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Case study: Balarang Public School embarks on its Sound Waves journey

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Case study: Balarang Public School embarks on its Sound Waves journey

Sound Waves Spelling 3/11/20

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Finding the right spelling resource takes careful consideration. Beyond the pedagogical approach and how it matches the curriculum, you may be wondering, ‘Are the teacher resources clear and easy to use? Does the program contain remediation and extension opportunities that are feasible in whole-class settings? Is there any training available for teachers?’

Spelling specialists, Amanda Zaffonato and Charlotte Crow, from Balarang Public School had all these questions and more, and found that Sound Waves was the right fit for their school. We caught up with Amanda and Charlotte to find out about their experience.

Searching for a new approach to spelling

Educators at Balarang knew there were many different ways that spelling was used throughout the school and were looking to introduce a whole-school systematic approach.

In the lead-up to 2020, educators analysed spelling, reading and writing data from a range of sources, including NAPLAN. After careful consideration, they decided to implement Sound Waves resources across the whole school.

‘As teachers, we could see gaps in our students’ knowledge of sounds, and their pronunciation in particular. We knew that Sound Waves could help minimise that gap by using synthetic phonics to teach our students,’ Amanda shares. ‘We knew that the explicit teaching of phonics and phonemic awareness would lead to literacy development in reading and writing throughout the entire school,’ Charlotte adds.

Beginning with the Spelling Diagnostic Test

All teachers at Balarang conducted the Sound Waves Spelling Diagnostic Test with their students. Amanda was thrilled that such a test was included in the resource, providing teachers with the perfect starting point for their Sound Waves journey.

‘Our teachers find the Spelling Diagnostic Test and data that comes from this test very important to their practice,’ Amanda says. ‘Without this test, we wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the areas each child is having difficulty with or needs extension in. This informs each teacher if they need to repeat a phoneme or have small focus groups revising the phoneme with extra support.’

Using a comprehensive approach

Balarang introduced the full suite of resources to fully immerse the school in the Sound Waves approach. ‘We’re using the Sound Waves Student Books, as well as the games and tools from Sound Waves Online,’ says Charlotte. ‘We’re using Sound Waves daily, in all year levels and classes, throughout the school.’

Even though it’s only their first year of using the resources, Balarang has already seen a positive shift across the board. Teachers now feel well-equipped to deliver explicit and effective instruction and the results are evident in the students’ spelling, reading and writing development.

Ensuring ongoing PD for teachers

Balarang Public School understands the value of ongoing professional development and has made it an essential element in their spelling roadmap.

‘We’ve taken advantage of the complimentary PD so that all teachers are adequately prepared and confident in teaching Sound Waves,’ Amanda explains. ‘Our local education consultant, Lachlan Peters, has given us opportunities to ask questions and consolidate our understanding – ultimately providing us with new-found confidence for spelling.’

Not only has Balarang Public School been diligent with their PD, they’ve allocated in-house Sound Waves experts to ensure continuity throughout the school.

‘Myself and my fellow teacher, Charlotte Crow, are the Sound Waves experts at Balarang,’ Amanda shares. ‘We’ve both completed extensive PD and have had experience in teaching synthetic phonics. As such, we’re able to help our colleagues answer any tricky questions that may arise, and assist with any learning experiences, ideas or opportunities involving Sound Waves.’

‘We’ve also collaborated with staff from other schools who have been using Sound Waves for a number of years, to help with the application of synthetic phonics in our school,’ says Charlotte.

Going the distance

Balarang Public School understands the importance of a long-term approach to truly achieve results.

‘We can’t wait to see our kindergarten (Foundation) students still using the spelling skills they have been taught all the way through to Year 6,’ Charlotte says. ‘We are really interested in seeing the school’s improved results not only in spelling but in reading and writing too!’

We love hearing about schools using the Sound Waves resources! Share your ideas and experiences on social media and tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you’d like to share your experience as part of a case study, contact us at any time.

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