Blog

photo-1604608619749-7dc84887834f

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…

Read more…

pexels-gantas-vaičiulėnas-2699833

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…

Read more…

photo-1549295184-9f49723f20f4

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…

Read more…

class rules

Show AND Tell


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…

Read more…

farewell-3258939_1920

Time to Break Up with Running Records

“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…

Read more…

kindergarten cop

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

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 …

Read more…

Building Sight Recognition

Top 5 Tips to Maximise Reading Success – Part 4

Tip No. 4 - Ditch the Sight Words

In a previous post I challenged the popular practice of giving beginning readers predictable texts. This week I’m REALLY asking you to go against everything you know and ditch the sight words. Yes, that’s right.  I said it. DITCH THE SIGHT WORDS.  Why? Basically, because they are not a thing.

For years and years we have been attempting to teach children to read using flawed methodology based on misunderstandings of how our brains process words.  Personal…

Read more…

trojan-horse-277525_1920

The myth of 'no, one, best way' to teach reading

I recall seeing a current affairs show not that long ago where several preservice teachers were interviewed and asked the question “What is the best way to teach reading?”. Their response? “There is no one best way…” If you know anything at all about my work you’ll be able to imagine the look on my face when I heard that.  You can probably also imagine that my verbal response was less than polite… These preservice teachers weren’t idiots. They weren’t uncaring or dismissive of best practice. The…

Read more…

From Sounds to Sentences

One of the big questions I hear Foundation (Kindergarten/prep/pre-primary/reception/transition) Teachers ask is, “When should children be writing sentences?”  I would like to answer this question as it relates to skills as well as age.   To focus only on the ‘when’ as a consideration of age can lead us to ‘achieve’ this by any means possible, including having children copy scribed sentences and use word banks to copy the words rather than segmenting and writing themselves.   Instead, we need t…

Read more…

sleep-2035383_1920

Applying the 80/20 Rule in the Reading Classroom

We teachers often lament the lack of time and the overcrowded curriculum.  Now I’ll grant you that I think we could leave out a whole chunk of ‘stuff’ and our kids would be just fine, but when it comes to reading instruction what would it mean to us if we could view our time through a lens of ‘only do what is the most important?’.

Black Camera Lens


The 80/20 rule, known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.  While these numbers aren’t an exact science they do lea…

Read more…