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Phonics session organisation

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by lemonyk, May 8, 2011.

  1. Hi I'm wondering if anyone would be able to offer me advice as to how to organise my phonics sessions.
    I have a group of children who still need input on phase 2, a group who are working within phase 3 and a small group who have mastered the majority of phase 3 and are ready to move on.
    The problem is that I only have my TA and I to work on the discrete phonics sessions. Is anybody elses class like this and how do you manage the teaching of 3 different abilities with only 2 members of staff? I don't want to hold back those children who are ready to move on because we don't have an extra teacher or TA!
    Any organisational tips would be appreciated!
    Thank you
  2. You could send the top group out with the TA and keep the other 2 groups together, providing additional 'catch-up' for the lower group (games, opportunities within continuous provision, a letter a day for them to practise writing in the air etc).
    I'm having to do this as my top group are ready to move on to phase 4.
  3. Hi there, I have recently been trying to solve a similar problem but actually have 4 groups to cater for. I now plan a phonics session between break and lunchtime on 3 days of the week when my SSA takes 3-4 children out to do phase 2 work (including her little boy). My TA takes 2 groups into the outdoor learning area whilst I have the phase 2/3 chn for about 15-20 mins. Then I swap them for the phase 3 group then again for the 5 phase 4 chn. I have been working in this way for a couple of weeks now and although it means a lot of detailed planning I feel it is working well. On the fourth day I do shared writing so this includes phonics and on the fifth day I just can't fit it in due to PE, assembly, singing etc,etc!

    I use the interactive whiteboard, small whiteboards & pens, games from letters and sounds and many different activities to keep the sessions sharp, pacey and fun. Hope this is of some use.
  4. I send out a CD of reading & spelling resources that has numerous games that children could play within a group. Once children know how to play each type of game they could play independently. email for some examples & a list of the resources on the CD. There is also more information on my website. Although the resources were originally made for dyslexic pupils, they can be used for all children.
    email: margaret2612@btinternet,com
    website: www.helpingdyslexia.co.uk
  5. My approach to teaching phonics avoids multiple grouping and preparing lots of different lessons for different children.
    It is the same alphabetic code and core skills that all children need to learn and there are ways to differentiate without too much complexity.
    This is based on the use of core multi-skills activity sheets which children access at their own level, undertake at their own speed - with extension activities for the quicker children, adult support for the slower-to-learn or inattentive children - and more time if necessary for the slower-to-learn children.
    This means that the core activities are practised every day - saying the sounds and blending words of different lengths and structures, handwriting practice whilst saying the sounds, phonemic awareness activities, and spelling-with-editing routines.
    Use of whiteboards is OK to an extent but is not the same as writing on paper with a pencil with good sitting posture. Focusing on phonics games may mean that some children practise what they know already and some children always slightly lag behind or copy others. Also, are teachers really aware of how 'core' the games are and whether they are effective for all the children? If so many children are in phase 2 groups in schools, is the teaching focused and core enough?
  6. My differentiated sessions are carpet only activities in addition to pencil and paper ones etc. However, "activity sheets" are not recommended so much now and more practical, hands-on fun activities are. Children learn at such different rates so teachers must cater for this hence a few are on phase 2 and others well into phase 4. Whiteboards do not replace using pencil and paper but add another way of practising letter formation, blending and so on.
  7. I suggest that there is nothing more 'hands-on' or appropriate (or fun) than paper and pencil multi-skills activities which are fit-for-purpose for teaching reading, writing and spelling.

    I do appreciate, however, that these are days of an 'anti-worksheet' culture - but these are also days when common sense and understanding or doing the obvious seems in short supply.
  8. breadmaker

    breadmaker New commenter

    Slight hijack I know, but just to say I totally endorse the comments made that w.boards are no substitue for pencil and paper. In y1 this year, we have had to devote a great deal of time to teaching children correct pencil grip, writing posture and how to sit at a table to write as many like to hold the whiteboard up in front of them while they lie down on the floor. Fine to do this occasionally, but you need to know how to get good pressure on the pencil and how to make a pencil work for you on paper.
    In R, the policy was to do no directed writing on paper- all on w.boards in the interest of ecofriendly school, but the end result was many children who had never had the experience of putting pencil to paper literally. Best teaching uses a combination of everything and doesn't throw the baby out with the bath water.
  9. I agree with the comments above - and have to say that as part of my phonics training, I'm raising awareness about the outcome of children learning to write scrunched on the floor with whiteboard pens.
    This is no substitute for the good posture, desks, tripod pencil hold etc.
    Just think about what is really needed to develop the skills for reading, writing and spelling and then think carefully about your actual practice.
    Also, I tire of hearing about 'fun and games' for all sorts of jumping around phonics activities. How can it be that my experience of children learning to read and write and spell and reading, writing and spelling is one that is very core and the children achieve and love doing these things.

  10. I also agree that there is no substitute for pencil and paper experience and direct teaching of phonic and writing skills.

    I do know that children enjoy and remember activities and games that are practical and fun, I didn't say they were "jumping around" phonic activities!

    Having been a part of the worksheet culture many years ago I can honestly say that they now should have only a small place in a reception classroom.
  11. My class are in three groups for phonics now: Phase 3, Phase 4 and Phase 5 (roughly speaking!) I don't always have a TA in the mornings so if I do, we take one group each while the other group access the provision areas *quietly,* then I take an extra group while two groups engage in child initiated play, OR if there's just me, I teach one group while two play, then work with the others in turn. We tend to spend about 15mins with each group, but sometimes longer. This works now the children are more independent, but at the start of the year, we split into just two groups.
  12. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I teach in much the same way - differentiate by questioning
    If children aren't exposed to all 44 phonemes because they are stuck on a few in phase 2 how are they going to learn them? I find some children may have a temporary block on early phonemes but pick up later ones easily ...give them the opportunity!
  13. Just a comment on the last point - Msz - children shouldn't be held on phase 2 because they don't know all of the sounds or even the ability to blend or segment as this continues into phase 3, as per the letters and sound doc.
    I really struggle with this issue as I at present have a two term intake, and in January frequently get chidlren who need to spend time working on phase 1 before they are ready for phase 2, whilst my autumn intake can be ready for phase 3. I tend to take my weaker autumn children and put them with the spring intake to make a phase 2 group, I include my less able children in this group too and then have a phase 3 group who move onto phase 4 during the summer term. My TA who is inexperienced and not confident in taking phonics takes the other children outside or into the hall whilst I teach. I then work with the weakest children individually and set them tasks and games - yes games! to play with the TA whilst the rest of us are at assembly. I am not particularly happy with this set up but haven't found anything else that is workable so will be watching this thread for answers too.
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Phase 1 isn't a prerequisit to beginning phase 2 and should be taught alongside phases 2-6.
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I should probably add I don't use L&S and have real issues about the phases which were never intended to be a barrier to progresion through the 44 phonemes. in L&S terms my reception children could be working anywhere from phase 2 to phase 6 and taught as a class.

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