Blog

Why bright shiny things are not the answer

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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

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 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

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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?

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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!

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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

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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

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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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Show AND Tell

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The start of a new school year (or term, or week, or day) brings with it a desire to establish routines and expectations in our classrooms.  It is usual to spend time with students talking about rules and outlining what will be expected of all members of the class.   These will be reinforced each day as you give instructions to students. You might ask them to enter the classroom quietly or move quickly to pack up.  

This is all great if students understand what it is you want them t…

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Time to Break Up with Running Records

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“What’s his level?” It’s a question repeated over and over again in Australian Schools.  It seems that everywhere you look kids are being tested using a popular benchmarking kit that ends up providing an instructional and independent level for reading.  Let’s be honest. The idea of a ‘level’ is attractive. It gives us an easily measurable way to track progress in a child’s reading.  The problem with this system is that it doesn’t effectively measure a child’s reading progress at all.   This sy…

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The Joy and Terror of Teaching in the First Year of School

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I remember my very first year teaching foundation (depending on where you live it is known as kindergarten, pre-primary, reception, prep or transition).  I was handed some keys, given a class list and told to get in touch if I had any trouble.  Trouble?  Boy, did I have some trouble.  I was lucky enough to have some great professional learning in a range of areas in that first year which set me on the path to effective teaching, but I certainly had my moments of ‘what am I even doing here?’ and …

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