Welcome to Teacher Talk, where our authors 'talk' early literacy with teachers. You'll find practical classroom strategies and tips from real educators, as well as personal stories and innovative approaches to improving your teaching practice.
- Every child should have the opportunity to read accurately. Susan Hill draws our attention to an article in which the authors list this as one of the six elements of reading instruction that every child should experience every day. Susan notes that it is exhausting for struggling readers to always be reading too-challenging texts and provides a link for you to read this worthwhile article.
- Recently, early literacy author Jenny Feely received an email about a young student who brought the same book home from school every day. This favorite book was Jenny’s book, Stay Away!, about poisonous animals. Delighted by a young reader’s response to her book, Jenny reflects on the importance of allowing children to choose what they read in order to discover what they like.
- Learning to spell enhances students’ reading and writing, but the rules for spelling are very complex, and can produce frustration in the classroom. As teacher and writer Jenny Feely notes, at times even highly literate adults struggle with spelling. Jenny suggests ways teachers can appease students’ concerns about spelling, and includes some helpful spelling tips. She reminds us that although the many layers of the English language do make it harder to spell, they also provide us with a rich vocabulary.
- Early intervention for students with reading difficulties is widely recognised as making a significant difference in the long-term reading abilities of children. Research indicates that 95 per cent of children who have difficulty learning to read can reach grade level if they receive specialised help early on. As a literacy researcher, but also as a volunteer tutor giving one-to-one instruction, Susan Hill describes her recent involvement in a successful early intervention.
- Talking about the letters and sounds that make up words helps improve reading and writing skills. On a recent visit to a foundation-level classrooom, author and teacher Kerrie Shanahan discovers students confidently using technical terms such as phonemes, digraphs and syllables. This experience is a reminder of how young students are able to understand and appropriately use technical terms to support their learning.
- The importance of reading aloud to children from birth has been well established by research. Recalling a surprising encounter with teenagers enjoying a read-aloud, teacher and writer Jenny Feely implores us to remember that enjoying a read-aloud is a lifelong experience that reinforces the joy of reading and provides memorable experiences with great books.
- Finding the right name for a character in narrative texts is a challenge for published authors as well as for students. Author and teacher Jenny Feely shares a variety of classroom ideas to help students find appropriate names for their characters and take a step towards more successful narrative writing.
- Children’s reading fluency is improved when they can automatically recognise high-frequency words. Literacy consultant Lyn Reggett discusses a guided reading lesson where a supportive book, which features the systematic use of high-frequency words, helps a young student discover the thrill of being able to read.
- Writing a journal is a familiar literacy experience for many students in the classroom. Reflecting on the sometimes uninspired efforts of students and her own experiences of journal keeping, teacher and writer Jenny Feely argues that journals should be as useful to student writers as they are to professional writers. For students, journals should provide opportunities for writing imaginatively and be useful resources to inform their other writing.