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January 02, 2024

Explicit Direct Instruction at Holy Family

Holy Family school is on a journey to embed direct instruction and explicit teaching in all learning spaces (classroom and specialist classes).

It is an exciting time to be at Holy Family as we continue to explore how to best educate and support our students.

As a staff ,we are always on a learning journey, knowing that by continuing to improve upon our skills that we will positively impact student outcomes.

What have been the changes in 2023?

Some of the most significant changes have been made in the junior levels as these years are the building blocks for laying a strong foundation in Literacy.

Students at HFMW learn synthetic systematic phonics, where they start with
individual sounds and synthesise these sounds together to hear the word.

Spelling sessions in the Years 1-2 follow a Year 1 and Year 2 scope and sequence and students are split for half an hour each morning to receive instruction at their grade level.

As a whole school we have explored vocabulary and implemented the explicit teaching of Tier 2 vocabulary. Tier 2 words are those that students will come across in texts and in a number of domains, but may not necessarily use in
their everyday conversation.

Our focus on vocabulary holds multifaceted benefits including:
● Improved word reading, particularly longer words
● Exploration of morphology
● Word meaning which assists in comprehension

We have been extremely fortunate to have had a number of Professional Learning sessions with Shane Pearson, the founder of the PhOrMes curriculum.

During these deep dives, we explored the history of English and how
morphology (units of meanings in words), phonology (understanding of sounds) and orthography (spelling patterns) all contribute to how we spell words.

Years 3-6 will utilise the PhOrMes curriculum in 2024 to extend our students with spelling longer, sophisticated words. The PhOrMes curriculum, which includes a review of previously taught concepts and delivers new information in small chunks, follows an Explicit Direct Instruction model which is supported by research and is an effective approach in delivering new information to novice learners.

Holy Family is a Structured Literacy school which aims to combine the science of reading research with how the brain learns.

Changing from Balanced Literacy to Structured Literacy has meant that assessments have also changed to align with practice. We no longer use levelled texts to monitor or screen students for reading skills and have been
receiving training in DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) which will be used three times a year to monitor students growth in key reading skills from Prep-6.

The introduction of different assessments ensures that practice and assessments align. The aim is to identify students for early intervention and extension, for in class and at times out of class support.