More Words of Comprehension Wisdom

Sheena Cameron

I am so impressed with Sheena Cameron’s book, Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies a practical classroom guide, that I will continue to share some of her wisdom.

Introducing and teaching comprehension strategies

Cameron has adapted a model from Duke and Pearson (2002) for introducing and teaching comprehension strategies in the classroom. She includes five components:

  1. An explicit description of the strategy, which includes when and how it should be used – in the gradual release of responsibility this is part of the I do it stage.
  2. Teacher modelling of  the strategy in action – again this is part of the I do it stage.
  3. Collaborative use of the strategy in action – we do it stage.
  4. Guided practice using the strategy with gradual release of responsibility  –  this could fit both in the we do it and the you do it together stage depending on where the students are at.
  5.  Independent use of the strategy – you do it alone.

This is a newspaper text I have kept and laminated as it is perfect for teaching vocabulary and figurative language.


Cameron mentions how important is to be modelling strategies to students of all ages. She stresses the importance of preparation prior to modelling and that sticky notes can be helpful prompts. Once the preparation is done the first time, it is easy to use multiple times. Her advice is to begin collecting texts that are suitable to model particular strategies.


She also mentions the use of think-alouds (Davey,1983) as being a simple but extremely effective technique. This helps those who struggle with reading. They can hear and see what a good reader does when making meaning from text. It is also important that students practise think-alouds – as teachers we can quickly find out what students are thinking and how they are using the various strategies.think alouds

Handy hints

To conclude this post, here are some of the handy hints that Cameron suggests  to assist implementation of the comprehension strategies:

  1. Use a wide variety of materials to model: stories, textbooks, articles and visual texts such as photographs, graphs, maps and tables. I really agree with this – there are so many good, short and interesting texts out there. Find texts that fit within the learning areas of the curriculum – they provide context and teaching comprehension strategies doesn’t become an add-on.
  2. Plan think-alouds.
  3. Read the text aloud, pausing to make comments about what you are thinking (don’t this so much that the flow of the text is interrupted).
  4. Focus on the strategy you are teaching. If appropriate, refer to already taught strategies where applicable.
  5. Keep the modelling session short and sharp – hook in the students.
  6. Take a few opportunities to show word attack and fix-up strategies.
  7. Remind students that all readers get stuck sometimes, but good readers stop, clarify the problem and do something about it.

Cameron, S. (2009) Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies a practical classroom guide

Blank’s Levels of Questioning

Blank’s Levels of Questioning

hungry caterpillarIn my last blog, I looked at Konza’s sixth component of teaching reading: comprehension.  Konza mentioned the importance of questioning as a comprehension strategy. One of the questioning frameworks that I have used quite successfully is Blank’s levels of questions.

It was devised by Marion Blank, an American developmental psychologist who specialised in language and learning. She studied a number of year one students to find levels of comprehension that equated to success in the classroom.

Blank found four different levels of questions. Levels 1 and 2 ask for simple concrete information and levels 3 and 4 ask for more abstract information. Both receptive and expressive language skills are required.

Level 1 – language is applied to what is seen in the everyday world. Information is directly in front of the reader or recently removed. Responses are short or nonverbal (eg pointing).

Hungry caterpillar 2

Level 1 – Show me the sun.

Scanning for a matching object – Find one like this.

Identifying an object by sound – Show me what you heard.

Identifying an object by touch – Show me what you touched.

Naming an object heard – What did you hear?

Naming an object touched – What did you touch?

Naming an object seen – What is this?

Imitating a simple sentence – Say this…..

Remembering pictured objects – What did you see?

Remembering incidental information – What did you see?

Level 2 – information is supplied but it is not directly apparent. Reader has to select what to attend to – size, colour etc

Hungry caterpillar 4

Find fruit that is red and spotty.

Scanning for an object defined by its function – Find one that can…

Describing a scene – What is happening?

Recalling items named in a statement – What things…?

Recalling information from a statement – Who? What? Where?

Completing a sentence – Finish this….

Concepts: Naming characteristics and functions of objects – Tell me its …..

Concepts: Attending to two characteristics – Find one that is … and ….

Concepts: Identifying differences – How are these different?

Concepts: Citing an example within a category – Name something that is a ….

Level 3 – language does not directly relate to what is seen or heard and reader must think about and reorder the given information. Consideration and evaluation of certain basic facts are considered before a response.

Hungry caterpillar 3

How did the caterpillar feel when he had finished?

Scanning for an object by integrating verbal and visual information – Find one to use with this.

Describing events subsequent to a scene – What will happen next?

Assuming the role of another person – What could he say?

Following a set of directions – Do this, then this.

Arranging pictures in a sequence – Make these into …

Formulating a set of directions – Tell me how to…

Formulating a generalisation about a set of events – What happened to all of these?

Formulating a statement to unify a sequence of pictures – Tell this story.

Concepts: Identifying similarities – Find the ones that are not…

Concepts: Selecting an object by exclusion – Find things that are not …

Concepts: Selecting a set of objects by exclusion – Name something that can… but is not a ….

Concepts: Citing an example by excluding a specific object – Name something that is not a ….

Concepts: Citing an example by excluding a class of objects – What is a ….?

Concepts: Defining words – Say this……

Unusual imitations

Level 4 – reader has to reason beyond what is seen, heard or said. Reader has to draw on past experience, make parallels, look at causes and likely effects and justify decisions.

Hungry caterpillar 5

Why can’t he eat anything else?

Predicting: Changes in position – Where will ….?

Predicting: Changes in structure – What will happen if …?

Justifying a prediction – Why will…?

Justifying a decision: Essential characteristics – Why wouldn’t it?

Justifying a decision: Non-essential characteristics – Why would it?

Identifying the causes of an event – What made it happen?

Formulating a solution – What could you do?

Formulating a solution from another perspective – What could she do?

Selecting the means to a goal – What could we use?

Explaining the means to a goal – Why should we use that?

Explaining the construction of objects – Why is …. made of that?

Explaining an inference drawn from an observation – How can we tell?

Explaining the logic of compound words – Why is this called …?

Explaining the obstacles to an action – Why can’t we …?

Reference: Blank, M., Rose, S., & Berlin, L. (1978). The language of learning: The preschool years.

These levels of questions help develop comprehension but also develop oral language using rich text. Although the example of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is for younger students, the levels of questions can be applied to any text and any year level.

NB If you are a teacher in the Queensland State School system, the Metropolitan EAL/D Prep Program edStudio can be accessed through the Learning Place (S712114786). This edStudio houses a number of rich texts that can be used with Blank’s levels of questions.



More on vocabulary

Marzano’s Six Step Process to Teaching Academic Vocabulary

Six is the magic number. My last blog looked at Konza’s take on vocabulary as a part of her big 6 in understanding the reading process. Today’s blog will look at Marzano’s six step process to teaching academic vocabulary. I love this process for the explicit and deep teaching of vocabulary as it can be used in any year level and for any learning area.

This is an example of selecting an essential word from a year 8/9 biology unit. I deliberately chose a year level and learning area that were unfamiliar to me.

Teaching the word: mutualism

1. Provide a description, explanation, or example of the new term. (Include a non-linguistic representation of the term for ESL kids.)

The idea is to make this interesting and something that students will remember.

Telling a joke: What’s worse than a giraffe with a sore throat? Why, a crocodile with a toothache, of course.

crocodile and plover

Nile crocodile and Egyptian plover

Showing a photograph and telling  an interesting story. Introduce the Nile crocodile, an animal that is a messy eater and cannot move food from side to side as its jaws only open and close. It also can’t move food around with its tongue and this results in food becoming caught in its teeth which attracts parasites, bacteria and leeches. Thankfully the Egyptian plover works mutually with the crocodile. The crocodile beeches itself, remains very still and leaves its mouth open. The plover enters the crocodile’s mouth and eats the scraps and parasites – a win win situation. The plover gets to eat and the crocodile gets it teeth cleaned.  (This would also be a great teaching moment to show where Egypt and the Nile river are located).

The crocodile and plover have a mutualistic relationship – one where both of them benefit. In science, we call this mutualism. This is one of the three types of symbiotic relationships, the other two being commensalism and parasitism.

Using a video clip: I found a short video clip that added to the description.

2. Ask students to restate the description, explanation, or example in their own words. (Allow students whose primary existing knowledge base is still in their native language to write in it.)


Recording sheet example

Oral rehearsal: give students time to discuss what mutualism is (pairs or small groups) and then have them rewrite the definition in their own words. If this is a second language, let students write the word and its meaning in their first language.

3. Ask students to construct a picture, symbol, or graphic representing the word.

Model first: Some students will be reluctant to draw but the idea is to have some kind of graphic representation  that will help them remember the word.

Share: Sharing the different representations helps students see others ways the word can be represented.

4. Engage students periodically in activities that help them add to their knowledge of the terms in their notebooks.


Instagrok word map

There are lots of ways students can practise using the word and broadening their understanding of it. Writing synonyms or antonyms. Finding similarities or differences. Completing an analogy – Mutualism is to symbiosis as ____________ is to  ___________.  (As mutualism is one of the types of symbiosis, I wrote …as an edge is to a triangle).

5. Periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another. (Allow in native language when appropriate).

Oral rehearsal is vital and giving students time to talk about the word and all its accompanying vocabulary enhances student knowledge. This can be done as Think-Pair-Shares. As you have seen this step has been done when students rewrote their definitions and drew their graphic representations. They could explain any new learning or clarify confusions or disagreements. Allow time for students to make any revisions.

6. Involve students periodically in games that allow them to play with terms.

There are so many games that can be played: Pictionary, memory, jeopardy, charades, talk a mile a minute, bingo, create a skit…

students helping

Students studying together

sea anenome

Sea anemone and clown fish

For the word mutualism I made a simple game that matched images of animals in symbiotic relationships to a human representation  – mutualism  – sea anemone and clown fish – students helping one another with an assignment, commensalism –  barnacles on a whale and student copying neighbour’s homework, parasitism – flea on a dog and someone taking another child’s tuckshop money.

Look at all the words the students would have learned by examining this one word in detail. Mutualism – mutual, mutualistic, commensalism, parasitism, plover, Nile, Egyptian, relationship and the list goes on.

It would also be an opportunity to explore the meaning and use of the suffix –ism.

All of these steps should be modelled first (I would use the gradual release of responsibility – I do, we do, you do together, you do alone).  The steps can also be done in any order and can be completed over a period of days as students explore the word deeper. Some steps can overlap. 

Selecting a word for study

To select a word for study, I like Fisher and Frey’s guidelines:

  1. Is the word representative of an essential idea or concept?
  2. Will the word be used repeatedly within and across units of instruction?
  3. Is the word transportable across other disciplines?
  4. Does the use of the word invite contextual analysis?
  5. Does the word offer an opportunity for structural analysis?
  6. Do the selected word honour the learner’s cognitive load?

From: The Value of Intentional Vocabulary Instruction in the Middle Grades




‘Phonic Program’ Caveats

dog and phonicsBefore I move onto the next component in Konza’s Big 6, I thought I would draw attention to Misty Adoniou’s paper, ‘Seven things to consider before you buy into phonics programs’.  This is a reminder that although explicitly teaching phonics is necessary for many students, it is only one component of a balanced reading approach.

Image from: Wayan Vota via Compfight cc

If you have had a chance to explore Version 8 of the Australian Curriculum English, you would have noticed a greater emphasis on phonics in the earlier years, and that from year 3 onwards, it states that phonological and phonemic awareness will continued to be applied when connecting spoken and written language. Below is Adoniou’s paper, which I found to be an interesting read.


Seven things to consider before you buy into phonics programs

Misty Adoniou, University of Canberra

Phonics, or teaching reading, writing and spelling through sounds, is often touted as the golden path to reading and writing.

National curricula in England and Australia have been rejigged to increase their focus on phonics, and entrepreneurs and publishers have rushed to fill the space with phonics programs and resources.

But before you buy their wares, consider the following.

1. English is not a phonetic language

This may be an inconvenient truth for those promoting phonics programs, but English is not a phonetic language and never has been.

English began about 1500 years ago as a trio of Germanic dialects brought over to the islands we now know as the British Isles. Latin speaking missionaries arrived soon after to convert the pagans to Christianity. They also began to write the local lingo down, using their Latin alphabet.

The Latin alphabet was a good phonetic match for spoken Latin, but it was not a good match for spoken Old English.

There were sounds in Old English that simply didn’t exist in spoken Latin, so there were no Latin letters for them. And there were sounds in Latin that didn’t exist in Old English, which left some Latin letters languishing.

Those letters were repurposed and some new letters were introduced. It was a messy match, and 1500 years of language evolution has only increased the distance between the sounds we make, and the letters we write.

As a result, English is alphabetic, but not phonetic. There is a simple sound letter match in only about 12% of words in English. How much of your literacy programming and budget do you want to allocate to that statistic?

2. Sounds are free

The sounds and letters of the English language are the ultimate open access knowledge. Buying them in a packaged program is just a con.

If you weren’t shown the sound-letter relationships in your teaching degree, shame on your degree, but in any case you can Google them or find them in the preface of a good dictionary.

3. Knowing your sounds is not the same as reading

I know all my sounds in French. I even sound reasonably convincing – in an Inspector Clouseau kind of way – when I “read” French. But I have no comprehension, so I’m not really reading.

Children who are failing in literacy in upper primary and high school are not failing because they don’t know their sounds. They are failing because they can’t comprehend.

Observe their attempts to read, write and spell and one thing is very clear – they know their sounds, and they over rely on them. Give them a phonics program and you are giving them more of what isn’t working for them.

4. Politicians are not educators

The push for phonics in England and Australia was spearheaded very conspicuously, almost personally, by the respective former Education Ministers Gove and Pyne. Politicians may have many skills… but they are not educators, and they are not educational researchers.

Educational reforms should not be shaped by personal predilections or political agendas.

5. Programs get it wrong

The narrow focus on sounds and letter patterns in phonics programs obscures more useful information for learning to read, write and spell. On occasion the material presented is just plain wrong.

A popular phonics workbook offers the following explanation for the word “technician”.

“Technician is a technical word. Although it is pronounced ‘shun’ at the end, it belongs to the word family ending in ‘cian’”

Teaching “cian” as a word family is linguistically inaccurate, and fails to teach how the word “technician” actually works.

“ian” is the suffix we attach to base words ending in “ic”, to turn them into the person who does the base word. So “technic” becomes “technician”, “magic” becomes “magician”, “electric” becomes “electrician” etc.

This knowledge develops spelling, builds vocabulary and increases reading comprehension. Being told that “cian” makes the “shun” sound does none of this.

6. Colouring-in is not literacy

Sticking balls of crepe paper on the letter “j” is not a good use of literacy learning time. Neither is colouring in all the pictures on the worksheet that start with “b”, particularly if you thought that picture of the beads was a necklace. And is that a jar or a bottle?

Busy work does not teach children to read and write.

7. There are no easy routes to literacy

Learning to read, write and spell is complex. The brain is not hardwired for literacy in the way it is hardwired for speech.

Each individual brain has to learn to read and write, and because our brains, our genes and our environments are all different, the pathways to literacy that our brains construct will be different.

If a single program could respond to this diversity then we would have solved the literacy problem a few hundred years ago when printed texts for the masses first took off.

Of course there are accounts of students whose progress was turned around by a phonics program – the comments section of this post will no doubt have some of those testimonials – but there are many more who languish in those programs.

Phonics programs can be helpful for students with very particular learning needs, but solutions to pointy end problems are not helpful for all learners.

The alternative?

Consider what the problem is that you are trying to solve before you commit to buying a phonics program.

If the problem is your students write phonetically, and cannot read phonically irregular words, then more phonics is not the solution.

If the problems are reading comprehension and quality of writing, then invest in your library and your staff. Buy quality literature and spend money on professional learning.

The Conversation

Misty Adoniou, Senior Lecturer in Language, Literacy and TESL, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Understanding the Reading Process – The Big Six

I am really enjoying reading Konza’s series of articles on Understanding the reading process. She has synthesised the research beautifully and written the articles in a practical and teacher-friendly way. I wish I had known a lot of these things when I was first teaching in the early years.

So far, I have summarised oral language and phonological awareness – two incredibly important foundational skills for reading, writing and spelling. Today’s blog will look at the section on phonics in her first paper and the supporting article Phonics.


matPhonics is understanding there is a relationship between the individual sounds (phonemes) of spoken language and the letters (graphemes) of written language.  Once children understand that word can be broken up into a series of sounds, they need to learn the relationship between those sounds and letters – ‘the alphabetic code’ or the system that the English language uses to map sounds onto paper (Konza, 2011).

There is a lot of debate around how and when phonics should be taught but Konza stated that the empirical evidence points towards a synthetic approach. My summary will focus on this approach. The single letters and common letter combinations are taught in a discrete, systematic and explicit method that facilitates blending.

Early blending is critical and begins as soon as students know letters can be blended into vc or cvc words. This is then practised in easy, decodable text which will benefit all students but particularly those who are struggling to learn the relationships quickly. Decodable texts should be a short-term strategy to build automaticity and fluency needed to read for meaning.

Although simple, decodable texts are used to practise phonics, the research is very clear that children should be using their newly developed phonic skills in the context of motivating, connected text as soon as possible and that they should continue to have high quality texts read to them (Konza, 2011).

I really like how Konza stresses the importance of phonics instruction for most beginning and all struggling readers but that it has be to be part of a balanced reading program, one that includes rich oral language instruction and modelled and guided reading. She also states that phonics instruction should never take more time in a day than the other elements of the literacy program.

Konza also states that phonics instruction will not assist students when they encounter irregular or sight words.sight words Sight words need to be taught explicitly and systematically, followed by regular practise in context.

The goal of teaching phonics and sight words to the point of automaticity is rapid word recognition. Immediate and accurate recognition of words allows the reader to concentrate on meaning rather than decoding.

When to start and for how long?

If phonics instruction begins in prep, single letter-sounds and common combinations should be completed by year 1. By this time, letter-sound knowledge should be automated and students should be able to read simple material accurately and comprehend it. Phonics instruction continues after that in the form of spelling instruction and word analysis and continues until students are competent.

Guidelines for teaching phonics systematically

  • Teach letter-sound correspondences: in a sequence that introduces the most common sound for a letter; that occur frequently; and to begin with, separate those that look and sound alike.
  • Begin with continuous sounds (/s/, /m/ and vowels) as they are easy to blend.
  • As soon as students know letter-sounds that blend into words, help them combine them with magnetic letters.letters
  • Provide practice with connected text comprised mainly of simple vc and cvc words (eg Fitzroy and Dandelion series).
  • Extend phonics instruction beyond single letter-sound correspondences to include more complex letter patterns (double letters, consonant digraphs eg th, ch), vowel digraphs (eg ea, ai, ou) and vowel consonant digraphs (eg aw, ay, oy) and other commonly occurring patterns (eg –igh, -ear) in junior and middle primary years.
  • Extend phonics instruction to include morphological elements and structural analysis in upper primary years.

NB Do not hold students back if they are moving quickly through the sequence – the speed with which some children learn this material when explicitly taught can be surprising.

Like phonological awareness, phonics is not an entire reading program for beginning readers. Young children should also be listening to stories and information texts, reading texts both aloud and silently, and writing letters, words, messages and stories. The explicit and systematic teaching of phonics in the beginning phases of reading instruction assists students to master the code that underpins the written form of our language. The goal is for students to read for purpose – reading to understand, learn and enjoy.

Reading and writing go hand-in-hand

Writing the previous blog on Preparations to read has inspired me to quickly blog about how I have used David Rose’s Reading to Learn (R2L) pedagogy in my own teaching. I like this pedagogy as it takes my eclectic approaches to the teaching of reading and writing and sequences and integrates them into one process. It also allows for the gradual release of responsibility from teacher to the student.

Simplistically, I think of the process as a cone that spirals from the big picture of a chosen text supporting the curriculum.R2L 001 Through reading, the text  is explored at a text and paragraph level, a sentence and word group level and a word and syllable level. Through writing, the cone then spirals back out from the syllable and word syllable level, to the word group and sentence level to the paragraph and  text level connecting again to the big picture of the curriculum. I love the reciprocity between reading and writing as the two go hand-in-hand.

I have had success applying aspects of the R2L pedagogy with multi-age classes (Prep – 2 and years 3-7), with small learning support groups and with individual students. I have used the pedagogy in learning areas other than English. I have also incorporated aspects of the pedagogy when planning with teachers.

The following is a brief outline of how I applied this pedagogy to an English unit for year 7 students.

Aspect of Australian Curriculum Y7 English Achievement Standard: Creates a structured and coherent recount combining language features for effect. Creates and edits recount using appropriate grammar, accurate spelling and punctuation.

Text: Black Snake The Daring of Ned Kelly by Carole Wilkinson.IMG_1140

Day 1

Preparation to read:  I made a powerpoint presentation that had a photo of the author Carole Wilkinson, built up field knowledge of Ned Kelly, the time in Australian history and a map of where the events took place in Australia. I mentioned that the text is a hybrid text – one that combines factual information with imaginative first-person eye witness accounts and that we would be focusing on writing an imaginative recount. I then gave a brief overview of the structure of an imaginative recount.Ned Kelly

Modelled reading: I read the first few chapters aloud to the students.

Day 2

Detailed Read: I took one of Wilkinson’s imaginative recounts and did a detailed read.  Students were supplied with their own copies and highlighted word groups and words as I progressed through a scaffolded analysis of the text.  I pointed out how Wilkinson used things such as embedded clauses for effect.Capture

Paragraph level: I had the students work in pairs, cut the text into its paragraphs, mix them up and reassemble.

Day 3

Sentence level: I then directed them to a particular paragraph. In pairs, students would cut this paragraph into sentences and reassemble the paragraph.


I  directed students to a particular sentence (I chose a focus teaching point eg a sentence with an embedded clause). They chopped these sentences into word groups and reassembled, then into individual words and reassembled. In pairs, person A would close their eyes and person B would turn some of the words over in the sentence. Person A would then read the sentence, working out the missing words.

Word level: The students selected words from the sentence that they wanted to take to fluency or had difficulty with and analysed their structure. They wrote these words.

Sentence level:  Students then rewrote the sentence.

Day 4

Joint rewriting: I selected one of the paragraphs ie introduction and with the class rewrote the passage from another character’s point of view but using the sophisticated patterns and language like Wilkinson (I practised this prior to the joint rewriting so as I could use scaffolding questions if necessary)

Individual rewriting: Students then had a go at rewriting the paragraph on their own.

I repeated this process for other paragraphs in that particular text and then other imaginative recounts in The Black Snake, over the following weeks. It gave the students daily repeated reading and writing experiences with the genre of imaginative recount, so by the time it came to their assessment, students were well and truly ready to compose their own. This approach also fits beautifully with the gradual release of responsibility, with independent practice being the ultimate goal.

NB This is my personalised and brief interpretation of using the R2L pedagogy and it is not the only pedagogy I adopt when teaching reading and writing (as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I have a very eclectic approach). If R2L is a pedagogy you are interested in, I would recommend you are trained in its use.


Reading – a sense of urgency!

One is seven 15 year olds doesn’t have basic reading skills. I was watching television the other night and this frightening statistic appeared on the following advertisement.

four in five indigenous4 out of 5 indigenous kids in remote communities cannot read! Recently, Lyn Sharratt, the well-renowned co-author of Putting Faces on the Data, was working with a number of Metropolitan schools in Queensland and she used a photo she had taken of a bus shelter that displayed data similar to this statistic. Regardless of age or background, Lyn repeatedly expressed the sense of urgency needed around the teaching of reading.

This is a continuing major focus for many schools in Metropolitan Queensland, so hence my quest to research as much as I can on the teaching of reading during this Easter break.

There are many schools of thought around the teaching of reading but I think all would agree that it requires a balanced approach.first-steps-reading-resource-book-1-638I have begun my personal reading on this topic with the First Steps in Reading (FSiR) Resource Book, because  of its contemporary research and developments in the field of literacy (pp 5-6). The authors of FSiR state that the ultimate aim of any reading program is to produce confident, competent and independent readers (p5).

They state that a strong foundation for a comprehensive reading program can be established when a range of reading procedures are strategically employed and where the following seven procedures have been identified:

  • Reading to students
  • Modelled reading
  • Language experience
  • Shared reading
  • Guided reading
  • Book discussion groups
  • Independent reading

These seven procedures fit nicely within the Gradual release of responsibility model  (if you haven’t heard of this model, Doug Fisher has written an easy-to-read article on its application).

The first three procedures: Reading to students, Modelled reading and Language experience allow the teacher to demonstrate strategies which will assist students to make sense of text (I do it). NB: I will argue that the third, Language experience fits more within the We do it step.

Language experience, Shared and Guided reading give opportunities for students to practice these strategies with guidance and support (We do it).

Book discussion groups allow students to apply what they have learnt about reading with their peers (You do it together) and Independent reading sessions allow students to apply this knowledge on their own (You do it alone).

My next few blog posts will focus on the teaching of reading using the seven procedures in each of the stages of the Gradual release model.  Looking forward to exploring these over the coming days.

Hello teaching world


reading quoteIn beautiful, sunny Queensland, teachers  have just commenced Easter break – two long weeks of holidays which are thoroughly deserved (the term may only have been nine weeks in length (ten if you count the pupil free days) but from day one, we hit the ground running.

This is my second attempt to begin a blog – I tried over the Christmas holidays and the technology defeated me. I am determined to beat it this time.

Teaching is my passion and working with students and teachers is what I love doing. I first began teaching in 1986 and can proudly say I have taught all classes from year 1 to year 7 (I also had a few short contracts in the pre-school arena). Ironically, I began my Masters in Children’s Literature but although I enjoy the many young adolescent books I had to read, I didn’t see the link to being a primary educator.

I completed my Masters in Special Education and worked as a Support Teacher Literacy and Numeracy. I began working with teachers when I entered the role of Senior Support Teacher Literacy and Numeracy and for the past five years I have worked as a Principal Education Advisor – Australian Curriculum.

I still find it hard to believe that this is now my major role in education. Not only was I a very nervous public speaker initially , but I have always regarded myself as a classroom teacher first and foremost. As much as possible, I stay grounded by working alongside teachers and curriculum leaders in school and classroom settings.


I am an avid reader and in my role as an advisor, this is a handy interest to have. Although I prefer fictional texts (fantasy and modern crime being my top picks), I also read extensively in education. This includes latest research, topical books on education and interesting articles shared through social media.

This blog will be my platform to share what I read. My current work is around the teaching of reading, so this holidays, I will be sifting through a few texts on this subject. I am looking forward to sharing some of this work with you with my target being 30 posts in 30 days.