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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Online Unscheduled



Unit rationale, description and aim

Automatic and accurate reading and spelling of all words lays the foundation for text reading fluency and comprehension and for fluent writing. In the unit on phonological awareness and phonics (EDER652, the students learned how to design systematic, explicit, and evidence-based differentiated phonics instruction for their students.

In this unit, students will learn how to expand that instruction to include reading and spelling of words that include less common spelling patterns. This includes examining theories of word reading and spelling; how morphology and etymology affects the spelling of words; how to effectively teach words with infrequent or unique spelling patterns; how to differentiate word reading and spelling instruction to meet the diverse needs of advanced spellers, students with an EAL/D background, those with developmental language deficit (DLD), and spelling difficulties. Finally, the unit analyses different assessment practices, including progress monitoring. 

The aim of this unit is to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to lead their colleagues in developing effective word reading and spelling instruction and assessments for students with diverse needs. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome Description
LO1Examine different theories of word reading and spelling (APST HA 2.1)
LO2Explain what evidence existing research has produced for word reading and spelling instruction (APST HA 1.2H, Lead 2.5)
LO3Evaluate which practices and instructional approaches are best suited for different students and purposes (APST Lead 1.1, 5.2)
LO4Design evidence-based word reading and spelling instruction and assessments for diverse groups of students (APST HA 1.6, 2.3, 4.1, 5.1, Lead 1.1, 2.1, 3.3)
LO5Evaluate the effectiveness of their word reading and spelling instruction (APST HA 5.4, Lead 1.2, 1.5, 3.6)


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards

1.2 Understand how students learn

Expand understanding of how students learn using research and workplace knowledge.

1.6 Strategies to support full participation of students with disability

Work with colleagues to access specialist knowledge, and relevant policy and legislation, to develop teaching programs that support the participation and learning of students with disability.

2.1 Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

Support colleagues using current and comprehensive knowledge of content and teaching strategies to develop and implement engaging learning and teaching programs.

2.3 Curriculum, assessment and reporting

Support colleagues to plan and implement learning and teaching programs using contemporary knowledge and understanding of curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements.

4.1 Support student participation

Model effective practice and support colleagues to implement inclusive strategies that engage and support all students.

5.1 Assess student learning

Develop and apply a comprehensive range of assessment strategies to diagnose learning needs, comply with curriculum requirements and support colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of their approaches to assessment.

5.2 Provide feedback to students on their learning

Select from an effective range of strategies to provide targeted feedback based on informed and timely judgements of each student’s current needs in order to progress learning.

5.4 Interpret student data

Work with colleagues to use data from internal and external student assessments for evaluating learning and teaching, identifying interventions and modifying teaching practice.


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards

1.1 Physical, Social and intellectual development and characteristics of student

Lead colleagues to select and develop teaching strategies to improve student learning using knowledge of the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.

1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities

Lead colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of learning and teaching programs differentiated for the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

2.1 Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

Lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.

2.5 Literacy and numeracy strategies

Monitor and evaluate the implementation of teaching strategies within the school to improve students’ achievement in literacy and numeracy using research-based knowledge and student data.

3.3 Use teaching strategies

Work with colleagues to review, modify and expand their repertoire of teaching strategies to enable students to use knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking

3.6 Evaluate and improve teaching programs  

Conduct regular reviews of teaching and learning programs using multiple sources of evidence including: student assessment data, curriculum documents, teaching practices and feedback from parents/carers, students and colleagues.

5.2 Provide feedback to students on their learning 

Model exemplary practice and initiate programs to support colleagues in applying a range of timely, effective and appropriate feedback strategies.


Topics will include:

  • Theories of word reading and spelling as complex cognitive skills
  • Word reading theories
  • Spelling theories
  • Theoretical and empirical connections between reading and spelling: spelling as a powerful learning mechanism for new written and spoken words

  • The English writing system and challenges of learning to read and spell words
  • the one-to-many mappings of sound-to-letter mappings
  • context-sensitive spellings
  • segmenting continuous vs stop sounds
  • the sound changes in co-articulated speech
  • how morphology affects spellings and pronunciations
  • how etymology affects spellings and pronunciations

  • Orthographic learning and why it is important
  • Models of orthographic learning
  • The role of orthographic learning in spelling and word reading
  • Orthographic learning difficulties
  • Sight words and orthographic learning

  • Word reading and spelling instruction and assessment
  • explicit vs implicit teaching of spelling and word-specific orthographic knowledge
  • explicit teaching of morphology and etymology
  • mispronunciation correction/set for variability
  • scope, sequence and speed of introduction of phoneme to grapheme correspondences, morphemes, and etymology
  • spelling and word reading instruction for students with EAL/D, learning difficulties and Developmental Language Disorder
  • differentiated word reading and spelling assessment and progress monitoring

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in multi-mode format and supported by a unit Learning Management System (LMS) site. In all modes, students are required to use the online learning platform that provides asynchronous access to lectures, readings, and quizzes. In a weekly attendance mode, students are required also to attend tutorials, presentations, and discussions in person in specific physical location/s whereas in an intensive mode the required in-person sessions take place during weekends or other blocks of time determined by the school. In online mode, students are required to participate in a series of interactive online workshops in addition to the regular online learning.

The unit uses an active learning approach to support students in acquiring, exploring, and analysing the essential knowledge associated with word reading and spelling instruction and assessment. Students will engage in an experiential learning cycle of conceptual learning and inquiry; engagement with existing research; active experimentation in their classrooms; and collecting and evaluating evidence. 

Engagement for learning is the key driver in the delivery of this unit. The unit will facilitate active participation in pedagogical approaches that demonstrate alignment of teaching, learning and assessment and incorporate: 

  • Online digital resources, including reference readings, database and document searches, and recorded lectures from experts
  • Online or face-to-face small group collaborative learning to foster reflective practice following the personal analysis, evaluation and synthesis of relevant literature and instructional and assessment practices in different schools
  • Online forum and chat tools to build a community of learners
  • Problem-based learning sessions to develop necessary skills and analyse and apply learning to school case studies.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester.

Mode of delivery: This unit will be offered in one or more of modes of delivery described below, chosen with the aim of providing flexible delivery of academic content.

  • On Campus: Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.
  • Intensive: In an intensive mode, students require face-to-face attendance on weekends or any block of time determined by the school. Students will have face-to-face interactions with lecturer(s) to further their achievement of the learning outcomes. This unit is structured with required upfront preparation before workshops. The online learning platforms used in this unit provide multiple forms of preparatory and practice opportunities for you students to prepare and revise. 
  • Multi-mode: Learning activities are delivered through a planned mix of online and in-person classes, which may include full-day sessions and/or placements, to enable interaction. Activities that require attendance will appear in a student’s timetable.
  • Online unscheduled: Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 
  • Online scheduled: All learning activities are held online, at scheduled times, and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, the students need to complete and pass all three assessment tasks. The first two tasks offer students opportunities to demonstrate knowledge of word reading and spelling, their place in reading and writing theories, research, instruction and assessments. The third assessment task allows them to show their skills in designing effective word reading and spelling instruction and assessment practices for their students and schools. 

The first task (20%) consists of weekly quizzes that assess understanding of the core content of lectures and readings and provides students an opportunity to continuously monitor their own learning. The second task (30%) requires students to demonstrate their understanding of issues associated with word reading and spelling theories and research by explicating their own instructional theory. The third task (50%) is related to knowledge of evidence-based instruction and assessments, and requires the students to apply their knowledge and skills to designing evidence-based word reading and spelling instruction and assessments for their current or future students.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 – Weekly Quizzes

Weekly quiz assessing comprehension of the content presented in lectures and readings.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 2 – Written assignment

Analysis of current theories of word reading and spelling, and construction of instructional theory that (1) is supported by existing theories and evidence, and (2) can guide differentiated instruction and assessment of students.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Assessment Task 3 – Written assignment

Compose a plan for an evidence-based word reading and spelling instruction and assessment for one school year for current or future students.


LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Baker, S., Lesaux, N., Jayanthi, M., Dimino, J., Proctor, C. P., Morris, J., & Newman-Gonchar, R. (2014). Teaching academic content and literacy to English learners in elementary and middle school. IES Practice Guide. NCEE 2014-4012. What Works Clearinghouse.

Castles, A., Rastle K., & Nation, K. (2018). Ending the reading wars: Reading acquisition from novice to expert. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 19, 5-51.

Colenbrander, D., Wang, H.C., Arrow, T., & Castles, A. (2020). Teaching irregular words: What we know, what we don’t know, and where we can go from here. The Educational and Developmental Psychologist.

Geva, E. (2006). Learning to read in a second language: Research, implications, and recommendations for services. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, 1-12.

Goodwin, A. P., & Ahn, S. (2013). A meta-analysis of morphological interventions in English: Effects on literacy outcomes for school-age children. Scientific Studies of Reading, 17(4), 257-285.

Graham, S., & Santangelo, T. (2014). Does spelling instruction make students better spellers, readers, and writers? A meta-analytic review. Reading and Writing, 27(9), 1703-1743. DOI 10.1007/s11145-014-9517-0

Kearns, D. M., & Whaley, V. M. (2019). Helping students with dyslexia read long words. Teaching Exceptional Children, 51, 212-225.

Kessler, B. (2003). Is English spelling chaotic? Misconceptions concerning its irregularity. Reading Psychology, 24(3-4), 267-289.

Kohnen, S., Nickels, L., & Castles, A. (2009). Assessing spelling skills and strategies: A critique of available resources. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 14(1), 113-150.

Moats, L. (2019). Phonics and spelling: Learning the structure of language at the word level. In Kilpatrick, D. A., Joshi, R. M., & Wagner, R. K. (2019). Reading Development and Difficulties. Springer International Publishing.

Treiman, R. (2017). Learning to spell words: Findings, theories and issues. Scientific Studies of Reading.

Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Swanson, E. A., Edmonds, M., & Kim, A. H. (2006). A synthesis of spelling and reading interventions and their effects on the spelling outcomes of students with LD. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39(6), 528-543.

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