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HELP!!!! letters and sounds in year 2

Discussion in 'Primary' started by mmism, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. gcf


    You are right,Impulce, but some children take a long time to get necessary decoding skills to automaticity. This observation from an experienced remedial reading tutor strikes me as spot on :
    "I really have come to the conclusion that the reason some children do not progress is because we do not always practise until the skill is mastered ... Some kids need a huge amount of repetition to learn, and often we as teachers can't bear not to move on."
    Those children who aren't quick to master basic skills will often take the easy way out and guess. They are desperate to pick up clues from pictures, first letters, too insecure to use their decoding skills, too intimidated to even begin to engage with higher order skills.
    Marsha, it is sad to see you endlessly trotting out your 'bound to fail' mantra. There is a lot wrong with the pressure-cooked curriculum of which genre teaching is one of the most absurd manifestations.But if ITTs deigned to teach trainee teachers the alphabetic code, and rigorously taught teachers how to structure early reading ,and if the primary curriculum was freed from its ludicrous shackles there would be no failure, period. With a good phonics programme,Jolly Phonics,Read-Write,PhonicsInternational,Sound Reading System, for instance, and with properly designed decodable books and teachers who understand that some children just need more time - lots of time - why would there be failure?

    Well constructed decodable books have proved to be effective for children with IQs as low as 37 and have enabled children with multiple cognitive and physical difficulties and with a range of SEN attributes: Downs Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, Speech Problems, CP, ADHD, APD, and with EAL children as well as children on normal ability range to learn to read. See www.piperbooks.co.uk. And there is a range of decodable books such as Jelly and Bean which provide the sort of practice that many children need.

    Sorry Masha, the "problems" you erect can be subverted very skilfully through good synthetic phonics teaching; your approach follows the something-wrong-with-children-their feckless parents-the-English-language, rather than taking on board the understanding that the English written language is a CODE that needs structuring and teaching with patience. Teach the code expertly, give children time and they will learn - why would they fail?
  2. If English spelling really was a 'code', or obeyed a code - 'a body of laws so arranged as to avoid inconsistency and overlapping' - as other spelling systems do - we would not have the numbers of children failing to learn to read and write that we do.
    English has a basic code, albeit a fairly complex one, with 89 spellings for its 43 sounds:

    /at/ot/ut, crab/ clap, comic, pick, kite/kept, seek, risk

    <u></u> p[/b]in quick rug

    <u></u> [/b]
    cide invite
    (bitter &ndash; biter)
    The reason it's not really a proper code at all is because those 89 basic spelling rules get broken by a further 66 spellings (e.g. ai, ey, eig, eigh, oa...),
    and 68 of the total of 155 different spellings are used for more than one sound
    (e.g. 'an - any, apron, father'). - They overlap. They do exactly what no code is supposed to do.

    So it does not matter how patiently or expertly u teach the code - for roughly 1 in 5 children the inconsistencies are just too hard to cope with.

    For children of low ability, with a poor visual memory and little home support, learning to write English is as hard as it is for a tone-deaf person to learn to play the violin. Learning to read is easier, and therefore much more worth persevering with, even with quite low ability children. Trying to teach them to spell '<u>correctly'</u> is a waste of everyone's time. I am not saying don't try at all - just cut your losses when u can clearly see that u have no hope of success.
    Our problem is that over the past six centuries Chaucer's 14th century spelling code has become increasingly broken. The most dexterous workers, like the ablest children, can manage even with fairly rotten tools. For less skilled ones, they are fatal. Are we happy to continue debarring around 20 % of our children from access to education.
    The rotteness of English spelling was man-made. We could just as easily make it better again. We don't have to continue tolerating the mess we've got.
  3. In English u definitely do.
    When graphemes have reliable sounds, as in all other European languages, u can do it entirely by sounding out of letters, and so children don't need nearly as much help with learning to read as ours do, and far fewer than here fail to become proficient readers by the time they leave school. We are paying a huge price for neglecting to improve our spelling system.
  4. I don't get this bit, impulce! Children with good code knowledge wouldn't need to be making any guesses as to what a word 'says'. They could just decode it. Anyway, how could anyone ever hope to 'guess' what a word might be? What if the word isn't even in your oral vocabulary?
    On the other hand, does your definition of 'decoding' include getting the meaning of the word? If it does, then we are talking at cross purposes.
  5. Sorry, i meant if children have not had good phonic teaching and are being taught mainly through word recognition and comprehension, they will be using comprehension and guesswork to fill in the gaps.
    Thats why i think they need a combination of strategies to be able to read, including high quality phonics teaching. At least that way they can sound it out, but also uses what they know about the sentence and context to work out what it means.
    However, if they only have phonic knowledge and dont know how to 'read between the lines' and use clues from the sentence and grammar, they will be able to sound out words and not have a clue how it fits into the text or what it means.
    Its late and ive had a few glasses of wine - sorry if im confusing things!

  6. Not at all [​IMG]
    I can see where you are coming from. I don't have any quarrel with what you are saying, so long as the high quality phonics is first and decoding and blending is the only strategy taught for identifying what the word 'says' (as opposed to what it 'means'). Of course all the other skills come into it, but only when the phonics is more secure. And,. lets face it, early texts, whether decodables or 'look & say', don't exactly challenge most children's comprehension, so teaching reading for meaning doesn't seem quite so imperative in the early stages!
    I always think that the 'debate' is ridiculously irritating because the 'anti-phonics' folk seem to be completely convinced that SP taught children are not allowed near a book for years and years. Which is daft. The only books the children aren't allowed near, initially, are books which they don't have sufficient phonic knowledge to be able to read for themselves.
  7. Let's say u've taught children that <ea > has mainly the /ee/ sound (leap),
    but quite often also /e/ (leapt) and occasionally /ai/ (break).
    Working out the right sound for <ea> in particular words (until children have learnt to recognise them instantly), therefore involves part-guessing either from the other letters (leapt, break) or even other words (My daddy read me a story last night.)
    This is not just like learning to sound out <ee> : keep, sleep, deep.
    The leap / leapt, hear/heard, dream/dreamt ones are particularly hard for young children until they know their past tense. My grandchildren aged 4-6 are going through the reeded/redded, sleeped/slepted stage, especially the 4-yr-olds. Their little lives would be much easier if those words were spelt leap/lept, hear/herd and dream/ dremt.
    'Leep/lept, heer/herd and dreem/dremt' would be even better for them.
  8. mashabell- you write about phonics as if children are ONLY taught the 'ee' is code for /ee/ - when actually in a good comprehensive programme, children are ALSO taught that 'ea' is code for /ee/ (in my unit 3), that 'e' is code for /ee/ (in my unit 2) and so on.
    In addition, teachers are trained to teach through 'incidental' phonics so that ANY TIME, the children encounter words they are reading, or that they need to spell and ask for help, the teacher teaches them the relevant bits of code.
    You, I think, consider 'phonics teaching' to be VERY, VERY partial phonics teaching.
    Also, you CONSTANTLY present words TOGETHER which include the same letter patterns but which have different pronunciations.
    THIS IS WHY teachers need good training, and GOOD RESOURCES which have grouped the words together for TEACHING PURPOSES and LEARNING PURPOSES - to make them logically teachable and logically learnable.
    I realise that you do this to illustrate the complexity of the English language in order to further your point that you wish to see a simpler spelling system - but in doing this, you are in danger of making inexperienced teachers and parents (at least) think that teaching spelling is an impossible job - and you are also saying that it is so impossible that the children who really struggle with spelling should be virtually abandoned because teachers are banging their heads against a brick wall. You then attribute this to the individual pupil's natural ability to be able to spell, and their home backgrounds (but not the teaching quality or the lack of training and good programmes).
    You base your arbitrary list on words beginning with words appearing in alphabetic order. So, you list words starting with 'a' first, then 'b' and so on.
    This is NOTHING TO DO WITH the grouping of spelling patterns although you include words with the same medial letters to try to prove some kind of point about their trickiness.
    So, what is it that you are trying to achieve? Are you focusing on lobbying the world to change the spelling system of the English language - or are you trying to help teachers - or both?
    If you want to continue to do both (which may well be laudable actually), then you need to consider re-thinking the way that you mix the two objectives.
    In the meantime, I believe that whilst your aims may well be laudable, that it is actually dangerous to be telling teachers that the weakest pupils need to be left alone to get on with their weak spelling - or that teachers need to re-spell the words for children (by your definitions) in order for them to then be able to read the words. Worryingly, however, these words ARE NOT SPELLED in the way that you are presenting them to the weak pupils in your charge at times, so you have not necessarily taken them any further forwards for real reading in the real world.
  9. No I don't. I am quite aware what your version of 'phonics' includes. I actually said,
    "Let's say u've taught children that <ea > has mainly the /ee/ sound (leap), but quite often also /e/ (leapt) and occasionally /ai/."
    I then pointed out that this makes decoding <ea> in words much harder than ee which has merely one sound. The variable pronunciation of <ea> is what makes learning to read English difficult, along with the others shown on the Sight Words page of my website.
    - to the bottom 20 % of the ability range, with poor visual memory and poor home support teaching to spell English 'CORRECTLY' is an impossible job. It is just like beating your head against a brick wall.
    I am saying that with such children it is far better to invest mainly in teaching them to read as well as possible and not to worry if they often spell phonetically or don't write very much - BECAUSE FOR SUCH CHILDREN LEARNING TO WRITE ENGLISH IS EITHER EXTREMELY DIFFICULT OR IMPOSSIBLY HARD.
    Both, to some extent, but I am <u>not</u> proposing <u>changing</u> the English spelling <u>system </u>- just bringing at least some irregular spellings into line with the regular ones - at least some of those that are most responsible for reading and writing difficulties.
    And also to make teachers more aware of where their hard work is unlikely to do much good. They are under too much pressure already. So getting them to try and perform miracles seems a bit unwise
    I can only repeat what I've said many times before:
    If we improved English spelling,
    there would be less pressure to start formal schooling so early,
    we would have far fewer pupils struggling to learn to read and write,
    literacy teaching would be much easier,
    teachers would not have to keep correcting so many spelling mistakes
    and we would have fewer pupils leaving school at 16 having learnt almost nothing at all.

  10. Last year 1 was an nqt and found it difficult to get letters and sounds of the ground also. If you class are confident working independently could you not split the class send the phase 5 phase 6 children of to do some independently based phonics task and then teach the rest?? also another suggestion would be to build it into morning tasks, literacy hour etc as i found that worked really well for me! It is a difficult one but stick in there you will get it!!

  11. Hi,
    Until you get used to it, phonics is really confusing so don't worry. Are you in a one form entry school?
    If you have another year 2 class, you could think about doing phonics at the same time, and splitting all the children according to ability level, so that one teacher has the weaker children and one has the higher ability.
    If you are the only year 2 class, have you spoken to the year 1 teacher, as it might be worth also splitting the children between year 1 and 2. One teacher could teacher all children working in phases 1,2 a TA perhaps work on phase 3 or 4, and 1 teacher on phases 5 and 6 (there will be some children in year 1 ready for this!)
    If you really do have to teach a whole class at once, then try to follow the phonics model for each session, e.g:
    Review and recap - choose an activity from phase 1/2
    Teach - Work through level 3 (depending on level of your children).
    Practise - play games, alternate practising phase 2/3 teaching points
    Apply - children practise reading/ writing sentences from phase 2/3.
    You can challenge more able by asking them to think of their own words and sentences containing sounds of the day. Or set them off on own table top activities if what you are teaching really is too easy - there are loads of game resources on websites like **********.

    Hope that helps.
  12. notasstressedasilook

    notasstressedasilook New commenter

    I have a wide ability range in my Year 2 class so for teaching phonics my main focus is on Phase 4 for the whole class, and then my TA works with the children below that at another time. As we are overall quite a low ability class I am keen to expose children to as much valuable phonics teaching as I can. Even if the children cannot access all of the new sounds I am teaching, I ensure that we review sounds from previous phases at the same time. It takes more planning but I am then sure that EVERY child is having a worthwhile experience.
  13. Don't know if its any help but we have L&S groups throughout FS and KS1 and the children are mixed up into the group suitable for them. It works really well - but does take a lot of organising - you could try just doing it with the yr 1 teacher.

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