Month: February 2017

The Practitioners: Alison Clarke

This is the first in an occasional series highlighting the work of people doing good things in the world of reading, language development, and research. Alison Clarke, Melbourne, Australia Alison has been a Speech Pathologist since 1988, has a Masters in Applied Linguistics and an ESL teaching certificate. She has been in private practice since 2000, addressing school-aged children’s reading/spelling and speech, language and/or social interaction difficulties. Website and blog: Spelfabet I am a great fan of Alison’s blog and always look forward to receiving email notifications of her new posts. Her posts bridge the gap between research and practice in clear, accessible language. She writes succinctly and with compassion, demonstrating her thorough grasp of the knowledge and methodology around language, reading and writing using well-chosen examples. Alison is a strong supporter of evidence-based practice, but I also appreciate the respectful and positive approach she takes to debate. Alison has a wide range of useful resources available on her website, some of them for free. Here is a selection of her blogposts – I could …

A Time To Think, A Time To Act

Time out for planning can have a big impact on good decision-making.  For secondary school leaders, it can be hard to know where to start when addressing literacy problems. Should we focus on what will give small gains to as many students as possible? Should we use one-to-one tuition or small groups? Will a focus on quality-first teaching in the classroom be enough? How do we intervene with the most stubborn learning problems, and how can we equip our staff with the skills they need to resolve the complexities of reading difficulties at this level? We offer schools the opportunity to work with us to develop a whole-school literacy strategy, based on sound data collection and an understanding of school culture. We look at screening systems, detailed diagnostic assessment methods, and the most appropriate ways to deploy resources based on an analysis of student data; we then consider what works in the classroom, when and how to run small group instruction, and how to decide on an effective strategy for those with the most serious reading problems. …

The Graduates

What happens when we teach explicitly, systematically and optimistically. We heard this week that Meols Cop High School had held their first Literacy Centre graduation ceremony. Lisa, the Literacy Lead, tweeted a photo of eight Year 11 students and their tutors. What they have achieved is amazing. To ‘graduate’ means that the student can read graded unseen material at their chronological age – that is, they have caught up completely, and are now reading within the average range for their age group. Given that all students started out reading at least three years behind, this is impressive – especially when it has happened in a matter of months. Making rapid progress also improved the students’ confidence, self-esteem, and motivation. Lisa has been struck by the development of  a ‘growth mindset’ – not through focusing on growth mindset, but by teaching in a systematic, explicit way so that students gain success every step of the way. This success begins to make them believe in themselves and their power to learn.  The impact is evident to teachers around the school, …