The core Literacy teaching at Clarinda Primary School is presented through the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop model of teaching. Each lesson is broken up into: mini lesson, independent working time and sharing time. The core aspects of the Workshop model centre on:

Values of the Workshop Model

Time – the main block of the Workshop hour is given to students to independently read or write. If we want students to become strong readers and writers, we need to give them time to do it.

Choice – students who have choice over what they read and write will automatically become more engaged in their learning, and will enjoy the process more.

Conferring – during Independent Reading and Writing time, teachers confer (work one-on-one) with each student. Students are taught at their exact point of need and work with their teacher to set personal learning goals.

We are passionate about helping our students grow into lifelong readers and writers, and we know that the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop model of teaching allows us to do this.

Writer’ Wall



Clarinda PS is one of those very schools. The staff are fantastic, and among them is Erin Beissel who is the 2021 Victorian Education Excellence Awards reigning Teacher Of The Year.

There are an increasing number of schools that I recommend educators to go and visit. Clarinda has been hosting visits for me for a couple of years now (COVID permitting!). They have quality whole school approaches in the teaching of reading and writing, and are now building this into the numeracy space.

When it comes to phonics, Clarinda follows the research.

Despite what you might hear, the research is clear that phonics instructions should be systematic (not to be confused with synthetic!), and explicit. For some schools this can mean that all students receive the same instruction, and for some students, this can extend well beyond when it is needed. Too much of a focus on phonics can impact on a student’s ability to make meaning from texts.

What schools like Clarinda do is that they use a scope and sequence, combined with assessment, to differentiate what the whole class needs, what small groups need, and what individuals need. Once students have completed the assessment they no longer need phonics instruction. Phonics is an important, but only one part of their comprehensive literacy program.

The assessment and scope sequence Clarinda use, is from a resource by Heidi Anne Mesmer titled, ‘Letter Lessons and First Words’.

​The book provides suggested curriculum, activities and timelines for each aspect of the scope and sequence. Clarinda use this as a starting point, and they have also created their own resources to complement this work.

If you’re interested in reading about phonics further I would recommend the following article where Mesmer has teamed up with Nell Duke – ‘Phonics Faux Pas: Avoiding Instructional Missteps in Teaching Letter-Sound Relationships’.

Danny Hyndman – Educational Consultant for Clarinda PS


Please click here for more information about the Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop Model at Clarinda Primary School.