Taranganba Way of Reading
“In Year Three I wasn’t that good at reading but my reading has really improved. My fluency has improved the most because I read to an adult every day and I have to read aloud. This practice has really helped as well as an adult asking me to stop, they themselves read it and then I read again. I’m including more words in my writing.” Ava, Year 5, Taranganba State School[i]
- Learn how one school is using a reading strategy to build students’ love of reading, equipping them with essential skills for work and life.
- Find out how to adopt the same model in your school and more about the High Reliability Literacy Procedures by using the links and references at the end of this case study.
- Watch the ALL Reading video to see the program in practice.
The ALL Case Studies are practical examples of how joy and data can come together in learning. Inspired by the inaugural Australian Learning Lecture, delivered by Sir Michael Barber, the ALL Case Studies examine how data gathered through the use of diagnostic tools in real learning experiences provides greater insight into how each student learns. Data enables educators to help learners find joy in learning, to flourish and tackle life’s opportunities.
Data, far from being in opposition to joy is an important ingredient in it. Sir Michael Barber, Australian Learning Lecture, 21 May 2015, www.all-learning.org.au.
What is the problem?
We live in a world that increasingly relies on our capacity to read, and we are facing a future that demands that our young people will be digitally literate and equipped with enterprise skills, such as critical thinking and collaborative problem solving. Yet it is estimated that 10-16% of 5 to 16-year-olds in Australia have reading difficulties such as dyslexia or inadequate comprehension skills.[ii]
For Katrina Jones, Acting Principal at Taranganba State School, a regional school in Yeppoon, Queensland, the problem for her students was evident. In 2011 NAPLAN data showed that Year 3 Reading levels at Taranganba were below the State and National Mean. The school has 686 students, including 7% indigenous students and 7.3% students with a verified disability, and a further 10% identified under the Disability Discrimination Act, with most families falling into the low to middle socio-economic bracket. While the school’s goal was for all students to be performing at or above the National Mean, the school realised that their reading strategies were not making enough of a difference.
Associate Professor John Munro says that “students who have difficulty converting written information to knowledge are at a severe disadvantage in world of the twenty first century.”[iii] For those students who have not built a strong base in reading skills in the early years, the problem is exacerbated by late primary and early secondary school when there is an increasing focus on self-managed learning and a need to access a range of information sources.[iv]
The school leaders at Taranganba knew that they needed to find a more effective approach to reading, and one that would provide a solid foundation for all their students.
How did the Taranganba Way of Reading start?
In November 2013 Taranganba State School began working with John Munro, to implement his High Reliability Literacy Procedures (HRLTPs). John was engaged by the Capricorn Coast Cluster, a group of eight primary schools. The High Reliability Literacy Procedures are a set of explicit literacy teaching procedures that teachers in all subject areas could use to enhance students' literacy knowledge.
Taranganba set an improvement agenda with three aims: to create a culture of engaging learning that improves achievement for all students with challenging learning experiences that develop reading across the curriculum; to develop professional practice; and, to improve school performance to ensure better outcomes for students.
Working with John Munro, teachers and leaders learnt more about how children learn to read; and then a team of Literacy Leaders worked intensively with John to develop models of practice which could be used across the school. This approach focussed on strategies that enabled students to construct meaning from texts, with an emphasis on strategies that must be planned, deliberate and explicit.
Initially, the school used funding from the Greater Results Guarantee (2014 - 2015) and Investing for Success (2016 - 2017) to place additional staff in the Years 1, 2 and 3 classrooms so that the reading processes could be embedded. The following year the funding continued, so the program expanded to include all year levels – Prep to Year 6. Teachers’ aides, mainly recruited from the school’s families, were trained in the Taranganba Way of Reading with the two-fold benefit of increasing learning in the classroom and broadening understanding of this approach across the school community. Now a common language for reading is used across the school, by students, parents, and teachers.
How does the Taranganba Way of Reading help?
The US-based National Reading Panel was asked to review all the research available (more than 100,000 reading studies) on how children learn to read and determine the most effective evidence-based methods for teaching children to read. In 2000 the panel reported that the best approaches to teaching reading includes: explicit instruction in phonemic awareness; systematic phonics instruction; methods to improve fluency; and, ways to enhance comprehension.[v]
The High Reliability Literacy Procedures reflect this research with a clear sequence and structure for learning reading. At Taranganba the program is now embedded into the teaching sequence for each week. Lauren McDonald, a teacher at Taranganba, explains that students know there is a clear structure to the week and they know the expectations for reading sessions. Strategies such as ‘Getting Knowledge Ready’ are implemented every Monday in every classroom, and applied across the curriculum. Lauren can see that this skill of recoding students’ non-verbal knowledge into verbal form prepares students to build their vocabulary and deepen their comprehension in all subject areas.
Teachers’ aides are timetabled into classrooms to enable smaller reading groups. An additional benefit is that students see familiar faces in their reading sessions, and have the opportunity to build a strong rapport and shared love of reading with that adult. Katrina recounts how one teachers’ aide asked to remain with a particular group for an additional week, because the group hadn’t quite finished a book which they all enjoyed, and they wanted to share the pleasure of the ending together. The work of these small reading groups enables students to discuss the text, pose questions and unpack unfamiliar words in context. The school is seeing real gains in students’ acquisition of vocabulary.
How is data useful?
“What started as a plan for how a guided reading lesson needed to be taught across all year levels then became more powerful, around collecting data about our students, and teachers working together looking at student data and working out the next steps to improve teacher practice and student outcomes” explains Katrina Jones. A whole school scope and sequence was developed, with data collected and analysed by teachers every five weeks. The school has developed their own reading reviews, based on John Munro’s work. These reviews are used every five weeks and give teachers the data to review what has been learned and therefore what strategies need further teaching and consolidation.
All teachers from a year level are released from playground duty to meet in teams to analyse student data and work samples and plan future actions. Katrina explains that “data used to be ‘done’ to the teachers. Now our teachers ‘own’ the data. They check whether the data is matching their observations; they focus on student growth. Importantly they use the data to look at hot topics – how do we extend the top readers? How do we support this group? Are our students applying new vocabulary in their writing?” She notes a real shift in teachers’ attitudes towards data, and they see it as a way to celebrate student growth.
“Student data is bringing joy to learning” Katrina continues. “Importantly we have questioned what we value, and as a consequence the assessment schedule has been pared back. We have asked: What data do you really value? Which is the data with which you engage?”
The evidence so far
The impact of the Taranganba Way of Reading is impressive, but at its simplest Katrina explains it as this – “Our students love reading. They get to talk with an adult – read, unpack, and make connections. They are building a love of words”. Lauren adds “They absolutely love it. I’ve seen a growth in confidence. We have given the kids tools to use in other subject areas, and we can see them using new vocabulary in writing and speech.”
The data supports this school’s adoption of the Taranganba Way of Reading. In 2015 97% of students made a positive gain, with 60% of students at or above expected gain. There is an expected effect size of 0.8 but the Taranganba cohort effect size was 1.15, with 68% of students at or above expected effect size gain. In 2016, Year 3 NAPLAN Reading results show that they are comparable to the National Mean. 41.7% of the Year 3 students were in the upper two bands for reading, compared with 25% in 2015 (an increase of 16.7%). In Writing, 56% of the Year 3 students were in the upper two bands, compared to 41.3% in 2015. The TORCH assessment of Year 4 reading shows that there has been an increase of 23.8% of students in Stanines 8 and 9 (the top two levels), from 3.6% in Term 4 2015 to 27.4% in Term 4 2015.
Teachers are reporting greater confidence in their knowledge of evidence-based teaching and learning practices, and their ability to apply this knowledge. Teachers feel students are engaged with reading and they enjoy an improved relationship with students, better behaviour through student engagement in learning and a growing love of reading.
“We have learnt the value of consistency of practice, applying a scope and sequence to the whole school. This has been shaped by guided practice, literacy leaders modelling and demonstrating, peer observation and feedback and sharing of best practice. Our teacher aides have all come from our parent body. They are very skilled and have enriched this program enormously. They are skilling up other parents, by sharing the language and practices of this program. The meta-language is now widely embraced by our parent community, and this is having real benefits for our students” explains Katrina. Through this consistent approach we are able to celebrate the gains for every student.”
Aside from the commitment of time to work with John Munro, and the decision to direct teachers’ aide resources to reading, the school has largely worked within its existing resources, with considerable gains for the students. As Katrina says, “There’s no rocket science with what we’re doing. It’s around consistency, it’s around teamwork, it’s around teaching students how to think and how to learn.”
High Reliability Literacy Teaching Procedures
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). National Reading Panel. Available at https://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/supported/Pages/nrp.aspx
Munro, John. (2002) High Reliability Literacy Teaching Procedures: A means of fostering literacy learning across the curriculum. Available at https://students.education.unimelb.edu.au/selage/pub/readings/literacyld/art_VATE_02.pdf
Munro, John. Leading literacy learning: Some key questions to guide the leadership. Available at https://students.education.unimelb.edu.au/selage/pub/readings/leadprof/Leading%20improved%20literacy%20teaching-SLTs.pdf
Munro, John. (2016). ‘Schools need advice on how to help students with reading difficulties’ in The Conversation. Available at http://theconversation.com/schools-need-advice-on-how-to-help-students-w...
Thanks: Katrina Jones, Lauren McDonald, Brooke Driscoll, John Munro, Andy Drewitt
Author: Eleanor Bridger
[i] Quoted in Taranganba State School Showcase Submission.
[ii] Munro, John. (2016). ‘Schools need advice on how to help students with reading difficulties’ in The Conversation. Available at http://theconversation.com/schools-need-advice-on-how-to-help-students-w...
[iii] Munro, John. (2002) High Reliability Literacy Teaching Procedures: A means of fostering literacy learning across the curriculum. Available at https://students.education.unimelb.edu.au/selage/pub/readings/literacyld/art_VATE_02.pdf
[iv] Munro, John. (2002) High Reliability Literacy Teaching Procedures: A means of fostering literacy learning across the curriculum. Available at https://students.education.unimelb.edu.au/selage/pub/readings/literacyld/art_VATE_02.pdf
[v] Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). National Reading Panel. Available at https://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/supported/Pages/nrp.aspx