This big issues are extremely important to draw attention to. Kevin and Robyn Wheldall, and Jennifer Buckingham, play a huge and long-standing role in addressing these various issues head-on and IFERI is very grateful for their support and contribution to the bigger picture. When I read the Multilit Moments newsletter what struck me was the key issues packed into extremely readable short reports.
Kevin, Robyn and Jennifer promote literacy in academic and practical ways and in championing good literacy for all - and have done for many years. Note too, that at last they (and others no doubt) have managed to engage individual politicians to take the years of challenge to whole language orthodoxy seriously which is also noted in the Multilit Moments newsletter. The information and messages included in this newsletter have relevance internationally - not just in Australia - and so I'm highlighting this edition via IFERI's General Forum and in the wider international domain.
Congratulations to the Multilit team for their hard work, perseverance and success with the various programmes they have designed, produced and tested to great effect. I urge people to read the whole newsletter and to note the following points:
http://www.multilit.com/wp-content/uplo ... v_2016.pdf
What to note:
Point 1) The role of politicians to take account of the findings of research - and therefore to take responsibility to stop promoting and funding programmes and practices that research show us can be expensive and damaging. See:
RIP Reading Recovery by Jennifer Buckingham
Thanks to NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, the deeply entrenched, multi-million- dollar Reading Recovery program will no longer be sacrosanct in NSW public schools. As of next year, the funding allocated to Reading Recovery will be unlocked and schools will be able to use this money for other more effective intervention programs to help students with reading dif culties.
Point 2) Charities should promote evidence-informed programmes and practices - great to hear of this uptake. If struggling older learners need daily, intensive support - fight a corner to make sure they get the right kind of intensive instruction they need:
The Bill Crews Charitable Trust MultiLit Literacy Centre at Busby West Public School by Erin Teale
At the beginning of this year, MultiLit embarked on a new project with the Bill Crews Charitable Trust (BCCT) to establish Literacy Centres at Busby West Public School for the whole school year, as well as at Punchbowl Public School.
The aim of this project is to provide intensive literacy support to students who do not have the reading skills necessary to access the school curriculum, and who will struggle to cope with the demands of schooling as they move into high school. Approximately 80 Year 3-6 students from each school will receive daily intensive literacy instruction for a semester.
Point 3) Kevin and Robyn developed their intervention literacy programmes based on research and on necessity! They champion, however, the need to get the teaching right (informed by the research and leading-edge practice) in the first place. They continue to develop their supportive material and essential guidance - now for initial teaching of reading. Kevin and Robyn draw attention to 'the Big Five' (also known as 'The Five Pillars of Literacy') and the 'Simple View of Reading' - research-informed summaries of how best to understand the ingredients for reading instruction. The Big Five and the Simple View of Reading need to be understood and implemented by all teachers (and all parents too!):
Why we developed InitiaLit by Kevin and Robyn Wheldall
For over 20 years now, MultiLit has been researching and developing instructional programs for low- progress readers. We began with the MultiLit Reading Tutor Program, a one- to-one program for older low-progress readers from Year 3 up to high school and adult level. Then came MiniLit, a small group program for young struggling readers in Years 1 and 2, followed by PreLit for preschool children lacking the essential prerequisites for learning to read.
Point 4) Kevin and Robyn make the following comment about Australia - but this has relevance to the international picture of reading instruction which is why Kevin is a founding member of the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction:
In Australia, initial literacy instruction has not always been exemplary not all of the Five Big Ideas have been taught sufficiently well. In fact, it is probably true to say that while there has often been a strong focus on the vocabulary and comprehension side, the skills of rapid decoding have rarely been adequately addressed; phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency have been relatively neglected. Where phonics has been taught, it may not have been taught in a sufficiently explicit and systematic way. This has resulted in far too many children who would otherwise have learned to read with relative ease, failing to do so. Hence the excessive demand for Tier 2 and Tier 3 remedial programs.
Point 5) It is fantastic to see the launch of a newsletter for both teachers and parents - and fellow professionals and policymakers. That's the right direction of travel:
Nomanis: A new magazine for teachers and parents
MultiLit is proud to announce the launch of a new online magazine, Omanis.
Nomanis will provide a platform for disseminating ideas and evidence about effective instruction in reading and related skills, for teachers, parents, fellow professionals and policymakers.
Point 6) Recognition of successful outcomes is the best way to raise awareness of, and share, the necessary ingredients of best, research-informed practice:
Armidale Diocese receives educational award by Robyn Wheldall
Dale Cain, from the Armidale Diocese Catholic Schools Of ce, has shared some good news with us – that the Of ce has been awarded The HTB Harris Award by the Australian College of Education for an outstanding educational program. The award recognises a program or coordinated approach to an educational need, with emphasis on innovative thinking, planning and action.
The Armidale Diocesan Literacy Strategy involved a system wide implementation of MiniLit (and more recently PreLit). Dale wanted me to pass on this excellent news to all at MultiLit and to congratulate us also, as it is the MiniLit program implementation that has brought about enormous change in the literacy skills of the children in the Diocese. Dale also made the point that the capacity of their staff to teach reading has been built considerably because of their knowledge of MiniLit.
Success story: Al-Faisal College
“Our NAPLAN results have come out today. Year 3 results were a stand out. We implemented a Tier 1 phonics based program in 2013 that was supported by MiniLit and MultiLit interventions in Years 1 and 2. Since 2013 we have seen dramatic improvements.
Point 7) This piece is extremely close to my heart as a phonics programme author and teacher-trainer myself. I agree entirely with the message that teachers can take a really good programme and change it, or not implement it fully according to the guidance, in a claimed response that 'I have adapted it for my pupils'. Good teacher expertise is needed to implement programmes and practices well and to respond to the needs of the various learners - but this is a different issue from major tinkering or neglect of the range of recommended resources and practices. Renae and Kevin describe this here:
How to make sure that MultiLit does not work by Renae Watkins and Kevin Wheldall
We recently received interesting feedback about the use, or rather misuse, of our MultiLit Reading Tutor Program in schools. Our correspondent wrote: “Every school uses the kit differently and hardly ever follows the instructions. I’ve seen students being ‘taught’ by other students, by parents who don’t understand the program but are given a job to do by busy teachers ...”
Point 8) The need for cumulative, decodable reading books that match the letter/s-sound correspondences taught in the planned systematic phonics programme are so important - so much so that IFERI and others are challenging the necessity for Book Bands cataloguing (lists levelled reading book schemes) which fudges the issue of what types of books are best provided for beginners to read - mixing books designed on evidence of what works best, with books designed on multi-cueing reading strategies that require most children to guess lots of words to get through the books. You can read threads in IFERI's General Forum about the issues around Book Bands and the continued, ill-advised practice of asking children to read repetitive and predictable reading books based on whole language, multi-cueing reading strategies. It is therefore really great to see another good decodable reading book series made available for when we ask children to practise their reading independently:
InitiaLit Readers hit the mark!
We’ve already received some wonderful feedback from schools using our new InitiaLit Readers. Here’s what they have to say.
The InitiaLit Readers have been a fantastic resource in my classroom. They allow my students to consolidate the sounds and patterns we have been learning in class. They focus on the alphabetic code and have signi cantly improved my students’ reading, spelling and writing skills. The books also provide opportunities for comprehension and vocabulary activities.
Marissa Lentros, Harcourt Public School
Congratulations to all the people involved in great evidence-informed reading instruction promotion and practice in Australia!