Kate Winn 00:00:04 Hello to all you travelers out there on the road to evidence-based literacy instruction. I'm Kate Winn, classroom teacher and host of IDA Ontario's podcast Reading Road Trip. Welcome to the show. This is episode 10 and it is the finale of our very first season. Before we get started, we would like to acknowledge that we are recording this podcast from the traditional land of the Mississauga Anishnabe. We are grateful to live here and thank the generations of First Nations people for their care, for and teachings about the Earth. We also recognize the contributions of Metis, Inuit, and other indigenous peoples in shaping our community and country. Along with this acknowledgement and in the spirit of truth and reconciliation, we'd like to amplify the work of an indigenous artist. And this week we are sharing the picture book, Shi-shi-etko, by Nicola I Campbell Illustrated by Kim LaFave. In just four days, young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school.
Kate Winn 00:01:09 She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world, the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpole is in the creek. Her grandfather's paddle song. Her mother, father, and grandmother each in turn share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping. Richly hued illustrations complement this gently moving and poetic account of a child who finds solace all around her, even though she's on the verge of great loss, a loss that Indigenous peoples have endured for generations because of the residential school system. And that is how the publisher describes the book. I want to mention that I love this book in kindergarten as I find it. It is, it's an excellent way to introduce, um, the history of residential schools to young settler children, um, for whom this might be new information.
Kate Winn 00:02:04 It's, uh, it's a beautifully written, beautifully illustrated, highly recommend the book Shi-shi-etko. And also there is a, uh, a free comprehension and vocabulary lesson plan that we will link to in the show notes of this episode as well, if you are interested in using that with your students. And of course here, we know that in Canada on September 30th, we observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a perfect story for that time, but of course a story and history that can be shared any time of year. And now on with the show.
Well, I would say that I am thrilled to introduce our special guest for episode two of Reading Road Trip, but she's not really a guest. She is my partner in podcasting, Una Malcolm, my co-producer here at Reading Road Trip, she is a doctoral student at Mount St. Joseph University. She is the president of IDA Ontario and she is a friend and she's here with me to answer all of your burning questions that you sent in. We did a call out and ask us anything. We got so many amazing questions. For some of the questions we kind of compiled things in themes and, and that sort of thing because we weren't going to be able to to get to everything, but we are going to tackle as much as we can here today. Welcome Una. Thanks for being here.
Una Malcolm 00:03:22 Well, I am so thankful to be here and it's exciting to actually be on the other side of this. Normally I listen to the recording, so it's interesting to be part of one <laugh>, that's for sure.
Kate Winn 00:03:31 And you have a new fancy recording mic now, like mine. I like that too.
Una Malcolm 00:03:36 I'm all set. Are you ready for your first question, my friend?
Kate Winn 00:03:40 I am ready. Go ahead and hit me.
Una Malcolm 00:03:42 Okay, so we got several different questions about the role of ECE or early childhood educators in Ontario's kindergarten program, specifically including a question from Stef. Kate, could you speak to how that partnership works and what role a DECE or RECE can play in terms of a structured literacy program in kindergarten?
Kate Winn 00:04:02 It is a great question, and for anyone who's listening outside of Ontario, you might not be aware of how this works, that in our kindergarten classrooms that have more than 16 students, they are staffed with an Ontario certified teacher or the teacher and an early childhood educator. It could be a DECE or RECE. They are partners in that program. Each partner brings their own experiences and talents and interests to that, to that position. But it is a partnership. In terms of structured literacy. The, the ECE is fully qualified to deliver and support all aspects of, of that structured literacy. The interesting thing to remember is most of us teachers did not learn anything about this in teachers' college, right? So we don't have any, you know, upper hand background wise on knowing this stuff. And I do have to say too, a couple of years ago when our board was starting to, to get in line with structured literacy, I ran a book study on Christopher Such's Art and Science of Teaching Primary Reading, and we opened it up to educators, um, anybody who wanted to be part of it.
Kate Winn 00:04:59 And several ECEs joined, some with their teaching partner and some just on their own because they wanted to do this learning. So in some cases, in the partnership, the teacher may be farther down the line with this learning. In some cases the ECE may be. In my personal opinion, I feel like whichever one kind of has the most knowledge, that the most readiness should be the one to take the lead. However, both can teach, both can, you know, do the screeners, both can instruct in, in phonemic awareness and phonics, both can do small groups, all of that. It, it's, you know, a partnership.
Um, I know that in some partnerships there may be one partner or the other still kind of worried about that play aspect and, and some of those things. But as we've talked about many times, there's room for both. There's the two ends of that continuum, right?
Kate Winn 00:05:42 We're going to have some, um, child-directed free play. We are going to have some whole group phonics instruction, and then we're going to have all of that middle, right, all of the playful learning and all of those different opportunities, both partners can, uh, can be a part of that. In my particular class, people who hear me talk might think, okay, well the teacher's supposed to take the lead, because I do admit I, I probably talk about all the things that, uh, that, that I'm doing in our program. Um, but I think because of all of the, the learning I've done with structured literacy and the number of different partners I've had too, um, in the seven years in kindergarten, I've had nine different partners. And it's not because, uh, not because they don't wanna be there. The way our union works with the ECEs, if someone is surplused of their position, they can bump someone from another school.
Kate Winn 00:06:28 So I've had partners bumped several times because somebody wants in which, which is lovely. And also in my, uh, my seven years in kindergarten, there have been five babies born to my partners as well. So, um, so lots of turnover. And so I have kind of had that consistent piece of, of that literacy program. My partners have been happy to let me take the lead on that, but certainly they, they play a big role as well. And, uh, I wanna mention too, while we are in Ontario, IDA Ontario obviously, and you and I both live in this beautiful province, but the podcast is international, so, which is exciting, yay. But I do want to apologize to anybody listening if they hear, you know, our guests probably use the term teachers. I may accidentally use the term teachers. I try to say educators to be sort of more, you know, all encompassing.
Kate Winn 00:07:11 Um, but in, in the Ontario context, please know that, you know, ECEs who are in that kindergarten classroom, they do teach. So when we are talking about, you know, teaching and things that are going on with structured literacy, ECEs can absolutely be part of it. I also want to apologize if I ever quickly say my ECE, because I try to say my ECE partner, um, to make sure that it's clear, you know, there's no ownership or hierarchy, but just the same way as I might say my principal, right? I'm not, you know, I'm not saying that I'm over my principal or I have any ownership or anything like that. It's just sort of a quick way to, uh, to designate that relationship. But, you know, for anybody who didn't know ECEs teachers kindergarten class in Ontario, they're partners. Both can play a very important role in structured literacy. And I hope that answers the question.
Una Malcolm 00:07:54 I think it does. I think it absolutely does.
Kate Winn 00:07:56 Alright, are you ready for your first question?
Una Malcolm 00:07:58 I am. All set.
Kate Winn 00:07:59 Okay, Una - Isabella wrote in and mentioned how many opportunities there are for training and professional learning, so training courses, certificates, and then more formal opportunities like master's or doctoral degrees, which is what you're working on right now. How should educators navigate this and how should they decide what to take?
Una Malcolm 00:08:16 That is an excellent question because it is so challenging to know where to go and where to start and, and what to do. I think we're in a space where collectively many educators are wanting to learn more about structured literacy, learn more about evidence-based practice for reading and writing, and where do they do that? How do they get there? I'll first start by saying there was a really nice webinar a couple years ago, we're happy to put it in the show notes. Stephanie Stollar and Concha Wyatt did a really nice webinar that sort of unpacked all the different opportunities that are there and some considerations for what might be the best solution for a particular person at that, at that time. I think there are a couple key things to think about. Uh, what is your role is one, if you, if somebody is an educator who is working in a school board or district, they might need specific training or certifications for a specific role.
Una Malcolm 00:09:05 For example, in Ontario, we might be thinking about an additional qualification course or an endorsement in the US to get a specific reading intervention or resource position, for example, or even a master's degree to advance in the salary grid. So sometimes there is that level of specificity that really governs the choice a little bit. There might be other training opportunities that might not be quite as recognized in a formal school or board or district setting, but could be so helpful for educators to learn more about structured literacy things, uh, like training courses, um, AIM pathways, LETRS, Top 10 Tools, or, you know, working with a variety of different Orton-Gillingham, uh, fellows. So some of these might have supervised practica. Uh, some of them might lead to certification through a different organization like CERI, which is International dyslexia, International Dyslexia Associations, uh, certification, uh, OG, IMSE.
Una Malcolm 00:09:58 So there are certainly a lot of different options. I think it really depends on what role is somebody in, what have they done and what are they hoping to do in the future if they're wanting to advance in their workplace, if they're wanting to learn more, if they're feeling like they need a certification, um, or if they want to get involved in teacher training or research down the road. I think those are all, you know, really valid things to consider. Just broadly, I'd say go in as an informed consumer, ask tough questions, go in with your eyes open. I think a really universal story that we often hear from educators is how disappointing it can be to spend so much time and money on a course or a program or a degree only to find that it didn't cover what it should, it wasn't fit for purpose the way Lyn Stone mentioned in our premiere right.
Una Malcolm 00:10:43 That can be incredibly disappointing. Um, IDA, the International Dyslexia Association has a list of accredited universities and programs. That's a great place to start. They also, we also have the knowledge and practice standards, which are a list of competencies that all teachers of reading and writing, uh, all educators should, should have and be able to do. So it wouldn't be the worst idea to ask for a a course outline or ask for a syllabus and then evaluate does it look like it would meet some or most of these standards or, or not really. It is something to go in with your eyes open because there are a lot of options out there and it can be tricky to find the right one.
Kate Winn 00:11:21 Thank you.
Una Malcolm 00:11:22 Okay, Kate, I'm gonna put it back to you and I'm gonna to ask you about sound wall, sound walls, sound, spelling walls. Yvette wants to know, how would you incorporate a sound wall in a grade two or grade three class or later primary years? I know that you're in the kindergarten space right now, but I also would love to hear certainly about some of your experiences working in other grade levels as well.
Kate Winn 00:11:44 This is a great question. So, and as we've talked about before, no research per se on the use of sound spelling walls, but we know that they help to reinforce those phoneme/grapheme correspondences, the articulatory gestures, things that we do have research about, right? So it can't be a bad idea to, to try them. I did teach grade three for eight years. Two of those years were a grade two three split. That was before I know what I do now in terms of structured literacy. So I often think if I could go back, you know, what would I do differently? I would definitely be using some form of, um, of the sound spelling wall. Now I wouldn't necessarily say that at that grade level you need that whole, like, take up two bulletin boards for your vowel valley and your consonant chart kind of thing.
Kate Winn 00:12:24 You could have something poster sized. I would definitely have individual copies and you know, so the kids have them, especially for writing. They could use them for reading, you know, perhaps if they need to. But I find even in kindergarten it's used more often for writing when they know the sound that they want. They're trying to find that, uh, that spelling pattern. So when they have something handy, if you have that, it might also be handy for them to have their own sort of little cheat sheet with any rules that you've learned. So for example, they know that it's a C or K or CK for that sound, but when do you use which one? So if you have taught anything about that, which I always joke, I didn't learn that rule till I was 43. Um, if you've taught that, then it might be good for them to kind of have that.
Kate Winn 00:13:00 So they're using those, those two pieces together. But grade two, especially by grade three, I'm not sure you need to do, you know, build a wall at a time or you know, like uncover the different, um, the different graphemes as they're taught. But what you could do if they have an individual one, if you're still using a, a phonics program like maybe UFLI or something like that, you could maybe just still have them highlight the patterns that they know and then highlight new ones that they've learned so that they have that on their, on their individual one. But you definitely want that to be accessible, you know, for their writing. And I know that, uh, in my years of teaching in grade two and grade three, I wish that I knew what I know now and that I could have had something like this. So great idea to incorporate something like that in, in grade two and three.
All right, next question goes to Una the president, Madam president of IDA Ontario. So Christine wants to know what other projects IDA Ontario works on in addition to Reading Road Trip. Great question. So Una, can you tell us a little bit more about, you know, what else is on the go for IDA Ontario? What do you do anyway?
Una Malcolm 00:14:04 I love this question. Well, first off, I'll start by saying we are a registered charity. We are a branch of the International Dyslexia Association. Interestingly, listeners might not know, and I say this 'cause I didn't know <laugh>, I didn't know this for a while until I got heavily involved in IDA Ontario. We actually are the only Canadian branch. I I think when I, you know, I, I certainly listened to IDA Ontario, I, I, you know, joined webinars and, and before I was, you know, joined the board. I just assumed there were other Canadian branches, but there aren't. It's, it's us. So really we do draw from, from really all across Canada. Uh, and it's really exciting to have that collaboration. So we offer a podcast, obviously, uh, if you're, if you're listening to this, you know, that, uh, but we do a lot of other things.
Una Malcolm 00:14:45 We're, we're heavily involved in, in literacy across the province and beyond. Though we are a dyslexia charity, we really are so committed to fostering structured literacy instruction in every classroom. So to support this and to support teachers and educators with the learning that this requires, uh, we offer webinars, workshops, and training courses in English and in French to, to give all educators the knowledge and skills that they need to meet the needs of, of every student in their class. We love supporting public libraries in the province. We really value the role that public libraries play in supporting, uh, individuals with dyslexia and parents caregivers, uh, of students with dyslexia in, in the community, especially in, uh, you know, rural or remote locations where they might not be as resourced as the way it might be in, in an urban center. So we offer mini grants, uh, so public libraries can buy decodable books.
Una Malcolm 00:15:39 We send them outreach materials to support parents and caregivers, and we give them coaching and support just to, to be able to, to best meet the needs of, of people in the community. We have an annual read-a-thon for an awareness campaign and fundraiser. We are heavily involved in outreach. We have printed information, printed materials, and information on dyslexia and structured literacy on our website. We join conferences, visit conferences, we offer presentations in the community, and we offer our own conference as well every year. And, uh, Kate was one of the wonderful speakers last year at our, or I guess this year at our 2023 conference. I'm, so we're getting ready to plan for 2024. So I think I'm so thinking of the 2024 conference, but, but Kate and uh, and two other wonderful, IDA Ontario volunteers had a wonderful session at last year's conference.
Kate Winn 00:16:29 Thank you. And let's shout out, um, Nellie Caruso and Leigh Fettes, my co-presenters, because they're so amazing and they've been so supportive of the podcast too. So let's get their, their names out there, um, for a couple of other great structured literacy promoters. And now I'm ready for you to hit me with my next question.
Una Malcolm 00:16:45 You are absolutely right. Nellie and Leigh are just the best. So we are so thankful for all their, all their work. And I'll pass on back to you Kate - Amir. He's wondering, he, he, he comments that hosting a podcast seems like it would be fun, but he also imagines it's also a lot of work, uh, and he wants to know what's the best thing about hosting the show. And also, did you have any bloopers or funny stories from this season so far?
Kate Winn 00:17:11 Well, thank you Amir, for acknowledging that it looks like a lot of work, or could be a lot of work because it is, I think you and I wanna both consider this kind of a labor of love and enjoy this kind of work. But yes, certainly a lot goes into it as well as, um, with the team that we thank at the end of every episode from IDA Ontario. It's, uh, definitely a team effort. Uh, the best thing about hosting the show, so a couple of things. I would say, first of all, getting to talk to these amazing guests and just ask them anything I want. Like if I didn't have a podcast, when else could I just, you know, email Dr. Jan Hasbrook and say, Hey, could we just zoom for an hour so I could, you know, ask you all about fluency?
Kate Winn 00:17:44 So just kind of the opportunity to do that. And I had someone tweet, um, uh, I mean a few weeks ago and just say, I always ask the questions that they want to know, which I think is great. 'cause I'm thinking like that classroom teacher and, and asking, um, asking the guests what I think our listeners want to hear about. So that part's amazing, and knowing that it's not just me having this conversation, educators are listening and that they're, you know, able to learn something and take something away from, from the work that we're putting into this. And I think also, this might sound cheesy, but working with Una. Una, you are amazing. I know we often say like, oh, I couldn't do this with anyone, but you, we, uh, we gel together so well, and we'll be texting each other the same thing at the same time.
Kate Winn 00:18:22 And, uh, I know we're at the point in our friendship now where we've stopped, you know, when you're having a conversation with someone and you say, oh, have a good night or have a good weekend. We don't bother with that anymore because we know we're just gonna be texting again 10 minutes later. So, um, I have a great amount of respect for you, and I feel like, uh, we both bring different, different things, but also, uh, a similar line of thinking that really helps us to make this show the best it can be. So that's amazing. In terms of bloopers or funny stories, you know, things were pretty smooth, I would have to say. Uh, I think one funny thing was in episode nine when I was talking to Diana Burchell, so she's amazing, she's from Ontario. She was talking about multilingual learners and in, um, you know, kind of specific to our Canadian context, French immersion, some things like that, really important.
Kate Winn 00:19:06 Um, but whatever was going on with our tech, I couldn't really hear her answers. So the beauty of, we use a program called Zencastr, and so my audio gets recorded at my end, hers gets recorded at her end, it all goes up into the cloud. So it sounds beautiful at the end, even if I couldn't hear her, which I couldn't, so she would get to the end and, you know, with the crackling kind of stopped, I would know she was done, and I would go to the next question, but I couldn't really give any feedback because, you know, maybe she had just ended by saying, you know, and there are millions of kids struggling to read and I didn't wanna say. That's great, thanks. Okay, so next question, right? So I had to just sort of do a generic, so if you have already listened to that, I wonder if you caught it.
Kate Winn 00:19:47 And if not, go back and listen and see if you can tell that, uh, probably the transitions weren't quite as smooth because I couldn't hear her. I do have to say though, in terms of the biggest, um, I don't know whether you'd call it a blooper but mistake I've ever made in podcasting. Before reading Road Trip several years ago, I had one to go with my lifestyle blog, a podcast called This Mom Loves. So I did, I think 58 episodes of that. And then when I got my breast cancer diagnosis, I put that on hold and just kind of never went back to it. But one episode I was, I, I pitched the Prime Minister's wife of Canada, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, and I was invited to go to the office of the Prime Minister, have a sit down face-to-face and interview her, which no matter what your politics are, I hope you see that that's a pretty big get for a podcast to go sit down with the Prime Minister's wife.
Kate Winn 00:20:32 I had my fancy mic, you know, at the top of the show I mentioned Una having her new fancy mic. So all set up and, um, we sat together, we did the interview, I stopped the recording, saved it all good, but then I realized after that I didn't actually select the great Mic in the program where I was recording. And instead it was just the built-in laptop mic. So the laptop was off to the side. We had this speaker right between, or sorry, this mic right between us that wasn't even picking up anything. So it was a great interview. She was so gracious and lovely and, and open and, you know, you can hear what, what we said, but that was definitely my biggest blooper that I still, you know, cringe when I think about in podcasting. Like, how did I not check that I was using the right microphone? But things with Reading Road Trip, I would say, you know, knock on wood, have gone fairly smoothly. Now when I wanna know your answer to that question too, what was your favorite part of this season?
Una Malcolm 00:21:24 I'll just start by saying, I did not know that story about your, your microphone mishap and I, that that story is news to me. And I will also echo right back and say it's just been, you know, Kate is a delight to work with and, and I will say this entire podcast was Kate's idea. This all started with Kate coming to me saying, Hey, what do you think? What do you think if IDA Ontario does a podcast? And me knowing Kate and knowing that everything she does is exceptional, I said, well, that just sounds great, and you just let me know what, what you need on my end to make that happen. So it has been a total delight. My favorite part about the podcast, so I'll give listeners a little bit of context and I will say the one, the one, the one thing that does always makes me smile, Kate is not a fan. I think it's safe to say you're not a fan of listening to yourself, uh, listening to your interviews or listening to your work or your presentations. So…
Kate Winn 00:22:13 That is correct. Yeah.
Una Malcolm 00:22:14 Okay. So that's just a, just, you know, context. But I would always look forward to the text I would get from Kate being like, okay, the audio's up, it's uploaded. Go listen. And part of the tricky thing is, you know, Kate mentioned Zencastr, it saves the audio in two different files. So for this recording, there'll be a Kate file and there'll be an Una file. And so I was the one doing sort of quality control and giving feedback instead of saying, oh my gosh, this one's great, and this one. And I was the one sort of doing the show notes. So that initial round I could have just waited until our wonderful Katelyn edited the episodes together. But I couldn't wait. I was too impatient. So I had to listen, alternating, pausing between two different files. It just was a bit of a nightmare. But it was my favorite part because I felt like I sort of got a little inside scoop into the episodes before everybody else did. So that would be my favorite. But it is nice listening to a, a beautifully edited episode where both of the audio files are put together. That's pretty nice, <laugh>.
Kate Winn 00:23:11 Well, thank you for doing all of the part that you did. And I know I've told some people, I just love the way the team has broken everything down with this podcast, because I don't have to do the parts that I don't really like. And one of those is the listening to myself. I know I've often texted you before, did I remember to ask such and such? Or did I use the right phrasing there? I don't remember. I could very easily go back and listen to my own audio file, but I don't like to. So thank you for, uh, for doing that for me. And I have the next question for you. So Sarah wants to know, una is structured literacy just for kindergarten to grade two. How does this apply to older students?
Una Malcolm 00:23:44 Great question, Sarah, because this is one that I think a lot of people are asking, uh, especially educators in those older grades of, of what does this mean for me in grade four, grade five, grade six, all the way on up. So I think it's worth just clarifying first and foremost that structured literacy is not just phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. It's not just focused on word reading. And it is not only applicable for K to two, uh, we know from, we know structured literacy is, is really a comprehensive approach. Uh, it addresses the different domains of language, all of which contribute to reading comprehension and effective communication and writing. And we know that it's not just what we teach, but it's how we teach it. We teach these, you know, language structures in a way that is explicit. It's systematic and sequential.
Una Malcolm 00:24:32 So I think when we think about what structured literacy looks like or could look like in, uh, in for older students, I think there's value in first and foremost just saying that tier one core instruction in, you know, what we would call an Ontario Junior or Intermediate grades structured literacy, very much is, is, is a, is something that should be incorporated. There are many different aspects, you know, thinking about vocabulary instruction, vocabulary is a huge contributor to reading comprehension for, for older students. If we think about syntax, I think syntax is sometimes forgotten or, or not necessarily given as much love as we might want to. Um, syntax is the conventions of how words and phrases and clauses, how they can be arranged. And syntax is so important for writing and reading comprehension. Thinking about that, you know, we need to teach students to unpack sentences.
Una Malcolm 00:25:22 It's not always clear to them because there can be really complex sentences found in the different texts that students will read across curriculum areas. We want them to be able to unpack those sentence structures and then also carry meaning across the sentences with cohesive ties. Uh, morphology becomes really important for older students. Thinking about those Greek combining forms are really important to support students in having that strong academic, uh, and technical subject specific vocabulary across different disciplines. And then writing, writing is such an important piece, uh, and I think we do tend to focus a lot on reading as we should. But, but as Lyn Stone mentioned, you know, writing, we really need to be looking closely and carefully at that, recognizing that we absolutely want to prioritize explicit instruction to support composition and text generation and writing. But then also that when students write about a topic or a text that they read, it actually is really supportive of their good idea knowledge and their reading comprehension.
Una Malcolm 00:26:26 Because if we think about it, to, to write about something, a student has to decide, you know, which content is most important, what is included and what's not. They have to organize their ideas into a really coherent whole. They have to, uh, reflect on their own understanding to assess for gaps. Are they fully communicating it? And then they need to synthesize their ideas into their own words. So I think really structured literacy is such a comprehensive approach that there really are so many elements that are still very much applicable for, for students in older grades. But then also since structured literacy is diagnostic, it does also involve meeting the needs of students where they're at. And for some students that does, that might mean phonemic awareness or phonics intervention, right? To support that word reading. Uh, we really wouldn't wanna see that necessarily whole group, uh, for older students in those grades. But for some their universal screening data, particularly through or oral reading fluency could uncover some indicators of having to go back in and fill gaps.
So that is, you know, it could be a consideration for some students, uh, in the older grades. And then Kate, I'll, I'll point one back to you. Um, and, you know, along that line of writing, actually, while our podcast is called Reading Road Trip, we do of course tackle all aspects of a high quality literacy program. So Cam actually wants to know what evidence-based writing instruction looks like in your kindergarten classroom.
Kate Winn 00:27:51 Excellent question. And right before I answer that, I just thought of something that goes with your last answer. I just did wanna mention that in our school last year, I did some co-teaching with a grade seven eight teacher, and we were using the DIBELS-8 assessment and then kind of basing instruction and intervention and all of that from there. So I mean, if you're in a K to eight school, certainly, you know, it applies right through there and, and into high school too. But, um, but yeah, we did find it very valuable even in that seven eight setting. But okay, back to evidence-based writing in kindergarten. So back in episode two, we had Dr.Sonia Cabell on the show, and she co-wrote a book called Literacy Learning for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers, Key Practices for Educators. And she wrote that with, um, with Wright, Duke and Souto-Manning.
Kate Winn 00:28:33 And in that book they break down writing, early writing into three components. So handwriting that kind of, you know, letter formation piece, the motor piece. Spelling, so knowing, you know, which letters to use, that whole sound spelling pattern part, and then composition, which is kind of about thinking of something to write and having to sort of create. So this certainly begins in the school setting in kindergarten and, and continues up and beyond. So I'll tell you a couple things I do for all three of those. So handwriting, um, so I do letter formation. We use the UFLI phonics program, and so we follow the order of their, the way they introduce the letters and sounds, and then we do the letter formation to correspond with that. I know there might be some, um, letter formation programs that you may get. They recommend a different order.
Kate Winn 00:29:18 And of course, you know, all professionals have good reasons for the order they're suggesting. I personally find in kindergarten, it's too hard to be following one order with your, your phonics instruction and following a different order for letter formation. So I just use the same, um, I just follow along the phonics program and we use sky grass ground templates in sheet protectors on clipboards and with dry erase markers at the carpet when they're first learning their letter formation. And then when we're doing any writing, you know, word chaining and, and things like that. And then also Printing Like a Pro, we use those sheets to, uh, you can Google that Printing Like a Pro. We use those worksheets as independent practice or, or supported practice for the kids to, uh, to practice their letter formation. I also found a really great, um, handwriting assessment that I can link to as well, where you actually sit with the child and you have them print a letter and you're actually watching how they're doing it.
Kate Winn 00:30:11 And then depending what prompt or what scaffold you have to give them, they get a certain amount of points and it kind of tells you where they are, which, which is really helpful. We know that handwriting is extremely important for, for many reasons when it comes to literacy in terms of the spelling piece. So which letters to use following a phonics scope and sequence. Really important for that. We do a lot of word chains. I like them being able to have that wipe off. I know some people are really, you know, really keen on kids just using paper and pencil and sitting properly at a desk and their feet are on the floor and all. And I, again, I totally get the professionals that have expertise in that area. I do find when teaching a large class and using the Smartboard and I don't have enough chairs and everything we, we make do, right, we do the best we can.
Kate Winn 00:30:52 And so being able to wipe off when word chaining to me is really helpful because when they're changing, you know, bat to mat, it's really helping them with that phonemic awareness piece that ties into the phonics changing one letter, one sound at a time. So I don't want them to, you know, have to completely rewrite the word when they’re word chaining in kindergarten. In terms of little spelling tests, we do those all the time. Some people don't like the word tests, but I feel like, you know, in kindergarten we're kind of establishing what they think a test is, and to them, a test is where they get to show what, you know, that's what some people call it as well, but it's not like old school spelling tests where you give a random list of words on Monday and they have to regurgitate them Friday and then forget them forever.
Kate Winn 00:31:30 This is about giving them words based on the spelling patterns that they have learned, the ones that you would expect them to be able to know without going home and studying them just based on instruction in class and looking at the results can really tell you a lot in terms of where the kids are at, um, with their, with their writing that way. And then composition, they're using everything that they've learned when they go to, if you do journals or if you have them writing about content areas, they're using estimated spelling. I love that expression because it's kind of like, you know, when you're a mathematician and you estimate, you're using all of the knowledge that you have to give the best possible answer. So it's not just randomly guessing, it's not kind of like a lazy thing. It's really, really important and, and good work for their brains to do that.
Kate Winn 00:32:12 And you expect them to correctly spell what they've learned. So in my class boat may be spelled b o t because we didn't do long vowels. They don't know oa, they're just doing the best they can, but they need to have the B and the T correct, because we've learned those and they should know them. So those are the parts that I would be encouraging them to fix. But the middle part is the estimate, which is good. The sound spelling wall we talked about earlier in this episode, I find my students in kindergarten use that a lot to, uh, to refer to when they know the sound that they want, but they need to find it on the wall. And then with composition two in kindergarten, there's only so much they're going to be able to independently write because of their limits with, uh, a whole bunch of different limits that they have at that phase.
Kate Winn 00:32:53 But you can start working on skills orally to help set them up for better writing down the line. So the Writing Revolution, for example, they have, um, you know, it goes from grades two or three up with a lot of, uh, a lot of ideas there, but for grade one they recommend starting the “because, but, so” sentences. And so I started doing those in kindergarten as well, even though it doesn't necessarily say kindergarten in the Writing Revolution, but we started doing those. So, you know, things like plants are like animals because plants are like animals, but, and so we're doing that orally to help 'em kind of, uh, build that, that writing. Um, the Syntax project out of Australia, they have amazing PowerPoints that, again, orally. So when you just have the group at the carpet and you're talking about a picture and you're talking about, you know, is, is this complete sentence, if I just say the boy, is that a complete sentence?
Kate Winn 00:33:45 If I just say swimming? Is that a complete sentence? No. And so they work on complete sentences and then you work on adding things to the sentence like where it takes place or when it takes place, and all of that. So they can start doing that orally before they can even do it in writing themselves. And you wanna make sure in kindergarten you have lots of opportunities for unstructured writing too, right? So, you know, a drama center and, and having a writing center, I find having all sorts of different supplies there too. The time I added a great big box of envelopes, I think was the most exciting day for them because it was just, they'd write anything on a piece of paper so that they could fold it up and put it in the envelope and stick it and then, you know, write somebody's name on the front. So all of those, you know, more playful and and center-based things can be helpful too. So lots of different things you can do in a kindergarten program for writing.
Una Malcolm 00:34:30 What a brilliant idea about envelopes. I I can absolutely see how that would be so, so motivating for, for our youngest writers. Absolutely. I'm going to, uh, I'm gonna give you another one, Kate. Okay. They're, we did get a lot of questions, including questions from Tess and Sheila about supporting colleagues who, who might still be entrenched in balanced literacy because that's what they were taught. Uh, you know, some colleagues might be seeing this move towards structured literacy as a pendulum swing, or they might believe that their students were reading just as well when they were taught with a different approach. Uh, and I know that that, you know, you've certainly been making huge changes in your, in your practice recently. How have you been supporting other colleagues when they're moving through this journey? What does that look like for you?
Kate Winn 00:35:18 I remember going to a conference, it was a Western New York literacy conference, and Tracy Weeden was speaking and she said something about influence from the middle, and she was talking to teachers, and teachers can definitely do that. So if you are an educator, you're in your class and you're thinking, I wanna help, I wanna motivate my colleagues, and you know, they're maybe not quite where, where I think they should be or I know they should be on this journey. I think leading by example is the first big thing. Like when you're in your room, you do what you know you should be doing, and then sometimes that kind of leaks out, right? The enthusiasm leaks out when you're sharing all your success stories when they see, you know, your kids work up in the hallway and they see what's going on, data can help too.
Kate Winn 00:36:01 Um, you know, maybe you're using Acadience or another universal screener and you're kind of showing before and after data and that colour coding, I find sometimes when I'm doing a presentation and I have sort of a before and after up on the board, sometimes there's like a gasp when people see, whoa, okay, that's what you can do with a good structured literacy program, which is important. I mean, these people are your colleagues, but if the time feels right, you can also gently correct misconceptions. So for example, some teachers may think, well, what I was doing before was working, so I'm just going to keep on doing it. And it might have looked like it was. Now, if you listen to episode four with Lindsay Kemeny she talked a bit about this as well, that when they're in kindergarten, if they're, you know, reading, I'm saying that with air quotes by, you know, following a predictable pattern and then just guessing based on whatever the picture is on that page, it looks like they're successful.
Kate Winn 00:36:52 And in some assessment systems like PM Benchmark or F&P BAS, you might think, oh, they're moving up to this level, they're moving up, you know, this number or this letter. So my kids are successful in reading, but what I would challenge them to think about is if you gave them that little book, you didn't tell them the title because most of the time the teacher is to give the title. If you didn't tell 'em the title, if you didn't say this is a story about the animals that boy sees at the farm. And if you covered the pictures, are they still reading that? Because if they're not, they're not reading. So sometimes it's just a false sense of something having been successful and it's the teachers down the line when the pictures start disappearing in grade two, that those teachers are the ones who see, okay, whatever they were doing isn't really working because they're looking to the sky, they're looking anywhere as opposed to, to looking at those words.
Kate Winn 00:37:43 So that part is important. We know there are kids who do pick up the code really easily without as much explicit instruction. So we really can't base what we know is good for all on those kind of high achievers who are honestly a little bit luckier. And I know my daughters were part of that group, which definitely gave me a skewed idea of what most kids need for successful reading. And I think it set me back, I think I would've figured things out sooner had that not been the case for them. I also think, you know, that expression, you have to put your money where your mouth is. I think you have to put your time where your mouth is too. And I know this year I gave up many, many, many preps. So I had prep on alternating days this year, double prep, alternating days, many double preps to go into other classes and to help with co-teaching, to help with assessments, to help with interventions and that sort of thing, because I wanted to, nobody made me, and I'm not complaining because, you know, in some cases I was asked, and in some cases I kind of got my foot in the door <laugh>, it just worked my way in.
Kate Winn 00:38:38 Um, and I'm so thankful to those colleagues that were open to that. But I think, you know, if you really, really wanna help, you might need to give some time that way, share your resources. So certainly, like I read this great book, nothing too heavy for the people who are new to things. I mean, Lindsay Kemeny’s 7 Mighty Moves is amazing. Um, the Art and Science of Teaching Primary Reading, another one that I mentioned earlier. So some of those sort of accessible, Know Better Do Better is another really accessible one or Reading for Life, that they can kind of start with. Links to webinars if it's something really specific for them, if they're the kindergarten teacher and you saw a great kindergarten webinar, right? Whatever you think might be helpful that you can share and also talk to your administration, never of course about other colleagues, but about wanting to help and support as a whole.
Kate Winn 00:39:21 So you could ask about doing mini presentations or offering lunch and learns whether the admin is willing to purchase resources like decodables for multiple classes that then you could talk to the staff about and that sort of thing. There are a lot of ways that you can sort of do that leadership from right within the building and you know, still having those positive relationships with your colleagues, but helping them, you know, as best you can. And it's a great question and I admire anybody who kind of wants to get that ball rolling.
Okay. Una, next question for you. So yes, okay. Sandra has a question. Teachers at my school are looking for advice on how to implement the new language curriculum effectively. Any tips or suggestions for those who are on board with the shift but don't know where to start? So can you tell us a little bit about the new curriculum and then what do you have for Sandra?
Una Malcolm 00:40:10 Yes. So we have a new language curriculum in Ontario. And for any listeners who might not be Ontario based, I'll clarify the terms because I've learned that this is something where we use the same word, but we often mean different things. So in Ontario, curriculum actually means our standards, it would not be in reference to a teaching material, like curriculum might be used in other contexts. So we have new standards, they are newly updated, and there are many changes including a focus on applications of literacy, transferable skills, Indigenous connections, digital media, and a new foundations of language strand with specific expectations and guidance on foundational language and literacy skills, phonemic awareness, phonics, morphology, vocabulary fluency, syntax, language conventions. So there are there are some changes. And we are really excited to announce that IDA Ontario has partnered with Dyslexia Canada to build a standalone website for teacher supports with funding support from the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Una Malcolm 00:41:17 So Kate and I are recording this episode in August, and as we are recording this episode, we are hard at work building out the site, but by the time you're listening to this episode, the site will be live. So we really would love for you to hop over and take a look. It's at www.onlit.org. And we're just so thrilled about what we can offer educators with this free site. We have lots of learning modules on the go. We will have areas of the website where we can focus on unpacking some of the curriculum documents and giving some support to educators with those curriculum documents. We have a searchable resource library, and it's linked and organized by curriculum expectation. So educators can go and look for a resource to support them with a specific standard or curriculum expectation. We'll host live learning throughout the school year on this website, webinars, PLCs, and book studies.
Una Malcolm 00:42:16 And we're really excited that we can have an ask the expert area of it where people can go and ask questions and get support with any questions they have. We're just so excited that this wonderful opportunity is available to us and we're so excited to be able to support educators in Ontario. The website is totally free. We'll be adding to it across the school year. And I believe it will be accessible for educators outside of Ontario if you're not in Ontario and you're listening because it is a hundred percent free. So Sandra, I would say the long and the short of it is I would highly recommend checking out onlit.org because I think that, I hope that, I think and I hope that will be a very helpful support for educators in Ontario with the new curriculum.
And Kate, are you ready for the question that just about everybody wants to know?
Kate Winn 00:43:06 Oh yes please.
Una Malcolm 00:43:07 You ready for this? Okay, here's the big question. Will there be a season two of Reading Road Trip? Please answer that question.
Kate Winn 00:43:15 Okay, drum roll please. Yes, we are going to do a season two. So Una and I are contemplating possibilities working out logistics. We do have one really exciting piece that is in the works possibly for season two or even season three, we don't know quite yet. Um, but what we're trying to decide right now, we're looking at things like, do we do season two as a winter season and then season three would be a summer season and kind of alternate like that. Is it better to just do summer seasons, perhaps when educators have more time to listen? If you have feedback, we would love to hear that from you. If it was something during the school year, would you prefer, you know, kind of alternating weeks or does it really matter because you just download and listen whenever you like? We definitely want to make sure we're doing what is best for you as the listeners and what you think would be helpful for you as this next school year rolls out.
Kate Winn 00:44:05 So we are absolutely planning season two. We've drafted lists of our wishlist for guests and that sort of thing, ut there's no point doing this if it's not valuable for the listeners. So all of you, please if you have any feedback on that, what you would like for season two and timing and, and things like that, please do reach out and we will definitely take that into consideration as we plan moving forward.
Alright, Una, that brings us to the end of our Ask Us Anything. Now, we did not get to every question. There were some that just weren't quite a fit for this episode and some that we just tried to combine so that we didn't make this a three hour long finale, but, we answered as best as we could and tried to cover a variety and trying to hit, different divisions and different roles and that sort of thing to answer the most burning questions out there. So, Una, thank you so much for being the guest, but even more than that, thank you for being my, my partner in podcasting and it was a pleasure to have this conversation with you today,
Una Malcolm 00:45:06 Right back at you. Thanks for having me and thank you for everything you have done to make Reading Roadtrip so fabulous, and I'm looking forward to next season.
Kate Winn 00:45:17 Show notes for this episode with all the links and information you need can be found at podcast.idaontario.com. And you have been listening to episode 10, Ask Us Anything with Una Malcolm. And now it's time for that typical end of the podcast call to action for the very last time this season. If you enjoyed this episode of Reading Road Trip, we'd love it if you could rate and or review it in your podcast app as this is extremely helpful for a podcast. And of course, we always welcome any social media love you feel inspired to spread as well. Feel free to tag IDA Ontario and me. My handle is thismomloves on Twitter and Facebook and Katethismomloves on Instagram. Make sure you're following the Reading Road Trip podcast in your app and watch for season two to drop soon. We couldn't bring Reading Roadtrip to you without behind the scenes support from Katelyn Hanna, Brittany Haynes and Melinda Jones at IDA Ontario. I'm Kate Winn and along with my co-producer Una Malcolm, we hope that this episode and this entire season of Reading Road Trip have made your path to evidence-based literacy instruction just a little bit clearer and a lot more fun. Join us next time in season two when we bring more fabulous guests along for the ride on Reading Road Trip.