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OFSTED Children reading

Discussion in 'Primary' started by greenpaddy, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. Even at word level, meaning activation is automatic if the reader has the equivalent oral vocabulary.
    The reader decodes 'boat'.
    If the reader knows what a boat is, the meaning is understood without needing discovery.
    The picture and context, however, might clarify which 'boat' type is intended, or the reason for the boat being in the text.
    Context will also clarify the meaning of words which can be pronounced differently with different meanings - like the proverbial 'wind' 'wind' and 'read' 'read'.
    But a reader needs to be able to decode/read any word in isolation without a range of clues based on illustrations, context or deduction.
     
  2. Well, it really depends on what 'learning to read' is characterised as. Nobody can be said to have learnt to read because they can make the right sounds when looking at isolated words and therefore correctly decode words and non-words. And on the other hand, deducing a word from the context may be very useful in determining the meaning of text, or conversely, the meaning of a new seen word, whether that word is decoded or not. In practice reading is an interaction between context, word/letter knowledge, vocabulary and understanding, and somebody looking at an unfamiliar word is likely to use both phonic knowledge and context to read it. The idea that a person 'guesses' unfamiliar words when they use context is not helpful. The person is using evidence. A person reading a word from phonic clues is also using evidence, albeit of a different kind. In the English language phonic evidence only points to possibilities, it is not unequivocal, and therefore if we are going to use the word 'guess' to describe using context, we should also use it when describing use of phonics, rather cancelling out the significance people give to this concept of 'guess'. But in practice, of course, a person will bring all their knowledge to the reading process, like it or not. They will use context and word/letter knowledge when looking at unfamiliar words, because the overall aim is to find out the meaning, not find out what the word says.
     
  3. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Well of course in some cases it might be an educated "guess", so the word guess is not entirely correct. However, in practice, with the children whose reading I "remediate" (hate that word) one to one, it is an educated guess, but definitely a type of guess. It does not always lead to the right word either. I would say a very low percentage of these "educated guesses" from a beginner leaner reader are correct - unless of course the child is "guessing" on almost every word and I don't realise that because the majority of the guesses are correct!
    When I spot a "guess" I ask the child why they guessed that particular word. I usually get a reply "because it started with xx or it ended with yy". We then discuss how many words in the dictionary might start or end with that letter combination, and how many of those might fit correctly in the sentence. We then agree with a bit of a laugh that it is not a great method of reading if you want to get the words right.
    The worst thing is, that these children are guessing words that they could actually easily work out for themselves e.g. animals. If they were just doing this with "truly" tricky words I could more easily tolerate it, or if they did not have the necessary phonic knowledge. I think, however, that if you are taught early on that guessing is a good strategy that you start to use it when it seems easier to do so.
     
  4. They will use context and word/letter knowledge when looking at unfamiliar words, because the overall aim is to find out the meaning, not find out what the word says.
    I don't think that the overall aim when we teach beginners is that they find out the meaning.
    We are teaching children to be capable of reading words whether or not they are supported by picture or context cues.
    The aim for teachers, then, is to teach children to be able to read the words whether isolated or in context - and then to support the children's language development so that they can understand language well whether they have read it or it is spoken.
    I think the Simple View of Reading model is very helpful in clarifying that teachers have two main considerations. Can the child access the word, and does the child know what the word means.
    We are also teaching children through a variety of speaking and listening and learning opportunities to develop their oral language so that they are in a position to be able to access literature at sophisticated and subtle levels.
    Even in books for youngsters, there are sophisticated concepts which can only be understood through general language development.
    The more automatically that children can decode word for word, the more freed the child to understand word level, sentence level and the authors' intent.
     
  5. But we read in order to learn, to follow a story, to find out. Reading for meaning is not about knowing the meaning of individual words out of context, it is about understanding words in context. Therefore, in order to read, it is not enough, nor strictly necessary, to be able to decode each word in isolation. Reading is an active process, and arriving at meaning involves more than being able to say the words on the page. Sometimes, arriving at meaning does not need the words on the page to be said (internally or out loud) at all.
     
  6. So these children are not deducing from context, but guessing from phonic clues (the first and last letters in a word).
     
  7. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    You are right to conclude that from what I said, but in fact, they mostly do come up with words that generally fit with the sense of the sentence and that start or end with the right letters. It is just when they explain their reasons they do not realise that they have also picked a word that would make "sense" in the sentence (although it does actually change the meaning of the whole sentence - they are just not to know that).
    e.g. Today we roasted some chestnuts. Today we roasted some chicken.
    If I had to choose just one reason why I like SP it's because of this guessing phenomenon that some teachers of some other methods seem to promote. Yes, there will still be some words that a child will struggle to decode during the learning to read process, but I still don't appreciate the guessing within context strategy as a good solution to this.
     
  8. We, as teachers, however, need to teach children to be able to read so proficiently that they are not dependent upon picture or context clues to be able to read the actual words.
    The author's choice of words, the use of illustrations (which often tell a sub-story in children's literature) and the use of scenarios reflected in the text all support the child to understand the meaning of the text - but this does not preclude teachers from the need to ensure that the children can read the individual words as automatically and easily as possible.
    It is the weakest readers who depend upon the additional clues in a story to try to read the words on the page.
    It is the strongest readers who are most likely to read the words with ease and who can focus on the meanings of the text and the supporting illustrations.
    We want all the children to be strong and efficient readers and to be in a position not to depend on the cues to access the words to access the meaning.
     
  9. No, we, as teachers, need to teach children to be able to read so proficiently that they are not dependent on phonic clues to be able to read the actual words. Using phonic clues does not make a child's reading automatic and instant, and it needs to be both to aid access to meaning. We do not want children to depend on their phonic skills when reading, rather, they need to have reached a stage when they recognise words without recourse to sounding them out. when they see an unfamiliar word, no doubt they will bring their phonic knowledge to bear, but why do you insist on them bringing that knowledge alone? In mystery's example above, she seems to be claiming that it is the use of context that misleads the children. In fact the use of context serves them well, it is the use of phonics that they can't apply well that misleads them.When you say that it is poor readers that use picture and context I think perhaps, this is just what you are getting at (unknowingly). Children who find phonics difficult also find using context more reliable than their faulty or underdeveloped knowledge of phonics. You would no doubt remove that crutch from these children by removing context and insisting that they use phonics. Well, I'm not at all sure of the wisdom of that for these struggling children.
     
  10. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I don't know Thumbie because I haven't yet come across a child who has found phonics too difficult to be able to improve their blending. If I were to revert to teaching them by whole words I don't really know how to do it, as I don't know which words to teach them.
    I would really like to read some case studies of children who have found phonics too difficult, given sufficient good instruction, to work out words such as chicken and chestnuts without guessing. It was a fictitious example I gave.
    I don't know what is letting down a child who does this - their use of phonics, a guessing strategy, I don't know what. If they can then work out the correct word if told they got it wrong, it's a guessing strategy. If they can't work it out when told they got it wrong it's their phonics knowledge or application. I would suggest that they could be taught the necessary phonics knowledge and skills to read these words correctly unless they have some kind of severe educational need. Otherwise, I can't see how they would learn to read via whole words either, or educated guessing in context.
     
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    they aren't blending through the word ...with young children it can help to uncover a phoneme at a time but of course this makes reading slow it could be a short term strategy to make these children actually read what is on the page.
     
  12. Yes, but why is that? Is it because they find phonics straightforward and reliable or because they find it difficult and confusing?
     
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    no it's because they jump on the first word they can think of beginning with that sound because they have been taught to "use the initial letter to think of a word that might fit" (searchlight strategy)
    the fact is if you encourage them to look at all the letters in order they can easily decode the words using phonics
     
  14. Is that so, mystery? Is that how these children were taught in their early years? Msz, I'm sure you can think of lots of words which are difficult to decode using phonics, I certainly can.
     
  15. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Yes - it's almost laziness in the examples I am thinking of. They can actually decode more complex polynons than my example, but given half the chance they'll have a guess.
    Of course working it out using blending through the word is an effort, but it gets easier the more you do of it so far as I can tell with practice.
     
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Actually I can't think of that many but it really depends on what the child has been taught.
     
  17. Well, if it is laziness, that's not quite the same as having been taught using this laziness as a strategy! Do you mean they were taught to do it like this, or that they are too lazy to do it as taught. And laziness is pretty loaded as a term. Could it be because they have found it very difficult to do as taught? We are all more lazy about doing difficult things than easy ones!
     
  18. They can be taught up to the nines, but they still have to apply a plethora of rules and exceptions to be sure of decoding some words correctly.
     
  19. Although, of course, having a general idea of what the word might say always helps.
     
  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    If you know what the word says you don't need to decode it (or guess from initial letters or look at the pictures)
    but if you don't know the word but do know phonics it's pretty easy to decode all but a handful of words and if you have context you can even work out which homograph to apply.
     

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