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Helping children who struggle to apply phonic knowledge?

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

  1. I give you a response over and again - and I've now commented that it makes no difference - you 'hear' what you want to hear.
    I have never, ever said that teachers don't need to teach children about specific words and word banks - in fact that is precisely what I say - but I see this as part and parcel of a phonics programme - or phonics practice - and not separate from it - perhaps that is what is at the heart of our apparent confusion.
    As for people describing the banging on about phonics as 'evil', that is extraordinary - and here we go again.
    In terms of 'name calling', that is not what I am doing - I am saying, quite simply, that those people who spend so much time and effort - an incredible amount of time and effort - to keep decrying phonics teaching, banging on about it 'not being enough' - if the cap fits, wear it!
    An alternative picture is to really appreciate how many schools, and teachers, and parents, are describing how much better this upcoming generation of five and six year olds are doing with their reading and spelling.
    Many teachers and assistants that I come across in my travels describe how their own reading and spelling has improved - and they thoroughly enjoy the teaching, they are excited to see how much better they can teach and how much better their pupils can do.
    It isn't a picture of doom and gloom - it's a wonderful picture of our teacher profession's knowledge and understanding of teaching basic literacy skills improving enormously.
    We actually have some phonics initial teacher-training nowadays that we, in general, did not have before. Certainly, everywhere I train or talk I ask attendees about this - and only the newest teachers coming through our system have had such training. This is fantastic.
    How I wish that I had had training in phonics -for reading, spelling and handwriting - and how I KNOW that I could have done much better justice to the very large numbers of children who have historically passed through my hands.
    There are many, many teachers not only in England - but also from across the world who contact me and tell me how wonderful their results are compared to the past - and they are so excited to feel themselves teaching.
    No-one accessing these various threads on phonics would really get that idea because thumbie, masha, eddie all come on the forums to say how inadequate, or even 'evil', phonics teaching is - and this is simply not true.
    I have never said, nor has any other phonics proponent said, that phonics is a magic bullet - but like masha points out, over and again, our English alphabetic code is very complex - so let's get very good indeed, as a teaching profession, to get to grips with it and teach it as well as we can.
  2. thumbie, you said:
    "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?"
    Sorry, thumbie, this won't wash.
    I've been giving reasoned argument, intelligent discussion, pointing to research and classroom findings for many, many years. And so have many others across the world!
    The fact is that you don't want to accept any of it - which is why the so-called 'discussions' go round and round and round.
    You are, in effect, determined that you are right no matter what anyone says, or what they point to, your mind is made up. So be it.
    In the meantime, people with a practical and supportive approach to improving teaching and learning our complex spelling system - are increasingly getting on with it and getting to grips with it.
    All your protests are not preventing dedicated teachers and assistants in school after school increasing their knowledge and honing their teaching skills.
    Good on them.
    The chilren are better off than they have been for many a year.
  3. Debbie, that's not what this particular argument is about. All this particular argument is about is the fact that phonics is pretty useless for teaching children to spell. It probably is excellent for teaching them to read. But that's not what this thread is about. It's about using phonics for spelling.
    If you can't accept that phonics is pretty useless for teaching children how to spell in English that's fine. But please don't resort to name calling out of frustration.

  4. http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Let_me_help_you_to_spell_that.pdf
    The official version of phonics teaching in England (the 'core criteria') includes the teaching of reading and the teaching of spelling.
    Please see the poster above for a description of how I would go about teaching spelling through phonics as part of the 'incidental' phonics teaching. This is what I mean by 'constant support' and having visual aids to support the teaching of spelling - the tricky words with the tricky parts highlighted, spelling word banks as part of the phonics programme or practice - and any topic word banks - and so on.
    Re my comments about 'begrudgers and fudgers' - this refers to the people who are frequently in the media - and always have been - who constantly detract from phonics teaching by stating something along the lines of, 'OK, you do need phonics teaching BUT...' . Such people ARE detractors from the phonics teaching. Phonics proponents, such as myself, never suggest that you only need phonics teaching. If people consider that to be 'name calling' then I apologise - but from my perspective - this is what people are doing - detracting and undermining phonics teaching in deliberate acts. I find it very perplexing why people are not celebrating the improvement in our teaching and teacher-training in recent years. It's a mystery.
    It seems to me perhaps that we simply don't share a common definition of what we mean by 'phonics' teaching.
  5. What is this thing that I 'want to hear', I wonder?This is what I have repeatedly heard and addressed:
    The confusion is not on my part debbie, it is on the part of the teachers and students who think that teaching spellings is phonics because such as yourself say it is "part of a phonics programme". It cannot be part of a phonics programme as it cannot be learnt through phonics. It has to be dealt with alongside or separately to a phonics programme. There is a difference between pointing out the GPCs used in a word and teaching children to recognise and remember the spelling of that specific word. Yes you can do word banks etc. And your charts will come in handy. But do not claim to children, students or other teachers that their children will learn spelling through phonics. Just be honest debbie.
    No, I would not describe it as evil, I would describe it as misguided to say that you can learn spelling through phonics and point out that it will damage some learners' understandings of how to achieve good spelling. As for name calling it is to be expected from someone backed into a corner, we encounter it every day in school. It just needed pointing out as redundant to the argument.
    The fact that you and others are happy with using phonics programmes to teach does not make phonics the most effective way of teaching spelling.
    What a shame you can't stop everyone who disagrees with you from posting on the forum. However, if your arguments are that powerful readers of the forum are free to decide that you are right and I am talking a load of cod. I can take it. [​IMG]Teaching 'as well as we can' involves openness to the views and experiences of others in the profession. Which is why a forum such as this is useful to teachers. As you promote orthodoxy it is particularly valuable that there are others willing to question you, so that teaching can move forward.
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Can I ask exactly what your experience of teaching children to read and spell is faithbased? I know masha has only taught her own family ...
  7. Debbie - your claim that 'we hear what we want to hear' is typical of the emptiness of your arguements.
    I state that the idea that if you keep on pounding phonics into childen's heads they will learn eventually is an evil philosophy and I repeat that claim - and your read that as 'phonics is evil!' because that is what you want to read - you really do need a good long rest.
    My view is that it is essential that synthetic phonics should be a major component of the early years education of every child and you distort that to 'phonics is evil!' I depart from you and your acolytes and share the view of those who pioneered synthetic phonics that when children fail to learn by the phonics route another route should be tried. That is called keeping you mind open - you prefer the closed mind route that there is phonics - there is only phonics - there is nothing but phonics. Your views sit well with those of Mr Gove who states unequivocally that all learning is rote learning.
    You and your acolytes take the bizarre view that reading involves the serial decoding every grapheme in every word every time that word in encountered no matter how many millions of times that word has been encountered.
    I claim that those who pioneered the development of synthetic phonics distance themselves entirely from you personally and from all that you stand for - you remain silent on this point.
    You deny the existence and role of sight vocabulary in the reading process when it so obviously plays a central role. You should be ashamed of yourself.
  8. Readers of this thread might note from previous discussions on the forum that Debbie is not the only person to refer to evidence and research. Much evidence in favour of teaching using phonics has to be looked at analytically to measure its relevance to the way phonics has been taken up and administered in this country. For starters:The Rose Review uses the Clackmannanshire study as evidence of good practice in the teaching of reading, despite the fact that it also points out that there are question marks over the methodology of this study (so the results are open to question). Other studies which phonics-proponents have quoted on various threads on here have turned out to be less than conclusive in recommending the somewhat exclusive SP approach that is becoming the norm in English schools. The American foray into phonics has not been an unequivocal success story. Over the pond the vested interests that have emerged in the promotion of phonics have cast a dark shadow over the whole venture. There is a massive experiment going on in this country at this time, underwritten by the phonics check. While it is self-evident that phonics knowledge is vital to learning to read a phonetic language, methods, pace and balance within literacy teaching and phonics teaching are matters which should still be discussed.
  9. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    The phonics method employed in many American schools is very like that we saw in England 20+ years ago, with the sound of the week so it's got a long way to go.

  10. In the US, the phonics method recommended as being evidence-based by the National Reading Panel in their report, which underpinned the Reading First element of the No Child Left Behind legislation, was systematic synthetic phonics.
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    yes ...and?
    Just check out any US teaching sites/fora/ resources... and letter of the week is alive and well as are sight words...
    The method recommended in the UK is systematic phonics ...but we all know some teachers are clinging to their comfort blankets too.
  12. It is precisely this kind of narrow-minded intolerance that has destroyed the RRF forum - the natural home of these phonics zealots - and turned it into an incestuous, self-congratulatory irrelevance supported almost exclusively by its own moderators.
    The same fate befell the US Readbygrade3 phonics forum and will eventually destroy the exclusive phonics movement and its bizarre assertions.

  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I've never been a member Eddie are you?
    Sorry silly question based on your insider knowledge
  14. In Reading First, funding was tied into the use of an evidence-based programme. I believe Reading First has been phased out now.
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    thumbie just look at phonics matched funding in the UK ...it doesn't mean schools are teaching phonics
  16. Every school I have been into in the last 5 years has used SP, usually based on 'Letter and Sounds' with Floppy's Phonics for texts. This has been a greater use of SP than previously, although probably not up to your standard, Msz.
  17. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Every school I've visited in the past 5 years has claimed to be using SP and most weren't using it up to anyone's standard.
    Giving teachers Letters & Sounds and expecting them to teach phonics is wishful thinking.
  18. And they were teaching SP. Is there a special sort of SP you know about, Msz, which is far too difficult for graduate teachers to understand? it would be interesting to find out how many readers of this thread consider that they teach phonics and that they follow a phonics programme, whether that's based on letter and sounds or something else. If there is anyone still reading out there.....! SP proponents habitually maintain that schools are not teaching SP or are not teaching it properly. That is not my experience,
  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    with tricky sight words and spelling lists
  20. Tricky sight words is a misunderstanding of phonics. But the national literacy strategy guidelines do say that the word is to be learned. That's an unfortunate phrase. So teachers can't really be blamed if they follow their instructions.

    Spelling lists are often given out because parents want them, not because they help children to learn spelling.
    (Maybe that's partly what the problem is. Teachers live in a world with governments and parents in it, and even if there was a perfect way to teach that wouldn't necessarily mean that anybody/everybody would want to see it being used.)

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