Updated Versions of Presentation Slides

Here at The Literacy Bug, we have been tidying up some of our presentation slides. We thought it would be an opportune time share them with you.

First of all, you may or may not know that we have a few video presentations on our YouTube Channel. These presentations can also be found here.

When reviewing these presentations, it was inevitable that we’d find ways to refine and improve them. In this case, we’ve attempted to trim down excess materials for a clearer expression of the main ideas (or, at least, that is what we hope is the case).

Below are links to pdfs of the updated slides. Please note: we have only updated the slides. We haven’t re-recorded the video presentations. At some time in the future, we may get around to re-recording some of the lectures so that they are more succinct and to the point.

In the meantime, we encourage you to download and explore the updated materials below.

Updated Slides from the Main Presentations:

Updated Slides for Guidance on Supporting Decoding and Encoding:

Updated Slides on Sentence Structure:

We hope you find the updated materials useful. Please enjoy and explore!

Eight New Resources Available on The Literacy Bug

In this entry, we are proud to present a range of resources that have been in development for quite some time.

These include:

Please note that the “Elements” Checklist includes information on each of the above (phonemes, graphemes, morphemes, etc), as well as additional notes on reading multisyllabic words and vocabulary development.

All together, the resources are designed to provide reference materials that help one better understand the elements that contribute to word and sentence construction in English. They do NOT describe the activities that a learner can engage in to master these elements, though. As a result, these resources are not particularly helpful on their own, but they can be helpful when planning and reflecting upon the linguistic features that leaners need to master over time.

So ... please explore and enjoy! And remember, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Even if a learner is making progress with mastering the structural aspects of literacy - such as learning to decode words, spell words and write grammatical sentences - there is still a lot of work involved in making meaning from and with the printed word.

Mastering the Alphabetic Code

Today, we share "Mastering the Alphabetic Code" which is available below as well as on YouTube at https://youtu.be/dA4nt3rxTYM

This video is a presentation that outlines the key elements involved in learning to “master the alphabetic code”, such as phonemic awareness, phonemic knowledge, letter-sound correspondence, orthographic patterns, morphological patterns and automatic word recognition and construction skills.

It emphasises the need for teachers to develop scaffolded activities that provide learners with the skills to succeed.

The presentation slides can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/Mastering-the-Code. We highly recommend that you download the slides, since they contain many resources mentioned in the video. Please be patient during download. It's a large file, at least in PDF terms (20MB).

Please explore and enjoy! And send us a message if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

The Sentence: Features, Types and Structures

After the previous update, you'd definitely be correct to believe that the last video presentation was the final in a series. And it was. Yet, today, we share a new print presentation that stands on its own. Today, we share "The Sentence: Features, Types and Structures" and the slides for the presentation are available from http://bit.ly/2-The-Sentence

This most recent presentation is - in fact - an older presentation that we chose to revisit and update. The topic - grammar - may not spark excitement in the general audience, yet for me it is something of a secret passion. 

As a follower of linguistic philosophy, I am fascinated by the logical structure of the sentence. It is fascinating to know that a sentence is able to convey any meaning at all. I am fascinated that a sentence can be a "statement about the world ...  that one can contemplate, admire, reject or refine.” (Fish, 2011, p. 2)

As a writer, I appreciate balance and economy. I appreciate it when a sentence is able to deliver its message with style and grace.

As a teacher of English language learners, I know that teachers need to provide plenty of practice for their students to scan and understand a variety of sentences. This requires gradually helping learners handle sentences of increasing complexity in structure and content.

We welcome you to this presentation. One day it may become a video presentation, but for now it is a print one. As mentioned above, the slides are available for download at http://bit.ly/2-The-Sentence. We highly recommend that you download the slides, since the slides serve as a mini-textbook on the topic. When downloading, please be patient. It's a large file, at least in PDF terms (15MBs).

I must acknowledge something before I finish, though. This presentation does not address Halliday's functional grammar. Whilst we have become very familiar of this work since drafting the original presentation, we refrained from incorporating functional grammar into the updated version. We'll leave any exposition of Halliday's work to another day.

Please explore and enjoy! We hope we have done the topic justice. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to send us a message.


Fish, S. (2011). How to write a sentence: and how to read one. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Resources for Planning and Monitoring for Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning

After the previous update, you'd be correct to believe that the last video presentation was the final in a series. Even I was convinced of this. Alas, there is one more ... I swear ... or believe.

Today, we share "Resources for Planning and Monitoring for Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning" which is available below as well as on YouTube at https://youtu.be/R71j5_kegzk

The video is a presentation that summarises a range of resources that can help teachers better plan and monitor for effective literacy teaching and learning. In many ways, it's simply an extension of the previous presentations (listed below).

The presentation slides can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2-Planning-Monitoring-Resources. We highly recommend that you download the slides, since they contain many resources mentioned in the video. Please be patient during download. It's a large file, at least in PDF terms (20MB).

To recap, the following are links to the other presentations in the series:

An Overview of Literacy Development
Video: https://youtu.be/yMGU7UIJ4RU

Planning and Monitoring for Effective Instruction
Video: https://youtu.be/cZrtB8dTZEg

Teaching According to the Stages of Development
Video: https://youtu.be/D7vUhqVXLWg

Last but not least, below is the podcast episode in which we talk about the latest presentation.

Please explore and enjoy! And send us a message if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

Coming Soon ... Teaching Routines

Literacy can be seen as dependent on instruction, with the corollary that quality of instruction is key. This view emphasizes the developmental nature of literacy — the passage of children through successive stages of literacy, in each of which the reading and writing tasks change qualitatively and the role of the instructor has to change accordingly.
— (Chall, 1996 as referenced in Snow, 2004)

Regular visitors to The Literacy Bug will be very familiar with the above quote. We refer to it just as much as we refer to another of Catherine Snow's observations, "[in] a developmental theory, literacy is not a single skill that simply gets better [with age] ... Being literate is very different for the skilled first grader, fourth grader, high school student, and adult, and the effects of school experiences can be quite different at different points in a child’s development.” (Catherine Snow, et al, 1991, pg 9) In the spirit of these two observations, we plan to add a new section to The Literacy Bug. The section will be entitled Teaching Routines, and it will include advice on the types of teaching activities which suit each of the various stages of literacy development

As a teaser, the following diagram attempts to isolate lesson cycles that reflect aspects of the different stages of development. As these cycles currently stand, they are skeletal and oversimplified; however, they will be fleshed out in the new, yet-to-be-drafted section. Over the coming two to three months, we hope to establish the Teaching Routines section as a valuable addition to the website.  Until then, please explore and enjoy!


Chall, J. S. (1996). Stages of reading development (2nd ed.). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovic College Publishers.

Snow, C. (2004). What counts as literacy in early childhood? In K. McCartney & D. Phillips (Eds.), Handbook of early child development. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.

Snow, C. E., Barnes, W. S., Chandler, J., Goodman, I. F., & Hemphill, L. (1991). Unfulfilled expectations: home and school influences on literacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 

Celebrating our third anniversary!

Can you believe it? We are approaching the third anniversary since the original launch of Wittgenstein on Learning, which has since morphed into The Literacy Bug. For the curious, check out the initial announcement way back on 24 September 2013.

The initial website consisted of the Notes/Glossary/Readings sections and the Why Wittgenstein? essay. I fondly remember such sections as:

Even though the above sections are more esoteric than more recent material, they influenced the more applicable sections like:

Wittgenstein-infused essays also served as important milestones in the website's history, such as:

Today, the themes of Wittgenstein live on in a more applicable manners. Even though the site's name has changed, the website is still focused on the acquisition of language, the development of literacy, the importance of social interactions, and the scaffolding of ways of seeing, acting and thinking.

Celebrate the anniversary with us. Explore the site. Send us a message. Let us know your favourite part of the resource. Welcome and enjoy!

Stay connected with The Literacy Bug

Would you like to be notified of the latest updates to The Literacy Bug? Do you wonder if you missed something? Well, you're in luck. There are a few ways to stay connected with The Literacy Bug, and one is brand, spanking new.

First, I encourage everyone to follow us on Twitter. In addition to receiving updates, I regularly retweet posts from such key organisations as the International Literacy Association, Project Literacy and Edutopia. Microblogging at its best.  https://twitter.com/theliteracybug 

I also plan to ramp up activity on The Literacy Bug podcast. If you are a fan of podcasts or just a casual listener, subscribe to our station at the following link: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/insights-updates-literacy/id879917574

Extra! Extra! The Literacy Bug now has its own channel on Apple News. Every blog entry will also appear in the Apple News feed. If you have an device with iOS 9 or later, visit the following link from your device and add us as one of your favourite channels: https://apple.news/T9Ow-FmBvTVqKxK-j_dgxlw

Last - but definitely not least - you can also subscribe straight to our mailing list and/or RSS feed. Enter your email in the form below to join our mailing list, or you can simply visit either of the following links. Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/blrmlz or RSS Feed: http://www.theliteracybug.com/journal/?format=rss

We look forward to your company. Please explore and enjoy, and never hesitate to send us a message.

New Reading Lists Added to The Literacy Bug: Stages of Literacy Development

It is with great pleasure that we make this small - yet important - update. We would like to announce that we have categorised some of our recommended references according to Jeanne Chall’s Stages of Reading Development. Regular visitors would be well aware that Chall’s model plays an important role in The Literacy Bug’s approach to literacy teaching and learning. If you are not familiar with Chall’s model, we encourage you to read the linked essay on the Stages of Literacy Development and/or visit the notes on the Five Stage of Reading Development.

Otherwise, proceed straight to the newly added reading lists. Each list begins with a brief description of the stage.


Stage 0: Pre-Reading: Birth to 6 Years Old

In Stage 0, the child pretends to read, gradually develops the skills to retells stories when looking at pages of books previously read to him/her. The child gains the ability to name letters of the alphabet, prints own name and plays with books, pencils and paper. By six years old, the child can understand thousands of words but can read few (if any). In this stage, adults are encouraged to scaffold child’s language attempts through parallel talk, expanding on verbalisations and recasting child’s verbalisations. Adults are encouraging children to use of two to three word combinations within social contexts, and adults should implement dialogic reading or effective shared reading for young children ages 2 to 5 years. Any instruction (phonics, vocabulary) should be linked to the book reading, and such books should include rhyme, alliteration, and repetitive phrases. In one’s environment, adults should verbally label objects with which children are involved and encourage children to ask questions and elaborate on observations (Westberg, et al., 2006). Click here to explore recommending readings for Stage 0.


Stage 1: Initial Reading & Decoding: 6 to 7 Years Old

In Stage 1, the child is learning the relation between letters and sounds and between print and spoken words. The child is able to read simple texts containing high frequency words and phonically regular words, and uses skills and insight to “sound out” new words. In relation to writing, the child is moving from scribbling to controlled scribbling to nonphonemic letter strings. Adults are encouraging the child to write about known words and use invented spellings to encourage beginning writing, which can be extended through assisted performance. In this stage, the main aims are to further develop children’s phonological awareness, letter-sound knowledge, and ability to manipulate phonemes and syllables (segmentation and blending). (Westberg, et al., 2006) Click here to explore recommending readings for Stage 1.


Stage 2: Confirmation & Fluency: 7 to 9 Years Old

In Stage 2, the child can read simple, familiar stories and selections with increasing fluency. This is done by consolidating the basic decoding elements, sight vocabulary and meaning context in the reading of common topics. The learner’s skills are extended through guided read-aloud of more complex texts. By this stage, adults should be providing instruction that includes repeated and monitored oral reading. Teachers and parents must model fluent reading for students by reading aloud to them daily and ask students to read text aloud. It is important to start with texts that are relatively short and contain words the students can successfully decode. This practice should include a variety of texts such as stories, nonfiction and poetry, and it should use a variety of ways to practice oral reading, such as student-adult reading, choral (or unison) reading, tape-assisted reading, partner (or buddy) reading and reader’s theatre. (Westberg, et al., 2006) Click here to explore recommending readings for Stage 2.


Stage 3: Reading for Learning the New: 9 to 13 Years Old

In Stage 3, reading is used to learn new ideas, to gain new knowledge, to experience new feelings, to learn new attitudes, generally from one or two points of view. There is a significant emphasis placed on reading to learn, and writing for diverse purposes. There is time spent balancing the consolidating of constrained skills (spelling, grammar, fluency) whilst providing ample opportunities to explore topics through reading, writing, speaking, listening & viewing. By this time, the learner has transitioned to a stage where he or she is expected to learn from their reading. Adults should teach  specific comprehension strategies, such as comprehension monitoring, using graphic and semantic organisers, answering questions, generating questions, recognising textual structures, summarising, and identifying main ideas and important details. (Westberg, et al., 2006) Click here to explore recommending readings for Stage 3.


Stage 4: Synthesising, Critiquing & Applying Perspective: 13 to 17 Years Old

In Stage 4, learners are reading widely from a broad range of complex materials, both expository and narrative, and are asked to apply a variety of viewpoints. Learners are required to access, retain, critique and apply knowledge and concepts. Learners are consolidating general reading, writing and learning strategies whilst being required to develop more sophisticated disciplinary knowledge and perspectives. These adolescent learners deserve content area teachers who provide instruction in the multiple literacy strategies needed to meet the demands of the specific discipline. In these areas, adolescents deserve access to and instruction with multimodal as well as traditional print sources. (International Reading Association, 2012). Click here to explore recommending readings for Stage 4.

We hope the newly added lists are helpful. If you would like to provide any recommendations or send us a comment, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@theliteracybug.com or use the comment box/link below.

References in this blog entry
International Reading Association. (2012). Adolescent Literacy: a position statement of the International Reading Association. Newark, DE.

Westberg, L., McShane, S., & Smith, L. (2006). Verizon Life Span Literacy Matrix: Relevant Outcomes , Measures and Research-based Practices and Strategies. Washington D.C.

Updates Galore! New pages, assessment advice and teaching strategies at The Literacy Bug

Wow! It has been far too long since the last update to The Literacy Bug's Journal. I dare not ask when the last update was. Despite the long silence - or perhaps to explain it - we have some significant updates to share with you. 

Firstly, a new section has been added to the site, and it is called Developing. In this section, you will find advice on how to help students grow in the various skills that underpin literacy development, such as oral language, phonological awareness, fluency, comprehension and more. At the moment, there is only one page in the new section, and it is called Developing Constrained Skills, which are things like print awareness, phonemic awareness, decoding and spelling. Follow this link to find out more ... 

There is also a new page in the Planning section: Using Quality Assessment Practices. Effective instruction is creative, challenging and targeted. This is why strong assessment practices before, during and at the end of teaching cycles are key to informed educational practices. We believe the new page is an essential addition to the site, and it complements the Balancing Instruction and Stages of Development pages very well. Check it out!

Regular visitors will notice that a couple pages from the Essays section have made their way into the Planning folder. They are An Initial Framework for Literacy Instruction and Literacy Development Requires Steady Guidance. Explore these old favourites when you have a chance. An old blog entry has also made its way into the folder: Key Questions to Guide Instruction. Last but not least, two related pages have been updated and we are very happy with the results: Establishing (Literacy) Practices and Why Do We Do What We Do?

All in all, there is much to explore at The Literacy Bug (and I haven't even mentioned updates to the Recommended Readings and the Recommended Links pages). We hope you enjoy all the new stuff. Please explore! 

A new section has been added to The Literacy Bug ... Recommended Links

We've added a page of links that we recommend. We have only included links that provide authoritative, reliable, useful, creative and/or engaging resources and perspectives on language, literacy and learning. Some are hosted by reputable literacy organisations, such as the International Literacy Association, the National Center for Family Literacy and the Primary English Teachers Association of Australia. Please explore widely and enjoy! We hope this list will grow over time, so visit regularly and follow the site's journal where we will announce updates. 

If you have any suggested links that we should consider adding to the site, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The following are a few examples:

Welcome to The LITERACY BUG!!

The time has come! We enthusiastically welcome you to something we have been anticipating for some time … the launch for The Literacy Bug. So … please … say “HELLO” to Ludwig, a little bug who always has his head in a book. 

Even though this launch comes with a fair amount of celebration, I must admit that it also comes with a teeny, tiny bit of sadness … not much … just a small morsel of it. I am compelled to remind myself that “we are NOT saying goodbye to Wittgenstein on Literacy or Wittgenstein on Learning.” The core spirit of the old name(s) will remain. It is not possible to severe the site’s deep ties to the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. After all, Wittgenstein was deeply fascinated by the diverse ways that language and literacy are used between people in the general course of living, imagining, conceptualising, doing, knowing, speculating, calculating, relating, etc. Perhaps the change of name is just a clever ploy and the discussion will go on as usual. To a certain extent, I think it will.

Nevertheless, exciting possibilities lay ahead. I look forward to expanding the literacy resources available on the site: links to fantastic online resource, lesson plans and ideas, great books for all ages and interests, and tips and tricks to help readers and writers as well as teachers and students. While I will miss having a little corner of the Internet carved out explicitly for the discussion of a certain application of Wittgenstein’s manner of approaching language, I couldn't honestly continue to act under the title Wittgenstein on Literacy/Learning when the conversation was moving more and more into a direct and contemporary discussion of literacy learning and instruction. So I must let the original (2007) premise of website evolve into what we have now and will have in the future.

The truth of the matter is this ... I may - in fact - be allowed to be more Wittgensteinian (without feeling the need to explicitly link observations to Wittgenstein). I may be freed to discuss a range of literature (children’s, young adult and more) with a keen eye on how readers and authors co-construct meaning based on certain shared assumptions. I may be better positioned to marvel at the developmental leaps that learners make as they grow through the various stages of literacy learning. I may be better able to provoke visitors to reconsider how our environments, practices, relationships and politics influence the potential for learners to catch the literacy bug and - thereby -  take charge of their intellectual journey.

In the end, literacy is wide ranging phenomenon. What it means to a two year old and a four year old is different to what it means for a ten year old, a sixteen year old, a twenty year old, a thirty-five year old, a fifty year old and more. What it means now is different than what it meant thirty years ago and what it will mean in forty years time. The shape of literacy practice in urban Chicago is different to the role it plays in remote Australia which is different to the texts, contexts and traditions encountered by present-day youth in Cairo. That said, there is the old saying ... the more thing change, the more they remain the same.

Nevertheless, I am getting well ahead of myself. Welcome to The Literacy Bug … a little creature with the capacity to fly, burrow, nest, transform, whiz about and inspire. Please visit the new home page for a fresh discussion of the road ahead and subscribe to receive regular updates. And whilst you are here, stop by the site’s many familiar places: the themed notes, the key essays, the teaching principles, the reading lists and the glossaries. Welcome! Explore and enjoy!