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What makes Sound Waves an effective program?

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What makes Sound Waves an effective program?

Sound Waves Spelling 13/9/21

Sound Waves is a whole-school systematic word study program that supports teachers in their whole-class (Tier 1)1 spelling lessons.

A significant portion of the instruction in the new and improved Sound Waves is dedicated to systematic synthetic phonics. The program also covers phonemic awareness, morphology and etymology. With these key areas of teaching forming the pillars of Sound Waves, the program meets the following criteria for high-quality literacy instruction.


The program aligns with research on the best practices for reading and spelling instruction. This includes the three significant reviews of reading research conducted in the last few decades, 2 3 4 and a wide range of independent research and reviews from the fields of education, psychology and linguistics. 5 6 7 8 9

Systematic, Sequential, Cumulative

Sound Waves is a systematic, comprehensive, whole-school program for teaching phonemic awareness, synthetic phonics, morphology and etymology. The updated Scope and Sequence outlines how teachers can use this resource to cover the expectations of state-based and national curricula, and to help students develop the full range of knowledge and skills needed to spell confidently and accurately.

All synthetic phonics instruction within Sound Waves occurs in a carefully planned sequence. In Foundation, phoneme–grapheme (sound–letter/s) relationships are introduced in an order that helps teachers minimise confusion for students who are working with print for the very first time. From Year 1, students are gradually introduced to more complex phoneme–grapheme relationships needed for everyday reading and writing.

Teaching is cumulative, with concepts repeated across years so that students have multiple opportunities for revision.

Explicit Instruction

All of the instruction in Sound Waves is designed to be clear and direct and to enable explicit teaching. There is no expectation for students to implicitly ‘pick up’ or ‘discover’ reading and spelling. The updated program provides teachers with carefully structured lesson guides and interactive slideshows for every concept taught across F–6. Lessons include opportunities for teachers to check for student understanding, and culminate in independent practice for students to consolidate knowledge.


The new and improved Sound Waves lessons are short and sharp, and delivered most days of the week. Concepts and skills are taught in small, manageable chunks with plenty of opportunities for students to practise and master what is taught.

Regular Assessment

The dedicated assessment and remediation resources in Sound Waves allow teachers to closely monitor students’ progress and respond to difficulties as needed. Resources include a Spelling Diagnostic Test (Years 1–6), the new mid-term and end-of-term assessments (Years 1–6), and a Foundation Skills Checklist.

Ongoing Training and Support

To make sure teachers are equipped with the knowledge and confidence to implement systematic spelling instruction, ongoing training and support are crucial. Sound Waves provides free training and support to ensure the effective delivery of the program. Professional development workshops are run by our highly experienced and knowledgeable team of education consultants, which is made up of former classroom teachers, curriculum leaders, intervention teachers and principals.


  1. Response to Intervention: A Model for Change to Build Teacher Capacity.

  2. National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. National Institute of Child Health & Development.

  3. Rose, J. (2006). Independent review of the teaching of early reading. U.K. Department for Education and Skills.

  4. Rowe, K. (2005). Teaching reading: National inquiry into the teaching of literacy. Department of Education, Science and Training, Australian Council for Educational Research.

  5. Johnston, R.S., McGeown, S. & Watson, J.E. (2011). Long-term effects of synthetic versus analytic phonics teaching on the reading and spelling ability of 10 year old boys and girls. Reading and Writing.

  6. Johnston, R.S. & Watson, J.E. (2005). The effects of synthetic phonics teaching on reading and spelling attainment, a seven year longitudinal study. The Scottish Executive Education Department.

  7. Keesey, S., Konrad, M., & Joseph, L.M. (2014. Word boxes improve phonemic awareness, letter-sound correspondences, and spelling skills of at-risk kindergarteners. Remedial and Special Education Journal.

  8. Levesque, K. C., Breadmore, H. L., & Deacon, S. H. (2021). How morphology impacts reading and spelling: Advancing the role of morphology in models of literacy development. Journal of Research in Reading.

  9. Graham, S. & Santangelo, T. (2014) Does spelling instruction make students better spellers, readers and writers? A meta-analytic review. Reading and Writing.

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