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Letters and Sounds/Jolly Phonics

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by severn45, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. I need some help please.

    My head has just totally confused me. We follow the L&S and use JP with it. I know JP has been registered to use alongside it.

    However today in a meeting she said that as an inspector inthe inde sector they have been told that we can only use 1 phonics programme, and that by using L&S and JP we are using 2 progrmames. I thought everyone was using L&S cos we had to, and that the programme was JP or something else.

    Am I right, wrong? Totally confused so any help is appreciated to stop me ending up with egg on my face.[​IMG]

  2. 1) Blurb in Letters and Sounds makes it clear that schools can use any systematic phonics programme with the synthetic phonics approach.

    2)Letters and Sounds is 'guidance' but it has no resources included. It is TOTALLY unreasonable to expect ANY teachers to follow it without any accompanying resources. This means that teachers/schools would need to consider using the resources of other programmes to cobble together Letters and Sounds as a 'programme' per se.

    3)Jim Rose in his report writes of 'fidelity to programme' as urges teachers to choose a programme and stick to it. I can understand this to an extent because we have come from a decade of the National Literacy Strategy where teachers were TOLD to use Progression In Phonics (and then Playing with Sounds) and programmes such as Jolly Phonics were firmly side-lined. Then it became more acceptable to 'use Jolly Phonics with PIPs' but then what overall teaching principles would this be - and the answer is 'mixed methods' (using the searchlights multi-cueing reading strategies) rather than the synthetic phonics teaching principles of Jolly Phonics.

    I believe that this why Jim Rose said stick to 'fidelity to programme'.

    However, my thoughts are that schools need to stick to 'fidelity to synthetic phonics teaching principles' rather than one programme per se. There is hardly a programme out there that REALLY serves all early years and key stage one classes - and key stage two classes where necessary - with every resource they may need.

    4) Teachers need to be fully aware of the teaching principles involved and then work hard to ensure some kind of continuity and common understanding amongst all teachers in the school.

    To this end, I devised The Alphabetic Code Overview Charts which are free to download in unit 1 of the Phonics International programme. I also wrote a much simpler Information booklet which is also free to download in unit 1 - to explain the synthetic phonics teaching principles in less pages than the 200+ of Letters and Sounds.

    You can use The Alphabetic Code Overview Charts with ANY synthetic phonics programme and you can use other resources in the PI programme to complement other synthetic phonics programmes.

    My overall advice, then, is for schools to:

    a) Understand and stick to the synthetic phonics teaching principles

    b) Discuss mnemonic systems and decide when and how to use them and which you prefer

    c) Understand the need for cumulative, decodable reading material for beginners and for strugglers

    d) Examine the school's overall spelling policies because key stage two teachers may not understand or apply the oral segmenting process well enough and the need to teach spelling alternatives rigorously

    e) Look at the rigour and overall systematic provision of phonics teaching for reading and spelling and understand the difference between synthetic phonics and onset and rime phonics. They are different and can confuse at least some children. Try to provide continuity of message for children throughout the school.

    f) Look for simple, direct teaching methods and not too much 'pink and fluffy' teaching and learning.
  3. It is recommended in L and S that you use one phonics programme and stick to that.The order of sounds in JP differs slightly to L and S. It also blends and segments earlier in L and S.However, I know a lot of schools stick with the L and S phases and order but use the JP pictures and actions only to introduce the sounds - me amongst them! I think the worry behind it is confusion introducing the sounds and tricky words being different. I would not worry if it was just the actions from JP you were using.
  4. Teachers need to use their common sense.

    Letters and Sounds was written in a compromising way between the leading, existing synthetic phonics programmes - but consequently it is somewhat of a mish-mash of them all.

    Surely if schools have invested in a good phonics programme they should not have to be following Letters and Sounds specific details as well.

    Remember that it was the programmes of Jolly Phonics, Read Write Inc and Fast Phonics First that led the way - not the other way round.

    By all means follow Letters and Sounds 'to the letter' if you want, but advisors should not be telling teachers to follow Letters and Sounds slavishly at all - nor should headteachers if they knew what a nightmare it is to follow something without any resources.

    My programme, for instance, has thousands of pages of resources to systematically provide for the teaching and learning. Imagine trying to provide the equal resources to support Letters and Sounds to the same degree of detail.

    No teacher should have to do this.

    I would also like to mention 'planning' here. Teachers should not have to repeat details of a phonics programme when planning. Yes, you need to address your classroom management perhaps - but the details of the programme should be the planning per se - otherwise you are just repeating what has been written for you.

    All a headteacher or senior management figure should need to know is that you are, indeed, following a systematic approach and accounting for a degree of pace etc. These people should also ensure that teaching staff know and understand the teaching principles well enough.

    They should also be made aware of what a logistical nightmare it can be to teach following the 'phases' approach too literally.

  5. Thanks for the replies. This is what has confused me I guess. We work along with L&S phases but have to use other resources, although I have made lots of the resources from ********** for L&S.

    Will now go back to my head and say that can use either, but L&S has no resources as such hence linking in JP.

    I have also found old threads about this subject which have helped clarify. I have also got your Unit 1 debbie which I have found useful. Why is everything so complicated in EY?

    thanks again.


  6. Great! If you have found the free unit 1 resources helpful, please do tell friends, colleagues and parents.

    I am aiming to spread the notion of The Alphabetic Code Overview Chart so that it is as commonly known and understood as 'The Alphabet'.

    When I provide teacher-training, attendees can write down The Alphabet in less than 15 seconds. When I then ask them to write down The Alphabetic Code, I get a sea of blank faces.

    Imagine if everyone had a concept of The Alphabetic Code!

    And what I wouldn't have given to have such charts when I started out teaching and when I became a mother.

    Once you work with one of the Giant Posters of The Alphabetic Code as a reference poster in the classroom (all classrooms across a school), you'll wonder how you ever managed without!!!

  7. I have found this thread so helpful, thank you Debbie for your detailed replies. I just wondered what you think about letter formation? What is the best way to help a child to develop a good pencil grip? I have some who have come up from nursery with absolutely no concept of how to hold a pencil and I am struggling to help them without making them feel anxious or cross about it, nor do I want to put them off writing. My other question is really about handwriting. Should I be doing formal handwriting with my class? At the moment we draw letters in the air, on each other's backs, in sand etc and on whiteboards as well as on paper with pencils/pens. Many of them obviously do not form the letters correctly yet even though they are making good progress recognising them and are beginning to blend with support. I really like the rhymes in the Ruth Miskin scheme (eg: for d, round the dinosaur bottom, up his long neck etc etc) However, we use Jolly Phonics and I have lots of good resources to go with JP. My school use Ruth Miskin in Year 1 upwards so the resources are available for me, but the pictures won't match the JP pictures! I really want to help the children form letters correctly - help!!
  8. "<a class=">Should I be doing formal handwriting with my class?[/URL]"

    I have started threads in the past about what we mean when we talk about 'formal' teaching.

    I suspect that what you really mean is should you do 'planned teaching and rehearsal of handwriting using paper and pencils?' and my answer would be 'yes'.

    But I would also say that little, snappy activities of air-writing and writing letter shapes in sand are fine for directionality and to make forming letter shapes ' the in-thing'.

    I've decided to write an exemplar lesson plan for how my Reception teacher daughter is now introducing letter/s-sound correspondences along with phonemic awareness, blending and segmenting so watch out for on www.syntheticphonics.com and www.phonicsinternational.com to describe a full 'planned' lesson which includes handwriting.

    My approach through the full Phonics International programme is to include a reminder about the tripod pencil grip described as "froggy legs with log under". The children LOVE trying to ensure they are holding their pencil properly and NONE of them came into Reception with a great pencil hold!

    The thumb and pinchy (fore) finger grip the pencil at the bottom of the painted part (watch out for the children holding the pencil too low down the sloping bit), the middle finger is the 'log' which the frog sits on and the three digits form the grip for the pencil.

    If anyone is interested, I have free certificates which are easily downloadable from the Phonics International homepage. There is a column of purple buttons down the top left of the page and near the bottom is the 'certificates' button.

    These include one for correct 'froggy legs hold' and one for 'correct pencil grip'. I am about to use them for my Year Twos as encouragement because one or two still have some very awkward pencil grips and I think it is worth giving it another try to get it sorted!

    After including the reminder about pencil hold, the focus grapheme is printed at the beginning of a writing line for the child to practise writing the letter in the context of learning the sounds. This, in effect, is a kinaesthetic activity to help learn the letter/s-sound correspondence. It is the most direct kinaesthetic activity of all because learning letter formation for handwriting is a core skill (the three core skills are blending all-through-the-word for reading, segmenting all-through-the-spoken-word for spelling - and knowing the graphemes which are code for those segmented sounds' and handwriting.

    Part of the Sounds Book Activity Sheets in the full Phonics International programme is folding up the A4 sheet to just under the large-font-new-grapheme and undertaking a spelling routine which includes the oral segmenting, couting the sounds, writing sound-dashes, then writing the spelling but with the support of looking at the new focus grapheme. This, then, involves more handwriting - but not teaching it, per se, but using it for the spelling. The very first satipin sheets, however, involve just letter formation of the focus grapheme on the folded-up part of the sheets.

    In addition to this, there are very simple, printable handwriting rehearsal sheets in unit 2 when most of the letter shapes have been introduced. These are in the usual order of 'curly c' letters first. They are plain, unadulterated sheets with A5 areas for each letter shape - with writing lines. In effect, then, you are doing the handwriting practice with each phonics lesson but you are also going to have the option of doing additional practice according to the letter shapes which are not in the context of core phonics teaching.

    There are sheets for lower case letters and then sheets for capital letters with models of both cases on each sheet.

    I am a true fan of joined writing with leaders - but I never advocate starting this in Reception. I want the children to focus on printed letters first and to become secure with their basic phonics before bringing in the intensive lessons needed to teach joined handwriting quickly and effectively.

    I know that many teachers/schools start joined handwriting from the beginning but its just that I'm not one of them!

    Finally, I have designed many key resources for Phonics International with letters shown on writing lines. I am trying to avoid the huge numbers of children who write the 'p' standing on the line!
  9. I am both a part time class teacher (FS2 last year and Y1 this year) and a phonics consultant, currently working a couple of days a week as a CLLD consultant.

    The guidance, as I understand it, is that it's important for schools to decide on which synthetic phonics programme they are going to use and stick to it (what the Rose Review described as fidelity to the programme). Letters and Sounds is not compulsory, merely one of many synthetic phonics programmes which schools can choose from. As it is free, many schools are opting to run with it. As with all the programmes, there are pros and cons.

    The Letters and Sounds programme has a lot of things going for it, including the development of early listening and phonic skills; more detail around the teaching of alternative pronunciations of graphemes and spelling of phonemes; inclusion of investigations and rules for adding suffixes. Some of these aspects are not included in a number of other synthetic phonics schemes. One of the main disadvantages is the lack of accompanying resources, including mnemonics (for those children who need them for a short while). This was one of the reasons that I set up my own website, which amongst other things, provides resources to support the teaching of Letters and Sounds:


    There are also other websites and publishers providing resources to support Letters and Sounds, so this downside to the programme is gradually being overcome.

    A number of schools are choosing to use the Letters and Sounds programme, but use the Jolly Phonics (or other) mnemonics to introduce the GPCs. This is not mixing the programmes - in this instance the fidelity is to the Letters and Sounds programme, but using a particular resource to support it. What is not advisable is for some teachers in a school to be using the Letters and Sounds order for teaching and others to be using the Jolly Phonics order for teaching.

    We have successfully used Letters and Sounds in my own school (supplemented by my own mnemonics) and have seen our already high FSP and NC levels rise significantly.

    Hope that helps!

  10. Fidelity to the programme is rather a vague term.
    It could also be interpreted to mean fidelity to the principles of the programme with regard to pace of introduction of 'sounds', not introducing extraneous material, such as teaching 'high frequency words' and not introducing any other word attack and spelling strategies apart from those detailed in the programme.

  11. Lesley wrote re the use of Letters and Sounds: "As it is free, many schools are opting to run with it."

    This may well be the case. But I would suggest that it is also the case that many schools are choosing to use Letters and Sounds because 1) It is the government's programme and 2) many local authority advisors are probably telling schools to use it - even if schools use mnemonic systems like the Jolly Phonics resources.

    The trouble is that Letters and Sounds is not really a 'free' programme when it is virtually resourceless.

    Furthermore, the fact that its letter/s-sound correspondence order of introduction is a mish-mash between key commercial programmes puts schools between a rock and hard place when it comes to choosing 'which' programme to follow - Letters and Sounds - or commercial programmes - or commercial programmes resources being used to follow Letters and Sounds?

    So, I would suggest that Letters and Sounds guidance may well be 'free' but schools and certainly 'teachers' may have a nightmare of a job to resource Letters and Sounds - and to try to stick to its notion of 'phases'.

    Teachers should also know that many of the Phase 1 activities are nothing to do with learning to read and write and should never have been parcelled up with Letters and Sounds Phase 2 activities onwards as if they were.

    Whilst the kind of activities described in Phase 1 or nice little activities to undertake - many teachers may be spending untold hours trying to get their youngsters to be experts in environmental and musical sounds, alliteration and rhyme in 'readiness' to start teaching them a synthetic phonics programme.

    Speaking and listening in simple sentences would probably be more help realistically.

    I do hope that schools will read Letters and Sounds to become familiar with it - but that they will not think it necessary to stick slavishly to it - not even the letter/s-sound correspondence order of introduction.

    What counts is that there is a systematic and routine order of introducing new letter/s-sound correspondences and revising the ones already introduced - and that teachers have a cumulative word bank order to support their modelling of blending and segmenting and lesson provision.

    What also helps is that schools have cumulative beginners reading books - or such books for strugglers who are older.

    You cannot just take advisors - nor even the government's 'word' for anything - they have frequently got things wrong - including teacher training for teaching reading. They have, even now, continued to promote the Reading Recovery intervention programme which is the exact opposite of the teaching principles encapsulated in Letters and Sounds.

    Each school (teacher) needs to do some background reading for themselves and to understand the teaching principles fully. If they did this, they would then be in a position to evaluate synthetic phonics programmes for themselves.

    It is ludicrous, for example, to expect to use a programme for teaching phonics which is resource-less. People spend an inordinate amount of time designing and making resources to deliver the teaching and the learning. NO teachers, as I have said before, should ever have been put in this position.

  12. We follow the Letters and Sounds, program; the order of the letters and the blending and segmenting etc. But we use JPto introduce each letter as a multi sensory approach ~ action, song and story.
  13. Where do you find the unit 1 you refer to? I haven't heard of the alphabetic code! Would like to learn more.
  14. You can find a massive bank of start-up resources which are usable with any synthetic phonics programme in the free 'unit 1' of www.phonicsinternational.com .

    Unit 1 is available by clicking on the purple button at the top left hand side of the homepage.

    This takes you to a webpage with all the free resources. I suggest that, at first, you skim quickly down the whole page to get an idea of what is available before starting to open up documents to look at them.

    Someone recently suggested that I need to separate out all the Alphabetic Code Overview Charts (of which there are many versions for different purposes and different preferences) from the actual unit 1 'strands' of resources which continue in the following units.

    Don't be overwhelmed which many people say they are at first because there is just so much material for free and you need to spend some time to assimilate what the full Phonics International programme provides.

    Basically, it's the answer to most schools' prayers but they just don't know it yet![​IMG]

    You can use it from the 'beginning' or at any age - and it's great for special needs because you can dip in and out of the units' resources as you need to. It can continue as a spelling programme throughout a primary school - or for as long as is necessary.

  15. If you look down the column of purple buttons (left of homepage), you will also find free certificates for all sorts of phonics-related achievements.
  16. My possibly simplistic approach is to be faithful to the L & s programme in terms of progression and content but use other resources to actually teach the programme.

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