(Note - I have created a BELLCoP Homepage here, so it is easy to find going forward).
In 2018, I established the Bendigo Early Language and Literacy Community of Practice (BELLCoP) as a means of bringing together teachers, speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, and others with an interest in early reading instruction practices, optimal ways of identifying and supporting struggling students, and how to bring about school-wide (if not system-wide) change.
The response to this has been amazing. We've had a couple of meetings so far and participants use the time to discuss their experiences and share resources and ideas. It's a case of Chatham House Rules when we meet, so people free comfortable describing their experiences and tapping into the collective wisdom of the room.
This group is designed for people who live and work in Central Victoria, but of course others are welcome to attend as well. Meetings are held at the Bendigo Campus of La Trobe University (Flora Hill site), generally in HHS2.
The dates for 2019 are as follows (all 4:30 - 6:30pm):
- Wednesday March 13
- Thursday June 6
- Wednesday August 21
- Thursday November 11
As per our discussion at the November meeting, here's some resources you might find useful, in no particular order (note this is just a start - I will add further resources and more notes as I go, and you are most welcome to make suggestions as to what should be on the list):
- Twitter: If you are not already a "Tweep" I'd encourage you to overcome whatever anxieties, uncertainties, or preconceptions are holding you back and establish yourself a profile. Edu-Twitter is a lively place and there's a wealth of ideas and resources shared, by folk all around the world. If you're not on Twitter, you are missing out on important new information and exchanges of ideas. The good news is that you don't ever have to actually tweet - you can simply use the platform is an incoming information source. In all but rare cases, you don't need to ask people if you can follow them, and if you decide you want to unfollow someone, they don't get a notification to that effect. Like any platform, it takes a bit of practice to get your head around how it works, but your efforts will be rewarded. Once you follow a few language and literacy related Twitter handles, Twitter will twig quite quickly as to what topics you're interested in and suggest similar ones - sometimes connected to individual people and sometimes to organisations. I'll flag a few key Twitter handles here, but will add more as I go.
- The various writings of Dr. Louisa Moats, including her book Speech to Print are valuable resources. There's more information and a Youtube link here. Speech to Print is not a light read, but it's an invaluable one for teachers and allied health professionals interested in early reading success.
- Learning Difficulties Australia is a wonderful resource for classroom teachers. It produces very user-friendly, interesting Bulletins, as well as convening high-quality PD for teachers and other language and literacy experts. Don't be put off by the word "difficulties" in its name - it offers a wealth of resources for Tier 1, mainstream instruction, as well as for supporting students who are struggling. It's also worth following on Twitter - @LD_Australia
- Alison Clarke's wonderful Spelfabet website offers incredible resources for those who work in schools - around initial instruction, assessment, supporting students who are lagging behind, and so on. Alison is extremely generous in producing efficacious, low or no-cost resources that can be downloaded from her website. Follow Alison on Twitter - @Spelfabet
- The International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction (IFERI) is another treasure trove of information, academic papers, and resources for teachers wanting to improve the rigour around their early literacy instruction. Follow its UK-based developer Debbie Hepplewhite on Twitter - @DebbieHepp. I'd also recommend following @SusanGodsland and Geraldine Carter @ged10) from the UK on Twitter.
- Stephen Parker's books on phonics instruction, which are available for free download on his website. In addition to providing step-by-step systematic synthetic phonics guidance, Stephen (who is a retired teacher) provides an interesting history of reading instruction, in particular, explaining how we landed on the neither-fish-nor-fowl Balanced Literacy space. Follow Stephen on Twitter - @ParkerPhonics
- Five-from-Five Project: A treasure trove of free resources for teachers and parents focusing on the Big 5 (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension) from the age of 5. Follow this project on Twitter: @FIVEfromFIVE
- The Reading League: This organisation was established by a team of enthusiastic and hard-working academics and classroom teachers in Syracuse, upstate New York, just a couple of years ago. It is going from strength to strength under the leadership of Dr Maria Murray. Membership is free and is open to people around the world. Follow The Reading League on Twitter - @reading_league, and also its movers and shakers, Dr Maria Murray: @DrMariaMurray1 and Dr Heidi Beverine-Curry: @drheidibc
- Free Victorian Department of Education & Training webinars: Dr Tanya Serry (La Trobe University) produced a series of four free webinars arising out of some PD workshops she and I ran with A/Prof Lorraine Hammond (Edith Cowan University), A/Prof Jane McCormack (Charles Sturt University), and Ms Emina Mclean (La TRobe University) in 2018. You can find links to them all here. Topics include: delving into systematic synthetic phonics; analysing spelling errors; decodable Vs predictable texts for beginning readers; and links between oral language and early literacy. Follow Tanya on Twitter too - @tserry2504; Lorraine is @DrLSHammond, and Emina is @EminaMcLean
- Multilit (Making Up for Lost Time in Literacy) - this is a suite of early reading instruction and support approaches that align with the recommendations of the three international inquiries into the ways in which reading should be taught in schools. It was developed out of research led by Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall at Macquarie University. Follow Kevin on Twitter - @KevinWheldall and also Dr Robyn Wheldall - @RWheldall. Kevin and Robyn also produce an interesting and informative free literacy-related publication called Nomanis
- Cognitive Load Theory is a highly informative and helpful framework for teachers, to guide the understanding of information processing, working memory, short-term memory, and how to optimally consolidate new information into long-term memory. The New South Wales Centre for Statistics and Evaluation in Research has produced a very accessible summary of CLT for teachers and it can be found here. Follow CESE on Twitter - @nswcese. I'd also recommend following Greg Ashman a Victorian teacher who is doing his PhD on CLT - @greg_ashman
- If you missed the 2018 Phonics Debate, you can find a link to it here (you can skip the first 20 minutes of intros). It is well worth watching, and reflecting on the underlying arguments of each team.
- If you'd like information on the value of decodable texts for initial reading instruction, check out this piece written by Simone and Dr Robyn Wheldall on The Conversation in 2018. Follow Simone on Twitter - @SPogorzelski.
- US journalist Emily Hanford has written a great piece (2018) called Hard Words: Why Aren't Kids Being Taught to Read? This is highly recommended read and I think will resonate with many of your initial teacher education and classroom experiences. Follow Emily on Twitter - @ehanford.
- A brand new resource on the block is Lyn Stone's book Reading for Life. This is going to attract a wide readership of teachers, clinicians, policy makers, and parents. Follow Lyn on Twitter: @lifelonglit.
- If you're after information on what intervention approaches are backed by scientific research and which ones are not much more than snake-oil (and everything in between), you might like to check out this book that I co-authored with Dr Caroline Bowen in 2017: Making Sense of Interventions for Children with Developmental Disorders. Follow Caroline on Twitter - @speechwoman