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Phonics Test

Discussion in 'Primary' started by s7ace, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. OK gcf, the site won't let me quote your post for some reason, but here is my response: You imply that Oxford Brookes University and Brighton University are to be blamed for weak results in literacy in schools local to them, due to aspects of their literacy coverage you do not like (multi cue strategies in the case of OBU, Professor Dombey's use of miscue analysis in the case of BU). First, both institutions were judged outstanding in their primary teacher training, in their last OFSTED inspections. Well, we know how unreliable OFSTED judgements are, so perhaps they were wrong,in both cases.Second, I can count four teacher training institutions in my local vicinity. If the situation is the same in Oxford and Brighton these two institutions cannot be blamed for all questionable teaching in their vicinity, even if the students remained in the area after graduating. Third, you assume that students remain in the area after graduating. This is by no means inevitable. When I think of teachers I know the majority are teaching at a distance from their universities and colleges, especially if they did initial teacher training. I did a PGCE as a mature student at a local university but nevertheless my first job was in the neighbouring borough.You then write about a school in a deprived town which uses JP and has 100% SATs results, by which I suppose you mean 100% level 4 and above. First, there are many schools in deprived towns and cities that achieve good results, whether they use JP or not.Second, there could be many reasons why this school gets good results. Similarly there could be many reasons why the "hundreds" of other schools you mention could get good results. Do you really know those hundreds of schools well enough to know that it is all down to SP? There are many possible reasons and combinations of reasons for success. There may even be successful schools that do not use SP in the way you would advocate.
  2. gcf


    Thanks for responding, Thumbie. Oxford Brookes has its own multi-cueing programme, its students help out in local schools and there has been, until recently, a very pro-active anti SP culture in Oxford. I can only say that there were Brighton trained teachers at the school where I worked and this was the school I was approached to help as 'there are so many year 3's coming out of the woodwork unable to read - and they are not dyslexic.'
    As I said earlier, I've been searching for some time (and always on the lookout ) for schools in areas of high deprivation achieving excellent SATs 2 results while eschewing SP. Where are they? I've located only.one example.
  3. gcf


    Thank you Eddie - I wish you luck in your work. My biggest reservation would be that some few children really need to continue skills-based practice in Year 2 in order to reach automaticity. It may be that these children will get the impetus to become readers with your programme but that some of them will never learn to decode accurately and will, therefore, remain unable to decode unknown words - a big disadvantage in later years. I cannot understand how good SP teaching in parallel with enthusiastic sharing of books, will leave children bored and cut-off.

  4. My biggest reservation would be that some few children really need to continue skills-based practice in Year 2 in order to reach automaticity.
    That is not a reservation - that is a requirement. Of course they will - and not only 'some' children but 'ALL' children. A perceptual learning intervention on its own is not enough to ensure the internalisation of all of the complex idiosyncracies in our crazy orthography. The 'whole word' episode in the sixties and seventies based on the Ladybird books proved that. During that period, the same number of children continued to leave school illiterate every Year. I specifically say that the Year 2 non-readers in my project who have gained massively in self-confidence are now readers are much better placed to take advantage of the skills-based which their non-reading status proves was not getting through to them. Ritual teaching should occupy some time every day throughout Year 2 For these 63 children, all that the perceptual learning intervention has done is to make the playing field a little more level. These former non-readers can now operate alongside their peers with every expectation of achieving at least Level 4 at Key Stage 2 provided of course that their teachers continue with a good structured phonics course. The perceptual learning course is over for them - it has done its work - they don't need it anymore.
    These children in schools generally are the feedstock for the 20% who leave school illiterate - this perceptual learning course has avoided that in their case.

    To become readers children MUST acquire the skills and most children will acquire them via conventional ritual teaching but some will not. Whether the children acquire their phonics knowledge rituall or perceptually or in some cases by a combination of both is self-eviddntly irrelevant. It is only relevant that they somehow learn them.
    To take the view that all that is necessary for all children to become competent readers is a ritual phonics course and that nothing else is necessary is bonkers and the fact that 100,000+ children continue to leave school illiterate proves that it is bonkers.
  5. Hold on. In the past pro-SP people on here have consistently argued that schools are generally not using SP, or are not teaching it well, which is why there has not been a significant upturn in literacy results. They have claimed that only the successful schools have used SP properly. Now here you are asking about schools that have 'eschewed' SP, as though SP is the rule rather than the exception.It is really frustrating to debate with people who keep shifting ground at their convenience. You need to decide: Was Oxford the only place using multi-cue strategies when it was not achieving too well? According to other SP fans multi cueing is still popular.Were there schools elsewhere with non readers coming out of the woodwork in year 3, and if so, how did their methods compare to your Brighton School? If you can't answer hese questions you can't make more than anecdotal claims for the observations you make in your post, above.The fact is that this strict SP regime constitutes a nationwide experiment led at the forefront by folk who can't put together a decent argument to support what is at heart a method built on illogical premises. (I stress I'm referring to the strict incarnation of SP that allows of no other cues). I am just thankful that, as with other exclusive methods children themselves will naturally learn the shortcuts and strategies which they need to combine with the method in order to learn to read properly. Like Eddie, I feel angry for the 20% who will not achieve that. As for a school in a deprived area achieving good results, my daughters' went to a primary school in a deprived area which consistently achieved excellent results going back many years. My children, now adult, learnt to read through an old fashioned reading scheme (1,2,3 and Away) and old fashioned phonics (Letterland). I'm not saying those resources were ideal, I'm just saying that the school had good literacy results.
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    So you aren't against my 20 -30 mins a day direct phonics teaching ...
    as are the children who joined my class from other schools ...
    I don't know anyone who would subscribe to that idea ...
    phonics is a tool that opens up the world of reading, but to become a reader one must read ... you use a computer, I use books and we both seek to develop all those higher levels skills used confident readers.

  7. So you aren't against my 20 -30 mins a day direct phonics teaching ...
    I know nothing about what you personally teach since you say you teach LP as opposed to SP - I'm afraid I have never considered the distinction between the two.
    What I have said repeatedly is that the way to teach reading is have a daily phonics session throughout Years R, 1 and 2. I personally favour SP but since there is nothing signficant to prove which is the more effective,I am happy so long as any of the current SP-type strategies is used. I have been saying this since before the present RRF website started - indeed since before websites generally were ever heard of. I haveneer varied this belief. Like many others, I was impressed with the Clackmannshire work. I always believed that the published work coonstitued 'evidence' but never 'proof' That is one of the ways in which I depart from SP fundamentalism which I believe - like all fundamentalisy beleifs, to be profoundly harmful.
    I also depart from them in another very significant way. I believe that if it becomes evident at the end of Year 1 that some children are responding to the ritual phonics strategy more slowly of not at all (whatever that may be) this group should ADDITIONALLY be given a short (5 min) daily lesson based on perceptual learning principles for ONE TERM and alongside whatever phonics strategy they are following. I support this belief , not fromsoemthing I have read somewhere, but with my own pratical research which has in virtually every case, resolved the fundamental difficulty which I suspect is connected with limited SSM span..In a perceptual learning approach there is nothing to forget because there is nothing to remember.That is teh defining feature of all perceptual learning.
    In the past my work has largely been 'remedial' working with Year 5 and Year 6 chlidren. I am now in a position to guarantee that Y6 children predicted to achieve L3 can be raised quickly to L4 with a perceptual learning strategy but more recently I have become inclined to favour a preventative rather than a belated remedial approach and this seems to be bearing fruit. I regard the 'preventative' approach as the Holy Grail of literacy research.
    I have no fixed notions about the duration of a daily phonics session - 30 mins sems perfectly reasonable. My view is that a timely perceptual learning intervention might just mean the virtual end of illiteracy in that the 20% would reduce to 1.5 - 2% viz those with very significant learning difficultes.
    The 20% are my 100%
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I'm afraid I've totally missed that Eddie but pleased that we do agree that good phonics teaching in a language/literacy rich curriculum that provides lots of oportunities for reading quality texts benefits all children

  9. I'm afraid I've totally missed that Eddie but pleased that we do agree that good phonics teaching in a language/literacy rich curriculum that provides lots of oportunities for reading quality texts benefits all children
    Well.I've certainly said it often enough although I leave out the jargon rituals about "laguage-literacy rich curriculum" as if anyone is going to claim that they prefer a language/literacy poor curriculum.
    I recommend a perceptual intervention ONLY for children who are failing to respond to whatever ritual strategy is being used and to which the remainder of the class is responding well. I do not recommend that perceptual learning replaces and phoncs course - I recommend that for these specific children (non-readers) it is offered in addition to the phonics diet and then only for a specific period of time - usually one term..
    My perceptual learning strategy is a 300 title librarym a 100 title reading comprehension course, three different dictation courses, a sentence building/spelling course and now a 90 session reading course for Year 2 pupils who have failed to respond to whatever ritual phonics course is being used. Surely that qualifies as a reading/spelling/grammar/listening rich offering! And of course that's in addition to whatever language/literacy rich offerings the currcumum provides outside the resources I use,
    What I would like to hear is a direct, considered challenge to the logic, desirablity or viability of the regime I propose. With 20% of children leaving school illiterate every year, I would have thought there was a very obvious need for some new thinking!
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    ritual strategy and you say you leave out the jargon [​IMG]
  11. SP enthusiasts have to put in the bit about language and literacy rich curriculum. This is because SP on its own is not language and literacy rich. So at each turn lip-service is paid. Thank heavens it is! Just how the phonics test serves anything language and literacy rich is beyond me, but it's OK because they continue making the right noises. At one point somebody was trying to assert that SP was a language and literacy rich curriculum in its own right, but that was just the once. [​IMG]
  12. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Thanks thumbie but we don't pay lip service to any essential skills and for our children who arrive with little or no real language speaking and listening is a major priority which is why we provide a diet of 5 a day ... stories that is.
    You seem to hold the opinion that phonics isn't part of language but if you actually think about it without phonics there would be no language rich or otherwise.
  13. Msz, you are referring again to practice in your school, where I am sure that wider literacy is given lots of attention. However, even in the Rose report references to the importance of a wide literacy curriculum pale into insignificance compared with the emphasis on SP. What message will teachers take from this, and from the statutory coercion of the phonics test?Phonics is not part of language. language is a means of verbal and written communication. You do not communicate with the grunts that are the sounds within words, you communicate with the words. But phonics is inescapable in the reading process - different but an essential part of mastering written language.
  14. Phonics is not part of language. language is a means of verbal and written communication.

    That's it in a nutshell. Language is the fundamental literacy skill - it is the foundation on which all language skills are based - and it is not learned ritually as a consequence of specificied lessons - it is acquired perceptually. We hear patterns of sounds and associate them with particular meanings - that is language.
    Phonics is an inseparable part of the way we record our language ie using specific text symbols or groups of text symbols to represent meaningless sounds which, when group together form words. Mastering the relationships between the graphemes and phonemes is necessary to be able to read. The majority of people can learn these relationships fairly easily but about one fifth of people cannot. Ultimately it doesn't matter whether you learn these ritually, perceptually or by a combination of both..

  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    so how do you convert speach into text?
    phonics is a branch of linguistics concerned with spoken sounds of language
    in schools we use the phonics to describe how the spoken sounds are represented by an alphabetic code of written language

  16. so how do you convert speach into text?
    Language starts in the brain with thoughts and speech is how we express these thoughts. We alter our breathing to create specific patterns of sound and because brains work on a basis of pattern recognition, we collectively come to associate these patterns of sound (words) with particular meanings. Phonics is centrally associated with the relationship between the graphemes which we agree to use to represent particular phonemes and phonics in the sense which it is now used by teachers generally, is the business of teaching children to recognise these relationships so that they can learn to recreate the speech from the text symbols (read)
    Reading is really recreating speech is our brains. Thsi was shown some 20 years ago in M.I.T when they experimentally recorded the electrical activity in studens ' vocal cords' while they were reading. When this electrical activity was amplified and played back, it was speech conclusively demonstrating that reading can be perceived as a kind of subvocal speaking.
    To claim that phonics is a part of language is therefore pedantry.
    Langauge is what we use to communicate with each other - we do not use phonics to communicate with each other which is the idea posted by someone else and which I supported.
    Naughty me!

  17. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    and sometimes that communication needs to be in written form (if the person you wish to communicate with isn't in the same location as you) which requires an agreed system in order for the writer and reader to understand each other ...just as we are doing now Eddie.
  18. and sometimes that communication needs to be in written form (if the person you wish to communicate with isn't in the same location as you) which requires an agreed system in order for the writer and reader to understand each other ...just as we are doing now Eddie.
    Is that not what I said? We are communicating using language - not phonics. How do the billion plus Chinese communicate in written form? Their orthography has no phonic basis - they communicate the same same as everyone else - they use language. I think this conversation is wandering off course.
    Phonics are the stuff of teaching reading - that is not is dispute by anyone i know, The disagreement certainy exists not about whether phonics needs to be taught but about HOW we arrange for it to be assimilated into children's brains so that they can read.
    We know for certain that the currently used strategies are failing 20% of children - again that is not in dispute. We know that any strategy teaching reading is only 80% successful and we know that this is because of the complexity of our orthography.
    It may be that there is no one strategy that will be successfu with all learners - indeed that might seem to some people to be patently obvious. We know that in ordet to achieve 100% success in teaching children to read, we need (1) to identify this 20% as early as possible and (2) to experiment with a variety of strategies to determine if any one of these is capable of delivering success with these particular children.
  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    you still haven't explained how you would convert spoken language into written language Eddie?

  20. you still haven't explained how you would convert spoken language into written language Eddie?
    I wrote that we collectively agree that certain graphemes will represent specific phonemes. Is that not epxlaining how we convert spoken language into written language - we write the graphemes do we not?
    I think this level of minutae takes us too far of the topic. Once upon a time, there was a fairytale land with perfect teachers teaching perfect children a perfect orthography so that all the perfect children ended up being able to read perfectly. The reality as well all know is nothing like that. The reality is that imperfect teachers teach imperfect children an imperfect orthography so that 20% of them don't learn to read and their entire education was wasted.
    The indications are that the application of any single strategy is unlikely to succeed in securing reading competence in all children - some people even think that it is patently obvious that no one strategy is ever likely to succeed with more than 80% of children.
    I believe that the most productive way forward is (1) the earlest possible identification of those likely to form this 20% and then (2) to constructively experiment wth a variety of strategies to determine which is the more productive in terms of significantly reducing this 20%
    My own recent, feeble attempt to try this has been so encouragingly successful that in this, my final year of conducting research projects, I will conduct just one more and target a very large number of chlildren who enter Year 2 as non-readers. I would be hoping to secure the co-operation of some 500 children in this category and have them complete a short, five minute daily perceptual learning exercise over one term. This strategy would not replace or in any way reduce their completion of or commitment to their daily dose of phonics execises - it would be in addition to these. After they completed the one term interverntion, they would continue with the same curriculum as the rest of the class - but as readers rather than on-readers. This wuld guarantee that they would not go on to make any contribution to the 20% who will yet again, leave school illiterate.


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