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July 26, 2023
Community of practice

Second COP Ireland

The Irish Community of Practice group met in one of the participating CoP schools on 13th June 2023 for their second face-to-face meeting. This is the first such meeting across the project, so you could say the Irish CoP team is 'blazing a trail', for now.

The CoP was delighted to welcome three new members and we were all energised by the opportunity to engage in practical and insightful discussions and activities about app use in relation to reading development. These centered in the main, on sharing experiences and knowledge gained since CoP Meeting 1 about reading apps and how these might be used effectively with and by learners.

Preliminary experiences highlighted a number of key challenges to the adoption of apps into reading instruction programme. These included the rigidity of school timetables in facilitating initiatives  begun mid-academic year. It was agreed that project teaching and learning arrangements need to be put in place early in the academic year, before learning support teaching hours/roles/timetables are put in place (in Ireland this is late September early October). Challenges were also encountered in relation to issues caused by teacher shortages, the fact that teachers in each school are not working as a team on project issues, the teachers involved in the project changed as the rotated between classes and moved to new roles/school.   Some schools had already determined the focus of reading instruction programmes within which apps would be used next year. Others did not yet have the information to make these decisions.

All schools seemed to have sufficient infrastructure and equipment to implement app use. They may need support from the project to acquire the apps they target. Hannes (from HAPPs) joined the CoP remotely to demonstrate the latest updated English version of Karaton, which received a very positive reaction and endorsement. Another teacher (C) demonstrated how she used MS Immersive Reader/ Reading Progress in the classroom. Finally, the value of a range of other apps, in terms of developing reading skills of learners, was discussed.

Ultimately, the CoP decided that its overall approach would be to work strategically, building on the group's current and emerging expertise, by sharing experiences around the adoption of apps selected from a range of (8 named) apps. Each scholl will select from this list in response to assessment of the learners chosen for app use and a determination of their strengths and areas targeted for development around reading.

CoP members will share details about the learners chosen and the proposed context and duration of reading programmes and app use in Sept 2023, via the project VLE. They will come together in a face-to-face format in October /November 2023 to exchange experiences and give an appraisal of the usefulness of their chosen apps then.  This Autumn meeting/workshop will be hosted and chaired by another of the participating schools.

We are all really looking forward to listening about the various experiences of CoP members and to learning from each other then.