Barbara Brann: building blocks for early literacy.

I attended a course in Dunedin today, courtesy of the RTLB service. It focussed on building blocks for early literacy and building up the pillars needed for successful literacy. It focussed on five key areas: printing (concepts of print), talking (oracy), looking (visual), moving (motor), listening (auditory).

These form the foundations of successful literacy, and help students to get ‘curriculum ready.’ A significant emphasis of the day was taking the child as where they are, not calling them below etc. They are where they are.

Learning was frequently related to swimming. If you had a child in the swimming pool you don’t just drop the kid in the deep end and hope they learn. You take them where they are at and put those foundations in place.

Overall: a great day, well worth the trip and the time away from class, an engaging speaker who lined up with Yolanda Soryl’s work. I learnt a lot.

I will follow up with more at a later date, but evening is nigh so I shall sign off for now.

BMB youtube powerpoint summary
Website for purchasing resources


The assessment-capable teacher: Are we all on the same page?

The assessment-capable teacher: Are we all on the same page? Booth, Hill & Dixon. Assessment Matters 6: 2014

What is an assessment-capable teacher and what is an assessment-capable student?

  • An assessment-capable teacher differentiates from an assessment-literate teacher in that they can engender student agency & ability to assess themselves.
  • “The distinguishing factor is the expectation that teachers will encourage students to feel deeply accountable for their own progress and support them to become motivated, effective, self-regulating learners.” p.140
  • AFL (assessment for learning) often fails to engage the learner.
  • An assessment-literate individual knows what is being assessed and why. This does not increase the agency of the learner.
  • Assessment capable: Students’ own assessment capability is at the hear of the process.
  • “Currently, many decisions about assessment are made for students by adults (Absolum et al., 1009), with student involvement being either infrequent or involving “low-stakes” activities. The realisation of the assessment capable student will require norms of behaviour which encourage student autonomy and enable student agency during learning. This reflects Sadler’s suggestion that there should be explicit provision for students to acquire evaluative and productive knowledge and skills, with the goal of facilitating “The transition from feedback to self-monitoring” (1989, p. 122).”  p.140
  • The assessment-capable teacher helps students understand what quality is: teachers share their understanding through use of criteria/descriptors and models.
  • The assessment-capable teacher helps students develop their metacognitive skills to effectively evaluate their own work. Think about learning and discuss. It is essential that people see mistakes as an opportunity for growth.
  • “2 major aspects of self-reflection: first, self-appraisal, whereby learners review and evaluate their abilities, knowledge states, and cognitive strategies; and second, self-management, where learners monitor and regulate their behaviour and planning, correct mistakes, and use fix-up strategies. Thus, self-reflection requires both through and action. Aligned with the ability to do these things, for both student and teacher, is also the motivation to do so.” p.143
  • The assessment-capable teacher helps students to learn strategies to modify their own work.
  • Connect three learning strategies to modify their own work:Explicit teaching and provision of time. Students need to learn to critically appraise their work.
  • peer assessment (requires explicit teaching): identify if task specification met, overall quality and then back it up with reference to criteria – otherwise wrong feedback will be given.
  • Referencing to actual exemplars is better.

Bear in mind, you need to have background understanding when implementing new ideas. A system of support is needed alongside teachers taking research and applying it.

Using annotations to inform an understanding of achievement standards

Using annotations to inform an understanding of achievement standards. Adie & Willis  Assessment Matters 6: 2014

“In practice, rather than being transparent, standards without exemplification can be quite opaque.” p.113

The article was written and based on work with year 6 & year 2 classroom teachers in Queensland, Australia.

  • Annotating exemplars prior to teaching enables better clarity of what to focus teaching on.
  • Use exemplars allows you to overcome assessment differences.
  • Annotate to develop a shared understanding for planning.
  • Create an exemplar and annotate to show aspects of importance.
  • Get students to annotate their own exemplars.
  • After discussion compare your annotations to National exemplars – reveal the variance in expectation.
  • Doing annotations as part of the process clarifies evidence for each standard.


  • Backward mapping: start with the assessment task when planning. This also helps clarify what evidence will look like.
  • Create a task which students will have to match their work to a criteria or criteria to a supplied exemplar
  • Create portfolios to guide moderations.
  • This can help when justifying decisions to parents.

Use of annotation – i.e. writing down rather than just talking – can help you focus on what to teach and learn and to identify specific examples of what you say a student can do.

Working for positive outcomes?

Working for positive outcomes? The standards – curriculum alignment for Learning Languages and its reception by teachers.  Martin East. Assessment Matters 6: 2014

Though aimed at the NZ secondary NCEA assessments, this article carries some ideas that can be practically transferred to the primary sector.

  • The NZC  is a learner centred experiential model where learning occurs through experience and co-construction.
  • E-portfolios should be a place where students can submit work they are happiest with.
  • When formally assessing work, get students to select the three best examples of their work rather than just summarily assessing them.

Summary – Singaporean teachers’ views of classroom assessment

Assessment matters 6: 2014 p.34-64.

  • Singaporean teachers’ views of classroom assessment.
  • Assessment is cultural and not easily transferable.
  • Teachers first need to know their views of classroom assessment.
  • Should be holistic.
  • Q: viewpoints can be subjective and can be communicative. Designed to explore “Subjective perceptions of groups of individuals.Easy Blog Photo