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Book banding ....spare books??

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by caitrionaward, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. Just a thought we have just completed book banding our books in Lower School. We have bought a good supply of new books to complement the existing reading schemes. However because we have a selection of 3 different reading schemes we have multiple copies of each title and we really only want about 2 copies of each title of previous reading schemes in our new book banding baskets. therefore we have surplus ORT / New Way (phonically decodeable) and PM books is there anyone else in the same position willing to swap books and then we both get free books to add to our collections???
  2. Sorry to be picky here but all books are "phonically decodeable"; how well a child decodes them depends on how much of the code they have learned. Given that the Government has finally recommended the use of cumulatively decodeable books to teach early reading, don't you now think book bands is defunct at last?
  3. Today I had a look at some of the Oxford "Decode and Develop" books. ("Biff, Chip and Kipper Decode and Develop Stories can be used alongside Floppy's Phonics Fiction and Non-fiction and your favourite Biff, Chip and Kipper Stories to provide a firm foundation for reading success.") Some of the titles in the first level (pink band) are called: "The Lost Gloves" and "Fly Away". Clearly to decode even the titles of these books requires far more than a beginners knowledge of the alphabetic code, yet they are billed as being equal to Floppy's Phonics first stages. OUP also continue to market the old ORT books (Toys' Party et al). I know that they are a business and respond to demand; if they didn't they would go out of business. I think Debbie is right to lay a lot of responsibility at the door of the IoE who seem to decide which band each book should go in. Is there anyone on here who can enlighten about the criteria used to "band" each book? I have never met anyone who can, yet we blindly follow this illogical system.
  4. Basically it seems to me that the Institute of Education, Reading Recovery and the Book banding catalogue system are part of 'the establishment'.
    It is very hard to challenge and change anything in 'the establishment'!
    We just have to keep on trying!
  5. Yes. In my class I have bought Floppy's Phonics and Pearson Phonics Bug and others. I am structuring these into a progressive order based on their cumulative decodeability not their bookband.
  6. don't you think it is all too schematised and structured?

    The constant exhortation to have the next rung on the ladder ready for them. They are constantly climbing b##dy ladders, or hopping over stepping stones or scoring flaming own learning goals. Parents who are teachers sometimes write on here criticising their child's reception teacher for sending/not-sending/misjudging the level of reading book and I just wonder if it isn't all too precious. Too overlain with stress and blame and anxietynpartly exacerbated by the current exigencies of the phonics lobby.

    Don't you think guys you are over strident in your demands and dismissal of all that is informal, less-structured, unsystematic and slightly haphazard?

    where does the cereal packet, the street name, the hoarding advertisement enter into this, street sign, the timetable, the gmae instrucion come into these ladders?

    do they really need so many phonetically decodable books at this early stage so we can set them on the rung-climbing treadmill? ANd if we are lucky enough to have them why not let them explore around a bit in them instead of having to have all this carefully selected, graded, ability matched text- isn't it for the teacher and not the learning?

    How mch do they really engage with knowing there is another floppy and biff adventure to read -'if they want to?'- no not a chance mate , they have to or they don't get the one after.

    Can;t it just be that they don't want to read like little reading machines everything put before them like a hamster on a revolving hamster's wheel? Maybe they want to paddle in the stream, leap off the laders that stilt them off the grass and roll about a bit in it?

    Maybe book bands were something to help us if we were too lazy to look at any book, give it a go, decide for ourself it didn't work or was too difficult - in other words engage with our own learning detector or brain as it is known?

    Until my daughter is five, six or seven I don't mind if she doesn't sit reading books alone because reading them with me or another adult (or friend) she is hearing the language, sharing the dialogue, trying strategies, being inducted into the process, feeling the mental and physical embrace, an apprentice not only to reading but to sociability. I want her to have those values of love and be loved, to share and to talk above and beyond her abitlity to please a teacher by skipping up a ladder .

    One day she'll grow up and do all this. Am I alone in this country by not wanting this sooner than is necessary? Why ? What is the gain to her? What is the loss to relationship? I prefer to celebrate her stamping out her own rossetta stone of understanding at her own pace. I don't value her more for reading early? I value the insights she shows me of persistence, connection, pattern seeking and distraction wtih nonssense things and the smile when my arm is around her and she has rolled around in the tall grass of words and made a wider patch so she can share with me what she is seeing.
  7. Yes. The 3 month free bugclub trial allows you to see the content of every Pearson Phonics Bug book online. Not going to use the e-books but will be buying the hard copies.
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We have both and the ebooks seem to be reaching those families who never return reading books but are reading on line almost every day.
  9. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    That sounds fabulous. What do you do about those who are not online at home? Both my children's classes have a small number who are not.
    While it is not what the opening poster will want to hear, I (as a parent) personally detest baskets of books by bookbands. However, I'm a parent, and I can see that as a teacher it gives some kind of semblance of order and structure, and makes you feel that you could send the children off each day to choose a book that might be approximately "right".
    However, where the basket system is done to a mix of reading schemes I really do not think it works at all. If I were teaching reading in a school (which I am not) I would rather keep each reading scheme separate and in order. Even bunging together phonically decodable books colour by colour from just one progressive synthetic phonics scheme doesn't work well as they introduce the phonemes and graphemes in a slightly different order in different schemes. And even bunging all the books of a particular level from the same reading scheme into a basket doesn't work as the child then reads them out of order, and where there is a careful build up of the phonics you have effectively destroyed that carefully planned scheme.
    As a teacher I would rather have a better grasp of which books cover which phonemes and graphemes and send them home in an appropriate order depending on the child's knowledge of the code on that particular day, and also teach parents the tricks that Debbie recommends if the child comes across a word that has phonemes or graphemes in it that they have not yet learned or have learned but cannot remember.
    With my second child at home I pretty much ignored the colour baskets promoted by school. I worked through the RWI decodable books in the right order (but missing out a lot of the unnecessary books which repeat phonemes and graphemes for reinforcement purposes). When the child was bored by these, or needed extra practice of particular phonemes or graphemes I supplemented with Floppy Phonics or Songbirds books - but I had to handpick these books by reading them right through and seeing exactly which book suited what I needed at that point in time. I then found that by the time I had got to about Floppy Phonics level 6, and Songbirds 6, and the beginning of maybe grey level in RWI, that she was ready to read ORT Biff Chip Kipper stage 5 onwards correctly - i.e. by working out that the words said from her phonic knowledge rather than by guessing.
    BUT, of course, I realised that she could also at that point read simple story books that were not in a reading scheme. She wanted to read two or three levels of Biff, Chip, Kipper, because her sister had done so, but probably she didn't need to at all. At that point I could simply have branched off into "real" books that she really wanted to read. She started to test whether or not she could read a book by trying the first couple of sentences.
    Although that sounds very organised, structured, time-consuming, etc it was not actually that many books that got her to the point where she could choose real simple story books for herself. It took a reasonable amount of my time though to work out what would be good next, but it saved her a lot of time learning to read. It took 1.5 years. It was slowed down by starting school as for quite a while by the time she came home she was too tired to want to read.
    My older child suffered the coloured book baskets for quite a long while before I started to duck the school system. She probably read more words to get to the same level of phonic decoding proficiency because it was not a well organised progression ( the coloured baskets make it look as though it is a well organised progression but in fact it is just a bad mish-mash of different schemes).
    Where I do think that the bookbanding would be useful is for approx bookband 6 upwards where a child has already learned the main bulk of phonemes / graphemes. If interesting real books, both fact and fiction, are bookbanded, it helps the child, teacher, and parents, choose a book quite quickly that is likely to be a relatively easy read for their current level of fluency.
    I don't know how many "real" books have been banded in this way though. But bashing up different reading schemes into a mishmash set of baskets seems futile to me.

  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    They still have paper copies of books to read, as do the children who are on line, however some families have chosen to only use the e books.
    I really don't mind what a child reads at home as long as they are reading regularly.
  11. That is exactly what I have been saying for a long while now.

    Not just futile, potentially very damaging.
  12. What is damaging is to want to keep this tight control on what children encounter in their experience of books and reading. It's almost as if we feel that if we do not control children's access to books we will harm their development. I would argue that these books are primers, not actually books at all except they have a cover, print and pages. The words, and therefore the ideas are too limited. Great for learning the code, but very dry material for children who want to read in order to find out. Learning to read has always involved sharing of books, are we giving up on that, and moving towards filling the empty vessels with graphemes and phonemes and then hoping it will be regurgitated accurately by children reading independently. I think that is a vain hope, as children are not empty vessels but come with their awkwardly different attitudes to learning, different aptitudes and different interests ( you can talk all you like at children, but that doesn't mean they will believe what you say is worth remembering, regurgitating and applying). Reading is not a mechanical process-turn the right buttons, pull the right levers and -result. It is a complex process involving much more than decoding. There is a place for floppy's phonics and the rest but we should not rely on them to make children want to read books.
  13. If you don't control early reading experiences, and give children books beyond their code knowledge, then they develop compensatory strategies such as guessing from pictures, memorising words, etc. By allowing this to happen does harm many children's development.

    We are not talking about this level of reading. We are talking about beginners. That is akin to saying a Nissan Micra is great for learning to drive in but what about those who want to win a Grand Prix?

    Actually it helps to see that reading is a mechanical process. It involves logical steps, that when completed in a logical order will result in good reading.
  14. But reading is not a mechanical process. It involves understanding, interpetation, recall, comprehension, making lnks, noticing pattern. These are not mechanical but higher level skills. We need to encourage these skills from the word go because this is what makes reading rewarding for the reader. Good reading is not a simple mechanical matter of decoding. As for requiring that beginnner readers have to read only strictly decodable texts - this is not akin so much as learning on a Nissan Micra but more like learning how one componenet of a car works and then being expected to be able to drive. It's a good analogy because beginner drivers have to actually pay attention to the road, anticipate and interpret road situations. Good reading also requires complex cognitive skills.
    And what are these logical steps you refer to? There's nothing logical in /a/ being represented as 'a'. It is a simple contingent fact that has to be learned. Your code is simply a list of correspondences which have to be learnt initially as facts. And then the facts are applied with flawed logic because the code is not simple.
    And isn't it equally as logical to allow that recognotion of a word like 'all' be applied to many other words? Yet, for some reason, you cannot see that learning 'all' as a unit can be as useful as learning all the different possibilities for 'a'. At least when you learn 'all' as a word you are not learning an abstract concept, but have something meaningful within your own experience to hang it on.

  15. I am talking about beginning reading, not higher order skills. Obviously understanding, interpretation, etc. are developed in other ways. This is not done through beginning reading books. No child can apply higher order skills to a text that they cannot decode.

    It is not MY code, it is the code we use to write down English. It is not as simple to learn as some codes, but it is logical - a written letter or letters is the code for a sound.
  16. Thumbie. ???? ? ??? ???? ??? ??? ????? ???? ????? ?????? ???? ??. Teejay100000
  17. mmm very well put I think Thumbie.
    Perhaps what is under discussion here are the learning and teaching agendas.

    what you are saying seems to me very much akin to the learning agenda- I like your description of the beginning driving skills needed immediatley once we are on the road. I remember practising the change of gear with the clutch in my dad's car in the back garden, to try and master a little of that complex co-ordination, but in the end it was in the heat of the moment on the road - or wih him swearing and gripping the dashboard andhis teeth! That I learned to change gear.

    teejay seems to be speaking very much akin to the teaching agenda. The need for some children to have this very clearly and logically explained and to sit in the garden practising all those mirror siganl moanouevre gear changes etc. She has seen too many children who just haven't got it in any way. Whether that is through lack of seeing why it is meant, or for not having had the logical sequence of clutch, gear stick, signal, mirror etc... explained to them in a way they could grasp.

    then mystery 10 seems to fall into both categories but with a tendency for anxiety that chldren should be driving as early as possible but progressively - first on unmade, then C, then B, then A then on motorways as soon as they can.

    maybe the teaching agenda with its heirarchical, logal, sequential structure is very useful to help break down the stages of learning a skill, the problem become perhaps when it is applied to all children whose learning needs a whole lot more individualising, idiosyncratic approaches. There is guess and guile and guilessness, there is wander and wonder, there is an attempt to organise personal patterns and experiences in distinct orders and sequences.

    Whilst this may become progressively more and more useful as an organising agenda perhaps here we are talking predominantly about children of 3,4,5 in nursery and reception and I suppose the worry is always that we begin to instruct too young without taking the time for learning strategies to take root in the soil of reich experience and free enquiry.

    Certainly up until 5/6 I am with thumbie. I slightly abhor the idea of such tightly runged phonics ladders in nursery and reception- both at school and at home that mystery10 seems to suggest and to hold the teacher to account for.

    THen at 6/7 teejay I would go with you, simply, effectively, fairly quickly covered essentials of phonics to give the kids an on the road start. Does it need ot be as sytematically taught as we suggest all the graphemes etc or can we build in the learning to learn- pattern seeking, idiosyncratic collecting of relevant exceptions and support their growing knowledge? If so how does this fit with a standard test?

    Is the test too early and will it make reception into a phonics equivalent of the year 6 SATs experience- being focused on at deptth to the detriment of breadth?
  18. Thumbie. Have fun applying your higher reading skills to this code you do not know. Teejay100000
  19. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Ah I enjoyed your driving post Yohana; your description of my preferred method is reasonably accurate - but I do tend to modify my views week on week!! However you ascribe ages to when you think I would wish to do things (e.g. the earlier the better - I don't think that in all cases) and then suggest your own ages.
    In the ideal world I don't think age would necessarily form much of the equation at all. However, at the moment to get the most out of the UK KS1 curriculum and beyond I think that the sooner you can read reasonably well the better. Clearly if you are hitting your head against a brick wall teaching a child to read and you think it's going to take so many hours per day to do so that everything else of benefit to their early childhood will be lost, and their love of reading could be delayed significantly from an early "reading assault" then don't try too hard, just carry on with a little bit of gentle exposure each day and an even bigger dose of everything else that will hopefully cultivate ultimately a love of reading.
    But equally with many children there could be more than one danger in leaving it too late. You could miss a window of opportunity in which children really want to learn to read. Picture the face on my first daughter when she trotted off to big school from pre-school and was really hoping to learn to read when she was sent home with wordless books - yes they have great positives when used well, but they were not the thing to give her at that point in time. Then think of leaving the phonics input so it was always lagging behind the standard of material she was interested in reading and picture her struggling to decode some longer words at the beginning of year 1 in books that she really wanted to read and getting really upset with herself that she couldn't do some of them because (now I realise) she had not been taught the skills logically (some kids wouldn't need it but she did).
    Also, the majority of the phonics material that is around has storylines and humour that a (very) young child might find amusing, but if you leave it to year 1, 2, 3 it's really quite desperate stuff for a child who knows what a really interesting book looks like and sounds like from having had them read to them. I know this situation is slowly changing as more publishers produce graded phonics material that would be of greater appeal to older children. But it is tricky because by it's very nature it's not going to be natural prose in its early stages.
    It's possible to share reading of more complicated books with a younger child who has not yet got all the basic phonics in place. You can pick out elements of the book that they should be able to work out and point out the extremely high frequency words. But in my own personal experience my own children do not like that - if I am reading to them they do not want it to be interrupted by them reading little bits of it, or pausing and discussing certain words.
    They are at their most interested in the task of reading when the book is one they would like to read and it's a good match for their current skill level.
    Mishmashes of reading schemes in boxes according to subjective bookbanding criteria do not particularly aid in that selection process either for the child, the parent or the teacher.
  20. thanks mystery 10.

    But you know I don't care about my daughter progressing through book bands etc. She is only five. To read independenly would add nothing to her life. Of course I celebrate her finding patterns and connections and telling me. I genuinely marvel at her decoding such complex print as is found on posters, tram instructions, milk cartons and in the pages of our story books. She deciphers aloud, I wait, genuinely pleased, appreciative, admiring of her strategies, and when she has had enough, I pick up where she leaves off. We carry on reading. ALOUD. Where to get off the tram, what is in the milk, where the concert id to be held and when.

    Where does this fit in with reading page after page of a tightly banded book reading scheme sent home by the teacher - at the moment I will say it doesn't -but in Septmeber she goes in to a class with a teacher who teaches this way so we shall see how I feel then.

    My fear is that there she will learn for the first time that cat, mat, pin, tin are more important - or maybe she will take it in her stride. I don't know I shall have to wait.

    My point is simply that reading is part of oracy, part of connection, communication and relationship. I would rather school developed this oral acuity with range and depth, with interlaced and well based foundations and left reading for year 1 /2.

    That is what I have always understod my role to be in the early years. Now maybe there was some justified criticism of the teaching of phonics decoding skills in primary. Others know better than I whether that is true.

    However maybe we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater by repeating the old mantra for reception teachers who were just getting used to the idea that they were part of a foundation stage with six ares of learning, idoors and outdoors to contend with when hey presto along comes jolly Mr Grove.

    Jolly Mr Grove in his cricketing whites, in his wood-panelled office with is feet on the table (well you can can't you- they do that at Eton), his brogues and his blazer and his cricketing cracks. He know whats best, he'll bowl a few googlies, to put us on guard, then use a bt of spin and finally when we can bat all of that, he'll send in the fast bowlers, to knock out our stumps, with new exams, new tests and an umpire who lays claim to the bails.

    My observation is that where this becomes the focus of TEACHING and we get terribly complicated in book bands, graphemes, profile points and all the rest it is the MECHANICS of TEACHING that are dominating the interaction.

    That is why teejays post above doesn't prove anything to me. Literacy is based on oracy, usually on at least three to five good solid years of oracy (in the case of Ms 2! -precocious indeed). Of course Thumbie cannot make head or tail of that, not only does she not hear it- any of it- the tone, the colour let alone the vocabulary and grammar, but she also cannot apply the strategies from having learnt her own language for exactly the same reasons.

    I am grateful for Teejay for posting this though because it is frequently used to justify teaching the code to young children, it is only in respnding here that I realise how clear and inescable to me is the logic that the house of literacy must be founded on oracy.

    Yet once again we are encouraged by the government's neighbourhood-watch to get our half- constructed houses up as quickly as possible so they can come and register them for tax. The pressure on reception teachers to get them'reading' so thay can do year 1 'work'.

    They are still five in year one aren't they? But jolly Mr Grove doesn't need to worry about that - Somalis didn't go to his prep school and there Hary and ROger and Margaret and Janet were all reading since 2. So it does no harm for all the country to be like that does it?

    Look Janet Look,

    the dog's at the gate,
    the butchers's irate
    and the milkman's not early but late.

    There's jam on the bread,
    the apples are red,
    the vicar will call by, he said.

    The countrys' together,
    whatever the weather,
    and it jolly well will be forever!
    Bum Bum.

    Look Janet Look

    .......awaiting hands to pick their pods
    and process them in numbered lots,
    (and all their lives will seek the same),
    quick chilled to keep the freshness in.

    Children now like simpletons,
    with deformed heads and narrow limbs,
    the compact of conformity,
    deficient in diversity.

    anyway just a few thoughts after your post Mystery.I guess I just don't, want anxiety, negativity, envy, selfish advancement, comparison and a sense of failure to be the overiding tone of our educational debate, especially in the early years.

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