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Helping children who struggle to apply phonic knowledge?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Msz, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    that's the problem the more times sees it written incorrectly the longer it will take to learn the correct spelling.
  2. outdoormaths

    outdoormaths New commenter

    I don't have a cure all solution, but using our phonic sounds is part of our Success Criteria when we do any writing and using the key word mat. This seems to really be helping my class to actually stop and think about their sounds. When I model writing, I make out like I don't know how to spell words and practise splitting it up onto my fingers, using the sound mats and key word mats. I ask the children, is it a key word, how could I find out the spelling? If they ask me to help them with a sound, I remind them of the RWI inc saying that goes with it. We talk about spelling and sounding out a lot, today one of my students was spelling put and knew that /oo/ was wrong, but couldn't quite remember what did go in the middle, he looked it up on the word mat and so soon I know that he will begin to remember it correctly. At this point in Year 1, I don't ask the children to plan their own stories etc, just rewrite familiar stories, so they get lots of practise in with the basics and don't have to worry about thinking up an entire story.
  3. Vanadesse

    Vanadesse New commenter

    Hmm maybe I could do with using sound mats, that might help by the sounds of it.
  4. ESLAB

    ESLAB New commenter

    Sound mats sound like a good plan! Any recommendations for one to download? Thanks.
  5. outdoormaths

    outdoormaths New commenter

    We use ones from smart kids. I know you can download others but we much prefer the smart kids sound mats, they are paid for out of the literacy budget. I use a keyword may I think I downloaded from here. It's the best one I've ever found but I've saved on my memory stick. It has a blue background, colour words on colour and days and months and key words in alphabetical order. Hope that helps.
  6. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I'm not sure that the example given was one of not applying phonic knowledge; as Msz hinted she is just spelling saw as she always has done for a very long time.
    I just asked my Year 2 child - she said is it "or" or "aw"? She spelt it as sor for so long before she learned aw that it stuck that way.
    What do you suggest Msz?

  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I would suggest correcting the spelling from the start
    "Yes that is a way of writing the sound "or"...well done, but in this word we spell it <aw>" a sound mat will only work if the child knows that <sor> is wrong.
  8. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Yes. It's like being told to look something up in a dictionary when you are not sure of the spelling ... my children don't know that they spell things incorrectly unless it is pointed out.

  9. If it's just the one child and just the one word I'd give her a little ditty to copy once a week.

    I'd broken no law
    I saw what I saw
    A bear had a paw
    he'd bitten it raw!

  10. outdoormaths

    outdoormaths New commenter

    Sorry I didn't mean my reply as the correction of the misspelled word, but how to get children to use their phonic knowledge. I do correct children's spellings. As I am sure the child above has had their spelling corrected, but if she did have a key word mat she might start thinking, I know sor is wrong, but cannot remember the correct spelling and begin to look it up. When I work with my Year 1's, when they are spelling a word that is unknown to them, I ask them what /ee/ sound will you use? We often look at the different sounds on the mat. We have noticed the children's spelling is much better.
  11. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Children quite often ask which 'aw' or which 'ee' they need. Sound mats can help them make a decent stab at it once they know a fair few possibilities.

    My more able year 1s are starting to use them, the less able don't know enough GPCs nor know enough about what English looks like to be able to make a sensible choice.
  12. It's not about children making sensible choices with sound mats - they need to be taught and supported over and again.
    The phonics teaching should be continuous wherever reading and writing is taking place.
    People are describing that they are doing this on this thread - great- but just 'how' good is the visual aid support in the classroom?
    For example, do the classroom walls have frieze posters which will support the weakest children - and handwriting examples - and so on?
    So, even classes of older children may need a pretty extensive range of visual aids to support the weakest learners. Is this the case in every class in the school - or wherever any special needs activities are taking place?
  13. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I think to start with children need to be taught to use the mats and what the spellings could be over and over and over and over and over again. Just handing them a sound mat and expecting them to be able to spell is nonsense...though I have a couple of colleagues who do so. But eventually children can use the mats for a quick check when they aren't totally sure.
    Definitely! In literacy lessons (outside of discrete phonics) our LOs are still phonics based, each and every time. I have spoken to the lit co-ord about skipping some literacy lessons and just teaching more phonics as it seems rather more useful in year 1 with children who are very behind. We stopped setting for phonics in order to be able to reinforce phonics learning every single time we write or the children write.
    Some of our classes have a frieze up, but it is high and out of reach, though is readable. Having a mat or line on the table top that children can touch and use is, imo, rather more useful.
  14. These children are not struggling to apply phonics knowledge. They may know alternatives taught in phonics lessons well. What they are struggling with is knowing which alternatives to apply to which words, and phonics, of itself, does not help. They have to become very familiar with words so that they know what 'looks right'. Using a word mat may well help them to memorise those particular words and internalise what 'looks right', and it may help them to write a selection of common words correctly and therefore avoid reinforcing wrong spellings through practice. The more the child reads the more exposure s/he will get to correct spellings.Having charts of word families, and doing spelling activities based on word families and letter patterns may also help but have the disadvantage of being practice out of context. Children can remember and solve the puzzle in a sentence activity based on that knowledge but do not apply it to a writing activity based, for instance, on making up a great story. Dictation might help because the children are writing natural continuous text while the main target is the spelling and punctuation.Occasionally writing very familiar stories in a simple style with the main emphasis on spelling might help too.
  15. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I am not sure if the practice out of context is a disadvantage or not. My children are the types who will spell a lot of words correctly out of context ( apart from saw LOL! ) or if I am dictating to them, but get them wrong in the heat of the moment when writing a story.
    I like to think that the practice "out of context" will help as eventually they will "get it all together" when composing text. Without the out of context practice I think they are less likely to. This is just a common sense assumption of course. It would probably be preferable to have someone "on their shoulder" whenever they are doing real writing to give appropriate spelling prompts so that everything is spelt write first time.
    Personally, I find it very hard to relate to as I don't remember much about learning to spell in infant school myself, and I was always a pretty good speller. Words I had read a lot I could spell. I remember asking my year 1 teacher how to spell Eiffel but that is about it. She got it wrong. Clearly my children are not "natural spellers" despite, I think, having read oodles more than I had by their age. It's great that there is so much more thought these days going in to how to teach children to spell. I do remember looking at other children's work at infant school and thinking "what on earth have they written?" so the laissez-faire method clearly did not work for all.
    I don't remember being under pressure to write in loads of different genres though, or feeling that it mattered how much I wrote at infant school. I think we were just concentrating on writing short amounts, in sentences, spelled well, and that was about it - simple stuff along the lines of "what I did at the weekend".
    Has the disappearance of the externally marked writing task at KS2 meant that teachers feel less pressure to do all the genre writing in years R, 1 and 2 or is there still some NC requirement which necessitates this so young?
  16. Exactly!
    Phonics does not help with deciding which alternative tricky spelling is right in a particular word. It is simply a matter of brute memorisation, and some children are much better at it than others. Those who manage to imprint the right version on their minds without having to work at it (like Mystery in her schooldays and the majority of those who become teachers), who manage do so mainly by reading, tend to have little idea as adults how they manage to learn.
    In standart UK English &ndash;aw endings have the same sound as -ore: (awe, claw, draw, flaw, gnaw, jaw, saw, straw, thaw, law, paw, raw)
    and the -ore ending has quite a few variants
    ---Adore, ashore, before, carnivore, folklore, ignore, implore Many people pronounce 'sure' with the same ending too.

  17. Of course phonics helps enormously. We are explictly teaching children not only to read from the outset - but also to spell from the outset.
    They are being taught the alphabetic code in the reversible directions - from print to sound for reading and from sound to print for spelling.
    The adult skill for spelling is going from sound to print - even if this is at the level of syllable chunks. So, ideally, the skill of thinking of what one wants to write down is internalised 'silently' and then the silent words (or spoken words when children are little) are translated into sounds - then the person (adult or child) needs to be able to translate the sounds into spellings (letters, letter groups, syllable chunks).
    OF COURSE children need to learn which spelling alternatives are associated with which specific words and OF COURSE the adults need to go on teaching and supporting them with this.
    If children do not automatically transfer spelling knowledge they acquire through out-of-context teaching, OF COURSE they need to be prompted, supported or taught further by the supporting adults.
    This suggests that it should be a case of OF COURSE all supporting adults provide the required support and teaching for spelling both within phonics lessons and in the wider curriculum but I don't think this is automatically happening in all classrooms in all schools - partly because the training and understanding and support of this is not sufficiently in place and partly because, as can be seen on the TES forums, there is a lack of common agreement and understanding about the way forwards with spelling.
    Any display material which is not referred to and used constantly, both by teachers, supporting adults and children, is not going to be nearly as helpful as it could be. It is only a chart, or frieze, or word list, or poster - until someone turns it into a well-used and understood reference chart.
    Thus, I ask the question - What are the quality, content, organisation, and use of, the visual aid material on walls and on children's tables - are they consistently of good, rich content and quality and are they consistently used by all supporting adults?
    And this issue of out-of-context teaching being better than nothing is absolutely right - it is - but better still is an approach where the phonics teaching for reading and for spelling is both out-of-context of the wider curriculum and part of the wider curriculum.
    Is this generally the case? Maybe in some schools.
    Masha is right in that we do need very specfic teaching of specific words and word banks - but not as something seen separate from phonics teaching.
    A word 'looking right' is a very limited way of spelling - and this only works for some people - particulary when they ARE adults after a lifetime's reading and writing. There are many children for whom the 'look' of the word is not helpful at all. Indeed, if they saw mis-spellings, they may be even further confused and not able to choose 'which looks right' because of their limited experience or their lack of clarity for visual shape.
    The bottom line, I suggest, is that teachers and assistants need to work extraordinarily hard at teaching spelling -and it is a sad thing that people perceive that phonics is so limited because children cannot transfer what they know from the earliest stages of teaching to every word there is and for every piece of writing they do. It is only a very few children who truly have such capacity and this is not a limitation of phonics teaching - but it may reflect a limitation of limited, or incomplete, phonics teaching.
  18. I am afraid it is clearly, logically and obviously a limitation of phonics teaching, and no amount of saying otherwise is going to change that.Sadly, the English language, beautiful, nuanced and satisfying as it is, is a b****r to learn to spell (and read).Phonics knowledge can contribute just so far to spelling and no further. At the point of learning to spell words which contain phonemes that can be represented by different possible graphemes the power of phonics breaks down. And in English there are oodles of irregular and unusual possibilities.The reason that some people can operate the 'looks right' criterion is because they have read loads and many have been explicitly encouraged to use the strategy. No, it would not work for children who were writing using their phonics knowledge over-confidently and not spending enough time reading correct spellings or, indeed, learning to recognise on sight the frequent words which so often display unusual GPCs. That on-sight recognition of words is what the 'looks right' criterion is based on, and if a child has not achieved this automacity it won't work. But it needs to work and not simply be dismissed as the strategy of a minority of no use to the majority, and it needs to be taught and supported. Word charts can contribute to that if used with an awareness that what the pupils need is NOT about being able to identify the sound and plump for a grapheme, but IS about recognition and familiarity with a bank of whole words. Sorting into families can support that but ultimately it is familiarity which teaches what each specific word contains.
  19. It does for spelling consonants, and for some vowel sounds like short a (a cat sat) which has very few exceptions.
    Most vowels have lots of variants, and in large numbers of words:
    <font color="#0000ff">http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2009/12/rules-and-exceptions-of-english.html</font> Memorising those is what makes learning to spell English so time-consuming, and phonics does not help with that.
    If the code was reversible, or even if there was some reliable guidance for deciding between alternatives, it would make sense to say that the code was reversible. All English spelling difficulties are due to the fact that vowel spellings are unpredictable and don't obey any code.
    Learning to read 'see me ski' and 'leaf' is useless for spelling 'sea, key, thief' or 'even'.
  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I'm not sure anyone but you would ever consider they would be helpful masha.

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