Advice for parents and teachers

I find that searching around the World Wide Web provides lots of good advice (and some questionable advice too!).

I was very pleased to find this website- It advertises itself as ‘a site dedicated to resources for literacy learning and teaching’.

There is a lot of very valuable information for parents related to Reading Recovery.

Parents will be especially interested to read Ways to Help At Home.
There are some ideas that you can use as your child is reading the take-home book, and unjumbling the cut up sentence that comes home each day.
Your own copy of Ways to Help At Home can be downloaded here.

Parents and classroom teachers may also be interested to read A Reading Recovery Lesson.

Each part of the Reading Recovery lesson is explained- Familiar ReadingReread of Yesterday’s New Book for AssessmentWord and Letter WorkComposing and Writing A Story, the Cut-up Sentence, and the New Book Introduction & First Read. There is quite a bit of ‘teacher talk’ so parents might like to revisit The Lesson page on this blog as it also explains the parts of the lesson without the ‘teacher talk’.

Some reminders

Sometimes missing lessons is unavoidable, e.g. there were no lessons last Friday as we were attending Professional Development in Ballarat with our Reading Recovery tutor. Sometimes the student, or teacher, is too sick to attend school. However, unless there is a very good reason to be away, your child should attend school every day.

Every lesson builds upon what happened the day before. The bigger the gap between this new learning and the next lesson, the more opportunity there is to forget.

Books that are familiar to the student are sent home each day so that he / she can apply independent reading (reading without help). The more reading that is done, the more the child has opportunities to discover new ways of solving words and gaining meaning.

Please ensure that the reading and pasting homework is being done. It is useful to set aside the same time each day so that it becomes a habit, and your child is less likely to ‘forget’ to do it. As soon as it is done it should be put back in the school bag ready to be returned.

See also Who’s doing the homework?
Homework books

Phonemic Awareness: Why is it important?

Last week I wrote a post about Phonological / Phonemic Awareness. Researchers have identified that successful readers are easily able to hear the parts within spoken words. Becoming aware of phonemes (the smallest parts you can hear within a word) greatly assists with word recognition. Some children have a lot of difficulty separating the sounds within the language that they are hearing or speaking, and therefore require extra support.

Phonemic awareness receives explicit attention in every Reading Recovery lesson with special attention given to  hearing and recording the sounds in words for writing. What is learned in writing is also used when the child is taking the words apart while reading, and when working with words at the magnetic  board. Clay, Marie M. (2016) Literacy Lesson Designed For Individuals, p 170.

Late last year the two LLI (Leveled Literacy Intervention) teachers spent 2 days learning about the THRASS program and they are currently exploring it’s use at SAEPS. The LLI teachers shared some of the THRASS videos with the SAEPS Literacy Intervention Team.

I thought it might be interesting for you to watch the following video and to hear about the many sounds that are used within the English language. (The exact number is argued by researchers, but everyone agrees that there are many more sounds than the 26 letters of the alphabet.)

The presenter of the video is Denyse Ritchie, the THRASS co-ordinator.

The THRASS program may or may not be introduced to SAEPS. Regardless, the P-2 teachers are exploring ways to add to the phonemic awareness of their students.

Please note: THRASS is a literacy resource / tool. It is not a reading program. Reading is much more than taking words apart. (See Reading is about Meaning.)

Phonological Awareness 2

The Prep and Year 1/2 teachers have been exploring more about Phonological / Phonemic Awareness. You may like to view the following Youtube presentation from the Neuhous Education Center. (It is intended for teachers but it is well explained for others to follow too.)


      • Phonological Awareness is critical to learning to read.
      • Phonological Awareness is a strong predictor of reading success. (Children who can hear the parts within words find it easier to learn to read.)
      • Phonological Awareness can be developed through instruction. (Children can be taught to hear the parts within words through a variety of activities.)

from the handout that accompanies the presentation.

During Reading Recovery we include Phonological Awareness instruction across the whole lesson, but mainly during Letter ID / Word Work (e.g. making a word with magnetic letters, changing the 1st or last letters, breaking a word into parts) and Writing (e.g. clapping syllables of a word before attempting to write it, sound boxes).


If you would like to know more about phonological awareness or phonemic awareness  go to

You may like to read a previous post about Phonological Awareness.

You can download at handout with some ideas for home at

Please note: There are some products for sale via this link. SAEPS will never recommend or ask that you buy any products linked to this blog.

Taking risks when writing

I know that the students who are going to be the easiest-to-teach are usually the risk takers. They are the ones that are not scared of making mistakes and they’ll have a go at every task.

When it comes to writing, the risk takers do not wait to be told how to write every word. They do not stick to writing words that they can already write.

2 students wrote about their own experiences at a swimming pool after reading a book about Emma and Matthew at the pool with their dad.

STUDENT A wrote: I like the pool.

STUDENT B wrote: Smtims I go dn the sid at the pola. We dedt wont to get let so we got chad wle fast.
(TRANSLATION: Sometimes I go down the slide at the pool. We didn’t want to get late so we got changed really fast.)

Student B used ‘invented spelling’ when she didn’t know how to spell a word. Her focus was to get her message written down.

Of course it is important for students to learn how to spell correctly or else others will have trouble understanding the intended message, but it is equally important for the students to be able to write their thoughts down quickly. (While the thoughts are still ‘in the head’. To have time to write more.) Student B was able to tell us much more about her experiences at the pool than Student A.

If we limit our students to only writing words that they already know how to spell, we may stop their desire to try communicating at all. Some students resist being risk takers because they have been ‘told off’ or corrected so many times it is totally discouraging.

During the Reading Recovery lessons I help the students to learn ways of solving words:

  • Say a word slowly and listen for the sounds
  • Use an alphabet chart, or a previous piece of writing for help
  • Listen for a similar known word family, e.g. cat, that
  • Think about word parts or chunks that you know, e.g. pl-ay-ing
  • Write one syllable (hand clap) at a time, e.g. yes / ter / day.

I also value all the attempts that the student makes. ‘That was a fantastic try at writing sometimes. You wrote down all the sounds that you could hear’. I do not expect the student to work on every word. I write parts of words and sentences for the student. (This varies from student to student, and more help is given early in the series of lessons.)

When your children are writing messages for you at home tell them how pleased you are that they are writing. Value the message and praise their ideas. Don’t feel that every word has to be fixed.

First 2 Weeks

During the past 2-3 weeks the students have been kept very busy Roaming Around The Known. They are not yet challenged to learn new skills. They feel comfortable as they stay within the bounds of what is already known.

You can read more about Roaming by clicking on the following links:
Roaming The Known
Roaming The Known 2
Making I Like Books
Making I Like Books 2

The activities that each student does will depend on his / her capability. Here are some photos of just some of the tasks that my students have experienced over the past 2-3 weeks.

Building up a box of easy to read books for each student. Sometimes the teacher does most of the reading. Sometimes the student takes over all of the reading.




Revising known letters, sounds and words. The student sorts known letters, plays letter games and may make a sound book or a sound chart. Sound boxes may be introduced.



Making a book. The student dictates a page each day and draws a picture to go with it. The sentence is also written on a strip of card which can be cut up for the student to put back together. The words can be sorted in different ways.


Shared writing. The student composes a sentence and writes the letters / words that he / she knows.

Each activity prepares the student for the formal Reading Recovery lessons that begin after the 1st 10 days of Roaming.


The power of self corrections

 A self correction is when the child reads a word (or part of a sentence) incorrectly and then fixes it without help.

Sometimes adults give too much attention to the mistakes that children make which can be rather discouraging, especially during the early stages of reading. But when we give attention to the self corrections we are emphasising what the child is doing well, i.e. the solution rather than the problem.

You might ask “Why did you stop and change that word?” and you might get a reply such as-
It’s a d so it’s a dog, not a puppy.
Checking the 1st letter really helped you didn’t it!”

Because Little Chimp is asleep in the picture. (Not awake.)
It was good to think about what was happening in the story.”

I saw ‘to’ and I knew it was ‘today’. (Not they.)
That was clever. Sometimes you can see a part you know.”

When you bring the child’s attention back to a self correction by saying something like “You did a good job of fixing this word. What you were thinking?” you are not just focussing on the child recognising more words, you are encouraging the process of word solving. The blue teacher comments above are reinforcing the process. By doing this you may encourage him / her to think-

Yeah, you’re right, I really did do that and it worked for me. Maybe I’ll try that same thing again sometime.…..That wasn’t so hard. I did it all by myself. I’m getting pretty good at this stuff.
From One Child At A time by Pat Johnson

By focussing on what the child did to help himself or herself, the child may be more willing to take risks and try again on another day, on another book. (And not just wait for help.)
Feeling good about yourself is the best way of learning and strengthening skills such as reading.


Welcome back to the SAEPS Reading Recovery blog. St Albans East Primary School will again be running Reading Recovery with 2 trained RR teachers. We look forward to working with our new students.


Students in Year One are being tested and selected to be in the first Reading Recovery intake. There are also some students who did not finish their series of lessons by the end of 2016 and they are currently resuming their lessons. Parents of the newly selected Reading Recovery students will be contacted to meet with us to discuss the program and the homework requirements. We can still be found in Room 12 (opposite the Performing Arts room) in Building 2.

This blog has quite a lot of information for parents (and teachers). You can browse throughout the site, or search for a topic by using the Categories To Search drop box on the right hand side of the screen, or you can use the Search box in the top right hand corner.

Helpful information for the start of the year can be found by clicking these links:

What is Reading Recovery?

What is an Observation Survey?

Roaming The Known


Ms Dianne Fielding

Many new skills

longer textBy the time the students are finished Reading Recovery they know a lot about reading:

I need to read smoothly, putting the words together like talking.

I need to read using the punctuation, ( e.g. by stopping at a comma, and a full stop. Sounding like it is a question, or changing my voice for an exclamation mark).
I need to read with expression, making it sound interesting.
What I read must make sense.
I need to stop if I’m not sure I understand what I am reading.
I might need to re-read to work out the meaning.
I need to think about the possible meaning of the word by using the surrounding pages / sentences / words.
I need to check that the words I say aloud match the words that I can see.
I create pictures in my mind as I read. It’s like a movie in my head.thinking
I feel what I read. (Little White Rabbit’s face is making me feel so sad.)
I need to look at the pictures. I need to think about what I know about that (topic, idea).
I need to think about similar experiences that I have had, or have read about, or have seen on T.V. or somewhere else.
It reminds me of when I read …because… (text to text).
It reminds me of the time I … because …. (text to self).
It reminds me of something I read because … (text to text, text to world).
It reminds me of something I heard about because … (text to world).
I ask questions and look for answers- before I read, as I read and after I read to help me to understand. (Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?)
Questioning will help me to make predictions (e.g. why did the magpie take Mother Bear’s vocabularywatch and will she get it back?), check and reflect on my reading. (I didn’t guess that Baby Bear would find it.)
When the author doesn’t tell me I must infer…. (Maybe…., I think…., It could be…, It’s because…., Perhaps…, I’m guessing….). (Maybe she wanted to make her nest look beautiful.)
I need to quickly recognise many most-used words.
I need to understand the words that are in this book, preferably before I first read it. (Talk about the book, look through the pictures before reading it to get the overall meaning.)IMGP1026
I can try different ways of taking a word apart, as I think about the meaning at the same time.
I search for more information that will help me. (The look of the whole word. Looking back to where I saw it before. Thinking about other words that are a bit the same. Checking pictures. Rereading. Looking ahead.)
It would be great if all the students kept reading for the remainder of the school year and during the holidays. We all begin to forget how to do something if we do not continue to use it, e.g. remembering passwords or a recipe. We do not want our children to forget their new skills over the long break.

End of year reading

lionEnd of year testing is well underway.

As is often the case, many students are able to ‘read’ levels that are beyond their understanding.

An example- a student read the story about the Great Lion and the Tiny Mouse. This story is about a lion who captures a mouse who promises to help the lion if he lets it go. The lion laughs at that idea but lets the mouse go anyway and later on the mouse helps the lion to escape a net by nibbling a hole in it.

According to the math formula this book was ‘Easy’. The reading was quite fluent (not slow or word by word). Self corrections were fast.

Most of the words were worked out, e.g. gr / gr-et / gret / great, h / hunt / hunting, t-in / tinny / tiny.

But when I asked this student to retell the story I was surprised to hear his interpretation:

The mouse told the man to get the lion and the mouse laughed.

He had totally misinterpreted the meaning of the story!

It would seem that ‘reading’ requires a lot more than ‘sounding out’. Breaking words into parts (e.g. phonemes and chunks) is a very useful strategy (skill to help reading) but without meaning it is just a lot of unconnected words running across the page.mouse

By the way, this student was able to answer most of the questions correctly.I suspect he used the pictures, his background knowledge and some understanding of the story.

Correct responses: How did the lion catch the mouse? ANSWER: With his paw.

Why did the lion laugh at the mouse? ANSWER: He was thinking the little mouse can’t help him.

crazy-timesIncorrect response: What did the mouse say when the lion caught her? ANSWER: Help! I can’t hear you!

(I have no idea where that came from. The lion actually said- Got you!)