From paw print to ink print: Teaching and learning using pattern recognition

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre




Konza, D. (2009). From paw print to ink print: Teaching and learning using pattern recognition. Catholic Education Office WA Curriculum Conference.


The human brain has a unique capacity to interpret visual patterns: to connect patterns to conceptual or linguistic information at great speed. Our early ancestors used this capacity to connect a visual pattern such as a paw print with conceptual information that signalled danger, or perhaps a food source. These early brain structures laid the foundation for the type of neural circuitry that now allows us to gain meaning from arbitrary marks on a page – and to do this at great speed. This paper will firstly discuss evidence from brain-based research and eye movement technology to support the teaching of common letter strings and morphemic strategies to develop rapid automatised reading. The paper will then focus on strategies that use our hard-wired preference for pattern recognition to develop rapid decoding and encoding (spelling) skills, to extend vocabulary and to enhance comprehension skills.

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