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Helping children who struggle to apply phonic knowledge?

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

  1. I don't think that she's saying that she thinks they would be helpful, the opposite in fact. I think what she's saying is that there are so many different ways of writing the "ee" sound that knowing that a word has an "ee" sound in it is pretty useless for helping you to remember how to spell it.

    It's just better to know how to spell the word and not to worry about what it sounds like.
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  3. Yes .... and?
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    no I don't think you do
  6. Hmmm. Rudolph doing an impression of my cat in his litter tray. Very festive.
  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It was an oh deer!
  8. "Oh deer, it's a whoopsie."
  9. Content-rich and high-quality phonics teaching will raise children's awareness, knowledge and understanding of the English writing system - and this includes the skills for decoding and encoding - in a way that is far more helpful than not doing the teaching.
    How helpful this will be in making children truly attentive to the details of words, from single words to the capacity to group words in spelling word banks over time, will be dependent on the level of subject-knowledge and its application of each teacher and supporting adult in a whole school - and over time.
    Children will find it much easier to read than they would have done without the all-through-the-word phonics teaching - and they will be much more supported in spelling from their ability to 'see' words so much more transparently with their alphabetic code knowledge.
    They will be able to read more material more independently - and this will further improve their capacity to 'note' the way that words are spelt - and their exposure to a richer vocabulary.
    I have long since realised that it doesn't matter how much one describes good practice, and the inclusion of activities with spelling word bank emphasis, and the attentiveness of supporting adults to children's spelling, their expectations, their supporting visual display, their method of speaking to the children as a constant to support spelling, the acknowledgement that children need a great deal of exposure to how words are spelt - and how all these things are PART OF a good teaching regime, thumbie and masha will always argue the toss!
    Meanwhile, there are teachers in the process of finding out whether they can raise their pupils' levels of reading, spelling (and handwriting) through their phonics teaching provision - and those teachers who have taught with previous regimes (at least those I hear from and who express their results and findings in the public domain and those who participate in studies etc) describing their results as 'amazing'.
    I don't disagree with masha that teaching reading and spelling would be easier with a transparent alphabetic code in English - but we don't have a transparent alphabetic code - so in the meantime, let's see how well we can teach what we have inherited - and make what we have inherited an interesting - indeed fascinating - feature of our teaching - that is, teaching about the history and development of both the spoken English language and its complicated spelling system.
    What frustrates me about both thumbie and masha is the constant 'pot half empty' approach to their arguments.
    If parents read these numerous discussions splitting hairs about what does constitute phonics teaching or not - who would they most prefer their children to be taught by - and with what 'content'?
    A teacher who will teach partial phonics to the point of the 'basic code' for reading and spelling - but who then gives up on spelling and who expects all the children to be able to 'transfer' their spelling word list work to all further writing...
    ...or a teacher who continues with phonics teaching, both specific and in the wider curriculum, to embed the phonics knowledge and build up the spelling word bank knowledge - and with constant support to address invented spelling in children's work - blaming that pesky complex code - not making the child feel the spelling is their fault - in a classroom with a lot of display space given up to visual aids which support even the weakest child.
    So, for example, if there are any children in a class with special needs who has not cracked the code at an earlier stage, then there is display right back to that stage - and not just at the stage many of the other children have reached?
    That there are tricky words, with the tricky bits highlighted, of any words that children are mis-spelling in the class, that there are banks of words of specific sounds and spellings, that there are banks of topic words - that all supporting adults are supporting children to spell correctly and that the regime is that children are aware of the advent of spelling alternatives and the need to be very attentive to what these are.
    I feel as if thumbie and masha have a very 'partial' view of what constitutes good phonics provision - for reading and spelling - and for the long term - but their constant arguments have raised the profile of phonics teaching because, in a sense, they have enabled considerable numbers of discussions on the TES forums about spelling - thus raising awareness of what both teachers and learners are up against when it comes to getting them 'right' in the English language.
    That's a good thing!
  10. Not a 'good thing', Debbie, but a necessary thing. Good and bad don't come into it in quite the same way as true and false do. Blind optimism does not teach kids, unfortunate though that may be. What is needed in the mad dash for phonics is a reality check. You assume that 'good practice' consists in following the phonics path. Sorry, it ain't necessarily so, and it is misleading to express things in those terms. 'Good practice' is reflective and responsive, and that may well show that phonics teaching is useful. I'll be b*******d if it shows it to be sufficient.The title of this thread says it all. The OP assumes that not spelling correctly is about not applying phonics. This is because phonics is regarded by many as the holy grail of reading and spelling. If something goes wrong more and better phonics is the answer. This is what is touted by the SP industry, no doubt with sincerity and optimism for the most part, but sadly without insight.

  11. I think if our children were taught English, Latin, Greek, German and French as well as spelling, grammar, composition and the breadth of English literature they would learn far more about how to spell English words than they would do from some half baked theory that phonics teaches spelling, which it most clearly does not. Of course being constantly taught that words are composite objects helps children to understand that words are composite objects, clearly. But that no more helps children to know what are the particular ingredients of a particular word (unless it's a very simple and regular word) than knowing that substances are composite objects helps me to know which molecules make them up. In order to know either of these things I actually need to know precisely what the composition of the object is. Vague generalisations about similarities are of no use when it comes to testing my knowledge about the composition of this specific object.

    That's the point. And I think it's a worthwhile point. It doesn't diminish phonics as a great method of teaching reading. But it does remind phonics enthusiasts that it's not a magic bullet, as some would have us believe.

  12. Well said, faithbased.
  13. That's exactly my view too.
    What phonics enthusiasts/fanatics have been doing is stretching the term 'phonics' to include virtually all teaching of reading and writing.
    I want to inject a touch of reality again. I have given links to my blog which gives the table below, but for those who don't visit blogs, I'll paste it in. I don't think u can talk about English spelling without looking at it.

    [/b]. The listing below shows all the different ways in which the 44 English speech sounds can be spelt. The most frequently used spelling for that sound is shown first. (The figures in brackets show how many of the 7,000 most used English words which I have analysed use that spelling - and how many spell it differently.) The irregularities necessitate memorisation of variant spellings for 3,700 common words http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2010/11/english-spelling-rules.html .
    1. a: cat – plait, meringue (466 – 3)
    2. a-e: plate – wait, weight, straight, great, table
    dahlia, fete (338 – 69) -ain: rain – lane, vein, reign, champagne (39 – 19)
    -ay: play – they, weigh, ballet, cafe, matinee (35 – 20)
    3. air: care – hair, bear, aerial, their, there, questionnaire (31 – 27)
    4. ar: car – are + (Southern Engl. bath) (138 – 1)
    5. au: sauce – caught, bought, always, tall, crawl (44 – 76)
    -aw: saw – (0) - but in UK 11-aw + 40 awe, or, four, sore, war
    6. b: bed (0)

    7. ca/o/u: cat, cot, cut – character, kangaroo, queue (1022 – 33)
    cr/cl: crab/ clot – chrome, chlorine (192 – 10)
    -c: lilac – stomach, anorak (89 – 9)
    -ck: neck – cheque, rec (62 – 6) k: kite/ kept – chemistry (124 – 7)
    -k: seek – unique (36 – 5)-sk: ***k – disc, mosque (86 – 10) qu: quick – acquire, choir (78 – 4)
    x: fix – accept, except, exhibit (98 – 15)
    8. ch: chest – cello (155 – 1)
    -tch: clutch – much (24 – 7)

    9 d: dad – add, blonde (1,010 – 3)

    10. e: end – head, any, said, Wednesday, friend, leisure,
    leopard, bury (301 – 67)
    11. er: her – turn, bird, learn, word, journey (70 – 124) 12. ee: eat – eel, even, ceiling, field, police, people,
    me, key, ski, debris, quay (152 – 304)
    --y: jolly – trolley, movie, corgi (475 – 39)

    13. f: fish – photo, stuff, rough (580 - 44)
    14. g: garden – ghastly, guard (171 – 28)
    15. h: house – who (237 – 4)
    16. i: ink – mystery, pretty, sieve, women, busy, build (421 – 53)
    17. i-e: bite – might, style, mild, kind, eider, height, climb
    island indict sign (278 – 76)
    -y: my – high, pie, rye, buy, I, eye (17 – 14)
    18. j: jam/ jog/ jug (0)
    jelly, jig – gentle, ginger (18 – 20)
    -ge: gorge,
    -dg: fidget – digit (29 – 11)

    19. l: last – llama (1,945 – 1)
    20: m: mum – dumb, autumn (1,128 – 19)
    21. n: nose – knot, gone, gnome, mnemonic (2,312 – 34)
    22. -ng: ring (0) 22
    23. o: on – cough, sausage, gone (357 – 5)
    want – wont (19 – 1); quarrel – quod (10 -1)
    24. o-e: mole – bowl, roll, soul; old – mould
    boast, most, goes, mauve (171 – 100) -o: no – toe, dough, sew, cocoa, pharaoh, oh, depot (106 – 59)
    25. oi: oil – oyster (29 – 1)
    -oy: toy – buoy (12 – 1)
    26. oo (long): food – rude, shrewd, move, group, fruit, truth, tomb,
    blue, do, shoe, through, manoeuvre (95 – 101) 27. oo (short): good – would, put, woman, courier (15 -21)
    28. or: order – board, court; wart, quart – worn, quorn (188 – 16)
    more – soar, door, four, war, swore, abhor (23 – 17 + 12 –aw/awe in UK)
    29. ou: out – town (74 – 24)
    now – plough (11 – 4)30. p: pin (0) 31. r: rug – rhubarb, write (1,670 – 27)
    32. s: sun – centre, scene (138 – 49)
    face – case; fancy – fantasy (153 – 65)
    33. sh: shop – chute, sure, moustache, liquorice (166 – 30)
    -tion: ignition – mission, pension, suspicion, fashion (216 – 81) 34. t: tap, pet – pterodactyl, two, debt (1,398 – 4)
    delicate – democrat (52 – 3)
    35. th (sharp): this (0)36. th (soft): thing (0)
    37. u: up – front, some, couple, blood (308 – 68)
    38. u-e: cute – you, newt, neutral, suit, beauty, Tuesday, nuclear (137 – 21)
    -ue: cue – few, view, menu (20 – 22) 39. v: van (0) -ve: have – spiv (116 – 3) [80 with surplus –e]
    -v-: river – chivvy (73 – 7) – v/vv after short vowel

    40. w: window – which (216 – 31)
    41. y: yak – use (31 – 11)

    42. z: zip – xylophone (16 – 1)
    -se: rose – froze (85 – 33) wise – size (UK 31 – 3, US 11 – 22))

    44. Unstressed, unclear vowel sound (or schwa),
    occurring mainly in 8 endings and 2 prefixes:
    -able: loveable – credible (33 – 17) -ccle: bundle (2 consonants + l) (0)
    -al: vertical – novel, anvil, petrol (200+ – 32)
    -ary: ordinary – machinery, inventory, century, carpentry (37 – 55)
    -en: fasten – abandon, truncheon, orphan, goblin, certain (73 – 132)
    -ence: absence – balance (33 – 26) -ent: absent – pleasant ((176 – 58)
    -er: father – author, armour, nectar, centre, injure, quota (UK 340/US 346 – 135/129) butcher – picture (42 –ure)
    de-: decide – divide (57 – 29)
    in-: indulge – endure (73 – 30)
    Consonant doubling rule for showing short, stressed vowels

  14. Even if a child learns to spell all the 332 words which I had to use to illustrate the different spellings for the 44 English sounds, they would still have to learn which of the variable graphemes applies to a particular word.
    Some graphemes don't have variants in many words, but 20 require word by word learning for more than 50 words. On my blog they are shown in red, but it disappeared on here, along with changes to font size.
    If u want to see a tidier version of that list, u'l hav to go to my EnglishSpellingProblems blog.
  15. Well, folks, the last few postings just show what I'm trying to put across - that there are pot half empty people out there aplenty - but there are also many teachers and other supporting adults doing their best to teach a complex code and to see just how well they can teach it when they teach it more explicitly and truly support their pupils with the learning of it.
    It's as if we cannot 'hear' one another and we just don't understand the points that we are each trying to make.
    I don't know whether it boils down to not sharing a common definition of what 'phonics' is - or that people don't hear when we say, over and again, 'Yes, phonics is 'not enough' - it's part of the whole picture of literacy - but it's a darn sight better than teaching we've had, in the main, for many a year'.
    The phrase I coined many years ago is 'the begrudgers and the fudgers' - that is, people who say, 'OK, we do need phonics BUT...'
    Fine - then we all agree that we do need phonics, so let's carry on carrying on to see just how well we can teach phonics with regard not only to reading, but spelling too.
    Meanwhile, people like myself, minnieminx and Msz - and others - will carry on exploring how we can hone our knowledge and skills - which may well need to be modified over time.
    And other people can carry on being begrudgers and detractors.
  16. There's no need for name calling simply because some people want to be explicit about the fact that phonics isn't enough on its own and neither is it a system for teaching spelling. I'm sure we could think of a few names too. But we won't.
  17. I think is interesting to note that the pioneers of SP in Clackmannanshire, Dunbartonshire and Strathclyde University etc reject the exclusive phonics philosophy and advocate instead a multi-strand approach which caters to the needs of all children and not just the majority. They will have nothing whatsover to do with those who have belatedly climbed on the phonics bandwagon and turned it into the destructive, political soap-opera it has now become. While no-one in their right mind would deny the importance of good early years phonics teaching, it is perverse to continue with an approach which is clearly failing a child when an alternative time-limited intervention would enable that child to complete phonics exercises alongside his/her peers much more productively. The idea that if you just keep on pounding phonics into a child's head, they will get it eventually is self-evidently, an evil philosophy.
  18. Debbie, all this guff about pot half empty and begrudgers and fudgers isn't a substitute for reasoned argument and intelligent discussion, or are you so sure of the power of positive thinking that you believe it can change facts? The fact is that more than phonics is needed to ensure good spelling. And as faithbased mentioned, knowing that words can be segmented into GPCs does not tell you which GPCs are used in which words. So understanding the writing system and knowing the 'code' is not the whole story. This has nothing to do with attitude of mind, it is fact. Trying to teach children to spell without teaching them this fact and working with it to address it, is not an example of 'glass half full', it is an example of deeply unhelpful thinking. Saying something about the complexity of English is not adequate as a response.

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