Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

A useful place to find helpful blogs and websites with a wealth of information about reading.
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sun Aug 09, 2015 12:46 am

Greg Ashman routinely writes interesting and thought-provoking pieces in his blog 'Filling the Pail'.

Start with this one 'What should early primary school look like' and note his comments about the need for Australia to use a check like the Year One Phonics Screening Check used as a statutory check in England.

Better still, Greg, how about Australia using the same Year One Phonics Screening Check and then we can get an idea of phonics teaching effectiveness in Australia compared to England!!! ;)

https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2015/0 ... look-like/

...The Donnelly and Wiltshire review contained a couple of models for primary education. It now seems that the government has decided to implement aspects of the review, according to reports in yesterday’s media. Channel 9 even invited Donnelly onto its morning breakfast show to discuss it (I wonder how many education school professors swore off Channel 9 as a result…). The headline was a push for the use of phonics. Sadly, I don’t think that this will work. Teachers have been told to use a phonics-based approach for some time now and yet they still resist, persisting with practices such as the three cuing system. There is a party line where teachers who use less effective analytic phonics approaches or phonics as a last resort will say, “Of course we use phonics! We use it as part of a balance of approaches.” I see no reason to believe that we have progressed since 2006. I am growing convinced that the only way to ensure that phonics is taught systematically is to institute something like the U.K. phonics check. I hope I’m wrong....


Do read the whole posting and check out further pieces written by Greg!
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Re: Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Tue Sep 01, 2015 11:32 pm

Greg write a piece for 'Spiked':

Educationalists: Teaching Bad Ideas


http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/ar ... eYnFIuVP8F

Back in 2012, I attended a conference in Sydney about school improvement. Although the speakers were there to talk about a diverse range of topics, many took the chance to disparage ‘transmission teaching’, where the teacher stands at the front and talks to the class. They knew that their audience would welcome this view.

Such a scene encapsulates much of what is wrong in the strange bubble of education conferences. Educators often talk to themselves. They give a nod and a wink to each other to signal their alignment with values that are not necessarily shared by members of the general public or even other teachers. While real policy decisions are made by government ministers outside of the education establishment, this does nothing to puncture the groupthink; educationalists merely characterise such decisions as coming from know-nothing, philistine politicians who impose their views on experienced professionals.

It might make sense for educationalists to be so dismissive of policymakers if the processes of education were grounded in strong evidence, as they are in medical practice. However, a lot of what is pursued by educationalists actually flies in the face of the evidence. For instance, on the issue of using phonics to teach children to read, there are three national reports from the UK, US and Australia which all support the largely common-sense view that learning to read by sounding-out words works. Yet influential educationalists still express scepticism, and it seems that teachers are still not trained effectively in phonics.

Transmission teaching, to which the education establishment is so opposed, is basically what most people think of as ‘teaching’. A teacher will stand at the front of a class, explain some concept or new bit of terminology, and then ask the students some questions about the new concept or term to see if they have understood it. This offends the sensibilities of those who don’t like the idea of teachers being sources of authority and would prefer pupils to ‘construct’ their own knowledge.

Countless studies comparing transmission teaching with constructivist approaches find in favour of transmission teaching. Again, this is simply common sense. Instead of letting children flounder and make the same mistakes generations of children have made before them, a skilled teacher can pre-empt these problems, focus students on more fruitful avenues and explain why in the process.


Of course I couldn't resist leaving a comment:

With a title like 'teaching bad ideas', it is arguably pertinent to mention the continued promotion of the institutionally-established and internationally-established Reading Recovery programme, along with similar whole language 'clones' that persist despite the underpinning multi-cueing methodology being a decidedly 'bad idea' - long since shown by the prevailing body of research on reading instruction. It could well be that such unfortunate ideas/methods will continue to prevail despite any evidence brought to the table to challenge this state of affairs. Some ideas like brain gym, learning styles and Reading Recovery should be assigned to history by now. See this thread via the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction's message forum which questions the efficacy of Reading Recovery and illustrates that RR has been challenged for a very long time to no avail:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=22
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Re: Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Thu Oct 15, 2015 11:25 am

Greg's thoughts on:

Wasting time in English

https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2015/1 ... h-lessons/

Time is limited. We all know that. And awareness of the limits of our own time is often what drives us to make meaning in our lives. It is therefore immoral, in my view, to knowingly waste the time of others. And this moral imperative is even more pronounced when we are referring to the time that children spend in school. We tell them that school is good for them and we make them go.

This is why I am so keen to examine the evidence, flawed as it is, for the effectiveness of different educational approaches. If we know that some methods lead to more learning, more quickly then I think this trumps whatever particular tastes and fancies we have.

The simple view of reading is well supported by evidence. Although it is not universally accepted, it provides a pretty strong model. It’s simplicity is also a strength. Scientists often employ the heuristic of Occam’s razor: If there are two possible explanations for a phenomenon then the simplest is likely to be the best...
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Re: Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Feb 22, 2016 6:18 pm

Greg's description of:

5 features of poor teacher education


https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2016/0 ... education/

This is well worth reading as are the readers' comments - and relevant, in part, to reading instruction.
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Re: Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sun Mar 13, 2016 1:36 pm

Greg writes about 'The Educational Collective' following some interesting issues raised by Andrew Old via his blog (see the link within Greg's post):

https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2016/0 ... mment-2207

I've added a 'readers comment' because I'd like to suggest that the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction' is a form of educational 'collective'!
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Re: Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:23 pm

Greg's thoughts on:

'Let's focus on the disadvantaged'


https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2016/0 ... dvantaged/

When we talk about education, we need to focus on the needs of those who lack the most. Many innovations make a nice-looking decoration to add to the top of a solid, academic education but they cannot substitute for it. It is a sad misdirection to think otherwise. If we want to improve school systems then we need to focus first on ensuring that classrooms are orderly and safe environments and that all students are taught how to read.



...And so say all of us!
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Re: Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:34 am

Greg invites a parent to write a post via his blog - I'm flagging this up because it seems to be at the heart of both worrries and educational/political battles played out via the internet:

https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2016/0 ... nt-writes/

An Aussie parent writes

April 23, 2016

[Greg writes: I have asked an Australian parent to write a guest post for my blog. She describes herself first and then her post follows:]

I am a 50 year old stay-at-home mother of two daughters, aged 10 (Year 5) and 12 (Year 7). I live in the outer southern suburbs of Brisbane in an old Queenslander with my partner, my daughters, two mutts, one moggy, a fish and three, recently acquired, guinea pigs. I have a keen interest in history and studied a Masters of Public History through Monash University. I was hoping to one day work in the area of built heritage. Learning more about educational issues in Australia and overseas has become a strong interest of mine. As a person who aligns herself with the Left, politically, it is my hope that one day the Left will see the necessity in embracing a traditional education and a knowledge-based curriculum if they wish to address the issues of inequality.


This post is very heartfelt and very readable.

I believe this is a very important debate and one that is taking place in a number of countries and contexts.

I also believe that there are many victims of this debate - not least the teachers themselves.
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Re: Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:52 am

And here's a posting describing the danger of schools responding inappropriately to the level of pressure and high-stakes testing and accountability. I, too, have had experience of this skewed time-table for Year 6 children having had four children of my own!

But I want to add this: When I was primary teaching and began my journey into the difference it makes to teach explicit, systematic synthetic phonics to infants, the literacy levels of my whole class(es) became so relatively high that this liberated the children for all other subjects because they could read and write so well. It therefore liberated me as a teacher because no matter what other subject we studied that involved or benefited from reading and writing activities (in the mix), the children were so independent and so well-engaged in their own work. They really did reach the point well beyond 'learn to read, then read to learn'.

So, what I am suggesting is that if children are taught well enough in the early stages of their education, there should be no need at all for excessive cramming prior to national testing.

https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2016/0 ... overnment/

No, it’s not OK to butcher the curriculum and blame the government

April 22, 2016

Miles Berry tweeted an image of a timetable for a UK Year 6 class. The timetable almost entirely English and Maths, save from three periods of PE. I have no way of judging the authenticity of the image but the ensuing discussion was extraordinary and that’s what I want to address.

Clearly, it is wrong to inflict such a timetable on students. I am an advocate of explicit instruction but even I will accept the argument that we should avoid using explicit instruction 100% of the time on the grounds that students should experience some variety. Different subjects naturally introduce variety into a school curriculum. Maths and English with just a little bit of PE is cruel and unusual.

Yet, rather than outright condemnation, there were those who agreed that such a timetable was wrong but sought to rationalise it as a response to accountability measures and the ‘current climate’. In the UK, Year 6 students have standardised tests in Maths and English at the start of May. The authors of this timetable, if it is genuine, are somehow trying to game this system by cramming English and Maths in the preceding weeks.
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Re: Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Thu May 05, 2016 12:28 pm

Greg writes about 'progressive' and 'traditional' approaches to teaching:

https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2016/0 ... other-way/

Teachers of Australia – there is another way

May 5, 2016

I am going to let you in on a secret.

There are two long traditions that inform attitudes towards teaching and learning. Most of us sit on a continuum somewhere between the two – teachers are ever the pragmatists. However, it is worth knowing these traditions because when we are presented with new ideas and initiatives, we can identify the origin.
User avatar
Debbie_Hepplewhite
Posts: 1123
Joined: Sat May 23, 2015 4:42 pm

Re: Greg Ashman's blog: Filling the Pail

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Fri May 20, 2016 2:11 pm

Greg's 'top three flawed teaching ideas':

https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2016/0 ... ing-ideas/

Return to “Education Blogs & Websites of Interest”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest