Kiwi School – Learning Support Developments and Progress Update Summary 2018

In May of this year we engaged the support and expertise of Carla McNeil a consultant from Learning Matters Ltd. Carla as you may well know is an ex school principal who now consults and specialises in the area of evidence based literacy learning support.

Please see the proposal attached to see the mix of how our work and time has been spent with Carla to enable us to develop greater knowledge, understandings, systems, resources, practice and ultimately better student outcomes for those students involved.

At the beginning of our time with Carla we selected a group of students to work with on this project. This included students who were identified as having all the interventions we have had to offer.  Along with specialist input they had failed to make significant progress. Most of these children were red-flagged as new entrants and had received plenty of one on one time with classroom teachers but still had big gaps in their learning. We just didn’t know what we were missing in terms of knowing them and why what we were implementing wasn’t working.

We then proceeded to complete a series of diagnostic testing to determine what it was we didn’t know about our students. This included looking at aspects of phonological awareness (one of the biggest predictors of literacy success) as well as the students’ ability across alphabetic principle. This to the naked eye may look like spelling. There is much research and evidence to suggest that the explicit and direct instruction in both phonological awareness and alphabetic principle will lead to increased outcomes for students in reading and writing fluency. We used the LSSA stages 1-2. It was efficient, informative, and had a smart system to store and analyse our individual and group data.

We have taught these groups for 3-4 times per week for over 20 weeks. We split the children up in a senior group, upper middle, lower middle and a junior child.

See below for diagrams of pre and post data from one intervention group in relation to their progress in phonological awareness, sound to symbol association and spelling concepts (alphabetic principle).

Phonological Awareness May and September Data

Sound to Symbol Association May to September Data

Spelling Concepts – May and September Data.

Key observations as to why students have made this accelerated progress include:

The ultimate outcome we are hoping to achieve is that the students receiving this intervention will transfer this to their mainstream classroom learning. Feedback from classroom teachers to this

Classroom Teachers Observations:

    • Students are more confident at attacking challenging text or words.
    • More likely to have an attempt at unknown words in all areas of literacy.
    • Most are able to articulate what they are learning about and how they can use it in reading and writing.
    • Although some are still a bit reluctant to write in normal classroom sessions they are writing more and their writing is more legible.
    • The younger students have thrived.

Responses from the students are-

    • My formation has improved.  I am getting my letters to be sky or dirt letters now.
    • I can break words up into syllables.
    • I look and listen for the patterns we have learnt about
    • When I come to big words I know what to do to figure them out.
    • I love the irregular words and the way we go over them all the time.  It helps me write more since I don’t have to worry about them.
    • We like the games we play like the word finds and connect 4.
    • It’s fun learning in the small group.
    • It helps me to do my work back in my classroom.

Key Learnings for teachers and personnel involved in the professional learning series with Carla include:

    • Our knowledge and understanding of structured literacy has deepened and we now know that structured literacy works; it can work for all students.
    • Intervention at the start of learning literacy leads to the best chance of success.
    • Explicit teaching around phonological awareness and the alphabetic principle will lead to increased student outcomes in reading and writing.  
    • Teaching must be systematic and cumulative
    • We will reconsider the use of PM and Ready to REad texts in the future until students have sufficient code to go to these.
    • If you can hear the sounds, then you have the tools to read. -Bridget O’Neil, Canterbury University.
    • We need to reconsider what fluency actually means and understand that if PA and AP aren’t in tact children won’t become readers.
    • At Carla’s recommendation we will measure fluency rates and further our learning around the newly (Learning Matters) developed Reading Skills Record as opposed to a Running Record.

In 2019 we would like to propose; that we continue to be able to work with such groups in this way but that we also have continued funding to be able to now build some consistency between our approach and that of classroom teachers.

We anticipate that this could look like…..

    • Training all new entrant teachers in the use of the LSSA and screening all students with this on entry to school
    • Reviewing our resourcing of decodable texts to ensure that we have suitable teaching material for both the neuro diverse learners and those failing to progress using the regular texts we have used for years to no avail.
    • Train all junior teachers in the area of structured literacy
    • Review our phonics/spelling programme to allow room for a more direct, explicit and cohesive to the learning support approach. Including utilizing the Learning Matters Irregular words for of spelling assessment.
    • Review our current senior school approach to the teaching of spelling and consider how this can be more direct, explicit and cohesive to the learning support approach
    • Review our literacy implementation plan
    • Refine our process for referrals for learning support and ensure we have a three-tiered system and teaching approaches aligned which match the various needs and levels within these.
    • Add to our newly developed assessment suite for learning support diagnostics and formalise this with a procedure.
    • Purchasing more decodable texts.