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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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Choosing the right words for Tier 2 Vocabulary Instruction

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In last week’s post I shared with you some key insights from my recent conversations with Margaret McKeown and Pamela Snow.  These amazing women very generously gave their time to help all of us better understand what it takes to teach vocabulary and language well.  Some of the key messages from these conversations involved the fact that you can’t teach all the words and that there are no set ‘word lists’ to teach from.  There have been some academic words lists compiled as guidance around this,…

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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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8 Ways to Supercharge Your Writing Instruction

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Over the past several weeks I have brought you a series of posts about writing instruction. This area of our teaching is one that can leave, even the most confident teacher, feeling adrift.   There is so much research and solid information about reading instruction and yet when it comes to writing, there is scant reliable information and guidance out there.  In my quest to support you all and your students I spoke with a number of teachers to ask them about their experiences of teaching writing …

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But He Can't Write A Sentence!

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In preparation for my new Teach Along – Writing Success in the Early Primary Years – I talked to quite a few teachers to really understand what it is they experienced when teaching writing.  There were many things they had in common, and one of them was this statement:

“I am expected to get all children writing full texts, when some of them can’t even write a sentence. It just doesn’t make sense!

As I spoke with them, I could hear the frustration and worry in their voices.  Frustration that th…

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A Writing Lesson to Engage Every Child

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Last week’s post talked about some of the finer points of language selection to support our students' writing development and suggested that there really isn't a need to have small group instruction in order to reach every child.   What I didn’t get time to do was to explain exactly what this might look like in your classroom.  So gather round as I tell you a story. 

Cinderella, Princess, Story, Disney, Dress, Girl


There was once a teacher who tried her very best every day to help her students learn to write.  She modelled using the struc…

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Sometimes Conversation Just Isn't Enough

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I have said it many times and I’ll say it again.

Can't say it...

 The simple fact is that our children don’t have enough time focusing on language at school.  Now I know that they talk to each other in the playground and that they talk in the classroom when you don’t want them to. I know that you are likely already doing some ‘talk to your partner’ in your classroom (if you aren’t, please do start) and that you are possibly engaging children in oral sentence level instruction.

Even with all these things goi…

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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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