WordBlaze - A Case Study

WordBlaze logoGriffin Park Primary School in Blackburn has been using the WordBlaze reading and spelling programme with their year 4 and year 6 intervention groups and have had some great results! Here is what they had to say:

Tell us about your school:

We have 240 children on roll. It is a Community Primary School with a Nursery and 20% of our children are from the 1% most deprived families nationally.

When did your school start using WordBlaze and why was it chosen?

We started using WordBlaze in the 2015 spring term.  We wanted to address spelling issues mainly, with selected pupils.  Although we have a rigorous scheme in place for literacy we felt that it wasn’t working for some of our children.  As WordBlaze was multi-sensory and had elements of precision teaching we felt that it was a good start and decided to trial it for 6 weeks with 2 groups of 6 children.

How do you use WordBlaze?

We tested children who were causing concerns and from that selected 12 children; 6 in Year 4 and 6 in Year 6.  We then taught them for 30 minutes a day every day for 6 weeks. 

What are the benefits of using WordBlaze?

We liked the simplicity and the repetition of the programme.  The visual and auditory memory hooks really helped the children and weeks later they can still recall them.  The children loved doing the programme.

Feedback on the WordBlaze programme/materials

The resource is a high quality and simple programme to follow.  The elements of Precision Teaching and the use of repetition are the key factors in why this works.  This along with the multi-sensory elements; the memory hook; drawing a picture; acting out; saying words in a funny way, and so on, have really contributed to the rapid progress for the children. 

The repetition for the children, so they know what is coming is actually a really useful aspect of the programme; the children do not get fed up with it, but find it reassuring and they all know they can succeed at elements of each of the daily lessons. 

The children particularly liked the One Minute Wonder and enjoyed the competitiveness of beating themselves (and were so impressed with the improvement over the week!).

The resource itself is well produced; it is bright and interesting for the children and they love getting the reward certificates.

If the sessions did not take quite as long it would be a fantastic whole class resource, but it is difficult to deliver the session in less than 30 minutes as the major contributing factor to the success of this programme is the daily practice. This might hinder us from using it across the whole school, but it is certainly something to think about as it would fill a gap for a good quality spelling programme which taps into a variety of learning styles.

When we first started using the programme it took quite a bit to ‘get your head’ around how the programme worked. Once we had a fortnight under our belts it was simple.  

Although we purchased the resource as a spelling resource we actually felt the impact it had on reading was huge too.  In fact the data showed better results in the reading.  This was probably due to the lack of parental involvement at home. 

The spelling test using dictation sentences was a fabulous aspect; the ability to use the words in context and then concentrate on the punctuation too was excellent. 

What did the children think and how did it impact on their learning?

The children liked doing the programme.  We now have a Year 5 group doing it and they say, “It’s fun”, “Miss says my spelling is getting good”, “It’s helping us to improve our spelling and learning new words too”.

How effective do you think WordBlaze has been in raising reading and spelling attainment in your school and if so why?

The Year 4 group made an average

  • 5 ½ months progress in Reading in the 6 weeks of the programme
  • 8 months progress in Spelling in the 6 weeks of the programme

The Year 6 group made an average

  • 12 months progress in Reading in the 6 weeks of the programme
  • 2 ¼ months progress in Spelling in the 6 weeks of the programme

In terms of individual children there was some outstanding rapid progress;

  • One Y6 boy spelling age increased 11 months, reading 12 months in 6 weeks
  • Another Y6 boy spelling age increased 7 months, reading 11 months in 6 weeks
  • Another Y4 boy spelling age increased 15 months, reading 5 months in 6 weeks
  • Another Y4 boy spelling age increased 11 months, reading 13 months in 6 weeks
  • And a Y4 girl spelling age increased 18 months, reading 6 months in 6 weeks

I intend to complete another test in another couple of weeks (6 weeks after their input from me finished) to see how the results compare then, obviously the retention of the improvement will be a key factor in analysing its full impact.

The Year 4 group made an average

  • 5 ½ months progress in Reading in the 6 weeks of the programme
  • 8 months progress in Spelling in the 6 weeks of the programme

The Year 6 group made an average

  • 12 months progress in Reading in the 6 weeks of the programme
  • 2 ¼ months progress in Spelling in the 6 weeks of the programme

In terms of individual children there was some outstanding rapid progress;

  • One Y6 boy spelling age increased 11 months, reading 12 months in 6 weeks
  • Another Y6 boy spelling age increased 7 months, reading 11 months in 6 weeks
  • Another Y4 boy spelling age increased 15 months, reading 5 months in 6 weeks
  • Another Y4 boy spelling age increased 11 months, reading 13 months in 6 weeks
  • And a Y4 girl spelling age increased 18 months, reading 6 months in 6 weeks

I intend to complete another test in another couple of weeks (6 weeks after their input from me finished) to see how the results compare then, obviously the retention of the improvement will be a key factor in analysing its full impact.

Would you recommend WordBlaze to other schools?

I would recommend WordBlaze to other schools.  I think it is a perfect use of Pupil Premium money to tackle under achievement as a targeted intervention.

You can learn more about WordBlaze here. 

Tags

Assessment, English and Literacy, Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation, Reading and Ebooks, Revision and Practice, WordBlaze

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