Sharp Reading (Stages 1 & 2 Decoding Strategy)
Sharp Reading (Stages 1 & 2 Decoding Strategy)
Early Childhood, Literacy, Lower Primary, PrePrimary, Professional Development, Tips & Tools, Uncategorized, Year 1, Year 2

Professional Development: Sharp Reading (Stages 1 & 2 of Decoding Strategy Instruction)

For Years: PP – Year 2

Last month I attended a PD from the SSTUWA called Sharp Reading (Stages 1 & 2 Decoding Strategy Instruction) being given by ex-teacher, Hilton Ayrey. The workshop was based on 15 years of his own personal action research on running reading programmes, as well as the research & writings of Michael Pressley, Gerald Duffy and Tom Nicholson. Ayrey recommended  a text called “Reading Instruction that Works: The Case for Balanced Teaching” (Pressley, 2015; 4th ed), for us to read later on, to supplement the workshop.

So what is SHARP Reading?

SHARP is a mnemonic representing:

S – Simple

H – Habitualization

A – Autonomy

R – Routine

P – Progression

Here are some of my jottings from the workshop:

The idea behind much of the workshop was to give teachers simple strategies broken into 5 parts that help the students “frontload” the meaning of the text they are reading, so that they can focus on decoding. This breaks down reading into 2 different parts, simplifying it.

An important part of the program are the 5 phrasal triggers, which turns the activity into a routine and makes it very predictable for the reading group every day. I would share what the 5 phrasal triggers here, but I’m a little worried that am breaching Sharp Reading’s copyright by doing so – as he made a point of discussing copyright during the workshop. I will try to get hold of the text though, and do a summary later on, for those who are interested.

Ayrey suggested that when we do SHARP Reading we minimise the “teacher talk” and avoided “teachable moments” – even when students experience errors. He suggested we use inflection correction instead – that is,repeat the correct word with an inflection. Or simply come back to it later on during the day.

Other Notes: I enjoyed this PD  and think that it covered a lot of very useful strategies that teachers can add to their pedagogical toolbox- especially for those who wants to run guided reading groups in Lower Primary. I can see it working very well because of the simplicity and the directness of the strategies. Teachers are often overrun with so many things to do, and this particular program simplifies guided reading both for the students and the teachers. The workshop itself was 6 hours long, and we were given the opportunity to take turns and coach each other on actual  text, in that period. It’s quite simple on the one hand, but I think I definitely would need to practice this a lot more on my own time, using the notes we were given (or read the recommended book) to nail it, before doing it with students. If the workshop came round again, I wouldn’t mind going a second time either.

 

Sharp Reading (Stages 1 & 2 Decoding Strategy)

Sharp Reading (Stages 1 & 2 Decoding Strategy)

This Training Relates to Professional Standards for Teachers
Standard 2 – Know the content and how to teach it.
Standard 3 – Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning.
Standard 4 – Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments.
Standard 7 – Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community.

 

Kindy & PrePrimary Visual Schedule Cards
Kindy & PrePrimary Visual Schedule Cards
Autism Spectrum Disorder, Classroom Management, Early Childhood, Kindy, Lower Primary, PrePrimary, Resources, Tips & Tools, Transitions, Uncategorized

Useful Tips & Tools for Relief Teachers: Visual Schedules + Magnets

Since I’ve started working as a relief teacher, what I’ve found is that although I don’t normally know what subjects or lesson/s the class is up to (unless I’ve done relief for that school many times before), most of the time the regular  teacher will leave a workpad with details of the subjects and the lessons for the entire day.  I normally arrive at 8 am, and the students arrive at 8.30 , so  I use that half an hour block to prepare myself and to prepare the classroom

For the most part, at least for the early years, the content is easy enough to teach or brainstorm on the spot. If the content is unfamiliar, I try to research what I can online for the morning session on my phone. I  then use recess and lunch to prep for the late morning and afternoon sessions; or set alternative work (this is my last resort though, as I think it’s good practice to follow the teacher’s plans as closely as possible).

I’ve found that over-preparing and bringing my own resources helps a lot. Not because the school or classroom needs them, but because I need them to stay a few steps ahead of the students. Having several things I can use that are familiar to me, makes me feel prepared and I think assists my teaching greatly.

One of the things I bring everyday is a set of visual schedule cards and a pile of magnet pins. I have 2 set of visual schedule cards – one for Kindy & Pre Primary and the other for Lower Primary.

Kindy & PrePrimary Visual Schedule Cards

Kindy & PrePrimary Visual Schedule Cards

Kindy & PrePrimary Visual Schedule Cards

Kindy & PrePrimary Visual Schedule Cards

Lower Primary Visual Schedule Cards

Lower Primary Visual Schedule Cards

Lower Primary Visual Schedule Cards

Lower Primary Visual Schedule Cards

Lower Primary Visual Schedule Cards

Lower Primary Visual Schedule Cards

Process & Rationale:

After reading the workpad, I pull out the most relevant & salient cards depending on what subjects/activities their teacher wants them to do that day. I bring a lot because I want to cover all possibilities and I don’t know what the students need to do- but only select a few. The ones I normally include in every day’s schedule are:  Morning Tea, Lunch, Pack Away/Pack & Stack cards. Sometimes if the class have a very busy day, but I don’t want to overwhelm the students with too much information on the board, I would break the day into morning and afternoon sessions- I then only take out the relevant cards for that session. Once I have the cards I need, I put the cards in order and pin it on the whiteboard using magnet pins- and that’s it!

Almost every classroom I’ve been to have some white board of some kind so magnets are always handy. Although I do bring blue tack in my teaching trolley just in case… 🙂

 

Budget:

Making the visual cards themselves is really simple. There are many available but the one that  I use is called The First Grade Parade, made by a teacher called Cara Caroll. It didn’t cost much as she was giving it away for free from the Teachers Pay Teachers website. The only cost I incurred in making the cards would have been the time I spent printing and laminating them; plus the paper, ink and the laminating pouches themselves. I bought the magnetic pins online from a place called AMF Magnetics. I decided to get the plain white 22 mm x 12 mm ones, which comes in a pack of 12 for $13.20 a pack. I worry that I will lose a few along the way, so I decided to get 3 packs of 12, just to be on the safe side for a grand total of $39.60.

 

Toilet:

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Toilet Sign in & Out Card on the Whiteboard

Another thing I do when I am new to a Lower Primary class, is I put the “Toilet” card on one corner of the whiteboard and ask the students to write their names down every time they ask to go to the bathroom. I also ask them to erase it from the board once they come back. Every school has its bathroom policy – from bathroom pass, to having to go in pairs etc. I do it on top of those because, I want to make sure I know where every student is all the time – which is hard when you are processing a lot of new faces and names. This saves me from having to remember.  Kindy & PP normally have the students toilets adjacent to the classroom, so I don’t feel the need to do this with them, unlike the older students.

 

Are they actually useful?: 

I feel that using visual schedule cards has helped me with my classroom management a lot. For example it’s one of the first things I point to, when I am doing circle time or morning meetings with the students. It gives me a prompt to talk about what we are doing the whole day and in what order we are doing it in. Then, as the day progresses, I point back to the cards to show the student what is coming next. I’ve found that it helps me transition the class relatively smoothly from one activity to another.

Many people use visual schedules of some kind and I am not sharing anything earth shattering here 🙂 I just like the particular ones that I’ve got and wanted to share it with everyone because I got them for free and think that they look great (they look a bit small on the photos, but in real life they are quite big). I’ve also found that using this strategy has been really handy for children who gets stressed-out when their class routine/daily routine changes – which is essentially what happens when a class has a relief teacher for the day. So it’s my way of providing an alternate routine. I’ve also read that visual schedule cards are  particularly useful for students who have Autism Spectrum Disorders – as it helps them increase independence and manage anxiety. I’ve found some decent reading about it here:

 

What Next:

I’ve started making some more cards to add the lower primary set.  I am actually about to buy 2 sets of long pencil case satchels that each pile can go to as well, so that I can just grab one satchel or the other, depending on what year level I’ve been assigned to for the day. I’m also thinking of adding an analogue clock cards next to the Lower Primary, as a way of introducing/exploring the concept of time.

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Making more cards…

Making more cards... :)

Making more cards… 🙂

Making more cards... :)

Making more cards… 🙂

Making more cards... :)

Making more cards… 🙂

 

 

Thinking Tree
Thinking Tree
EYLF 4.1, EYLF 4.2, EYLF 4.3, EYLF 4.4, EYLF 5.1, EYLF 5.2, EYLF 5.3, Uncategorized

Professional Development: Early Childhood Educators Forum – Consulting with Children: Floorbooks, Talking Tubs and Thinking Trees (TUT) + New Books

Years: Kindergarten to Lower Primary

I attended the SSTUWA‘s Early Childhood Educator’s Forum a few months ago for Professional Development and it was presented by a lady called Samantha Wynne. She focused on giving us a crash course/training on Claire Warden’s Floorbooks, Talking Tubs & Thinking Trees (TUT) which is a holistic, child-centred, nature based pedagogy that reminds me a lot of Reggio. I haven’t read Claire Warden’s book yet, but have definitely added it to my reading list/shopping list, as Wynne explored a lot of very practical teaching strategies with us during the day.

It’s funny I was just writing about big books today on a previous post, because this particular teaching philosophy revolves around documenting the student’s learning via large books as well – accessible either on the table and the floor. I think there really must be something with using large books/visual aids for children! 🙂

OK here are some of my jottings to share. Am not sure if makes sense to anyone else, but the keywords might trigger ideas for your own research. Please note I am not affiliated or associated with Claire Warden and her Floorbooks approach in any way, and do not claim any expertise on it. I’m just another teacher looking for things to add to my pedagogical toolbox and someone who enjoyed this particular PD.

My Jottings from the PD:

Floorbooks is a mosaic approach, a framework for listening to children.

Idea Trees – is a wondering item. It allows the children to run with an idea and put the children behind the curriculum.

Putting a provocation under a tree and listening to children allows us to gather data directly from the children.

Write the children’s ideas on the leaves. The leaves allows us find out what children know and don’t know about a topic.

Picture Books as Provocations

Picture Books as Provocations

Picture books are great provocations to trigger a theme/idea for exploration.

 

Talking Tubs focusing on Water

Talking Tubs focusing on Water

Thinking and Talking Tubs – are tubs with 2D and 3D objects which stimulate thinking and encourages communication. It can be music, photographs, tea towels, objects etc.

Some ideas are vintage suitcase or black box with question mark all over it. This creates curiosity and wonder and triggers exploration of an idea.

Flowers – can be a way of visually representing ideas with different petals showing different streams of ideas.

3D Mind Mapping

3D Mind Mapping

3D Mind Mapping

3D Mind Mapping

3D Mind Mapping

3D Mind Mapping

3D Mind Mapping – always use the same coloured strands.

Be careful what you put in the middle – it could open up or close down the conversation/ideas. The strands shows the thinking. You can also recreate the #D mindmap as a display or take photographs for the floor books.

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PLODS – Possible Lines of Direction

Sample of a Floorbook

Sample of a Floorbook

Floorbooks are not class journals – they are owned by the children and they can access it anytime. It is the children’s voice. It could should the delivery of the curriculum. They can show PLODS (possible lines of development) and can be dated/marked of when this has been achieved. Floorbooks can be short or long term – they can take the life of a term etc.

Morning Message – great idea.

Friday reflection on our learning.

Thinking bubble.

Thinking pens & observational drawing.

Transient art from loose parts – can be framed with a 3D frame

OTHERS:

I also got a couple of books  from AISWA table/stall setup at the forum. One is called EYLF in Action and the other one is called Playing with the Australian Curriculum. Both seemed to be an expanded deconstruction of the EYLF, with plenty of real life examples from several schools. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’ll do a summary & some jottings once I do, to share here. I’m really excited to read the Playing with the Australian Curriculum in particular, as I have been doing relief in lower Primary this year as well- and this covers up to Year 2.

Playing w/ Australian Curriculum + EYLF in Action from AISWA stall.

Playing w/ Australian Curriculum + EYLF in Action from AISWA stall.

EYLF in Action + Playing with the Australian Curriculum

EYLF in Action + Playing with the Australian Curriculum

Budget:

Playing w/ Australian Curriculum $35
EYLF in Action                                   $110
Total:                                                $145  

PD Notes: 

Hours: 3.5 hours

Standard 1 – Know students and how they learn.
Standard 3 – Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning.
Standard 4 – Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments.
Standard 5 – Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning.
Standard 6 – Engage in professional learning.
Standard 7 – Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community.

A3 Sized Big Book - Scholastics AlphaTales. Next A4 paper for comparison.
A3 Sized Big Book - Scholastics AlphaTales. Next A4 paper for comparison.
EYLF 5.2, Literacy, Resources, Uncategorized

Making Resources: Big Books

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Laminating A3 pages

Making A3 Big Books

Making A3 Big Books

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4 Hole Hole Punch & Plastic String

4 Hole Hole Punch & Plastic String

A4 size Homemade AlphaTale Books

A4 size Homemade AlphaTales Books

Age/Year: PreKindergarten/Kindergarten

One of the resources I’ve been making in my spare time this year are A3 sized big books for shared picture book reading during circle time/mat time. I chose to go with AlphaTales by Scholastic – and I think they’re really awesome. Each book is based on a letter and it’s fun to read because of the rhyming and alliteration, using the focus letter. At the back of the book is a cheer which the children can learn, as well as some engaging activities that can be done during the session to build alphabet recognition skills.

I paid $1.99 for each letter (I downloaded the whole set of 26 letters from the Scholastic site) and have been slowly printing them in A3 and A4 sizes. We have a duplex A4 colour laser printer at home, which is lucky and I’m slowly working on making a few whole A4 sets that can be part of a classroom’s library. These are actually available as A4 hard copies from Scholastics, so I’m on the lookout for secondhand copies of those as well.

How I make them: After printing I normally laminate each page and then either slip it into a an A3 sized display folder or punch holes using a 4 way hole punch and hand-stitch the side using plastic string. It’s a bit of work, but I’ve enjoyed doing it. You can pretty much laminate and stitch-sew on autopilot while letting your mind wander on other things.

Why big books? I  think the larger pictures and text lends itself to more activities with the children and has more impact because of the size. For example one of the activities at the end of the book is to find all the objects in a 2 page spread that starts with the focus letter. I feel that the children have more fun when they are pointing  at pictures in a big book in front of the class, when the whole class can see what they are pointing at. From my experience it also lessens the “I can’t see”, “She/He’s  in my way” etc that sometimes happen during shared reading sessions. I’m all for teaching children how to manage their personal space, but I think there are already many opportunities to do that during the day. And if I can crowd manage and run a session better by preventing situations from happening in the first place, why not? Am not saying everyone should take up big books.  I’m just saying it works for me personally and I have fun with the children when I do use them – especially when I am focusing on extended letter recognition activities. 🙂

Costs: There are many big books commercially available and I don’t think I am saving myself much money by making the books myself from an electronic download. 🙂 Unfortunately Scholastic does not print AlphaTales as big books, which is the reason why I’ve started making my own in the first place. From memory I got the folder on sale for $6 each from a thrift store and the printing costed about $30+ from Officeworks. The A3 laminating pouches were $10 for 50 sleeves from Aldi’s, and that’s after paying for the .pdf from Scholastics. It all adds up… What I do get to do by doing it this way is the ability to print multiple copies in different sizes, as well having the book in a couple of different formats (I am thinking if I had my own classroom one day I can load the pdf on an electronic whiteboard); as well as having an extra large version of this particular series for circle time.

Where I’m Up to: I am to letter D now and hoping to have the full set in a few months, or at least by next year. We’ve been eyeing an A3 printer as well, so that might help with keeping the costs down- especially if we use generic refillable inks for the ink tank. Also the staff at Officeworks don’t seem to like printing from a commercially distributed file (although in the end they did let me do it), even though I explained that I paid for the download- so printing from home might be the way to go from now on. Anyway I’ll keep you posted on how it all works out in the coming months… 🙂

Probably no cheaper than buying a commercial big book. But I wanted this particle title & they don't make them.

Probably no cheaper than buying a commercial big book. But I wanted this particle title & they don’t make them.

Making A3 Big Books

Making A3 Big Books

Budget:

AlphaTales download from Scholastic: $1.99

A3 printing of 1 book: $34.60

Laminating pouches approx: $3.20

A3 display folder on sale: $6.00

Time: In kind

Approximate Total: $45.79/ per book

Relief Teacher Training: Saba & Moodle at SIDE
Relief Teacher Training: Saba & Moodle at SIDE
ICT, Professional Development, Uncategorized

PD: Relief Teacher Training – Saba & Moodle at the School of Isolated and Distance Education

Screengrab of the SIDE website online

Screengrab of the SIDE website online

I saw a call out on FB for a PD geared for Visual Arts teacher who wanted to do some teaching at SIDE, which is the Schools of Isolated and Distance Education in West Leederville. It was quite exciting to go there as I’ve not been to an isolated and distance education classroom before, and also hear about the diverse demographic of students they teach. Apparently they have young Australian living in other countries, to young Olympians in training, to students in extremely isolated properties and towns in the middle of WA.

The first thing that stands out when you go to SIDE is that there aren’t any students around, but the classrooms still looks like your typical classroom. The room where we did the workshop was a computer lab w/ the proverbial electronic whiteboard; but I did see some rooms with cameras & screens set-up etc during our tour. I have used Moodle a lot when I was at USYD, and was surprised to be told that it was developed by a teacher from Western Australia too – an ex distance education student in fact. Funnily enough, the workshop coordinator said that Western Australian schools don’t actually use Moodle much, despite being developed in WA and used by  hundreds of thousands of students worldwide. Guess there’s a story behind that.

They do use it at SIDE along with Saba Classroom, so big hurray cause I know it already 🙂

Saba Classroom:

Basically Saba Classroom, like Moodle, is an online platform. It allows all the students to hear each other, see each other, share a whiteboard, use participation tools, text chat, complete surveys/tests/evaluations online, share applications, transfer files and work in breakout rooms. The most important things is that it’s a secure live environment.

This particular PD focused more on the tools and technology rather than online teaching pedagogy. It was only 5 hours long and I guess for most teachers- especially those who are not digital natives or particularly interested in tech, learning the the technology and the interface itself would be the biggest hurdle, and the first order of business.

Anyhow, many thanks again to SIDE for the free refresher on Moodle, and introduction into SABA Classroom 🙂

Relief Teacher Training: Saba & Moodle at SIDE

Relief Teacher Training: Saba & Moodle at SIDE

 

Art Class, EYLF 3.1, Nutrition & Physical Education, Resources, SocioDramatic Play, Toys, Uncategorized

Garage Sale Loot: Fruit & Vegetable Toys

IMG_7719 IMG_7722 IMG_7723

A house up the road from us had a garage sale & I managed to get a basket tray full of ornamental vegetables & fruits. I think they might have been used by the owners as  dining table or kitchen table decoration. They look incredibly realistic and I think would make a great addition to any home corner for sociodramatic play of various kinds – from preparing food/cooking in the kitchen, to shopping in the grocery with each vegetable/fruit labelled. Or even as a still life set-up for Art class for much older students. The lady gave it to me all for $2.00 including the wicker basket it came in! Thank you super nice lady!! I also scored a Santa plate for Christmas for 50c. I don’t know what to do with it yet, but I’m sure it will come handy come December….. 🙂  #HappyDays #GarageSale #ThriftyTeacher

Photograph by: Jessica Lucia. Some Rights Reserved
Photograph by: Jessica Lucia. Some Rights Reserved
EYLF 3.1, EYLF 4.1, Fun, Health, Montessori, Sensory Activities

Montessori Learning Activity: The Silence Game

Age: 2 to 6 years

I’m reading “Montessori Play and Learn” by Lesley Britton at the moment, and one of the activities I came across is called The Silence Game. It seems like a great sensorial activity , so I’m sharing it here. It helps encourage listening skills – as the children learn to identify ambient sounds in the environment or even identify different sounds an educator would play (bells, chimes, maracas, clapping sticks, triangle, xylophone etc). If a classroom energy level is getting a bit high, it can be a fun and educational way to bring it back down. It seems very relaxing- almost like children’s meditation. As this second video* endearingly shows (super cute kid)  the children learn about concentration, stillness, self-discipline.

This game is covered by:

EYLF 3.1 – Children become strong in their social and emotional well-being

EYLF 4.1 Childrenen develop dispositions for learning such as cooperation and persistence.

Extension: For the older children (5 years old and above/primary school aged children), a possible extension is using candles. It gives the children something to focus on, before blowing it out, just like in this second video*. Children seem to enjoy blowing candles- maybe because it reminds them of blowing out candles on their birthday cake 🙂 At the same time it lengthens the time they can be “meditating” in a fun and engaging way, and gives a proper “ending” to the activity . You will need to assess however to make sure that your set of children are ready to have an open flame introduced to them, as it can be a safety hazard. As well as make sure that your centre/school policy allows it. You will also need to make sure that the children understand that they are only to use any candles with the supervision of adults wherever they may be – be it at school or at home. Personally I feel that if the children can manage blowing out a birthday cake, then they are quite OK with other types of candles… 🙂 

Another idea is to have it as a “meditation station” where only one child at a time can do the activity, as part of a rotation.

A different version using candles - children likes to blow candles, cause its like blowing a candle for their birthday and can help extend the activity in a fun way and also gives a point of focus. But do a risk assessment first to see if the children in your class are ready for it. Photo by: Vegar Norman

A different version using candles – but scheck with your centre or school policy first. Photo by: Vegar Norman

POL
POL
Reggio Emilia

Diti Hill on Reggio Emilia – Podcast w/ Pete Hall from Point of Learning

I downloaded this podcast about Reggio from Point of Learning, to listen to while I was doing chores at home one day. It’s really great and I’ve replayed it several times today and hope you find it useful and enjoyable too.

According to Point of Learning, Diti Hill has been lecturing in Early Childhood since 1992, and have been exploring the Reggio philosophy for close to the same amount of time. She speaks about the importance of really listening to children – the difference between having an image of the the child as “vulnerable, needy or a threat” versus the difference of seeing the the child as a “competent learner”. The image of the child as a “competent learner is a big part of the Reggio philosophy and deeply influences how educators interact with the children everyday.

Hall goes over the self-reflection that teachers need to do as they work, and the disconnect between theory and practice – especially for student teachers and recent graduates.

Some interesting points to remember:

  • The pedagogy of listening – constantly listening to the learner and listening to yourself as well.
  • The direction lies in the dialogue.
  • Wait before you act – you are not the all knower; you have valuable knowledge to share with the child when you have listened and you are acutely aware of what the child is wanting from you as a resource.
  • No planning, much reconnaissance – don’t carry on when the clues go cold, go to where the new clues are. The clues lie with the learner.
  • 2/3 uncertainty, 1/3 certainty – the certainty lies in the listening, lies in the relationship.
  • Children say what they think if they are listened to.

 

Reading materials from Ann Pelo, Margie Cater and Carla Rinaldi about Reggio which I’ve downloaded for later reading from POL and added here as downloadable resources as well:

Reading materials from Ann Pelo, Margie Cater and Carla Rinaldi about Reggio which I’ve downloaded for later reading from Point of Learning and added here as well:Ann Pelo: From-Teaching-to-Thinking-Re-Igniting-our-Role-as-Educators

Ann Pelo: Children as Researchers

Margie Carter: Doing Reggio

Carla Rinaldi: Documentation and Assessment – What is the Relationship?