Bendigo Early Language and Literacy Community of Practice Homepage

Please note: BELLCoP was disbanded in late 2020, because of the number of high-quality online professional learning platforms that emerged during the COVID-19 2020 lock-down period. In particular, I recommend the Think Forward Educators platform. If you are interested in short courses on the science of language and reading, please visit the La Trobe University SOLAR Lab page. I will leave this page accessible as it contains a number of useful links and resources. 
Welcome to BELLCoP!

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).

The dates for 2020 are as follows (all 4:30 - 6:30pm), venue at La Trobe Bendigo TBC:

  • Thursday March 19 - Cancelled due to lockdown
  • Thursday June 11 - Cancelled due to lockdown
  • Thursday August 13 - Via Zoom
  • Thursday November 12 - probably via Zoom, TBC

Here's the link to the August 13, 2020 chat between me and Emina McLean on common reading instruction myths: Please note though that I forgot to hit "record" right at the start, so the discussion about biologically primary and secondary skills at the beginning is not included. You can read about David Geary's work on this notion here

BELLCoP 13 Aug 2020: Resources and References mentioned by Pam and Emina:


Hilderbrand Pelzer 3 - @HP3potential on Twitter (whose question about reading myths prompted today's discussion)

See his Ted Talk here: What incarcerated youth can teach teachers

 LDA’s YouTube channel for webinars

 DSF Examples of high-quality phonics instruction programs.


Berentson-Shaw, J. (2018). A Matter of Fact: Talking Truth in a Post-truth World. Bridget Williams Books. Discussed here in this blogpost from Emina:

Buckingham, J. (2020). Systematic phonics instruction belongs in evidence-based reading programs: A response to Bowers. The Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 1-9. doi:10.1017/edp.2020.12 Paywalled, but abstract and references are here:

Colenbrander, D., Wang, H. C., Arrow, T., & Castles, A. (2020). Teaching irregular words: What we know, what we don’t know, and where we can go from here. The Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 1-8. at-we-dont-know-and-where-we-can-go-from-here/019C0100A37F25D19A93877A6488F4B4

Geary, D. C. (2008). An Evolutionarily Informed Education Science. Educational Psychologist, 43(4), 179-195.

Hollingsworth, J. R., & Ybarra, S. E. (2017). Explicit direct instruction (EDI): The power of the well-crafted, well-taught lesson. Corwin Press.

Johnston, R., McGeown, S., & Watson, J. (2011). Long-term effects of synthetic versus analytic phonicsteaching on the reading and spelling ability of 10 year old boys and girls. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 25, 1365–1384.

Kirschner, P. A., & Hendrick, C. (2020). How Learning Happens: Seminal Works in Educational Psychology and What They Mean in Practice. Routledge.

Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teachingEducational Psychologist41(2), 75-86. 

Lemov, D. (2015). Teach like a champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that put Students on the Path to College. John Wiley & Sons.

Lethaby, C., & Mayne, R. A critical examination of perceptual learning styles in English language teaching. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 58(2), 221-237.

Moats, L. (2020) Speech to Print 3rd edition.  

Pogorzelski, S. & Wheldall, R. (2018).  Explainer: What are decodable books and when should they be used?

Riener, C., & Willingham, D. (2010). The myth of learning styles. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 42(5), 32-35.

Sherrington, T. (2019) Rosenshine’s Principles in Action

Snow, P. C. (2020). SOLAR: The Science of Language and Reading. Child Language Teaching and Therapy.

Snow, P. (2020). Balanced literacy or systematic reading instruction? Perspectives on Language and Literacy, Winter, 35-39.

Stockard, J., Wood, T. W., Coughlin, C., & Rasplica Khoury, C. (2018). The effectiveness of direct instruction curricula: A meta-analysis of a half century of research. Review of Educational Research88(4), 479-507.

Study 70 in ‘The Science of Learning – 77 Studies That Every Teacher Needs to Know’ by Busch & Watson (2019.) See review here:

Weinstein, Y., Sumeracki, M., & Caviglioli, O. (2018). Understanding how we learn: A visual guide. Routledge.

Willingham, D. Learning styles FAQ.

Yang, L.-Y., Guo, J.-P., Richman, L. C., Schmidt, F. L., Gerken, K. C., & Ding, Y. (2013). Visual Skills and Chinese Reading Acquisition: A Meta-analysis of Correlation Evidence. Educational Psychology Review, 25(1), 115-143. 


If you would like to be added to the mailing list for future meetings, please send an email to my RA, Ms Emily Greaves:

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):

  1. TwitterIf 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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  in the neither-fish-nor-fowl Balanced Literacy space. Stephen has recently started a fabulous blog, which you will find here. Follow Stephen on Twitter - @ParkerPhonics
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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. 
  13. If you'd like information on the value of decodable texts for initial reading instruction, check out this piece written by Simone Pogorzelski and Dr Robyn Wheldall on The Conversation in 2018. Follow Simone on Twitter - @SPogorzelski. 
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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
  17. If you’re unsure about the ins and outs of different types of phonics approaches, check out these two explainers, one published in the LDA Bulletin and the other in Nomanis magazine. Stephen Parker has also written a very clear blogpost about this, which you can find here.
  18. If you have never heard of, or don’t fully understand the Simple View of Reading, Stephen Parker has written an article about it for The Snow Report 
  19. If you're wondering how we got into this parlous state in the first place, have a read of this informative and engaging paper, Why Jaydon Can't Read, by Dr Jennifer Buckingham, Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall and Dr Robyn Wheldall. Also have a look at Language at the Speed of Sight by Professor Mark Seidenberg - an interesting, informative, and often entertaining read.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting the link to the webinar and for the list of recommended follow-up resources/readings. Really helpful.