The Reading Recovery teachers met in Ballarat for our Ongoing Professional Learning this past Friday. It is always good to catch up with the other teachers to learn from each other and our hardworking tutor.

The focus this time was writing. It is often a challenge to lift the performance of our students in this area. The majority of students seem to find reading easier than writing.

We watched a podcast, delved into the writing section of our new guide book, discussed handouts and generally felt challenged to try some new strategies with our students.

As a result of all the recent discussion about writing, I have added a page to this blog with some suggested writing goals (adapted from a handout) that may correspond to the reading levels.

Reading together

Again, I am encouraging parents to read to their children because there are so many benefits.

This article (click on the picture) was written by Deborah Gough (Sydney Morning Herald, 2013) and quotes Bridie Raban (University of Melbourne’s Graduate School Of Education).

 Some quotes from the article:

Parents who stop reading to their children once they reach primary school are missing out on an emotionally rich time …

…a Galaxy poll of 1200 Australian parents found that just 23 per cent of parents read to their child every day… Just four per cent read daily to their child by the time they were aged 9 to 12 years.

Parents blamed making dinner and doing housework …, work … and tiredness… (for not reading to  / with their child).

Nine out of 10 parents encouraged their children to read… the most common incentive was giving children books as gifts…

Reading tips:

  1. Make a bedtime story something to look forward to (a treat).
  2. Be a good role model. Do your children see you reading?
  3. Join a local library.
  4. Read books on different topics that interest your children.
  5. Play word games together.
  6. Talk with your child. It’s a good way to learn new words, and to learn more about a language. (How children talk will influence the words that they will expect to see as they are reading.)

Reading aloud to children is important because it helps them pick up information and skills they need.

Children’s reading experts agree that reading aloud is the easiest and most effective way to turn children into lifelong readers.

Continue reading aloud after your children can read. All readers will enjoy listening to books that they can’t yet manage on their own.

Previous posts: Reading Aloud To Children,   Reading Aloud To Children 2,

Reading Aloud To Children 3Share The ReadingReading To Brothers And Sisters

See also Sharing Books With Young Children (Scroll down to the Reading section.)


How do we learn to read?

I was impressed with an article called How Do We Learn To Read by  (Associate Professor in Language, Literacy and TESL, University of Canberra)

You may like to read her views on comprehension (meaning) and decoding (recognising words by how they look).

Her article is similar to a former post I wrote- Reading Is About Meaning.

I have added a new page to this blog where I will link articles that I think are of particular interest to teachers. This article is one of them, but some parents might also find it to be interesting.

First graduate

It was very pleasing to return after the holidays and to observe that each student had maintained their new skills. Some students were reading a little slower but they quickly picked up the pace again. Remember that reading should sound like talking.

One of my students has just finished Reading Recovery. She is so proud of herself. Her classroom teacher has commented on her overall increased confidence in the classroom. However her learning hasn’t finished. We all learn new things every day.

What we don’t use can be easily forgotten. Reading Recovery graduates should continue to read at home every day. Teachers will monitor their progress and continue to give some extra support when required.

‘Miss Graduate’ wrote a message about her experience with Reading Recovery.




She is proudly showing a book that she read when she first began  Reading Recovery, and a book that she can read now.







Her favourite story to read is Goldilocks And The 3 Bears.


As one student graduates, another one begins Reading Recovery. I have a new student who has already begun Roaming The Known.  (Roaming 2, First 2 Weeks)  


A Tale Of 2 Students

2 students (from an unnamed school) began Reading Recovery a day apart. Student A was reading Level 3, and Student B was reading Level 4. Their Observation Survey scores were almost identical.

For the 1st 4 weeks of their series of lessons the students kept pace with each other. But after Week 4 Student B stalled on Levels 5 and 6 but Student A continued to progress a reading level each week.

What changed?     Attendance.

 Student A

 Student B

Student A was away for a total of 6 days so he missed 6 lessons. Student B was absent for 18 days so she has missed 18 lessons. There was only 1 week that she was at school every day.

(FYI- the week 24/03/17 is missing from Student B as she did not attend school at all that week.)

9 weeks from the beginning of Reading Recovery, Student A is reading Level 10 and Student B is reading Level 7, (despite the latter beginning 1 level ahead). Ironically Student A would have been reading Level 11 (4 levels above Student B) but he was away on the last day of this sampling!

There are many reasons why one student may progress at a different rate to a peer, but the teacher of these 2 students considers that the difference between them is the number of lessons that have been missed. As I have stated before, 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.

It is sensible to keep a child at home if he / she is unwell. It is not sensible to keep a child at home because it is raining, to get a haircut, to buy new shoes, to go visiting etc. etc. Missing lessons will alter the progress of your child.

Growth with Reading Recovery

Enjoy the next 2 weeks of holidays! Don’t forget to have your child do lots of reading, and some writing too.

If you read the last post and followed the links you may have noticed the video Growth With Reading Recovery (Reading Recovery Council of North America, 2012)
If you did not see the video, I have linked it to this post.

The video is celebrating Chase’s journey from being a student who was reading below the other students in his class, to being a confident student who was reading above the level of the average students in his class.

After 5 weeks of Reading Recovery, Chase’s RR teacher tells us that he was using strategies such as slowly saying a word (moth) in order to hear what he would expect to see at the beginning of the word (m). He was then asked to check if the word did begin with m, and it did.

Chase was able to hear many dominant consonants. Consonants are letters that are not vowels (aeiou). Dominant consonants are the ones that are easiest to hear within a word, e.g. Chase would probably hear c-s-n (or k-z-n) in cousin. He is not likely to think the word cake would be cousin if he is using what he knows about matching sounds with probable letters,

Chase was also learning that there was a connection between reading and writing. When we are reading we go from letters to sounds. When we are writing we go from sounds to letters. We can hear individual sounds and parts of words, we can write down letters to represent the sounds and parts of words, and we can look at the letters and parts of words and think of sounds that could match those letters.

Even after 5 weeks, Chase’s classroom teacher had noticed that he was taking risks with his writing, i.e. he had the confidence to try writing words that he did not know.

Chase had 15 weeks of Reading Recovery. By then he had caught up to the average students in his class and he sounded like a good reader. Chase was using word parts (e.g. st-art-ed) and word patterns (day, away) to solve words.

At the beginning of Reading Recovery Chase could only write 5 words. After 15 weeks he could write 42 words.

Chase continued to progress without the extra support that he had previously needed. Chase was reading above the level of the average students in his class by the end of the school year, and his classroom teacher was very pleased with what he could do, including solving words on the run. That means he could work out many unknown words as he was reading, without having to stop, reread and think about ways of taking a word apart.

Chase understood what he was reading as he could answer questions about his book and write about it. Chase was now confident to try new challenges and he enjoyed reading and writing. He had learnt many things about reading and writing (giving him background knowledge) that he can now use in the future. The teachers were proud of him and no doubt so were his parents. Most importantly, Chase would be very pleased with himself.

This is the kind of journey we want for all of our students!

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- LiteracyLearning.net. 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.)