Teach Well alumnus Matt Hopkins wins 2023 National Excellence in Teaching Award

We are very excited to announce that one of our alumni and Head of Middle School at Port School, Matt Hopkins, has received a 2023 National Excellence in Teaching Award!

Matt received the NEiTA Apple Award for showing a strong commitment to advancing education through implementing explicit and innovative teaching practices.

By providing students with structured and systematic learning experiences, Matt has helped them improve their academic results and renew their passion for learning.

It’s wonderful to hear that he is making such a difference in his community, reengaging young people and building their trust in the education system – well done Matt!

To learn more about Matt’s achievement visit Port School.

New resources for Year 7 and Year 8 Mathematics from Ochre Education

In partnership with the National Catholic Education Commission, Ochre Education has created a full year’s worth of comprehensive curriculum resources for Years 7 and 8 Mathematics. All lessons embed high-impact, evidence-based teaching practices and can be adapted by teachers to suit their students’ needs.

Term 1 resources are available now, while the remainder of the year’s resources will be available in advance of each school term.

Ochre Education is also running a professional learning webinar session on Thursday 15 February  to support teachers to navigate the Mastery in Maths resources.

For more information, visit Ochre Education here.

Apply for Advanced Standing at Edith Cowan University!

We are delighted to announce that the Teach Well Masterclass Series is now recognised by Edith Cowan University (ECU)! Participants that complete the Masterclass Series program are eligible to apply for advanced standing (credit) for a unit in the Master of Education at ECU once they complete an essay task and all course deliverables.

Interested alumni will need to complete one 4000-word essay on ‘Navigating the academic and research evidence base to adaptively identify high-impact instructional practices’. Full details of this essay, including scaffolding into 5 sections with specific word counts and essay excerpts, are available to guide your thinking. Alumni of the Admin stream of the course are also invited to express interest to the Teach Well team and we can discuss further details with you regarding your eligibility to apply.

We are really thrilled to see the work of the incredible educators in our Teach Well community recognised at the post-graduate level, honouring the commitment and professionalism of Masterclass alumni. If you are interested in applying, please get in touch with us at info@teach-well.com.au.

Friday 20th October 2023 is International Developmental Language Disorder Awareness Day

What is Developmental Language Disorder?

Developmental Language Disorder, or DLD, is an invisible and lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that affects the development of spoken and written language, and social and academic development. People with DLD experience language difficulties in the absence of any known biomedical condition and is estimated to affect approximately 1 in 14 people (7%) – that’s 2 students in every class!

People with DLD have difficulties with language and not with intelligence. While their primary area of difficulty is understanding and/or using language, people with DLD might have co-occurring conditions, such as learning difficulties, ADHD, dyslexia, maths disabilities or mental health issues.

What causes DLD?

DLD has a genetic and biological basis, but there is no known single cause of DLD. DLD is not caused by how parents interact with their children, or by speaking more than 1 language. DLD can affect people from all walks of life, regardless of nationality, culture, or language.

How can you recognise DLD?

People with DLD have difficulty talking and/or understanding language.

Children with DLD might:

  • find it hard to follow instructions, answer questions or understand words and concepts
  • have difficult paying attention
  • struggle to remember what they have been told, or what they’ve read
  • have difficulties learning to read and write
  • struggle to find the right words to express their thoughts and ideas
  • have difficulty organising words and phrases correctly in a spoken sentence
  • have trouble engaging in conversation, recounting events, or telling stories

People with DLD do not look any different from their peers. It is an invisible disability and can be hard to recognise.

What supports are available to people with DLD?

When provided with high quality supports and accommodations, individuals with DLD can achieve social, academic, and professional success. A diagnosis is made by a speech pathologist, however a person with DLD may need support from others, including educators, occupational therapists, psychologists, families, friends, and employers.

How can you support students with DLD in a primary and secondary school setting?

Participants and alumni of the Masterclass Series will be pleased know that so many of the high impact teaching strategies and evidence-based teaching approaches that we discuss in the course are part of the best-practice toolkit for supporting students with DLD in both primary and secondary school settings. Current guidance for best practice includes:

1. Pre-teach key vocabulary.

  • Pre-load students with key vocabulary prior to a lesson, topic, or theme.
  • When pre-teaching vocabulary, make sure that you discuss the pronunciation of words, talk about the syllables, and sounds in words and ask students to practice saying the words.
  • Discuss the meaning of words by providing simple definitions and synonyms, provide and discuss examples and non-examples of the word or concept, and use the word in sentences.

2. Explicitly and systematically teach vocabulary.

  • Support the development of vocabulary breadth and depth, by systematically and explicitly teaching Tier 2 vocabulary and vocabulary needed for instruction, such as ‘compare’ or ‘analyse’.
  • Like when pre-teaching topic vocabulary, when teaching Tier 2 and instructional vocabulary, include multiple opportunities for students to hear and say the word, talk about the sound properties of the word (syllables, phonemes), provide examples and non-examples of the word, and use the word in the context of sentences.

3. Provide systematic and explicit grammar instruction to support comprehension and expression.

  • Teach students how to construct and expand simple sentences, with a focus on the meaning of each part of the sentence (e.g., the subject of the sentence tells us who or what the sentence is about; the verb in the sentence tells us what the who or what is doing; the adverb tells us how something was done).
  • Explicitly teach sentence combining using coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, again with a focus on the meaning or the “jobs” that the conjunctions are doing in the sentence. For example, “because links the reason”.
  • Use a visual system, such as colour or shape coding to support students’ understanding of sentence constituents and make spoken sentences visual.

4. Support working memory.

  • Reduce cognitive load by keeping instructions and spoken sentences simple.
  • Activate prior knowledge and make links to long term memory.
  • Support retrieval through regular (weekly, fortnightly, monthly) reviews.
  • Teach content in chunks, interspersed with regular retrieval practice and checks for understanding.

5. Support processing of information.

  • Model how to complete tasks, and gradually release responsibility to students by using an I Do, We Do, You Do model of instruction.
  • Allow plenty of time for students to respond. Using pair-shares with elaborative questioning and non-volunteers also allows students the opportunity to practice answering the questions in a supported way.
  • Break tasks into smaller steps.
  • Use visual and written supports whenever possible.
  • Use graphic organisers to help students organise new information and make links with prior learning.

For further information on DLD, see the following recommended links:

Research from an Alumnus and Boosting Participation Rates

We’re excited to share some alumni news –  James Pengelley from All Saints’ College, has recently published new research into how the use of computers for assessments impacts on students’ cognitive load. His research concluded that paper and computer assessments affect learners differently, with computer assessments adding additional cognitive load for more demanding tasks, leading to lower scores for more difficult items. James Pengelley’s work underscores the importance of designing assessment practices to ensure teachers, educators, and policy makers are fairly and equitably testing content rather than creating assessments that place learners under an unnecessary testing load. His research questions previous findings that computer-based assessments can be conducted without negative consequences on test outcome and calls for further research into the impact of different testing modes on students. A huge congratulations to James for such outstanding research on a very important topic!

Read James’ article here: A Testing Load: Investigating Test Mode Effects on Test Score, Cognitive Load and Scratch Paper Use with Secondary School Students

School Plus’ Partnership Opportunities
Applications for School Plus’ Partnership Opportunities will be open on Monday, 7th August! Partnerships are designed to provide schools with the resources and support they need to create sustainable change within their communities through funding, coaching, and program management support. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity, we strongly encourage schools to apply. Learn more by clicking on this link.

Three resources for our alumni

Boosting the participation ratio during our explanations


How can we make sure our students are listening, thinking and understanding? In this article, Craig Barton shares some easy-to-use strategies to ensure students aren’t opting out of the thinking when the teacher is explaining.

Are SEND children different?


Monique Nowers explains that students with special educational needs learn the same way as their peers but face greater barriers to education and are more vulnerable to ‘imperfect teaching’. By breaking down content into attainable steps and providing enough practice, teachers can effectively accommodate the differences of these learners.

Five Ways to use Worked Examples – Think Forward Educators


This blog post by maths guru, Alex Blanksby, shares how using worked examples can be more effective in enhancing understanding than getting students to attempt unfamiliar problems independently. The author gives some strategies for how to use these effectively in the mathematics classroom.

Expanding learning with a Fogarty Foundation scholarship

We recently chatted with Salome about her scholarship award and the work she’s been undertaking with the Midwest Network. The Midwest Network have seen outstanding increases in student outcomes over the past few years as they’ve worked together as a multi-school community to build a consistent approach to high-impact instruction. We asked Salome what this work has been like on the ground…

You have recently taken part in the Midwest Network’s Instructional Lead Series through Teach Well. What are some of your reflections on this Series in your personal context? 

This Series has allowed me to grow personally and professionally. It has connected me with like-minded, driven and enthusiastic leaders within the Midwest Network. The professional discussions, collaboration and coaching opportunities provided throughout the series have been invaluable and have developed my leadership capacity and skillset. In addition, it has been great to be able to bounce ideas off of, not only other schools and other leaders but with the passionate, knowledgeable and experienced Teach Well team too!

Congratulations on receiving a Fogarty Foundation Scholarship, can you tell us what you are excited about specialising in? 

Thank you. I am extremely passionate about Language and Literacy and believe that English not only underpins our personal futures but also is what is necessary to guide our paths and successes as a society. It is for this reason that I am excited to specialise in Learning Difficulties with a focus on supporting students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Hyperlexia. I aim to further develop my skillset in identifying weaknesses in knowledge and abilities using evidence-based practices, to work towards bridging those gaps and creating successful and happy members of society.

Do you have other comments or reflections you would like to share with the Alumni network? 

I am grateful to share the space with like-minded individuals who strive to improve student outcomes. The dedication and passion displayed by fellow alumni in changing practices and participating in research-driven conversations is infectious. The invaluable experiences offered by Teach Well have sparked my passion for the Science of Reading and the Science of Learning, which has led me to meet some incredibly knowledgeable and experienced educators; for which I am thankful.

– Salome Ehlers, Primary School Teacher

Writing adaptable resources for teachers, as part of Australia’s largest curriculum project

Rebekah has been working with our friends at Ochre, creating high-quality lessons for Australian teachers. As an alumnus of both the Masterclass Series and the Instructional Lead Fellowship, we wanted to hear all about her recent contributions to education in Australia.

What made you decide to join the Ochre community and create lessons for teachers all over Australia?

I believe strongly in the importance of equity in education and am passionate about all students having access to quality education. This was why I decided to join the Ochre community and create lessons for teachers all over Australia. As an early teacher, I really struggled with the pressure of designing lessons and would often spend most of my planning time trying to source quality resources. The concept of Ochre, providing a bank of high-quality curriculum aligned resources available for free, appealed to me and I was keen to be involved in the process.

I initially had some hesitation to be involved, the time commitment was large (especially during holidays), technologies were new to me and having to film each lesson was confronting. However, I quickly realised that these were hurdles easily managed with the support of the team at Ochre. The feeling of achievement as each lesson and video was completed was greater than any challenges faced.  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Ochre Education.

What skills, strategies and/or knowledge did the Teach Well Masterclass Series give you to support your lesson creation for Ochre?

The Teach Well Masterclass offered great support and preparation for lesson creation at Ochre. The Masterclass equipped me with skills in lesson design, and knowledge about the science of learning especially cognitive load theory and how to incorporate my knowledge of how students learn into the lesson design.

You have recently attended our Instructional Lead Fellowship workshops, what is something you are excited about bringing back to your school?

Teach Well’s Instructional Lead Fellowship has been greatly beneficial to my learning. I’m excited to bring back knowledge of the impact coaching cycle and incorporating this into our school coaching cycle. I would absolutely recommend the instructional lead fellowship for anyone in a coaching or leadership position at their school.

– Rebekah Winning, Primary Teacher & English Coach

The Role of Knowledge, Retrieval Practice & When Students Get Busy Tricking

This week we had our second alumni seminar for the year: “Promoting self-regulation and independence through high-impact instruction”. We looked at key high-impact instructional strategies that promote self-regulated learning and increase student independence. It’s so great to see so many alumni from our first cohorts in 2019 staying in touch too – it’s hard to believe this is Teach Well’s fifth year!

Three resources for our alumni

How knowledge helps: it speeds and strengthens reading comprehension, learning – and thinking

How does knowledge help learning? In this article Cognitive Scientist, Daniel Willingham, takes us through the research on why knowledge is essential for learning. Willingham steps us through how knowledge improves thinking by freeing up space in our working memory, with specific links to how this can support problem solving in Maths and Science. We love implications from cognitive science that inform classroom teaching practice…

What should you do when your students can’t retrieve anything?

We know that retrieval practice and its related ‘desirable difficulty’ is vital for long-term learning, but what do you do when students’ minds go blank during an in-class retrieval practice activity? In this short read, Pooja Agarwal (PhD and cognitive scientist) steps us through four simple techniques to support students during retrieval practice. As a bonus, Pooja also includes what to do when some students retrieve more quickly than others.

Busy tricking during the Do Now

‘Busy tricking’, the clever term coined by Adam Boxer, science teacher and author, is what students do when they give the outward impression that they are engaging with work but are in fact doing things that avoid thinking. What can you do when your students spend all the allocated time in a short ‘Do Now’ task or the ‘Apply’ section of a Daily Review? Read this article for some simple yet effective solutions to ‘Busy tricking’.

High-Impact Teaching Strategies for Academic Excellence

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Laura Glisson, our Language and Literacy Specialist here at Teach Well, for gaining a position on the Publication Committee at Learning Difficulties Australia, an association dedicated to assisting students with learning difficulties through effective teaching practices. Nice work, Laura!

Three resources for our alumni

How to use retrieval practice for group work: the surprising truth


Can teamwork actually help students retain more information than independent work? What does the research say about the effect of group work in students’ learning? This article looks at the research behind group work and how teachers can use it to improve student learning.

Improving multiple choice questioning


How can we more efficiently and effectively use multiple choice questioning as a learning technique? In this article, you can read about how this form of questioning can help students be more metacognitive about their learning – could they accurately retrieve the correct answer or can they just recognise it from a list of options?

New AERO resources released


Have you seen the new Australian Education Research Organisation’s practice resources? New resources include research summaries, facilitated guides for different learning areas, videos and case studies. These could be perfect for collaborative discussions at school.