Penny Slater & Kathy Roe talk about the amazing impact of teaching prosody: An Interview by Dr. Sam Bommarito
My regular readers know I am a huge fan of Tim Rasinski. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on teaching reading. I always encourage my readers to become aware of his ideas LINK, LINK, LINK. This past week I had the pleasure of interviewing two teachers from England. They work for HFL Education. HFL Education is the largest school company in the UK. It provides school improvement and business support products and services that enable schools, academies, and educational settings to deliver a great education. In this interview, Penny and Kathy talk about how they used Tim Rasinski’s prosody work to help students do more than just read with their eyes. They help students to read with prosody. That means they become readers who read with their eyes, ears, mind and heart. Penny and Kathy turn the usual ideas about teaching prosody on their head. Instead of waiting for readers to become fluent before teaching prosody, they teach students prosody skills early on. They’ve found doing so has had amazing results with the student’s reading comprehension and fluency. They have seen more than 1 ½ years of growth in comprehension/fluency in just eight weeks of small group instruction.
Listen carefully to the interview to gain some of their many insights about effective ways to improve fluency and comprehension. It’s done using what is often called the missing element of reading instruction. That element is the early direct and explicit teaching of prosody.
Here is some information about Penny and Kathy and their background:
Here is a link to the YouTube interview:
Here are the Talking Points and Questions from the interview:
More information about HFL:
HFL Education is the largest school company in the UK. We are a leading provider of school improvement and business support products and services that enable schools, academies, and educational settings to deliver a great education. Homepage LINK.
Accessing Project Training:
Our next training event takes place on 2nd October 2023. This training is fully remote. Don’t worry if you cannot attend the live training webinars: a recording of the sessions will be made available to all delegates who have booked a place and will be accessible for two weeks after the live webinars have taken place.
This CPD event will provide an overview of the transformational teaching strategies skilfully woven throughout the HFL Reading Fluency Project, including modelled expressive reading, echo reading, repeated reading, performance reading, text marking, challenging text selection and modelling of comprehension skills.
About HFL Education’s Reading Fluency Project:
HFL Education’s Reading Fluency Project is designed to support struggling readers to make swift progress towards reaching age-related expectations. The transformational teaching strategies used in the project are based on a combination of well-evidenced methods, including:
- modelled expert prosody
- repeated reading
- echo reading
- text marking
- performance reading
- modelled comprehension
Average 17 months progress in reading comprehension age;
Pupils gained an average increase in reading accuracy of 11 months.
Watch the transformation of one of our KS1 project pupils here.
Average 2 years and 3 months progress in reading comprehension;
Pupils gained an average increase in reading accuracy of 13 months.
Links to more information about HFL Education’s KS1 and KS2 Reading Fluency Project
Who to contact to find out more:
My thoughts about this interview
This week I’ve been telling many of my literacy friends that I am blown away by the work being done in this project. One of my takeaways has to do with kids I’ve called the forgotten children of the reading debate. Those children are the Word Callers LINK, LINK. As Penny and Kathy described how many of the children they work with were reading at the beginning of the project, I thought to myself, those children from the project are classic word callers. They can read the isolated words quite accurately. But they break down when it comes to reading text that is sentence length or longer. They decode but don’t remember. Yet after doing activities like those listed below, their reading got measurably better in just eight short weeks. Here are some things the HFL program provides during small group instruction:
At conferences, I am often asked what teachers can do for the older reader who is not progressing. My answer now is to use research-based methods like HFL is using. BTW these methods work with younger children too. I also think that one size fits all/phonics first schemes don’t provide the children the skill set they need to read (instead of decode). Even after years of synthetic phonics (the flagship of the SOR fleet), many of these children in England are not reading with prosody and comprehension. That is a red flag. Perhaps beginning reading programs need to take a long hard look at HFL’s success and revise their very beginning reading programs accordingly. Perhaps it’s time to include the missing link of prosody instruction in all of our literacy programs.
In the next few weeks, I will continue to do interviews. Next week I will be interviewing Dr. George G. Hruby. His video about the Science of Reading went viral LINK. He just co-authored a journal article on the topic of legislating phonics LINK. Coming soon will be an interview with a former colleague (we taught together for almost two decades). She’s written some interesting children’s books. She loves science, and her books reflect that. I continue to prepare for my talk with P.D. Pearson. All in all, it’s going to be a very busy and productive end of the summer. So until next week:
Happy Reading and Writing.
Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, the guy in the middle taking flak from all sides)
Copyright 2023 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely this author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.