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 'Early Years' started by mancminx, Jul 20, 2011.
I have a kindle but I don't like it
I wouldn't bother to read Frank Smith again, Msz!
I got a very cheap copy of his 'Understanding Reading" from Amazon (and, incidentally, the same book sells for squillions 2nd hand in the US - they still think he's a Master...) and couldn't quite see how he managed to persuade millions to agree with his wacky theories. It wasn't even amusing to read; it was very painful.
thumbie. I only asked to change the subject (thought things were getting a bit heated ) and to see if I could discover a bit about what influences your philosophy of teaching reading. In your reading around the topic of teaching reading, who would you say has influenced you most?
Sorry. I can only look at this site occasionally for the time being because of various commitments for the rest of the summer.
Can u please repeat the post today or email to email@example.com and I will reply on here when I can.
I was very interested to see Msz's explanation of her teaching. It seems exactly what any sensible person would do, but if her main reading during her training was Frank Smith, then some of the people who end up as trainers are clearly not very sensible.
Perhaps teacher training institutions are a bit like Ofsted and full of people who could no longer hack it as teachers?
My approach to reading has really come more from experience than from reading around the subject. I have been influenced in a general sense by theories from Bruner and Vygotsky, and Margaret Donaldson's 'Children's Minds' was a revelation. John Holt was interesting. With reading specifically I have been most influenced by working in a classroom with children, with the materials and resources in the cupboard, and inset, mostly derived from what the government has inflicted on us, of course, all approached with a critical eye.
It was STANDARD reading not my MAIN
and yes Brunder Vygotsky Piaget Malaguzzi Issacs Donaldson Meek Holt Goodman Chrystal Trughill and a host of others were also standard reading
As my 'data' was posted in the middle of your exchange with Msz about Shakespeare's signatures I thought you could hardly fail to have seen it and therefore that you had chosen to ignore it.
I will repeat it here for you. I would prefer a response on-line, i.e. in public
For some reason English-speaking countries are more willing
to tolerate a much bigger poorly educated underclass and so make no effort to
make English spelling more learner-friendly.
masha, have you ever looked at the Sounds~Write data which I have
frequently given you a link to? I suspect not, so I will put some on here
Sounds~Write is a Linguistic Phonics programme which, while its developers
might say it differs from SP programmes, essentially follows the same
principles as SP in that it teaches letter/sound correspondences in a
structured and systematic way, from simple to complex and how to use
correspondence knowledge for decoding and blending (synthesising) for reading
and for spelling.
The developers have accumulated a great deal of data over a number of years,
with particular emphasis on spelling data, and they publish reports from time
to time based on this data.
Children tested come from a number of schools which use the programme and
they are all tested on the same standardised test.
Standardisation of a test is worked out on the principle that within a
population anything measured will, when plotted, result in a bell curve; that
is a shape in which the greatest number of results will cluster around a
standardised score of 100 (average) with the distribution falling away evenly
to each side of 100 (thus producing a bell shaped figure). The results at
the bottom of the curve will reflect a small number of the subjects tested.
These results are for 484 Y3 children from 13 different schools.
With 484 children, if they conformed to the normal (i. e. expected)
distribution, you would expect to see about half (282) scoring at 100 or below
and about half at 100 or above.
Results for these children show 126 at 100 or below and 328 at 100 or above.
What is even more interesting is that at the 'bottom' of the 100+ side of
the curve, where you would expect to see the smallest number of children
there are 100 children,(which is the largest group) with 78 on the curve
just before them.
On the highest point of the curve (which is the expected average) there are
99 children - you would normally expect the greatest number to be clustered
here and a decline in the numbers of high scorers on the curve, but there
are 285 children with higher scores than these.
Conversely, just 70 children score below 'average'. None scored at the
Take this how you will, but it tells me (and I'm sure most other people who
have a working knowledge of standardised scores) that these children are
learning to spell far better than the the sample on which the test was
standardised (and tests are standardised on very large samples, they have to
be, if they weren't they wouldn't be valid)
Another intersting point is that, even if the test were to be
re-standardised to take account of the improvement in spelling ability these
results would still not produce a bell curve as the greatest distribution of scores
is at the extreme top end, not in the middle.
P.S. Do you think that Frank Smith wrote a load of rubbish, too?
So it is not theoretically based?
If 'experience' is your guide, how about doing an action research project and for one year teach according to SP principles alone (for SP principles see www.rrf.org.uk) and seeing how the results compare with those of your usual method?
It is theoretically based in the sense that it's based on general theories of how children learn, and theories derived from observations of children reading, including in-depth analysis of SATs results and the way children fail in SATs reading tests. Also experience of the reading behaviour of children who are struggling. This is how theories work, isn't it? A phenomenon is observed, explained using evidence, and tested out. One of my theories is that theories which are turned into dogmas are unreliable because people adopt them without thought, giving credence to an authority which is unlikely to be deserved. I am suspicious of theories used for political ends (look at the 'reading wars' in the USA), and theories which fail to factor in as much information as might be available because theorists are trying to prove their point instead of approaching with an open mind. It would be interesting to do action research about reading, but I tend to think any results would be very parochial, depending on a very small sample and there would be a huge variety of factors which would be difficult to factor into the results. I also think it might be unethical to experiment on a cohort of children as you might disadvantage some of them by adopting a specific approach without reference to their actual needs.
In addition I should say that the methods of teaching reading that have trickled down to me through the system have undoubtedly all been based on one theory or another. Another reason, perhaps, to mistrust theories sent down from above!
Well, I didn't know that, did I?
If you have a degree in pschology you should know just how standardised testing works and you wouldn't say anything quite as stupid as that.
And if that is your 'understanding' of how phonics taught children are tested then it you are horribly mistaken.
There was rather more to it than that -
With your degree level knowledge you should know that these are completely 'abnormal' results for a standardised test. The guys who write the reports have psychology degrees, too; I think their interpretation is probably as valid as yours...
And this is data from 13 different schools using the same test. I don't think they'd have been able to persuade 13 schools to cheat on the test (which is certainly what you are implying..)
You constantly claim that spelling is difficult to teach. These results say that when it is taught with good phonics teaching you are wrong.
Well mine have been gathering dust for 20+ years but sometimes I like to re read things to see why I disagree.
As thumbie says the evidence of what you see day to day often leads you to dismiss certain ideas but I do like reading research as I feel it can help me make informed choices in my own practice.
Much harder than in other languages or when English is spelt more regularly. And this is not just my claim but was proved indubitably by the Seymour led multi-language comparison (Brit J of Psych 2003) and the i.t.a. research in 1963-4.
As I said before, I would like to know how much time and money those schools spent on the teaching of spelling.
And the much bigger question is how the same children will spell as adults. U have no doubt heard of the Y3 dip. Many start well but stop making progress as the rote-learning burden gets progressively bigger and basic phonics becomes less and less useful.
Historically phonics has been seen as something they do in the infants (or even just in reception) so it's hardly surprising that children who have only been taught basic 44 phonemes grind to a halt but children who have been taught all the alternatives don't. It's like someone teaching me to drive but stopping before they show me how to change gear ...
We teach phonics as a part of our daily literacy input right up to Y6 and have excellent results in reading and writing. No extra cost incurred either.
I would imagine that, once they have made the initial outlay on training (because this programme can only be obtained through the training route), the schools spend no more time or money on teaching reading and spelling than would any other school following a good, structured synthetic phonics programme. They are, though, prepared to spend some time on testing the children so as to provide evidence of the efficacy of the programme.
If you really want to know more about it in more detail I would suggest that you contact one of the developers, Dave Walker, through his blog:
Doing only that would be really stupid because quite a few have different spellings in different positions of words (late play, ship station). I shoudn't think there is any school that does not teach at least the 91 main spelling patterns.
But even if they then teach all the alternatives spellings for them
children then have to go on learning all the words which use them. This makes learning to spell English so time-consuming.
Just knowing the different spellings by themselves is useless.
The extra expense is for individual support by assistants or SEN teachers.
I agree but that is what has been happening and schools have been saying yes we teach phonics!
It can be done without LSAs or SEN teachers if it is part of normal classroom routine for the whole class which is how we work.
''Dave Walker, through his blog''
It's John Walker. Dave Philpot has retired.
Oh, goodness, Susan. A Senior moment. Apologies to John Walker
I don't quite understand where the support assistants or SEN teachers are needed.
Knowledge and understanding of the letter/sounds correspondences of the English alphabetic code is not difficult to come by; it's not an exclusive or specialist branch of knowledge.
Schools which taught only 91 correspondences wouldn't be teaching enough of them so it would be no wonder that they failed to teach all children to read and spell.
There are about 160 - 180 common correspondences, some children need to be explicitly taught all of them. Some children are able to self teach once they understand the principles. It's no good leaving it to chance, though, as you'd only know you needed to teach more, and more explicitly, once children started failing. And we all know that failure to learn to read and write is not good for children.
Surely, if children are reading material which they can comprehend, by the point you are describing they should be able to infer these correspondences (ie beyond the first 100 or so) without this laborious process of learning them in isolation. I would be very concerned if children were relying solely on working out and using phonic correspondences at this point.
Having said that I suppose you are describing the children you see. It is my understanding that they have struggled all the way through. There could be some clues here as to why they have struggled. And to why phonics is apparently their only route in.