The Inclusive Classroom - Supporting Reading Fluency for Tier 2 & 3 Learners

A Mainstream Classroom typically includes learners of a wide ability range. In my classroom teaching experience I typically assume that a stage 2 classroom [ie Year 4] will typically include learners with reading and spelling ages from 6 years to 16+. Sometimes I have additional support and sometimes I don’t so how do I manage? Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing resources, research and strategies to ensure all students have both access to content knowledge across the curriculum as well as the ability to read and spell.

When teaching a student to read, it is essential that they achieve fluency at multiple steps. The diagram below from Jan Hasbrouck is most helpful to identify these steps. For students who find learning to read difficult, they need to be supported to develop skills as quickly as possible, they require opportunities for multiple repetitions, visual supports and it is essential that their independence and self esteem be supported to maintain their social and emotional well-being. In addition it is essential that teachers understand the principles of mastery learning so that they can select tools that can maximise outcomes. You can read more about Mastery Learning here www.evidenceforlearning.org.au/the-toolkits/the-teaching-and-learning-toolkit/all-approaches/mastery-learning/

Screen Shot 2022 01 12 At 2.17.51 Pm

Today I’m focusing my discussions on development of skills at the Word – Decoding Fluency Level with a focus on developing fluent and automatic recall of phoneme awareness, letter sound knowledge and phonograms.

To teach a student letter – sound correspondence skills along with blending and segmenting skills my first step is to use the Apps from Reading Doctor – typically Letter Sounds Pro 1 & Blending Sounds Pro 1 [The others are also brilliant and I am eagerly awaiting the home subscription release of the Online Subscription]. I am very aware that these are paid apps but there are a few features not part of other free apps which I prioritise access to for students at risk of reading failure.  

My purpose in sharing is to support awareness of ‘tools for the toolbox’ to support success for all students in the classroom.

  1. You can find the reading Doctor Apps here for iOS, Android and Google [www.readingdoctor.com.au]
  2. They include embedded picture mnemonics with consistency across all of their apps → current best practice indicates that embedded picture mnemonics [where the picture cue forms the shape of the letter] is most effective. You can get flashcards resources from
  3. Spelfabet [www.spelfabet.com.au/materials/embedded-picture-mnemonics/] and
  4. Kimberly Kreations [www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Kimberley-Kreations] however they also require an adult for delivery, whereas with the Reading Doctor Apps a student can be independent once they’re set up.
  5. The Reading Doctor Apps use a mastery learning delivery structure and support errorless learning. This means that when a student makes an error the app takes them back a step to the previous task and therefore will never become too difficult or too easy. This means that you can set a student in your class up with headphones and use guided access to lock them into the app [Instructions Here], allowing them to work independently and at their level being supported with opportunities for increased practice to support fluency.
  6. You can use Letter Sounds Pro 1 and Blending Sounds Pro 1 in tandem to support generalisation of skills from Letter- Sound Knowledge [GPC] to blending skills even when a student has a limited number of GPC’s in their repertoire.
  7. You can add unlimited students into each app.
  8. The apps are available with Education Discounts – meaning you can purchase 20 for the price of 10.
  9. There is a fabulous free tracking sheet available from the Reading Doctor website that makes programming and progress monitoring easy [https://support.readingdoctor.com.au/support/solutions/articles/207535-activity-summary-form]
  10. And finally, you can use the Reading Doctor resources alongside any of your existing Systematic Synthetic Phonics resources to turbo-charge fluency at a Word Decoding Level
  11. If you have found this useful, please subscribe at the bottom of this page and ensure you don’t miss the next instalment.  
  12. Next time, I will be exploring Text Decoding Fluency Skills, followed by Comprehension Fluency.

The Inclusive Classroom - Curriculum Access for Tier 2 & 3 Learners

A Mainstream Classroom typically includes learners of a wide ability range. In my classroom teaching experience I typically assume that a stage 2 classroom [ie Year 4] will typically include learners with reading and spelling ages from 6 years to 16+. Sometimes I have additional support and sometimes I don’t so how do I manage? Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing resources, research and strategies to ensure all students have both access to content knowledge across the curriculum as well as the ability to read and spell.

A student who struggles with reading does not necessarily have a cognitive impairment or inability to learn. Many students who struggle to learn to read have a diagnosed disability [commonly a specific learning difficulty in reading or Dyslexia], they are diligent and extremely hard working students who typically have extremely strong language skills. Students with other disabilities or complex medical needs may also fit into this category. Just because a student has difficulty reading they should not be denied access to learning content knowledge across the curriculum. We have amazingly rich resources thanks to the past two years of online learning. Some of my favourite go to resources include

  1. Brain Pop [including Brain Pop Jr] [www.brainpop.com]
  2. Spark Notes [and the new Spark Notes Plus] [www.sparknotes.com]
  3. Concept Cat and Lift Lessons [www.liftlessons.co]
  4. ABC Education [www.abc.net.au/education/]
  5. ABC 3 → Operation Ouch, BTN, Horrible Histories, Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch, The Dengineers
  6. Foxtel | Binge ->  Donna Hay Kids Cooking & Cookbook 
  7. BBC Bitesize – Primary | Secondary | Post School [www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize]

To ensure you don’t miss a post -> make sure you subscribe   at the bottom of this page

Words Matter Oral Language Course Instagram Post (760 × 420 Px) (facebook Post)

Learning about Literacy -> Learning to Read

  • 6 hours professional development live online
  • Science of Reading Research [90 minutes]
    • Including the process of diagnosis for a Specific Learning Difficulty [Reading] – (Dyslexia)
  • Assessment tools [90 minutes]
    • Universal Screening | Curriculum Aligned Assessments | Standardised Assessments
    • DIBELS, Acadience Reading, TILLS, CTOPP2, WRMT3, TOWRE 2, MOTIF, RAN | RAS, NGRT, NGST, Curriculum Based assessments aligned to a range of commercial & freely available Systematic Synthetic Phonics Programs commonly used in Australia
  • Intervention Options [90 minutes]
    • Features of an effective intervention session
    • Commercial & Non Commercial Resources
    • Tools for working with beginning readers & older readers
  • Case Studies [90 minutes]

PLUS

  • Report Templates [TILLS | CTOPP2 | WRMT 3 | TOWRE 2 | RAN / RAS]

PLUS

Individual Coaching Discount -> save 40% on an hour of coaching | professional support

[This individual professional support can count towards supervision hours for the new Speech Pathology Australia annual membership renewal requirements]

PLUS

  • Bonus Webinar -> Supporting Tier 3 Learners with co-existing conditions
  • What do we know about the co-existance of Literacy Difficulties with
    • ADHD | DLD | Hearing Impairment | Autism | Traumatic Brain Injury
    • Complex Medical Conditions [Oncology | Chronic Heart Disease | FASD | Epilepsy]
  • How do we implement an evidence based approach for the rare and medically complex kids? What data drives our decision making?
  • How can we best support these students in school and clinic settings
  • Includes Case Studies
  • Live Online Event August 25 2022 [7:30-9pm] – in Speech Pathology Week

PLUS

  • 12 months access to all recordings

Outcomes

By the completion of the training participants will understand

  • Key Science of Reading Research including but not limited to
  • The language basis of learning to read
  • The Role of Phonological Awareness, Phonemic Awareness & Rapid Automatic Naming
  • The Neurological Basis of Learning to Read
  • Diagnostic process for Specific Learning Difficulties in Reading | Writing | Mathematics
  • Principles of Effective Instruction – Science of Learning Research
  • Principles of assessment & the tools available to assess for a range of purposes including Universal Screening, Diagnostic Assessment, Curriculum Based Assessment & Progress Monitoring.
  • Key components of an effective intervention session including commercial and non commercial resources available to support this process

Details

Dates: 12:30pm – 2pm Thursday July 7 | 14 | 21 | 28 2022

All sessions are recorded with 12 months access.

Bonus Webinar Access is for 12 months

Cost: $420

[Use code EOFY to save 25% on individual registrations until midnight AEST June 30 2022]

[Includes over $200 of additional value]

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Words Matter: Oral Language & Communication in the K-2 Classroom

  • Course Dates for Term 3 & 4 2022 have been announced below: 

Term 3: Live online August 10 | 24 | September7  plus 2 self paced online modules → Registrations Open 

Term 4: Live online October 19 | November 2 | 16 plus 2 self paced online modules → Registrations Open 

Completing Words Matter: Oral Language & Communication in the K-2 Classroom will contribute 7 hours and 30 minutes of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Accredited PD in the priority area of Delivery and Assessment of NSW Curriculum/EYLF addressing standard descriptors 2.1.2, 5.1.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

This practical online course has been written for Mainstream Classroom Teachers in NSW who are embarking on the transition to the new NSW K-2 English Syllabus in 2023. Teachers from other states, Speech Pathologists and others are welcome to attend, however the content will be specific to the new requirements in the NSW Syllabus that is due for Mandatory classroom implementation in Term 1 2023.

Accreditation from NESA for teachers in NSW has been granted for those attending the course in the new Hybrid Model Format. This means that Sessions 1, 3 & 5 will run live on the dates advised below. Sessions 2 & 4 will be completed as online modules with pre recorded videos and a series of small tasks to meet the requirements of NESA accreditation.

There are very significant changes in the new NSW K-2 English Syllabus with the new Oral Language and Communication outcomes and content being one of the biggest changes. For school leaders and early adopter schools, starting familiarisation with the new content is essential. It is for this reason that this course is being offered now.

What is covered?

Session 1:

What is new in the Oral Language & Communication Outcomes [K-2 NSW English Syllabus].

A Focus on Whole Class Tier 1 Instruction

This is a LIVE Session via zoom with opportunities for a Live Q & A Session.

Session 2:

Exploring how Typical Development aligns to the Oral Language & Communication Outcomes along with Classroom Application of Resources & Ideas [FOCUS – Listening for Understanding]

This is an ONLINE MODULE . Participants will have TWO [2] weeks to complete the module. It will take approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Session 3:

Exploring how Typical Development aligns to the Oral Language & Communication Outcomes along with Classroom Application of Resources & Ideas

[FOCUS – Social & Learning Interactions + Understanding & Using Grammar when Interacting]

This is a LIVE Session via zoom with opportunities for a Live Q & A Session.

Session 4:

Exploring how Typical Development aligns to the Oral Language & Communication Outcomes along with Classroom Application of Resources & Ideas [FOCUS -Oral Narrative]

This is an ONLINE MODULE . Participants will have TWO [2] weeks to complete the module. It will take approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Session 5

Exploring Programming, Assessment & Progress Monitoring for the Oral Language & Communication Outcomes in the NSW K-2 English Syllabus

This is a LIVE Session via zoom with opportunities for a Live Q & A Session. 

Details:

When:

Session 1, 3 & 5 Wednesday Evening 7:30 – 9pm AEST / AEDT [Sydney Time]

Term 3: Live online Session 1 August 10 | Session 3 August 24 | Session 5 September 7

  • 2 self paced online modules

Term 4: Live online Session 1 October 19 | Session 3 November 2 | Session 3 November 16

  • 2 self paced online modules

Session 2 & 4 Online Module – 2 Weeks to Complete [duration 90 minutes]

Will it be recorded? – YES –

  • However if you require NESA Accreditation you must attend Session 1, 3 and 5 Live

How long do I have to watch the recordings?

  • Access to Recordings and Resources available until June 30 2023 [to support staff with the change to the new syllabus in 2023]

How is it delivered:

  • Session 1, 3, & 5 Live via Zoom + Session 2 & 4 self paced online modules.
COST
  • $525 per participant [including GST]
  • Register 3 participants + the 4th is free -> Save 25% [ie. $393.75 pp]

[Use code EOFY to save 25% on individual registrations until midnight AEST June 30 2022]

FAQs

Can I pay by invoice?

Can I register multiple staff members from our workplace & is there a discount

  • Register 3 participants and a 4th extra participant is registered for free → email me kathryn@languageandlearning.com.au to arrange
  • Additional discounts available for 16+ participants from the one school -> email me kathryn@languageandlearning.com.au to arrange
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The Australian Curriculum version 9.0 has been launched this week, and the new K-2 English Syllabus for NSW is due for Mandatory implementation from Term 1 2023. Both of these documents recommend a systematic synthetic phonics approach as a backbone of your early years instruction for reading and spelling. Where do you start when aligning your Tier 1 whole class instruction with the new syllabus documents?

  1. In my journey of implementing this type of change over the past 15 years in a number of schools, I’ve learned that starting with an audit or review of current practice is Step 1:  What is your current approach? What is your plan? and How are you going to get there?
  2. The next step is to collect data about the current situation and student performance. This can be a confronting experience – I know every time I start this process the data initially leaves me shell-shocked, but it is a journey and ‘when we know better, we do better’ [Maya Angelou]. There are a number of tools available and the most commonly used are the Universal Screening Tools DIBELS 8 or Acadience Reading [more information can be found here]. These tools are great because they are designed for progress monitoring and collecting data over time. If you’re wanting more information about reading assessments you can find it here
  3. When considering what to do next, one question to ask is whether to implement a commercial program with training or whether to simply implement a scope and sequence and develop your own resources. There is no one single program that comprehensively covers all aspects of teaching a student to read, spell and comprehend. However there are a number of commercial options to consider when planning your whole school approach.

Commercial Resources that are commonly used in Australian Schools to support systematic synthetic phonics 

These are one component of the broader focus on teaching reading and spelling

Sounds-Write | InitialLit | Read Write Inc | Get Reading Right | PLD | Little Learners Love Literacy | Dandelion Readers [Workbooks] | Snappy Sounds | Reading Success in Action from Jocelyn Seamer Education is also a resource in development

Options for Decodable Readers include

Sounds-Write | InitialLit | Read Write Inc | Get Reading Right | PLD | Little Learners Love Literacy | Decodable Readers Australia | Dandelion Readers & Launchers | Spelfabet | SPELD SA Readers | Snappy Sounds | Sunshine Phonic Readers | Oxford Reading Tree – from Oxford University Press has Floppy Phonics, Songbird Phonics and Traditional Tales [phonics]

SPELDNSW Regularly runs a FREE Decodable Reader Demonstration via zoom, allowing you to explore and discuss options more information is here 

Free Scope and Sequence Resources to align with the new K-2 NSW English Syllabus

SPELD NSW has put together a scope and sequence for K-2. This aligns to the new syllabus for schools to either use as it is or adapt for their own purpose. It can be downloaded freely here.

SPELD NSW has also put together decodable book selectors to help your organise your decodable books in line with your scope and sequence. It can be freely downloaded here.

They are also creating a range of resources that are free to members to be released over this year that can be used to support instruction and practice of phonics and morphology that go with the scope and sequence. These resources can also be used with other phonics programs for additional practice activities. These resources can be accessed here.

Systematic Synthetic Phonics Professional Development for Whole Class Instruction [Tier 1]

Teaching Reading in the Early Years [SPELDNSW]

How to Teach Phonics in K-2 [Macquarie University Reading Clinic]

Other Professional Development to support the Implementation of the new Syllabus

Words Matter: Oral Language and Communication in the K-2 Classroom [NESA Accredited] [Language and Learning]

Literacy Essentials Online – Science of Reading Basics [SPELDNSW]

Measuring Student Progress in Literacy: A Workshop for Teachers [Maquarie University Reading Clinic]

If you need support to work through this process – SPELDNSW is available and able to provide support. I too have implemented a range of the programs and resources above in a mainstream K-2 school setting and have completed the PD training in many of the options above. I’m very happy to provide small group coaching or tailored support for the team exploring the options and how to implement the change across K-2 and 3 – 6. Feel free to reach out via my website if I can be of assistance.

Once you have this framework established, the nest step is to map your Tier 2 and Tier 3 intervention options – however I’ll save that information for a separate post. Should you be needing support or professional development regarding working with Tier 3 students in either Primary or Secondary School Settings, I’m running some small group coaching in June over 4 sessions [Lunchtime or evening options via zoom] – more information is here

1

Small Group Coaching – Providing effective, individualised Tier 3 intervention for Reading in the K-6 classroom or Clinic

Details

Live online via Zoom | 5 participants Maximum

Lunchtime Option -> Tuesday 12 – 1 pm [AEST] | May 31 | June 7 | June 14 | June 21

Evening Option -> Tuesday 7:30 – 8:30pm [AEST] | May 31 | June 7 | June 14 | June 21

Content

Session 1 -> Science of Reading Research | Understanding Dyslexia & other co-occuring learning difficulties, disabilities & complex medical conditions

Session 2 -> Assessment | Tools to develop an individual student profile & progress monitoring

Session 3 -> Intervention | Understanding the toolbox of intervention options & matching intervention to student profile

Session 4 -> Providing effective classroom supports | Using Assistive technology tools to support student independence

Price

$ 300 plus GST [Total $330]

This coaching is appropriate for classroom teachers | learning support teachers or co-ordinators | tutors | literacy co-ordinators | speech pathologists

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Small Group Coaching ->
Providing effective Tier 3 Intervention & Accommodations across the Curriculum in the Secondary School or Clinic Setting
 
Details
 
Live online via Zoom | 5 participants Maximum
 
Lunchtime Option -> Thursday  12 – 1pm [AEST] June 2 | June 9 | June 16 | June 23
 
Evening Option -> Thursday 7:30 – 8:30pm [AEST] June 2 | June 9 | June 16 | June 23
 
Content
Session 1 -> Science of Reading Research | Understanding Dyslexia & other co-occurring learning difficulties, disabilities & complex medical conditions
 
Session 2 -> Reading Support [Assessment | Intervention | Classroom Accomodations including Assistive Technology]
 
Session 3 -> Supporting Spelling & Vocabulary [Assessment | Intervention | Classroom Accomodations including Assistive Technology]
 
Session 4 -> Supporting Writing Across the Curriculum [Assessment | Intervention | Classroom Accomodations including Assistive Technology]
 
Price
 
$300 plus GST [Total $330]
 
This coaching is appropriate for classroom teachers | learning support teachers or co-ordinators | tutors | literacy co-ordinators | speech pathologists

There are many options to assess a student’s reading and it is often a minefield to know where to start. Fortunately there are common skills that are the focus of assessment. and knowing your purpose for assessment helps you to determine which tools to use. 

[Hint: click on the resources in the font that is both bold and italicised to be taken to find the resource]

Purpose 1 → Identification

Also known as Universal Screening. This is where assessment of the entire cohort of students is completed and the purpose is to identify those students at risk of not making adequate progress. The FREE Universal Screening tools have been designed in alignment with research in order to measure the skills that are known to be predictive of student reading success. In Australia the two most commonly used Universal Screening Assessments for K-6 are Acadience Reading and DIBELS 8th edition. In addition there has been a very good case made by Dr Tiffany Hogan for adding in a Universal Screening assessment of Oral Language and the current best available option to use alongside Acadience Reading or DIBELS 8th Edition is the CUBED Narrative Language Measure. You can learn more about these in a previous blog post I wrote found here.

For both Acadience Reading & DIBELS you can purchase access to the online data tracking tool for a cost of between US $1-1.50 per student. Online Training for DIBELS is organised by SpeldSA

If a student is assessed as being below benchmark level in the CUBED Narrative Language Measure I would refer for formal language assessment with a Speech Pathologist.

Purpose 2 → Progress Monitoring

The Universal Screening tools mentioned above, have the added advantage that they are also designed for progress monitoring with testing formats allowing for reassessment 3 times in a school year. This is extremely useful because at times, students will plateau and this approach allows for early identification of students requiring additional support.

There are a range of free and paid Progress Monitoring Assessment tools that align to specific Systematic Synthetic Phonics Programs, Decodable Readers and particular instructional scope and sequences. These include [but are not limited to]

Free & Paid

Phonic Books UK – Aligned to the scope and sequence of Sounds Write | Dandelion Readers | Phonic Books Catch Up Readers | The Drop In Series by Forward with Phonics

Diagnostic Assessment Cards | Dandelion Readers Assessment

Little Learners Love LiteracyReading Assessment [LLARS]

MultiLit Suite of Assessments – Access to Schools who have completed training

Decodable Readers AustraliaThe Sparkle Kit

Sounds Write Assessment – Access to those who have completed training

SPELDNSWLiteracy Hub – Aligned to new NSW K-2 English Syllabus

Purpose 3 → Intervention

For a student who is identified by Universal Screening Assessment as requiring intervention, the next step would be to further assess phonological awareness and rapid automatic naming skills. As a teacher, I typically use criterion or curriculum based assessment tools as they are easy to access and administer. It also means that I’m not going to impact the retest validity of a normed assessment that might be used for diagnostic purposes

Free Curriculum Based Assessment Tools 

Phonological Awareness include

Little Learners Love LiteracyPhonological Awareness Assessment [TOPALL]

Phonological Awareness Screening Test [PAST]

Heggerty’s Phonemic AwarenessAustralian Assessments

A combined assessment of Phonological Awareness and Rapid Automatic Naming

Read 3CHIPS – Early Literacy Screener

I would then also use the Progress Monitoring Assessment tools to customise intervention and monitor progress in a response to intervention model.

Free

Phonic Books UK – Aligned to the scope and sequence of Sounds Write | Dandelion Readers | Phonic Books Catch Up Readers | The Drop In Series by Forward with Phonics

Diagnostic Assessment Cards | Dandelion Readers Assessment

Little Learners Love LiteracyReading Assessment [LLARS]

MultiLit Suite of Assessments – Access to Schools who have completed training

Decodable Readers AustraliaThe Sparkle Kit

Sounds Write Assessment – Access to those who have completed training

SPELDNSW Literacy Hub – Aligned to new NSW K-2 English Syllabus

Purpose 4 → Diagnosis

Standardised or Norm Referenced Assessments are typically used for formal profiling of a student’s reading ability and diagnosis of Specific Learning Disorder – Reading [also known as Dyslexia]. Dyslexia is known to be associated with difficulties with Phonology, one of the components of language skills. Therefore it is commonly referred to as a language based learning difficulty. Within the sub category of Phonology, a student with Dyslexia can have difficulties with Rapid Automatic Naming [RAN] which typically presents as oral reading fluency difficulties, Phonological Awareness Difficulties or both. Dyslexia typically presents with difficulties with word decoding and can be a developmental difficulty or acquired difficulty.

Diagnosis of Dyslexia in Australia is typically made by a registered psychologist and the DSMV guidelines indicate that the diagnosis is only made after a minimum of 6 months evidence based intervention.

Standardised Assessments include

YARC – the York Assessment of Reading Comprehension [This replaced the Neale]

Woodcock Reading Mastery Test – 3rd Edition

Test of Word Reading Efficacy 2 [TOWRE-2] – This is an assessment of fluency at word level

Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing – 2 [CTOPP-2]

Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Australian and New Zealand Standardised, Third Edition [WIAT-III A&NZ]

RAN / RAS

Woodcock Johnston 4th Edition

Motif Assessments – Here you will also find the Australian Norms for the TOWRE-2

Test of Integrated Language & Literacy Skills [TILLS]

If you’d like more information or professional support regarding implementation of a whole school assessment framework or use of assessments for intervention or diagnostic purposes get in touch and arrange customised coaching, join a small group coaching group or join one of my courses.

Supporting Learning Difficulties in Mathematics / Dyscalculia

Many would ask why I would be equally as interested in supporting learning difficulties in Mathematics as I am in supporting learning difficulties in Literacy. Interestingly, Jane Emerson who wrote the Dyscalculia Solution and The Dyscalculia Assessment is a Speech Pathologist with a special interest in Mathematics Learning Difficulties from the UK.

As a part of my upcoming presentation for the Dyslexia SPELD Conference which goes live on Easter Tuesday, I’ve been reading the recently published book by Dr Valerie Muter, titled Understanding and Supporting Children with Literacy Difficulties: An Evidence-Based Guide for Practitioners. Dr Muter has spent 15 years working as a consultant neuropsychologist at Great Ormond St Hospital for Children in the UK and has also partnered in much research with Professor Margaret Snowing. If you work with Tier 3 students in a clinic or school based intervention setting this is a must read book.

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But I digress, I have recently shared my near point reference for supporting students who struggle with recall of Multiplication and Division Facts. It is also extremely useful for supporting understanding of Division with remainder, multiples and factors. The image below comes from Dr Muter’s book, p. 97 [see above]

Screen Shot 2022 03 24 At 2.40.36 Pm

For our students with both Dyslexia and Maths Disorder [also known as Dyscalculia] recall of Mathematical Fact knowledge, especially Multiplication and Division facts is going to be a challenge. Too often we allow these difficulties to prevent a student from progressing to learning more advanced mathematical computation skills. It is increasingly common for schools to be using online mathematics programs to ‘teach’ mathematics in lieu of a specialist mathematics teacher and unfortunately a ‘mastery of maths facts’ requirement means that for some students where their Math Disorder is a lifelong disability they aren’t given the opportunity to progress in their development of mathematical computational skills because they don’t have the required basic facts retrieval fluency so the ‘online program’ creates an artificial ‘ceiling effect’.

Another concept to consider which I was reminded of when I completed Multisensory Math 1 with Marilyn Zecher, is that recall of numbers by rote is actually a word retrieval or language based naming task rather than a mathematical computational task. Therefore, if a student has difficulties with language, a ‘skill and drill’ approach isn’t going to assist them to progress.

Back in 2002, when I completed my Masters in Special Education, I completed my final project on the impact of Language Impairment on the development of Mathematical Skills. Back then research indicated that best practice was the Concrete – Representational / Semi-Concrete – Abstract instruction sequence. My near point reference that you can access below supports students to move beyond the concrete stage of Multiplication and Division Facts to provide them with a Representational or Semi Concrete tool to support their ability to progress to learning more advanced mathematical computational skills. To update it, I have also provided it formatted for use on See Saw and I will shortly add a Google Slides Version.

Once consideration for assessment: Do you structure your assessment tasks so that you can identify whether the student has difficulty with the process of fact knowledge [ie. retrieval] or mathematical computational skills. To do this with my struggling upper primary students, I would regularly set assessment tasks that included two parts – eg. 1. Map the 6 times tables on the hundreds chart provided 2. Use this information to complete multiplication and division tasks or answer questions about factors, multiples and complete tasks involving division with remainder. What I observed was that students who would typically ‘melt’ and task avoid would engage and across the school year they would shift to working without the near point reference tool as their self confidence and accuracy of recall improved. Furthermore, students could see their progress and knew that they weren’t ‘hopeless at all mathematics’ but rather they struggled to recall certain table facts.

You can download the free resource here and over time I will add to the collection

Universal Screening for Literacy

Is there a gap in your K-3 data?

Universal Screening is a battery of assessments given to all students in order to develop a profile of strengths and weaknesses. It can then be re administered either each term or mid year and end of year in order to monitor progress. This approach fits within a response to intervention model of student support. There are many times that a student will appear to be tracking at an appropriate rate but then begin to plateau and without ongoing progress monitoring that builds on the previous data these students can sit below the radar. 

The good news for schools is that there is an increasing range of Universal Screening options that can be accessed for FREE

In a K-6 context your universal screening assessment would be capturing data on the following information [Acadience Reading [formerly DIBELS Next] | DIBELS 8]

Phonemic Awareness

  • First Sound Fluency [Acadience Only] | Phoneme Segmentation Fluency

Alphabetic Principle & Basic Phonics

  • Nonsense Word Fluency – Correct Letter Sounds | Whole Words Read

Advanced Phonics & Word Attack Skills

  • Oral Reading Fluency – Accuracy

Accurate & Fluency Reading of Connected Text

  • Oral Reading Fluency – Correct Words per Minute | Accuracy

Reading Comprehension

  • Maze | Oral Reading Fluency – Correct Words per minute + Retell Total [Grade 3 – 6]
Screenshot2022 01 27at3.45.23pm
Screenshot2022 01 16at4.09.27pm

Administration of these assessments means that you are tracking progress along the Word Decoding Component of Scarborough’s Reading Rope but not comprehensively screening nor progress monitoring along the Language Comprehension Component until students are in Year 3. Given that the new NSW English Syllabus K-2 [2021] includes new outcomes for Oral Language and Vocabulary, and that oral language begins to develop at birth and continues to develop into late adolescence | young adulthood, it would make sense to add a universal screening tool for Oral Language that could be used for K-3.

Screenshot2022 01 10at1.03.12pm

The best option available for Universal Screening within a school setting is the CUBED Narrative Language Measures. If your universal screening tool for reading can be used K-6 [ie. Acadience or DIBELS] you could easily add the CUBED Narrative Language Measure. This tool aligns very nicely to the new Oral Language & Vocabulary Outcomes in the syllabus & also aligns to the Story Champs Language Intervention Curriculum, a useful small group intervention option that could be easily implemented in a school setting.

For K-3 the NLM Listening [a universal screening battery of Oral Language] measures

Listening Comprehension

  • measured through story retells as well as questions about the story

Expressive Language

  • Using the optional personal generation section, expressive language can be elicited, transcribed and analysed

Inferential Word Learning

  • Definitional vocabulary questions reflect students’ ability to determine the meaning of words through context

In summary, because listening and reading comprehension are the same construct, the NLM Listening measures reading comprehension before students can decode!

Screenshot2022 01 18at9.48.51pm

If you’d like to do a deep dive into understanding and implementing the new Oral Language Outcomes in the new NSW English Syllabus, join my mailing list and I’ll be in touch with course dates for later in Term 1.

You can also join my Facebook Group Language and Learning: Training & Support where you can find a range of resources and a platform to ask questions and network.

Should you wish to explore customised courses or coaching options for your School Leadership Team, Teaching or Aid Staff or your Clinical Team please reach out via my website to discuss your needs.

I’m also super excited to share my FREE progress monitoring spreadsheet for tracking student progress against the new Oral Language and Communication Outcomes for K-2. The tool provides a whole class tracking resource and an individual student profile template which is customised to both the Early Stage 1 and Stage 1 Outcomes of the new NSW K-2 English Syllabus. You can download your copy below

Language and Learning

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