Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.
Don't forget to look at the how to guide.
Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by billandsplodge, Sep 28, 2010.
This is a key issue. What does 'work' at level 3 and why?
You are missing the point here.
Firstly, few teachers are teaching beginning reading effectively in the first place - Level 1. Most of the children who struggle are 'instructional casualties' (aka NBT - never been taught).
We don't much about children requiring Level 3 intervention because we haven't got Level 1 right. The point is to get initial instruction right in the first place so there are no 'instructional casulties' clogging up the system and confusing the issue.
In the schools that are teaching beginning reading effectively (ie Ruth Miskin's school in Tower Hamlets, London, and John Fleming's Bellfield Primary in Melbourne), which were both served a highly disadvantaged population, there were no 'Level 3's. All children got the same effective instruction initially (Level 1) and some children got a bit extra of the same (Level 2). Having got Levels 1 & 2 right meant that, in these schools, there was no-one requiring Level 3.
Secondly, the most effective way to teach beginning reading whihc has been proven to work is direct, explicit, intensive and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, synthetic phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension . The reason that some children struggle to learn/fail to learn is that most teachers & schools are not doing, or not doing properly (program fidelity) what has been proven to work.
For arguments sake, lets say that there is a student who failed to learn to read even though he received effective instruction, has normal ability/intelligence and no apparent impairment. This student stills needs more of what has been proven to work; direct, explicit, intensive and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
What this student doesn't need are any of the things that have been proven to be ineffective - whole word memorising, guessing from context clues, fish oil, coloured lenses, hopping on one foot while balancing a ball on their nose etc.
I think what you may be asking is what if the specific program chosen to teach (say) the phonics component of a beginning reading program turns out to be a dud. This is tricky because there are some verry good programs which have not been subjected to 'gold standard' randomised trials. The program that has the greatest amount of evidence is SRA/Direct Instruction Reading Mastery, Corrective Reading and Spelling through Morphemes.
Even programs like Direct Instruction fail if they are not implemented correctly (program fidelity). I am familiar with research conducted in Australia which shows how teachers 'go wrong' when implementing a program, for example, adding the 'schwa' when saying the sound, and even saying the wrong sound for a letter. Very common is not modeling blending correctly, ie, cah ... ah ... tuh instead of caahhttuuh.
If you are asking which program to choose, the UK Reading Reform Foundation has a lot of information and discussion about various programs (www.rrf.org.uk).
If you are asking about the assumption that some children will still fail to learn to read despite effective instruction, the answer is that we don't yet know. Current research indicates that the most likely reason has something to do with their ability to process sound at the phoneme level. However, there is also research that indicates that intensive instruction in synthetic phonics 'trains the brain' to process sounds, see the Hempenstall paper I linked previously.
If your son can't blend words of more than three letters then he has not mastered phonics and is most likely relying on ineffcient whole word/context clues to 'read', and this lack of phonics mastery and reliance on ineffective strategies is why he has difficulties with spelling.
You don't appear to understand that reading and spelling are the same process but in reverse. If your son can decode but not encode, or if he can only decode/encode words that are no longer than 3 letters, then he has a problem with 'Reading'.
You misunderstand and misquote both the AAP position statement on vision and reading and the National Reading Panel report.
You ignore evidence that I present if it doesn't suit your predetermined beliefs, ie, the Hempenstall paper on brain research.
Having misunderstood and misrepresented the evidence-based findings that inform us of how to teach & learn beginning reading most effectively, you then demand more evidence, yet you provide no evidence to support your scotch mist LD's.
Your son is doomed to fail.
Yvonne, throughout this debate I have made it clear that my son has problems with 'Reading'. I am well aware that he is relying on whole words to read. I would agree that encoding is the reverse of decoding, but would take issue with the statement that reading and spelling are the same process in reverse.
My son is currently reading Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time". He understands it. We are completely immersed at the moment, in a world populated by Einstein, Brian Cox and a bunch of Californian astrophysicists. I am having to do a lot of homework to keep up. We've studied, at his request, Shakespeare plays. And Dickens. And poems by Jonathan Swift. So I don't think there's any doubt that, although my son has specific problems with reading, that he can read with a level of understanding that is on a par with the Clacks and WD children who benefitted from synthetic phonics. What he struggles with is sequential decoding and its reverse process, encoding.
Let me repeat, I am not questioning the efficacy of synthetic phonics, just its efficacy in all cases. I am not claiming my son had sufficient synthetic phonics training, just that any lack of it has not prevented him reading at a high level, with understanding.
Where have I misquoted the AAP position statement? All I have quoted are their recommendations for visual and auditory screening of all children, and their list of visual problems and treatments can be found on pp 841-842.
I have read most of the evidence you have presented. I have had few quibbles with it. I assume you are referring to Hempenstall's paper "What brain research can tell us about reading instruction." I have already commented on this. It's a short paper summarising one perspective on the results from MRI scans of the brains of people with reading difficulties. Hempenstall appears to assume, because children acquire language in a top-down fashion (phrases, words, syllables, phonemes) that that is how the brain processes language. It isn't. Auditory (and visual) processing work in a bottom-up fashion, with the smallest components of visual and auditory stimuli chunked up to form more complex representations. We've been aware of that since Hubel and Wiesel published their seminal paper on the cat visual system and there is a huge literature on it which Hempenstall doesn't refer to. There's no reason why he should, since this is a short paper for an education journal. I have no idea how he has arrived at the position he takes, but it's not safe to assume that his is a complete summary of the brain research on reading. He doesn't mention how the visual or auditory processing systems work, how categorisation works, the controversies over language acquisition, the lesion-deficit vs. connectionist models of development, or the modular vs. distributed networks models of brain function.
I use the phrase ‘learning difficulties' to mean just that; a difficulty with learning some things, reason not specified. This is not the same as ‘learning disability', a term usually used in relation to a long-term or permanent inability to do something. I don't know whether my son has a learning difficulty or a learning disability, because we can't get his obvious visual or auditory problems assessed, let alone treated. I am quite happy for him to be taught synthetic phonics again, though in the absence of anyone who could do it to your exacting standards, the task will probably fall to me, and my instruction will doubtless be inadequate in your eyes.
In order to understand how learning difficulties and learning disabilities originate, you will need to do some homework on how the brain works. I am quite happy to provide you with a list of references, but given your apparent difficulty with reading and understanding what people have posted on this thread, I can't see the point, quite frankly.
Thank you for those encouraging words.
For anyone who's interested, the results of the W Dunbartonshire study are available in book form, or as a summary report. For these references and an overview of the study, see Tommy Mackay's report in The Psychologist (you'll need to scroll through the article to find the bit about WD.)
I don't think I am missing the point. Your original quote was, 'Level 3: If levels 1 & 2 have been done properly, then the only children that will require Level 3 intervention are the children with serious problems who will probably require some level of additional assistance throughout their formal schooling', thus implying that Level 1 & 2 were right in the first place eg 'done properly'.
I have heard all this in the media too. Though sometimes things are not quite all that they seem, as with West Dunbartonshire. I also think that reference to a disadvantaged population isn't particularly relevant when we are talking about children with serious problems, in the sense of brain glitch problems, rather than social problems.
Seem to be having problems posting to soon.
But it hasn't been proven to work for him, though it has worked for everyone else. Vocabulary and comprehension, on the other hand, may be no problem.
You seem to have grouped and odd mixture of things here. I am going to agree with you about the fish oil and the hopping. The coloured lenses may help to eliminate the glare from white paper and make reading a little easier. On the other hand, if someone, like Elsie's son has a problem with phonics but has a lot of exposure to the written word, even in a school that takes the pronic approach, they cannot fail to memorise whole words (or if they do fail, they actually have another reading problem).
No, I am not asking this at all. Phonics is phonics. I am sure some programmes introduce letter/sound correspondences in a more sensible order than others. However, they all depend on the learner being able to do something with those correspondences eg blend them together to make words. If they can't do that, it really doesn't matter how scientifically worked out the programme is.
I would be interested in reading this but could not find the path to this specific paper on the link to the Hempenstall site you posted previously.
I think this is not so much 'current research' as Ruling Theory'. The theory is based on children's failure to score well in tests of phonemic awareness, such as segmentation of words and phoneme deletion tasks. Children cannot score well in these tests unless they have been taught to discriminate phonemes; they could do it when they were learning to talk, but once the need to be able to discriminate phonemes is past the skill be comes redundant and unused. They would never have to use it again unless they were being taught to read with a method which taught from phoneme to grapheme. Which, in the days when theories about the causes of 'dyslexia' were proliferating, was exactly how most of them weren't being taught; they were being taught to memorize whole words with no need for phonemic awareness at all. How could they have possibly scored well on a test of a skill which they hadn't learned?
What I think is a more promising avenue is that of problems with rapid automatic naming (RAN) which is proposed by Maryanne Wolf (Proust & the Squid).
Anecdotally, the very few (2) pupils I have with fluency problems (despite knowing their correspondences) seem to be struggling with RAN. I don't know a great deal about RAN, but it is surely working memory related?
None of the children have I worked with, either now or over the past few years, seem to have had any problem at all with phonemic awareness. They can all segment absolutely fine.
Just wanted to point out that the timing of the teaching to recognise phonemes might be crucial in some children. Sorry to bang on about auditory function but young children are more prone to delayed language acquisition, ear infections and blocked middle ears than older children - because of their age, their lack of immunity against novel viral infections, and their eustachian tubes being narrow and almost horizontal. It's quite possible that a method that doesn't 'work' for some younger children might come into its own as they get older and their ears change shape. That's why I am reconsidering synthetic phonics for my son.
Maizie, are you saying that you have never had a pupil who cannot blend letter sounds into words?
I have been working with SP for 6 years now (since I 'discovered' it). Have probably had about 140 strugglers in that time. I have had one or two who would be able to blend most of the time but who would come up with somthing bizarre on occasion, but never a child who couldn't blend at all.
While this is not really a statistically significant number of pupils, you would have thought that, given the supposed prevalence of poor phonological processing among struggling readers/dyslexics, I should have encountered at least 10% or more who couldn't blend.
I would also say that I have only had about 3 who have the 'fluency' problem I described. They sound out and blend a word, do it again a few sentences later, and again, and again, and each time it appears that they are encountering the word for the first time (yet others they read straight off, no bother..). I've been thinking about this and I can't see that it could be working memory because from what I understand of working memory this would mean that they'd have forgotten the last 'sounds' they are meant to be blending by the time they'd blended the first ones. Which isn't what happens; they can blend the whole word just fine. I think it must be something to do with long term memory.
P.S You do know I work with Y7 and above so they may have 'matured' into more PA? Some of them come flagged up as not being able to sound out and blend, but they usually turn out have been taught 'sight words' as 'wholes' as well and really just need to be taught to use sounding out and blending all through the word as their only strategy. The apparent inability to 'blend' is often just the strategy they have developed of 'say the first sound and guess the rest'
I am hoping that as SP teaching trickles up from YR/1 I will see children who have had more consistent phonics teaching and are less confused about how to approach word attack.
From the wide reading of research evidence that I did for a Masters in Special Education I have a firm belief that the three areas of difficulty for 'dyslexics' are: rapid naming,short term auditory/working memory and phonological processing/awareness. From my years of experience I have come to believe that, of these three, phonological skills can be improved significantly by good teaching (what is now known as synthetic phonics- although it is not a new method by any means!). However, the other two are very persistent and highly resistant to remediation. Dyslexic readers in my opinion are those who, despite good intensive phonics instruction, rarely develop fluency or speed in reading. Dyslexic readers usually remain slow and unenthusiastic readers (and poor spellers). I am now seeing pupils coming into KS2 who have received excellent initial SP teaching and intensive additional support (RWInc). There are far fewer with poor reading but those that there are are the true 'hard cases'- in my opinion the real 'dyslexics'.
'Working memory' is a tricky issue because it is so susceptible to overload, eg, a student who relies on ineffective whole word/guessing strategies is going to have a reduced working memory. Also, a student who has experienced failure in reading is going to have reduced working memory in reading due to the 'cognitive shock' of shame.
I think the work in the area of how shame reduces the student's capacity to learn by the late Donald L. Nathanson and the Tomkins Institute is really interesting.
I don't understand your point. Are you saying that because there is a possibility that a child might fail to learn to read after receiving direct, explicit, intensive and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, synthetic phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, then direct, explicit, intensive and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, synthetic phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension is unproven to be the most effective way to teach all children to read?
Perhaps you missed the bit about it being the 'most effective' way to teach all children to read. 'Most effective' does not mean that it is 100% fail-proof, but that it is better than anything else that we currently know about.
Perhaps your point is that if some children may have a 'brain-glitch' that will prevent them from learning to read even if they receive effective instruction, then these children need to be identified and treated prior to being taught beginning reading?
If this is where you are coming from, then you miss the point that the only way to identify 'brain-glitch' dyslexia is to provide effective instruction and to monitor progress. The only diagnostic test currently available for 'brain-glitch' dyslexia is a student failing to make adequate progress despite effective instruction. Having identified a student as failing to make adequate progress, therefore assuming that this student is a brain-glitch dyslexic, the only treatment is more effective instruction.
Coloured lenses to reduce glare has the same effect on a student's capacity to learn to read as sitting in comfortable chair and not having shoes that pinch. Being uncomfortable is unpleasant and distracting but coloured lenses are not going to teach sound/letter correspondences.
If the link hasn't worked for you, the best way to access the paper on brain research is to Google 'Kerry Hempenstall' and open his homepage at RMIT, then scroll down. Keep scrolling, it's a fair way down.
I think I almost agree with you, janedd (not about the PA, though..). I'm not a great lover of the term 'dyslexia' because I think it is too woolly and has grown to encompass too much, but these children do very truly struggle.
(I would note that one of my less than fluent readers is actually very keen to read.)
I presume you mean phonological awareness by PA. I think you might revise your opinion if you had experience of KS1 children.Each year I screen all year 1 pupils at the beginning of the year using a variety of assessments. A small number of them perform very badly on tests of what might be called manipulation of phonemes (deletion/ insertion etc, rhyme detection/ generation etc ). They have had the same (school) experiences as the other pupils but seem to really struggle with this area. When tested later in the year (after intensive SP 1:1 teaching) there has almost always been a significant improvement. Maybe it is maturation alone I can't prove a negative! I am sure you don't see that in secondary school- I would be very surprised if you did but it certainly seems to me like an early indicator of difficulties albeit one that, I believe, can be easily remedied by good teaching UNLIKE other early indicators which are far more persistent.
Thanks maizie. I didn't think it was a particularly common problem. It is not something that would have occurred to me as existing until I attempted to teach an adult learner with this difficulty. And I don't think I was the first person to have tried and failed. Occasionally he might manage a CVC word but even this he could not do with any level of consistency. And it wasn't for the want of trying with him. He was very keen to improve but just could not manage it.
I have not taught anyone with this difficulty, although I know others who have, but I find this easier to understand as I experienced something similar myself when I was attempting to learn shorthand. I used to like writing it, but reading it back was really tedious because all the outlines looked so similar. I have a feeling that ordinary words all look as similar to people with a fluency problem as the shorthand outlines looked to me.