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St Patrick's uses Firefly's professional development to drive spelling success

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St Patrick's uses Firefly's professional development to drive spelling success

Sound Waves Spelling 28/3/23

Finding and implementing the right spelling program for your students can be a tricky process. You want a pedagogically sound program, with plenty of training – but not every program provides that freely or economically.

Elizabeth McKew from St Patrick’s Primary School in Gordon implemented Sound Waves in her school just a few years ago and has seen great improvements in her students’ spelling and decoding skills.

We spoke to Elizabeth to find out more about how the school uses both the Sound Waves program and Firefly’s free professional development workshops to drive spelling success.

Starting off on the right foot

St Patrick’s Primary School has seen great progress in their students’ spelling outcomes since they implemented Sound Waves three years ago.

‘Our school decided to take on Sound Waves because of the great work they observed in the junior classroom in 2020. I feel the best opportunities for young children to master spelling is provided by Sound Waves. Our teachers love the consistent approach, with every class focused on the same sound each week.’

Since St Patrick’s first implemented the program, Victorian-based Education Consultant Carmel Menzies has run several complimentary professional development workshops with the staff.

These workshops provide an opportunity for teachers to learn about the different features of the program and dig deeper into the pedagogy behind how a systematic synthetic phonics-based spelling program can positively impact students’ spelling results.

‘Not only are the resources excellent, but the support the Education Consultants provide for teachers is wonderful! We absolutely love having Carmel come out to see us. She always makes an effort and brings new resources for us to explore.’

An engaging, comprehensive program

Educators at St Patrick’s enjoy the lesson guides and projectable slideshows Sound Waves offers for every lesson. Favourite resources among the staff include the Chants and Actions videos, and Teaching Charts, along with digital resources such as slideshows and interactive online games.

St Patrick’s teachers also take advantage of the assessment resources Sound Waves provides, particularly the Spelling Diagnostic Test and the accompanying remediation resources. The teachers use these resources to review students’ work and inform further practice. ‘We utilise the diagnostic assessments to triangulate our data,’ Elizabeth explains. ‘We use the spelling results and moderate this at our Professional Learning Community meetings.’

Sound Waves allows teachers to spend more time focusing on teaching by providing fully planned lessons that are matched to the curriculum. Embedded throughout the program are engaging resources, such as videos and student activities. Sound Waves also has a variety of supplementary resources teachers can use to support their students.

‘All the classrooms at St Patrick’s now have Teaching Charts, Student Charts and online access to both the teaching and student resources. This has helped us deliver engaging lessons with consistency.’

Moving forward

While St Patrick’s has already seen significant progress since starting to use Sound Waves, the staff understand that spelling success requires long-term commitment and consistency. As Elizabeth says, ‘Phonics is not just for early years as is stereotypically believed. All of our staff follow a consistent approach to spelling instruction and this has made a big difference.

‘We highly recommend you have one of the incredible Sound Waves Education Consultants come out and run a session for you. Make sure you accept this as a whole-school program, so everyone from F–6 is informed and accountable.’

Has Sound Waves made an impact at your school? We love hearing about the schools using our resources! Contact us if you’d like to share your experience as part of a case study.

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