Sound Waves Spelling 17/6/21
Over the past three years, Mount Pritchard Public School has achieved great progress in student spelling, reading and writing outcomes with the Sound Waves program.
We asked the school’s Deputy Principal and K-2 teachers to share the key factors contributing to their continued success.
When searching for a new spelling resource, Mount Pritchard’s main criteria was to work towards a whole-school approach. The staff could see that Sound Waves fit this need perfectly and implemented a staggered approach to their whole-school roll out.
Sound Waves was initially used in K-2 in 2018, before expanding to years K-6 in 2019.
The 1/2D class teacher believes Sound Waves’ whole-school approach has been invaluable for student success.
‘The whole-school, consistent approach means they will continually develop phoneme-grapheme relationships, spelling strategies and language concepts throughout their schooling experience at Mount Pritchard,’ she said.
Since Mount Pritchard took on the program, NSW-based Education Consultant Dianne Sutherland has run a number of professional development workshops to ensure staff are equipped with an in-depth knowledge of the program.
In these workshops, teachers are able to discuss areas of the program they find challenging to implement and learn how to address these concerns in their classrooms.
The Deputy Principal at Mount Pritchard believes Sound Waves workshops have ensured the program has gone from strength to strength in all classrooms.
The 1/2D teacher agreed, adding ‘this knowledge supported our understanding of phonics, phonics instruction and the research behind the program. It just makes so much sense. Each time Dianne has come to our school I have left with new knowledge and have consolidated my understanding further’.
While staff at Mount Pritchard were impressed with how far their students had come since first introducing Sound Waves, they wanted to keep track of this progress to ensure these improvements continued. So, in 2020 the school decided to also use the NSW Department of Education Phonological Awareness Diagnostic Assessment to monitor the school’s spelling progress.
‘Every day I can see students applying their knowledge from Sound Waves into their reading and writing. They are now more independent and confident writers because they have the knowledge of different grapheme choices,’ said the school’s 1M class teacher.
Sound Waves is packed with activities including chanting, movements, songs and visuals to engage students during spelling lessons.
The 1M teacher said, ‘Sound Waves is such an exciting way to learn phonics. The students are so enthusiastic when completing Sound Waves activities because they are explicit and hands-on.’
In particular, the Sound Waves Chants and Actions video allows students to learn about the 43 sounds (phonemes) that make up Australian English through a fun song with a catchy tune.
‘We love singing the Sound Waves chant every morning and it is such a great reminder for students to refer back to if they forget the sounds different graphemes make,’ said the 1M class teacher.
Likewise, the 1/2D teacher loves that her students are just as enthusiastic as she is during spelling lessons. ‘Sound Waves lessons are their favourite part of the day! They are so excited when they learn WHY words are spelt the way they’re spelt, and see value and meaning in their learning,’ she said.
While Mount Pritchard’s staff have already seen major improvements since using Sound Waves, they understand that spelling success requires a long-term strategy, which is why they’ll continue to invest in maintaining a whole-school approach and undertake professional development.
‘I have seen the majority of students make big improvements each year since starting with the program – particularly with my own children,’ said the teacher of class KD.
There is also excitement to see how Mount Pritchard’s Year 2 students, who have been using Sound Waves since Kindergarten, will be able to apply their knowledge through an external assessment such as NAPLAN.
Sound Waves Spelling
In Sound Waves Spelling Foundation, phoneme-grapheme relationships are introduced in a very specific order. This minimises confusion for students and ensures they are up and running quickly with reading and spelling.
Sound Waves Spelling
Spelling is a complex skill that requires systematic and explicit instruction. Four key areas of teaching spelling are phonemic awareness, synthetic phonics, morphology and etymology. Let’s take a look at what each area involves, and why it is important.