Case Study: Apollo Parkways Primary School, Victoria
Apollo Parkways Primary School in Greensborough, Victoria introduced the Little Learners Love Literacy® (LLLL) program in Term 1, 2021. Assistant Principal Michelle Sanders shares how the program has transformed her school so far – one year after implementation.
Why did you decide to implement Little Learners Love Literacy®?
After investigating and researching the science of reading, we had further discussions about how we could make changes to our early literacy program and the possibility of introducing Little Learners Love Literacy®. I was lucky enough to speak to Little Learners creator Maureen Pollard, who was very generous with her time and answered questions we had about Little Learners Love Literacy® and the impact that it could have across our whole school.
Our initial questions included: Can you explain the teaching sequence and lesson structure? What if children come to school already being able to read? How does the explicit teaching program relate to the Victorian Curriculum?
Our core business is to provide students with the best skills and opportunities to succeed in their future life. After speaking to Maureen, I felt that LLLL would be an opportunity for growth (for students, teachers and families) – provide students with the best start to their educational journey at Apollo Parkways Primary School.
Term 4, 2020 was a massive term of learning for our teachers. We held staff information sessions not only for the Prep and Grade One teachers, but also for the whole staff. These sessions focused on the science of reading research and the impact LLLL would have across the school. All our Prep and Grade One teachers completed two days of LLLL Professional Learning. This also included myself (Assistant Principal) & our Learning Specialist who oversees LLLL within the Prep and Grade One teams.
We spent time resourcing LLLL super packs for all 10 classrooms. It was important for teachers to have all the resources they required to implement LLLL. Every grade was supplied with a super pack and a partner class (Prep/Grade One) to share sets with.
Home–school partnerships are vital in any school. As we had a number of families with children in older grades at the school, we knew that they had expectations about what Prep/Grade One ‘reading’ looked like. During Prep transition meetings we informed parents that we would be concentrating on a Systematic Synthetic Phonics approach to teach reading. We made sure they were aware that there would be further parent information sessions, letters home, and opportunities to ask questions about the change of practice.
This was a big undertaking for the school and with any change there was some trepidation.
Teachers, like students, were entering 2021 with various levels of understanding of and engagement with LLLL, but all were willing to give the program the best chance of succeeding. It took time for teachers to adjust - we approached the transition one step at a time.
The teams did a remarkable job considering we were going through a global pandemic and extensive periods of remote teaching and learning.
What has success looked like?
The impact in our first year has been HUGE!!! As the teachers became more familiar and confident with the planning, they were able to target their explicit teaching and refine the pace of their lessons. Our students have reaped the rewards …
Our 2021 LLARS data shows student learning growth in a challenging pandemic year. Students have progressed through the stages of the LLLL program at an encouraging pace.
- Prep progressed from 7.5% of students at Stage 6 and above in June to 40% of the cohort at Stage 6 or above in October.
- Grade One progressed from 21% of students at Stage 7.1 or above in June to 86% of students at Stage 7.1 or above in October.
Please note that due to Covid lockdown, we assessed the students when we returned to school to ensure we were targeting our teaching at the appropriate level.
We have had positive feedback from our parents who hear the progress as their child’s reading skills develop along with their confidence and joy in being able to read. Students are extremely proud of their achievements, especially when they demonstrate their reading and writing skills to their families.
The biggest challenge during the transition to the LLLL program was the amount of change faced by teachers – especially through the Covid-19 pandemic. We are lucky to have the most amazing team of teachers who have taken on board and delivered LLLL with fidelity. Due to this, we are seeing students become confident and competent readers. Our dedicated team of teachers have ensured that we have hit the ground running with LLLL in 2022.
Our advice to other schools…
Schools need to set themselves up for success by ensuring:
- teachers are fully trained,
- families are informed of the evidence-based approach LLLL
- teachers have time to discuss and plan together before implementation, along with regular scheduled weekly planning time,
- ALL resources are available to deliver the program in its entirety.
To enable this, leadership support and understanding is vital.
Case Study: New Gisborne Primary School, Victoria
New Gisborne Primary School in Victoria introduced the Little Learners Love Literacy® (LLLL) program in 2018 after poor prep literacy results in 2017. Literacy Coordinator and Intervention Teacher Lisa Bellman Ansell shares how the program transformed her school’s results.
"Our disappointing literacy results were the catalyst for change," said Lisa. "Having done a lot of research into best reading instruction, I chose to implement LLLL into our P-1 curriculum, as it is an all-encompassing literacy program.
We could no longer leave reading to chance."
Lisa said the LLLL program works for her school because it's "easy to follow, it’s engaging for the students, and it addresses the six components of effective reading instruction. It is a systematic, synthetic phonics approach and it has matching decodable readers, so that students are able to apply the skills taught in context. Plus our students love the program! LLLL is engaging; it is a multisensory learning program that includes activities like craft, cooking, singing and dancing. It’s extremely rewarding to see that we’ve made a real difference in the lives of our students."
Join Lisa Bellman Ansell at a Little Learners Love Literacy® workshop to find out how to teach Little Learners Love Literacy® with fidelity. Lisa will elaborate on how New Gisborne changed their teaching approach to build a firm foundation in reading, writing and spelling.
Case Study: St Joseph's Primary School Northcote, Victoria
St Joseph’s Primary School Northcote in Victoria introduced the Little Learners Love Literacy® (LLLL) program in 2018. Literacy Coordinator and Year 1 teacher Olivia Durnan shares how the program transformed her school’s results.
“At St Joseph’s we centre our teaching around an evidence-based learning approach. In 2017 our leadership team began to evaluate our practice across all curriculum areas to ensure we were providing our students with the tools and strategies to achieve their learning goals.
Our research pointed us in the direction of phonics-based instruction, which we had seen implemented successfully in other schools. We chose the Little Learners Love Literacy® phonics program as we felt it best encompassed reading, writing, and spelling. We began using LLLL with our Prep students in 2018 and progressed to using Stage 7 with our Year 1 students in 2019.
What does success look like?
We have seen considerable improvement in our reading, writing, and spelling results in our junior classes. In the past, we had some students who felt reluctant to write for fear of making mistakes. Our students now feel confident in their ability to succeed and relish the opportunity to write down their ideas and understandings in all areas of learning.
The graph below highlights our school’s improved NAPLAN results. It shows an improvement in our Year 3 spelling results between the students who had not been exposed to the LLLL program (2017, 2018, 2019) and the 2021 Year 3s who were our first Prep cohort to begin using the program in 2018.
St Joseph’s NAPLAN Year 3 – Spelling (2017-2021)
*NAPLAN testing did not occur in 2020 due to COVID-19
We had some initial challenges with parents expecting take-home readers that looked and progressed like the predictable texts their older siblings had once read. To encourage parents to use appropriate strategies and ask meaningful questions when reading with their children, we held information sessions and sent home correspondence to support families in what to expect from the LLLL program. An unexpected silver lining of remote learning in 2020 was increased parent exposure to the program. Many parents commented that they felt more connected with their child’s learning and how they were excited themselves for the next sound to be revealed each week.
What worked for us
For other schools looking to implement the LLLL program, I highly recommend committing to following the program with fidelity, be sure to make time for all the components and complete them regularly. For us, that meant transitioning from separate reading and writing sessions to a combined 'Literacy Block'. Each week, students engaged with ‘Sound Box’, ‘Sound & Write’, ‘Let’s Write’ and at least two ‘Let’s Spell’ sessions. Incorporating this routine, and a variety of enjoyable games and activities into our literacy block, allowed the students to revise their existing knowledge and learn and apply new skills. This helped solidify students’ reading and writing skills.
We also purchased enough decodable readers for each child to be able to take decodable books home. We removed all predictable readers from our Junior Literacy Program and while initially it was challenging to put resources aside, we felt it was important to be consistent with home-reading. As with all change, you may experience some resistance when transitioning to a phonics-based program, but it won’t last long as the evidence speaks for itself!”
Westgarth Primary School in Victoria have used Little Learners Love Literacy® for tier 1 instruction for several years.
In 2016 LLLL conducted two formative assessments in order to see whether Little Learners Love Literacy® is an effective whole classroom approach. At Westgarth Primary 75% of Prep students were reading at LLLL Stage 7. Students could discuss the different sounds the grapheme 'y' represents at the end of one-syllable and two-syllable words - a great achievement!
Watch Jo Wheeler, the principal of Westgarth Primary School talk about the impact Little Learners Love Literacy has had in her school. Jo's team continue work hard to implement the program with fidelity.
Case Study: Barnier Public School, New South Wales
Melissa Vasram is Deputy Principal Instructional Leader at Barnier Public School in Quakers Hill, New South Wales.
Her school implemented Little Learners Love Literacy® (LLLL) in 2019 following the release of decodable book funding for Kindergarten in her state.
Why did you decide to implement Little Learners Love Literacy®?
We began using LLLL in 2019, when we received our Kindergarten funding*, which was used to purchase our first set of LLLL decodable books. At this point we also began implementing the LLLL program within our kindergarten classrooms. We began our journey on researching and learning about the science of reading (SoR) through professional learning.
In 2020, I trialled LLLL in my stage 1 classroom. I opened my doors to some fellow teachers and shared my data – the student success and student engagement was evident. Everything pieced together like a puzzle. I then had a few more teachers who willingly trialled the program and joined us on our SoR journey. A group of executives, presented a parent information session to our parents to inform them on the way we now teach reading across K-2.
In 2021, we facilitated LLLL and school-based professional learning to equip teachers with the skills and knowledge of LLLL. Grades 1/2 began implementing LLLL within their classrooms. We wanted to make sure our students were fully equipped with alphabetic code knowledge moving forward into Grade 3. Now in 2022, we recognise that we are still very much on our journey to successfully implementing LLLL and the SoR. However, I do believe our journey so far has been full of success and growth.
*in 2019 the NSW Department of Education gave schools $50 per Grade K student for purchasing decodable books. In 2021 the department also purchased sets of Little Learners Love Literacy® decodable books for every NSW public school.
What has success looked like?
Success for us looks like:
- Students not guessing the words but applying phoneme knowledge to decode and encode words.
- Reading fluency and automaticity – students quickly and efficiently decoding words.
- All teachers on board our journey. It has taken some time, but we got there in the end. All K-2 teachers are teaching LLLL within their classrooms. The teachers are talking about student growth and attainment and sharing their success.
Success has been evident through our data (even through the COVID pandemic and periods of home learning). Teachers have a class data wall, in which they track and monitor their students’ growth. At Barnier we have a K and 1/2 data wall in the staff room, which displays student LLARS data. This display is often a focal point of discussion and recognition of our success.
Our LLARS data in 2021 has shown:
• At the end of Grade K 76% of students had mastered the simple alphabetic code. 54% met or exceeded the Little Learners Foundation benchmark for reading.
• At the end of Grade 1 88% of students were working at stage 7 and 70% met or exceeded the Little Learners Year 1 benchmark for reading.
Success is also evident with our NAP and EAL/D students. Students who have had no prior English language skills are now achieving stage expectations by the end of the year of engaging in explicit systematic LLLL lessons!
The cost of the resources was a challenge that we had to deal with. Being such a big school, we decided that we would start small and share the resources, but teachers became frustrated at the lack of resources to support their teaching. We have overcome this barrier and have grown our collection for K-2 (and also have intervention kits for Grades 3-6). We now have sufficient resources to effectively support the implementation of LLLL at Barnier.
COVID has also impacted the effective delivery of LLLL. We are yet to have a complete full year face-to-face of teaching LLLL. Hopefully 2022 will be the year! We have played catch up and used our Learning Support Teachers to fill the gaps in student skills and knowledge.
What worked for us
- Starting small. It has taken time. We are still perfecting the implementation of the program within our school. Make small changes and then let the data talk for itself.
- Getting together a small group of motivated, driven teachers to trial the program.
- Conducting QTSS sessions, in which teachers can observe their colleagues implementing the program.
- Teacher support. Instructional leaders support teachers through the implementation of the program and from year-to-year to support new teachers to the stage/year.
Case Study: Waratah Special Developmental School Bellfield, Victoria
Waratah Special Developmental School in Bellfield, Victoria introduced the Little Learners Love Literacy® (LLLL) program in Term 1, 2021. Early Years Leader Alicia Spurr shares the successes and challenges experienced in their first year of implementation.
Why did you decide to implement Little Learners Love Literacy®?
In 2020, I created a Literacy Intervention Team with a collection of my colleagues including the Principal, Curriculum Leader, Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, and a representative from each section of the school. The team began the process of researching the Science of Reading, exploring a range of evidence-based literacy interventions and discussing what would best support the 4-year plan for literacy improvement.
We decided to invest in the Little Learners Love Literacy® (LLLL) program for students in the Early Years and Middle Years sections. The LLLL program fit the current school-wide frameworks, it aligned with evidence in literacy instruction, provided structured routines, engaging multi-sensory activities, and explicit and sequential instruction. Throughout this decision-making process, the Intervention Team had ongoing support from LLLL, to help clarify some questions associated with literacy programs in special schools including:
- Can all students learn to read?
- How fast do we progress through the sequence for students who have significant learning disabilities?
- Where do we start for students who have higher level splinter skills in literacy?
Through discussion between LLLL and the Literacy Intervention Team, we identified that by combining the school’s professional knowledge of Learning Disabilities with the structure of a Systematic Synthetic Phonics approach like LLLL, we would be able to make adaptions and differentiate instruction according to student needs. Towards the end of 2020, the teaching staff and education support staff began partaking in the mini online webinars and enrolling in courses with LLLL.
In Term 1 2021, the school facilitated two whole-school professional learning days introducing Science of Reading and Little Learners Love Literacy®. Waratah utilised funding from the Tutor Learning Initiative to employ skilled staff to collect baseline data using the ToPALL and LLARS, set up school-wide resources, model Little Learners lessons in classrooms, and support teacher understanding and development. The school community leaped at the opportunity to upskill their professional knowledge and embed the program into existing frameworks.
What has worked well
- The school’s collaborative approach and strong staff buy-in were a foundational part of student success in 2021. A group of teachers and education support staff sourced and created literacy cupboards for each section of the school and produced shared sound bags including Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) displays to support students’ expressive language.
- To support the rollout of the program and ensure it was delivered with fidelity, the Primary Learning Community (PLC) meetings for half of the year focused on teacher literacy instruction.
- The engaging range of multimodal tools embedded into the LLLL teaching sequence including music, movement-based activities, sound boxes, puppets, and stimulating characters has drawn in student interest.
- The introduction of new decodable books, in particular, the Little Learners, Big World nonfiction series has been a crucial element in maintaining interest and engagement, while providing additional opportunities to practise skills before progressing to the next level.
Core Vocabulary book using school-wide AAC system, to support the sound box and Milo’s Birthday Surprise.
What does success look like?
As professionals in the educational setting, we know the importance of collecting and analysing data to measure student progress. Teachers at Waratah SDS collected baseline data using LLARS and ToPALL assessments for students between the ages of 8–15 who had some existing literacy skills, and then a post-assessment after six months of using the Little Learner Love Literacy program.
Students from our Early Years cohort between the ages of 5–7 years old were assessed according to the LLLL assessment schedule, after six months of teaching the program. The school-wide data highlighted a common difficulty with single-word decoding and blending which then impacted fluency and comprehension when reading the unseen text. To support the collection of accurate data without losing student engagement, we used video recording to review the process and record any missed responses.
The data in the graph above shows the growth of a 9-year-old Autistic student over a period of six months. The progression this individual achieved is significantly lower than expected of her same aged peers, but some really valuable information was collected. We can see as the student’s phoneme knowledge improved, so did her ability to decode single words and apply the same strategy to decoding non-words. The data from the unseen text is particularly interesting, despite only minor improvements in the number of words read. The student’s fluency and ability to comprehend the text when reading and responding to questions, significantly improved after six months. The information was then used to inform teaching and future learning for this student.
Initially, when introducing Little Learners, teachers were concerned students would not be interested in the content or want to participate in the program, due to students’ niche interests and inflexibility within their routines. This concern was quickly alleviated when teachers saw how engaging and fun the content could be through high affect teaching, commitment to the routines and repeated exposures to the program.
The ability for all students to access the learning materials and demonstrate their understanding also posed as a limitation. Some students within the school use AAC to communicate or may not be able to articulate particular speech sounds. With the support of the school Speech Pathologist, teachers were creative with their use of AAC and visual discrimination activities for students to display their understanding.
Another challenge was the question of whether the content was age-appropriate for our older learners, who only had emerging literacy skills. We were concerned they would not be engaged by the content, which skewed to younger readers. But it became clear that students were interested in the games, texts and characters because it was developmentally relevant, they could do it and they were experiencing success.
Teaching staff used images to support the Read,
Write and Draw game, for students who have
difficulty with fine motor.
Advice to other schools
- Think about how you can utilise existing frameworks to support the Little Learners Love Literacy® program (e.g. Zones of Regulation, Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC), Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, School-wide Positive Behaviour Support).
- Regular teacher and student reflections to monitor the pace of teaching and how much information students are retaining.
- Connect with other schools with similar student populations, to share ideas and workshop difficulties.
- It’s not too late to begin learning to read. Students just need more access to age-appropriate content at a developmentally accessible level.
Students using their individual electronic communication system to support expressive language and comprehension when engaging in Milo’s Birthday Surprise.
Another student using a PODD book to identify the initial letter sound for ‘Peter the Penguin’ when playing the Read and Grab game.
Case Study: Coral Park Primary School
Coral Park Primary School implemented Little Learners Love Literacy® in their Foundation classrooms initially before rolling it out to Year 1 and for intervention across the school. Principal Justin Thompson explains how and why Coral Park made changes to their literacy curriculum and approach.
Case Study: Pakenham Springs Primary School, Victoria
Pakenham Springs Primary School is in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. They have around 800 students -their Prep and Year 1 cohorts both have around 100 students in each. Around 35% of our students have an EAL background. The school have been exploring teaching with Little Learners Love Literacy® for a few years, and moved to use LLLL exclusively in 2021.
Our school began teaching with Little Learners several years ago. Prior to implementing LLLL, our junior school (P–2) team were concerned with our reading results and we didn’t seem able to close the gap between those that learnt to read relatively easily and those who really struggled. We had some staff who were familiar with Little Learners and had been exploring it as part of their phonics instruction in Prep. When we began to review our teaching practice and instructional methods, Little Learners seemed the obvious choice for us. We were impressed with the systematic approach and how it aligned with the science of reading, and being Australian-based was a big advantage over similar programs. We could see from the Prep classrooms how much the students engaged with Milo’s Birthday Surprise and how that engagement and explicit teaching was translating into results.
However, we still had students struggling. We were using predictable readers and benchmarking assessments that didn’t align with our teaching. We observed that students were being forced to use pictures and word patterns to guess, and those who were trying to decode using the phonics knowledge were unable to do so due to the nature of the texts they we were asking them to read.
Our struggling readers were being sent to Levelled Literacy Intervention where they were receiving instruction that contradicted the instruction they were receiving in the classroom in the literacy block. Struggling students were receiving contrasting information and strategies.
So, the biggest change occurred last year (2021) when we overhauled our take-home readers and classroom reading sets. To ensure we were getting the best out of our teaching practice, we needed to make sure our students were only being given books they could read successfully and independently. We purchased classroom sets of Little Learners books for every Prep and Year 1 class and replaced all the levelled take-home books with decodables. We are already seeing the confidence of our students increase as they weren't left to guess; they could apply the knowledge to read accurately.
What challenges have you faced, and how you have worked to overcome them?
We are a large school and staff turnover can be significant. When you are taking on something like this, you expect newcomers may have little or no experience so sometimes it feels like you’re continually starting over. But as we all continue to learn and our knowledge base grows, it is becoming easier to ensure that teachers are given the tools they need to teach Little Learners successfully.
Another challenge was access to resources. Once we decided that it was time to commit to change and implement the LLLL program, a group of junior school teachers put together a proposal that included fundraising ideas and a two-year plan to achieve our goal of replacing our predictable take home readers and classroom reading sets with decodable books. Our proposal was quickly approved – the leadership team decided that if this is what the teachers wanted and the students needed, then we shouldn’t wait. They were able to provide the budget we needed to start immediately, no two-year plan! We are fortunate to have a supporting leadership team and school council who value what we are trying to achieve and were happy to provide the resources and training we needed to be successful.
What has success looked like for you?
With the staff onboard and willing to rethink their teaching practice, we were well on the road to success. A bonus for us has been how much the students engage with the program and enjoy having the structure and routine embedded into their literacy block. In Prep, our students are keen to meet each new character in Milo’s Birthday Surprise and it’s been amazing to see how quickly they are translating that to their reading and writing. It’s so great to see the students read with enthusiasm and excitement but what is really encouraging is how proud they are of themselves as they continue learn and demonstrate their knowledge.
It has also been really exciting to see how confident our students are when writing. As a Prep teacher, seeing students applying their knowledge not only to reading but as they write has been very inspiring. The systematic approach of LLLL has meant that students have the tools and confidence to have a go and feel successful. Our Prep students love creating little stories about Pip, Tim, Sam and Tip and our Year 1 students often use the character cards and sound cards as writing prompts.
The last two years have been challenging in terms of collecting and tracking student data due to lockdowns and remote learning. However, the results we have been able to analyse are showing significant growth for our students reading ability.
The following data is from the LLARS – the unseen text component. We are really excited about the comparison between the Year 1 data from Term 1, 2021 and the Year 1 data from Term 1, 2022, as there is a significant difference in achievement level. Both cohorts were impacted by COVID and remote learning, both cohorts received similar classroom instruction.
Our current 2022 Year 1 students had access to decodable books in Prep and Year 1, whereas the 2021 cohort were using largely predictable books. The results show that the dedicated use of decodable readers and the LLLL sequence meant that Year 1 students in 2022 were more advanced in the program than their peers a year prior.
Year 1, Term 1 2021 and 2022
Our tips for schools
The biggest recommendation I can make is commit to the program wholeheartedly. Train your teachers, communicate with parents about what you’re doing and why and make sure you have the resources for the students to apply their learning.
Having access to decodable books and supporting resources is essential. The biggest change we have noticed has been since our students have been able to really embed their learning by having plenty of good quality decodable texts to read, both at school and at home.
Sharing the journey with parents has also been valuable. As part of our kinder transition program for the last couple of years we have been discussing our approach to teaching literacy using Little Learners Love Literacy® at our parent information sessions. This ensures that from the beginning parents are clear on how we explicitly teach literacy and how they can best support their child at home.
Case Study: St Mary's Primary School, Geelong
Raquel Bowman is a F-2 Learning Leader and a Year 1/2 classroom teacher at St Mary’s School in Geelong, Victoria.
How and why St Mary's implemented Little Learners Love Literacy
We introduced Little Learners Love Literacy (LLLL) into our English program at St Mary’s in late 2018. Our staff participated in the LLLL Professional Development workshop and a decision was made to invest in the teacher and classroom resources and decodable books to support our Foundation learners.
It was around 2019 when a small number of staff members within our school began to research evidence-based practices and the Science of Reading. The more I read, researched, joined webinars, connected with fellow educators and leaders online, and implemented what the science was suggesting, the more I knew that my beliefs and teaching were forever changed. I could not, in good conscience, teach how I had been teaching before.
This research from staff members led to the natural progression of implementing the LLLL program as our Systematic Synthetic Phonics instruction across Foundation to Year 2. Little Learners provided our school with an evidence-based, explicit, and very engaging program that would target the Phonics pillar of reading. Not only do our children love the program, but our teachers do too!
Tier 2 and 3 interventions using elements of the LLLL program were also implemented, based on student needs and data, within our lower, middle and senior year levels.
Staff Professional Development – Providing teachers with the knowledge and skills they needed to implement LLLL within their classrooms with fidelity was extremely important to our leadership team. Therefore, we knew teachers who were using the LLLL program needed to be provided with the 2-day workshop training from LLLL. Staff movement means that we have new staff undertaking these training sessions each year. Teachers have always come away from these training sessions excited and motivated to implement the program within their classrooms.
Undertaking the initial PD sessions can be confronting and challenging for many experienced teachers who may have come from a Balanced Literacy background. These sessions force us to question our current practices and evaluate their effectiveness. We knew staff needed support as they navigated through this and we did not want this new knowledge and understanding to be confined within the F-2 learning space.
We also used staff mentor texts to support our new understandings from leaders in the SoR field such as; Reading for Life by Lyn Stone, The Knowledge Gap by Natalie Wexler, and The Writing Revolution by Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler.
Parent Community – The change to a systematic synthetic phonics program required us to spend time informing our parent/carer community of how we teach reading at St Mary’s School. Some families would have noticed changes to our Take Home Readers from their child’s siblings and also in comparison to their own education. We shared with families the research behind the changes and the ways they can support their child/ren via Foundation Parent Information sessions, a Parent Information Handout, a new Reading Journal (with SoR-supported prompts and information), and the sharing of our learning and assessments through our real-time reporting software. releases from the LLLL team that will enhance our learning and teaching program.
Resourcing and Training- this is always an area that can provide challenges for schools when it comes to implementing new programs. Our Parents and Friends Association alongside our school funding supported our initial purchasing of Take Home Readers and Small Group Reading sets. As a school, we have made a conscious decision to prioritise the training of teachers and the purchasing of LLLL resources to support our students' reading, writing and spelling. We also chose to remove resources (predictable readers, Running Record Assessments) that didn’t align with our teaching. Therefore, we now eagerly await any new
What has success looked like for you?
In terms of data and results, our most recent Year 1 cohort (end of 2022) received an average Year 1 Phonics Screen score of 34 out of 40 with 88.5% scoring as having fluent decoding abilities. In 2019, the first year of implementation in Year 1, we were also weaving another program into our scope and sequence, and our average score was 27/40. We knew as we gained new knowledge about effective phonics programs and the teaching of reading, that we needed to teach LLLL with fidelity, without the conflict of another program. This showed a very positive effect on our results in years moving forward.
Through the consistent and structured implementation of the program across the F-2 level and ongoing tracking of whole school assessment data, the effects of Little Learners as a systematic synthetic phonics program were evident.
Alongside the LLARS to track children’s progress with LLLL, we also conduct the suite of DIBELS tests from F-6, the data below is children who scored at or above the expected level in the end of year testing in 2022:
- Foundation - 92%
- Year 1 - 97.2%
- Year 2 - 81%
The impact of Little Learners is not only reflected in our data but also the engagement of our learners and teachers. Foundation students are motivated and excited to meet a new Milo character, asking their teachers ‘When are we meeting a new friend?’. Children across the F-2 level love taking on the role of sound detectives when engaging with the Circle Time Sound box, reading decodable books, and spelling and writing with increasing confidence AND accuracy.
Our teachers love the program as they now have a class of learners who want to read, write and spell. The explicit nature of the program and the support of the Teacher Activity Resource books allow us, as teachers, to focus on what is important; teaching and supporting our little learners.
Tips for schools thinking of implementing the program
- If you are looking to implement a systematic synthetic phonics program like LLLL, do so with fidelity. This provides maximum impact on student learning and engagement.
- Join online community groups like the Little Learners Love Literacy Group or Reading Science in Schools Australia or connect with local schools using LLLL, to ask and seek answers to any queries or concerns you may have about implementing and making the change to this program. You will find people are more than willing to support you.
- Devote time as a whole staff to learning about the Science of Reading and evidence-based practices. This will have positive effects on every student and staff member in a school.
- If the purchasing of resources and funding is a concern, engage and seek support from the parent community/P & F groups.