English is tough!! Enough is enough!

This is a great little teacher reminder about how tough English phonics are to learn – particularly for ESL adults – a funny video featuring Lucy and Desi!

Posted by Nicola in Learning Strategies, Teachers

Mastery Learning Folder Parent Note

You’ll find this note handy if you’re introducing Mastery Learning Folder homework to parents for the first time. I would also recommend giving a folder demonstration at your start of year parent meeting. If this isn’t possible, you can direct them to this video. The note is in Word format so you can modify the contents to suit your situation.

MLF Homework Note


Posted by Nicola in Teachers, Templates

Phonological Awareness Class Checklist

This Excel spreadsheet checklist contains the following PA headings:

Word / Syllable / Onset & Rime / Phoneme / Phonics / Phonetic Words / Alternative Phonics / Advanced Phonetic Words

It can be used to track progress after post testing with the PA quick screeners found in Foundation English the free Flashcard Club. When the appropriate level for remediation is determined, practice flashcards can be placed in the child’s Mastery Learning Folder and remediated with the quick test and learn process each homework night.

Phonological Awareness Checklist

Posted by Nicola in Teachers, Templates

Phonics Class Checklist

This Excel spreadsheet checklist contains the 43 basic phonics sounds in Jolly Phonics order. It can be used to track progress after post testing with the phonics flashcards found in the free Flashcard Club. Incorrect flashcards can be placed in the child’s mastery learning folder and remediated with the quick test and learn process each homework night.

Phonics Checklist

Posted by Nicola in Teachers, Templates

Library Pocket Supplies Australia

The traditional gold library pockets are becoming more difficult to source in Australia and are not cheap. I have a supplier in Queensland and have listed their details below. I supply the medium sized gold library pockets in my Hand-made Mastery Learning Folder Kit. The kit includes everything you need to create the manilla folder styled mastery learning folders for 25 students at $3 per child.

What’s in the kit:

28 bright blue manilla folders
224 medium gold library pockets (8 per folder)
8 library pocket stickers
Blackline masters for the cover and instructions

Price: $75 + $13.40 postage

Handmade Cover




If you would prefer a heavy duty mastery learning folder, please take a look at my hardcover version, manufactured in Western Australia and designed to last. Schools may purchase in bulk and, if accessioned, students can borrow from the library. These folders are also available for booklisting.

Please join my free Flashcard Club which contains perfectly sized mastery learning folder flashcards, arranged according to the Australian Curriculum.

Here are the details of the library pocket supplier:

Quantum Libraries
Unit 1 / 135 Ingleston Rd, Wakerley, QLD 4154


Posted by Nicola in Teachers

Phonological Awareness Screeners

Phonological Awareness assessments are usually long and involved. Sometimes all that is needed for formative assessment is a quick snapshot. These one page PA screeners may be handy as we head into report writing, just as a quick tool to gather evidence of student progress in literacy skills. After you’ve used them, please let me know in the comments below how you went !

Join the Flashcard Club for access to other free Australian content. Use the Flashcard Club content in a Mastery Learning Folder to support your struggling students.

See also my post on Screening Tools & Standardised Tests.


Word Level Quick Screener

Syllable Level Quick Screener

Onset Rime Quick Screener

Phoneme Level Quick Screener A

Phoneme Level Quick Screener B

See links to Phonological Awareness Diagnostic Tools


“For those who use the Mastery Learning Folders the results are excellent. The folder is well constructed and can be reused for several years. Flashcards are age appropriate and open ended. The editable template is an excellent resource. We enjoy our experience with the Mastery Learning Folders and will continue to use them.” Judy, Teacher

More Feedback

Quick PA Screener Sample

Posted by Nicola

Sight Word Learning Ideas

Sight words are classified as words that don’t conform to regular phonetic spelling and so they often present a challenge to beginning readers. They are remembered through repeated exposure and Year 1 teacher, Celeice McDonnell, has some great ideas for parents to assist their children to learn their words …

  • Memory Game: Make a second set of words, turn them over and take it in turns to try to turn over a match – the winner is the player with the most pairs.
  • Snap: Make a second set of words, shuffle and take it in turns to place words down on the deck – SNAP when the cards match.
  • Alphabetical Order: place the words in alphabetical order.
  • Letter Jumble: Jumble the letters and rearrange to make the sight word.
  • Make a Crossword
  • Create a Word Sleuth
  • Write or say each word in a sentence.
  • Board Game: Use the words, counters and a dice to make a board game – read the words as they are landed on – first to the end is the winner.
  • Missing Letters: Guess the word with missing letters.
  • Short Story: make-up or write a story using as many sight words as possible.

Any other ideas ?

Posted by Nicola in Learning Strategies, Teachers

Teaching Children to Read

 Quote – US National Reading Panel

“In 1997, Congress asked the NICHD, through its Child Development and Behavior Branch, to work with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in establishing a National Reading Panel that would evaluate existing research and evidence to find the best ways of teaching children to read.

The 14-member Panel included members from different backgrounds, including school administrators, working teachers, and scientists involved in reading research.

On April 13, 2000, the National Reading Panel concluded its work and submitted its final reports. The Panel has not been reconvened since that time and does not continue to work on this issue.

Topic Areas

Specifically, Congress asked the Panel to:

  • Review all the research available (more than 100,000 reading studies) on how children learn to read.
  • Determine the most effective evidence-based methods for teaching children to read.
  • Describe which methods of reading instruction are ready for use in the classroom and recommend ways of getting this information into schools.
  • Suggest a plan for additional research in reading development and instruction.

In addition, the National Reading Panel held public hearings where people could give their opinions on what topics the panel should study.

The Panel considered roughly 100,000 reading studies published since 1966, and another 10,000 published before that time. From this pool, the Panel selected several hundred studies for its review and analysis.

The National Reading Panel’s analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates:

  • Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness
  • Systematic phonics instruction
  • Methods to improve fluency
  • Ways to enhance comprehension

The Panel found that a combination of techniques is effective for teaching children to read:

  • Phonemic awareness—the knowledge that spoken words can be broken apart into smaller segments of sound known as phonemes. Children who are read to at home—especially material that rhymes—often develop the basis of phonemic awareness. Children who are not read to will probably need to be taught that words can be broken apart into smaller sounds.
  • Phonics—the knowledge that letters of the alphabet represent phonemes, and that these sounds are blended together to form written words. Readers who are skilled in phonics can sound out words they haven’t seen before, without first having to memorize them.
  • Fluency—the ability to recognize words easily, read with greater speed, accuracy, and expression, and to better understand what is read. Children gain fluency by practicing reading until the process becomes automatic; guided oral repeated reading is one approach to helping children become fluent readers.
  • Guided oral reading—reading out loud while getting guidance and feedback from skilled readers. The combination of practice and feedback promotes reading fluency.
  • Teaching vocabulary words—teaching new words, either as they appear in text, or by introducing new words separately. This type of instruction also aids reading ability.
  • Reading comprehension strategies—techniques for helping individuals to understand what they read. Such techniques involve having students summarize what they’ve read, to gain a better understanding of the material.”

From: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/supported/Pages/nrp.aspx/

Posted by Nicola in Learning Strategies, Parents, Teachers