The Teacher's Tool Kit For Literacy

Part 2: Understanding and Using the Science of Reading

Episode Summary

In this podcast, education experts Diane Snowball and Keay Cobbin discuss key aspects of early reading education, including the importance of engaging reading materials, encouraging exploration of word patterns, and exposing children to rich literature. They advocate for early comprehension instruction, reject delaying it, and stress the significance of motivation, engagement, and providing choices in reading. Additionally, they highlight the role of executive skills in reading comprehension and emphasise the need for continuous professional development and expert teaching practices. Overall, they promote a holistic approach to nurturing young readers.

Episode Notes

In this podcast education experts Diane Snowball and Keay Cobbin discuss several important aspects of early reading education, including the significance of providing inviting and exciting reading materials in classrooms for young learners. Diane emphasises the importance of offering books that make sense and are interesting for students, as opposed to overly decodable books with limited word patterns. She suggests allowing students to explore words and create sentences with specific word patterns to enhance both encoding and decoding skills.

Diane and Keay stress the importance of exposing children to excellent models of the English language from an early age, referencing classic children's books by authors such as Eric Carle, Mem Fox, Pat Hutchins, Pamela Allen, and Dr. Seuss. They argue that rich literature not only supports language development but also helps students learn to make inferences, predictions, and visualisations while reading.

The conversation also touches on the topic of comprehension instruction. Both experts advocate for teaching comprehension strategies from the beginning of a child's school journey, emphasising that comprehension instruction should start early to ensure that all students have access to it. They reject the idea that comprehension instruction should be delayed until a certain grade.

Additionally, Diane and Keay discuss the importance of motivation and engagement in reading, highlighting the significance of giving students choices in what they read. They stress that fostering a love of reading and ensuring students believe in their own reading abilities are critical for long-term engagement.

Diane and Keay emphasise the importance of teaching students a repertoire of strategies to enhance comprehension and motivation in reading. They reference Chris Tavani's work on motivation and engagement, highlighting how students often wear masks to hide their reading struggles, even in primary school. They discuss the significance of executive skills in reading comprehension, drawing from Kelly Cartwright's book, which defines executive skills as tools for managing thinking processes. The educators stress the value of incorporating these skills into classroom instruction and guiding students to become CEOs of their own brains. They underscore the need for ongoing professional development, open-mindedness, and a wide range of expert sources to inform teaching practices.

Diane Snowball is a prominent educator, based in Melbourne, with 56 years of experience across various education levels. She focuses on improving student literacy through teaching, professional development, and leadership roles. Diane's contributions include international presentations, authoring books and articles and producing educational materials. She served as President of the Australian Literacy Educators Association and has led literacy initiatives in Australia and the US. Diane's work encompasses advising, mentoring, and founding organisations dedicated to literacy education, emphasising teaching practices based on sound research.

Keay Cobbin is the director of Wilcob Education in Melbourne, established in 2010 with Steve Willy. With 28 years of teaching and 24 years of consulting experience, she specialises in literacy and leadership. Keay has designed and delivered various literacy and leadership courses for educational institutions and regions, demonstrating a deep understanding of educational systems, literacy research, and pedagogy. She has also provided professional development for the Department of Education in Tasmania and facilitated workshops in different regions to enhance teaching practices.

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The Teacher’s Tool Kit For Literacy is the free podcast for motivated teachers and school leaders who want the latest tips, tricks and tools to inspire their students and school community in literacy learning. 

Hear from literacy expert and founder of Cue Learning, Sharon Callen, and special guests.

At Cue Learning, our literacy specialists draw on over 30 years of teaching and international consulting experience to deliver world-class learning solutions. We equip, empower and support teachers to become their authentic selves. 

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Episode Transcription

Podcast transcript Ep 97 and 98