is

Spending hours making your classroom look Pinterest perfect is, quite honestly, not the best use of your time.  In the same ti…

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You Don't Have to Eat the Whole Elephant Today

When we look at all of the things we are meant to do in a day the pressure of it all can leave us paralysed and feeling like a failure.  For those of us with a passion for the reading science, the drive to do it all NOW can overwhelm not only us, but the teams around us.  When we look at the Facebook groups and watch the webinars, it can be hard not to feel like a failure as we see that there are so many hurdles to jump to create change in our schools.  When we feel overwhelmed, the way to kee…

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When it comes to listening to students read, it pays to think outside the book box

Figuring Out Fluency

If you teach in Australia you are a little more than half way through the first term of 2022.  You’ve gotten to know your students and have identified their strengths and weakness in reading.  For some children you will have noticed that they can ‘read’ but they are lacking fluency.  

The first thing to note is that fluency is not an activity we do or a specific skill to develop, it’s the product of great reading instruction across a range of areas.  However, a quick search online for fluency a…

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Display or Decoration? That is the question.

How much time do you currently spend setting up your classroom displays? 1 hour, 3 hours, 10 hours?  Of those hours spent, how much of that time is for the purpose of setting up interactive records of learning and how much of it is purely for display purposes?

I have always loved making my classroom gorgeous. When I taught preschool and the students wanted to learn about rainforests, I made them a fully immersive rainforest experience. When they wanted to learn about the ocean, I made them a re…

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Differentiation Options

When I run online workshops and free PL I often ask, “who finds it difficult to manage the range of student needs in your classroom?” Every single time there are masses of green ticks and thumbs up in the reactions.  It’s usually not that teachers don’t know how to meet students where they are up to, it’s that the quest to do so can leave us feeling like an instructional plate spinner and just when we feel like we’ve got it covered, something else is introduced threatening to bring all of the pl…

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Visuals all the Way

I remember a time when I used to use my voice for everything in the classroom. I used it to explain what was coming up next, how I wanted students to line up, to provide praise, to provide redirection and to get students to be quiet to listen to instructions.  The problem with all this talking was that it left me with a sore voice and wasn’t actually that effective in helping students engage in the classroom.   In fact, the louder I was in trying to get the students to be quiet, the harder it wa…

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Phonics and PA - What are you Waiting For?

School has started back and many foundation teachers are wondering what phonological and phonemic awareness (PA) should look like in the early days of the year.

There are a lot of ideas around about this. Here are just a few.

  • Phonological and phonemic awareness develops in a progression of skills that we have to work through one at a time. This means that students need to have learned all of the earlier phonological skills before we begin on phonemic awareness.
  • We shouldn’t use a pre-writte…

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Thinking Outside the Book Box

One of the hardest things for us to fit into our day is listening to every student read aloud. In days gone by, this was a daily feature. Even if students spent much of their time doing busywork or mucking around putting pegs on the end of their fingers during Guided Reading sessions, we at least felt good that we had heard everyone read.  The move away from these groups to more whole class instruction means that teachers feel an understandable anxiety that we aren’t paying enough attention to i…

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