Phonics and Spelling

I had the privilege of listening to Dr Misty Adoniou (Associate Professor in Language, Literacy and Teaching, English as a Second Language, University of Canberra) address the role of analytical and synthetic phonics in learning to read and write. She was an inspirational speaker who reminded us that ‘sounding out’ words is such a small part of reading. (Refer to a previous post Reading Is About Meaning.)

Dr Misty Adoniou wrote the following articles. They explain much of the information that she shared during her presentation.

Why some kids can’t spell and why spelling tests won’t help          

How to help children with spelling

How do we learn to read? 

New phonics test will do nothing to improve Australian children’s literacy

NAPLAN results show it isn’t the basics that are missing in Australian education

Please note that these articles do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of SAEPS.

I came across a great newspaper article about Reading Recovery. For some reason (that I have never understood) RR gets some unfavorable press so it’s refreshing to read such a positive article-


I’m busy finishing off the last of the reports at the moment. It’s satisfying to reflect on the progress that’s been made so far. May it continue…..

1 / 2 excursion

Last Monday and Tuesday the Year 1 /2 classes visited  Werribee Mansion to look at how people lived in the ‘olden days’. I went along on Tuesday and my students have been writing about their experiences during the week.


Here are some of their compositions about the ‘highlights’ of the excursion:


I saw a chalkboard and puppets and an old dress and old man clothes. 

I saw chickens and they were laying eggs. I saw olden days horse things.

You were allowed to sit on the horse. It was standing still.

I was smelling the pink and purple roses.



My favourite part is the long stairs. I liked climbing the stairs up to the other rooms.

In the kids’ room there was a yellow doll house and a big bed.

The ducks were swimming on the big lake. The island didn’t have any animals on it.


The funniest thing was the white pot that you go to the toilet in. 

The power of reading

As I write this post, many of us are settling in to watch the ‘fairytale wedding’ in Windsor.

A distant relative once gave me a book of fairytales when I was old enough to read it by myself. I don’t know if she read the book before she gave it to me because the stories frightened me to bits! These were not the airy fairy Disney versions that are on our bookshelves and screens now. These were the original gruesome versions. Thankfully I was not put off reading for life.

I love reading, and therefore I am quite surprised when I come across someone who doesn’t share my enjoyment of spending time with a good book. My mother passed on her passion for books when I was young. She would sometimes be in fits of laughter as she read stories to me. I didn’t always understand the humour, but nevertheless I enjoyed our shared ‘special time’ together. My father faithfully took his children to the library every few weeks and the stack of books that I borrowed grew bigger in tandem with the number of books that I could carry.

11 year old April Qu shares her passion for reading in the following Ted Talk video. She reminds us-  To read is to experience a world of imagination, adventure and discovery.

The Power of Reading | April Qu | TEDxYouth@Suzhou

TEDx Talks Published on 7 Mar 2016
The joy of shared reading experiences with your children may be remembered and treasured for many years to come. Happy reading…..

Planning Weeks

Planning Week is being spread over the last 2 weeks of the term. All of the Intervention Teachers, as well as the Specialist Teachers, are being used to cover the classes so that the Classroom Teachers can do their planning for next term. Therefore, there have been (and will be) missed Reading Recovery lessons.

Please try to keep the momentum of the learning happening at home. The take home reader can be read again. The pasted sentences in the homework book can be reread. A page within the homework book can be used to write a new sentence.

Some extra books will be sent home for the holidays. Please try to hear your child read one book per day. Thank you for your support.


You may have noticed a few disruptions to the Reading Recovery lessons of late. On Thursday all of the Intervention teachers were required to cover grades so that the classroom teachers could attend some literacy professional development together. On Friday the students did not have their normal lessons. I heard the students read a book or 2 and swapped their take-home books, before I headed to some Reading Recovery professional development in Ballarat. AND Monday is a Curriculum Day so the students will miss out again. Hopefully after that we will be back to lessons as per usual!

On Friday I recorded the students as they read. I stood in front of each one with an iPad. It was very interesting to be able to replay the recordings later and to observe what the eyes were doing as each student was reading. (See previous post Where are the eyes looking?) When I hear students read I am usually sitting side by side with them and so I have a limited ability to check what the eyes are doing. I have a greater awareness now of what is going on, e.g. who is looking away from the book, who is scanning the words ahead or behind, and who is going back and forth between the words and the pictures to support the word solving.

I know that many of you were at the Information Evening last Tuesday and I hope that you enjoyed being lead around the school by your children. I was on Zooper Dooper duty in the canteen, followed by surveying parents duty, so I was not in the Reading Recovery room if you came to visit. Remember that you can come and see me in Room 12 before school on any Monday or Friday.

Farewell Deb Hicks

Today is the last day that Ms Deb Hicks is at SAEPS and it is a sad day indeed. She has been an amazing e-Learning coach. Without her this blog would certainly not exist.

Deb was VERY patient in teaching me all that I needed to know. I was definitely not her easiest to teach pupil.

Thankfully (for everyone) Deb made the mysteries of technology manageable over many months. She was always cheerful when confronted with technological drama and and mini meltdowns. From iPads to Pinterest to blogging, Deb has been a constant mentor.

Thank you so much Deb. I wish you well in your new role in town and hope that you are greatly appreciated!

Slainte mhath Sassenach!


End of Year 2017

Another school year is quickly coming to a close. There is the excitement of new grades and teachers, class parties and holiday celebrations.

Reading Recovery teacher, Mrs Bowen, has been busy compiling the SAEPS Reading Recovery Annual Report.


The following information is taken from the 2018 report:

  • 16 Grade 1 students accessed Reading Recovery during 2018.
  • The average text level of the students at the beginning of their program was Level 2.
  • The average text level of the students at the end of their program was Level 17.
  • The average text level of the students at the end of the year was Level 18.
  • 2 students will complete their program in Term 1 2018.

Congratulations to all of the students who were committed to their own progress and made the most of each learning opportunity. Thank you to the parents who encouraged and praised their children, and supervised the daily homework.Thank you to the classroom teachers for your interest and collaboration, and thank you to the leadership team for your continued support of Reading Recovery at SAEPS.

Comic conversation

I have been reflecting on some of the discussions that I have had with my students during the year. We always talk about a new book before the student attempts to read it for the 1st time. I usually ask questions to find out if the student has had similar experiences, and will understand what is happening in the story.

 Here are just a few snippets of our conversations:

Me: It’s time for the three pigs to leave home and make their own houses.
Student: Who’s that?
Me: Who do you think? (It was Mother Pig who was wearing an apron.)
Student: The maid.
Me: The Big Billy Goat Gruff butted the troll off the bridge.
Student: He didn’t hit the troll with his butt. Look. See the big horns. He did a big push with his horns. Horns would hurt.
Student: My mum wanted to call the new baby Rose but my dad didn’t like it.
Me: What did Dad want to call her?
Student: Patrick
Student: Why are the plant eaters (dinosaurs) hiding in the water, and the forest?
Me: Because they don’t want T-Rex to get them.
Student: T-Rex only eats meat.
Me: Dinosaurs are made of meat.
Student: Only meat eaters are made of meat.
Me: Plant eaters are made of meat too.
Student: No, you are not understanding. Plant eaters only eat plants so they’re made of plants. T Rex won’t eat them.
Me: Triceratops is a long name so you can just say Tri every time you see that name.
Student: I’m going to call him Rose.
Me: What did you just call T-Rex?
Student: Team Red. He’s got a new name too.
Me: Does the tooth fairy come to your house?
Student: Only when she wants some teeth.
Me: Does the tooth fairy come to your house?
(Different) Student: Yes! My dad pulled my tooth out and it hurt and there was a little bit of blood!
Me: And did the tooth fairy come?
Student: She put $5 in Mum’s bag.
Me: Do you think that the mouse should be allowed to eat the bread?
Student: Yes
Me: But only Duck and Rabbit helped Magpie. The mouse wouldn’t do any of the jobs to make the bread.
Student: The mouse was too little. Little kids don’t do the food. It’s not fair if the mums and dads don’t feed them.
Me: The problem wasn’t that the mouse was too little. The mouse was too lazy to help.
Student: Look at it. It’s little.
Me: Maybe they gave some bread to the mouse later.
Student: They have to because that’s the law.
Thank you to all my students who enlighten me with their wisdom, and provide quite a few chuckles along the way.