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Reading Recovery...

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by kenadams777, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. Well that was a touch tongue in cheek, as was my comment about starting a whole new argument [​IMG].
    However, there does seeem to be a school of thought that believes that children are like empty vessels and that all we have to do is pour in the right stuff. Therefore, armed with all the research about SP, we set about the task of teaching reading and make jolly sure we do not deviate in any way from the path. But, because children are children there is a communication gap between what we teach and what they learn, and sometimes they misunderstand and sometimes they find out things for themselves, sometimes they switch off and don't listen, sometimes they take things too literally. Which adds up to a lot of unknowns in the teaching and learning process. Childen's participation in this process makes it an imprecise science (as does teaching style and teacher personality, environment, characteristics of the class and lots of other variables). So what I'm saying is that it is a mistake to think that children will always use SP correctly and successfully and will not use their own, other methods, just because that is the single line the teacher has taken. Children may well find their own methods, picked up along the way, work for them. I'm thinking, in particular, of children who sound out words carefully but without noticing digraphs and therefore make a mess of it (eg fat her), and then at the end suddenly produce the correct word. Am I the only one who has had that experience?
    Does synthetic phonics teach children to read for meaning?

  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    If you mean does SP encourage children to think about whether what they are reading makes sense and whether comprehension is part of SP instruction then the answer is yes.
  3. You can explain all that but I still don't see why the fact that a child might 'adapt' the process in some way provides any justification for not teaching them the most effective strategy in the first place! Children develop their own handwriting style, but that doesn't preclude the need to teach them correct letter formation.

    Oooohh, miaow!
    I think you actually know precisely what I was implying[​IMG]

  4. I don't believe I have ever said that SP should not be used. It is an excellent start to reading, as you say, in the first place. But there comes a point when it lacks flexibility if used exclusively. Like the piano player who plays all the right notes but fails to gain fluency because she doesn't notice that the notes are following a repeating pattern.
    There are also other strategies that people use to read which are an extension of phonics. They do not interfere with phonics. Noticing rimes, chunks of words, familiar bits in words, and responding to them rather than painstakingly sounding them out every time is not going to interfere with anyone's phonic knowledge. This is what we expect and hope children will do with digraphs and trigraphs, so why not with other letter groups?
    What are you implying?
  5. Once decoding and blending is fully automatic there is nothing painstaking about it. You are just setting up a straw man.
    Well, if you really want it spelled out..
    'SP doesn't teach meaning' is usually the next salvo in the mixed methods adherents' battery of arguments against the exclusive use of SP.
    Well, of course it doesn't, that's not its purpose, as we both very well know.
  6. But blending a word which is within the child's oral vocabulary automatically releases meaning.
    Not only that, a phonics programme is no less a programme for teaching vocabulary and comprehension than any other type of teaching.
    The essential difference is that we are not expecting children to guess words by their overall comprehension of the sentence or text. We are not teaching children to 'get' the words through the meaning - but 'decoding the words' activates the meaning.
    Of course context is needed once children have decoded words such as 'wind' and 'read' to ascertain whether it is going to be 'wind the bobbin' or 'she read the book'.
    But the SP taught child will know that 'i' can have different possible pronunciations - as can the grapheme 'ea'.
    It is not left to chance, the children are properly taught.
    Furthermore, children do not need to know the almost 200 letter/s-sound correspondences to be able to read. Once they know only a few correspondences and the skill of blending, they can read already.
    This is the issue, that children with the blending skill can read from the outset of a SP programme and get plenty of practice whilst they are being taught further letter/s-sound correspondences.
    It's all too easy to make '200' sound like a large number of units (which it is so why bother to teach more such as clusters and onset and rime) - but this does not even begin to compare with trying to learn words discretely by working through reading book after reading book - guessing the words from various strategies.
  7. I don't understand how people on here can seemingly be arguing that when a child decodes a word phonetically that they will be less likely to understand what the word means than if they have memorised / guessed the word correctly. If I read the word dog, I either know what a dog is or I don't.
    Children taught using SP will be able to decode words they have never seen / heard before. Obviously this will not magically make them understand the meaning of the word.
    Word guessers / memorisers will have little chance of reading an unknown word if they cannot decode. How then will they comprehend the word when they cannot even read it? I have seen children being taught by RR teachers to guess using the picture and first letter; when the child doesn't know the name of the "thing" in the picture, they obviously fail to "read" the word, often throwing in random words that begin with the first letter.
  8. The rationale of being open to the various methods of reading (and there are various methods, whether we teach them or not) is that you still teach SP to decode words. So why do the above posts assume that teaching 'mixed methods' means you are not teaching SP? You have to teach phonics. Is there anyone who doesn't? But as children learn more and more about words they can use other methods in addition to that - which is why they should not need to painstakingly sound out words for ever. Having sounded out a word a few times it becomes a sight word.
    There are pitfalls in over-emphasising to children that they have to sound out and denying them knowledge of other approaches. Reading becomes a sounding out exercise, because phonics is about decoding. Some children will sound out every word, even when they know it and even if they have just read it in the previous sentence, because they think that is what you are supposed to do. In this situation the SP approach interferes with the child's chances of getting at the meaning of what they are reading because it interferes with the flow of the words in the sentence. This is less likely if the child uses all the evidence they have, not just some of it, to decide what the words say and what is meant. They have the evidence of the graphemes, and evidence from words they know on sight, and they have the evidence of the context.
    Surely this is what good readers do. They use a combination of all the evidence available to read words and sentences and access meaning.

  9. Do you ever bother to read replies to your posts? I have already responded to your 'painstakingly sound out' mantra!
    Well precisely, anyone who knows anything about SP teaching knows that. The whole point of a few repetitions is to get the word into 'sight' memory! Why then, having said this, are you also trying to imply that SP teaching requires a child to be perpetually, 'painfully', sounding out words?
    Are you a Reading Recovery teacher, thumbie? You sound just like one!
    Why are you so obsessed with the evils of sounding out? The picture you paint of the SP taught child is a complete fantasy.
    1) If a child is sounding out apparently unnecessarily then it is either because they have a genuine short term memory problem and do need hundreds of repetitions of sounding out and blending a word before it gets into 'sight' memory, or, because the child's teacher has failed to help them to make the transition from sounding out to 'sight' recognition; which is a teacher fault, not the fault of the methodolgy.
    2) From my work with very poor readers the one thing that has always struck me is that however slowly they 'read' a piece of text, even to the extent of having to sound out most of the words, they don't have any difficulty in understanding what they have read. This demolishes in my eyes the 'interrupted flow impedes comprehension' mantra.
    The idea of there being a finite amount of 'space' in the brain for reading and too much decoding not leaving enough spare capacity for comprehension, is very outdated and it was only ever a theory, not a fact. Of course, it was gleefully seized on by the antiphonics people to construct the very argument that you have just trotted out.
    3) I am an extremely good reader . I do not use any of the contorted strategies which you have proposed over the past day or two. If I encounter an unfamiliar word (which I still do from time to time) I sound it out and blend it, albeit mentally rather than aloud.
  10. If you teach children a range of strategies with which to 'get' the word, you send them all over the page wondering which 'strategy' to use.
    You are failing to teach them to look at the word.
    And how does a child know 'which' strategy to use to 'get' a word?
    I remember the NLS bringing out a series of reading cue cards for the children to teach them various reading strategies.
    There were 14 of these cue cards.
    Synthetic phonics teaching, on the other hand, teaches the alphabetic code systematically from simple to spelling and pronunciation alternatives and doesn't involve asking children to read books which are beyond their code knowledge and skills.
    The print, however, can include words of various lengths as long the child knows the code within them. So, they are still not spoon fed - and they are supported to become fearless readers without 'guessing' and without the need to look up at the teacher's face for approval and confirmation that any guessed word is correct!
    Having said all that, the kind of synthetic phonics teaching I promote is two-pronged - the formal systematic programme taught well alongside incidental phonics as necessary. To me this is the best of both worlds and addresses those children who can advance quickly and beyond their peers - and who are curious about new code encountered in wider activities.
  11. Exactly, as you noticed, I agree with you, because I agree that SP is an excellent start to reading. I am not anti-SP. SP is a good start to reading partly because it enables accurate decoding (albeit through remembering nearly 200 GPCs and sorting between them) and also because, through management of reading materials, it helps children to gain a sight vocabulary, which they can then use in further reading situations.
    I hope I didn't use the terms 'perpetually' and 'painfully' in my posts. I try to avoid emotive language, so apologies if I did.
    I am not a RR teacher, and cannot comment on RR because I don't know enough about it.
    I don't think I have made any statements that would lead anyone to think me obsessed about anything, and i am pretty sure I never said 'evils'. In simple terms this is my position: SP is great; in addition there is more evidence on the page than the graphemes/ phonemes so other strategies are useful too; children can notice common combinations of graphemes (eg the 'at in 'cat') in the same way as they start to notice whole words (sight vocab gained from SP such as 'cat'); flexibility and response to children's needs and their preferred approach seems a sensible way forward; reading is about accessing meaning and anything that helps is useful; children sometimes get caught at the sounding out phase when they don't need it.
    I agree, the teacher has to deal with all the problems that any reading method throws up, and guide the children. Someone who is bogged down in sounding out has to be given the confidence to get beyond that; someone who is bogged down in using context has to be shown that they need to sound out etc....
    When children are reading independently they do not have anyone available to guide them like this. If they only use sounding out they are not using all the available evidence to make sense of the texts they are reading. Hopefully they are interested enough in the texts to do anything that will help them read them. Why not give them some pointers during shared reading?
    I don't know anything about size and capacity of brain but do know that it is asking a lot of anyone to get the meaning of something that is fragmented and interrupted by continual stopping over individual words. I would find that difficult myself, but am willing to concede that I may have a short term memory problem. Again, the teacher's job is to respond to children, get them to listen to themselves and make sure they have texts of an appropriate level of difficulty. And if they can show children a variety of ways to become fluent, why is that a problem? And if there is not a finite area of the brain for reading why is the use of a variety of strategies a problem? The brain presumably can cope with it.
    Are you open to the possibility that others use different strategies to yours to read unfamiliar material? I can only speak from my own experience which is clearly different from yours, yet I am willing to believe that you read in the way you have described. To me the strategies I use are in no way 'contorted', they are what comes naturally. How is using the word 'sin' when reading the word 'since' a contortion? What is contorted about it?

  12. I am fighting the corner for teachers being supported well enough, and knowledgeable enough, to introduce a comprehensive alphabetic code and the three core skills of blending, segmenting and handwriting.
    In order for them to do this, they need good enough, systematic enough, comprehensive enough resources.
    I am also fighting for a sufficient slot on the timetable to do this level of teaching - and I assure you it needs more than the 20 minutes a day route.
    If teachers are also trying to fit in teaching about onset and rime and consonant clusters - and also a range of reading strategies - most of which amount to guessing and which dilute and distract from good decoding as in SP teaching, then they are likely to be teaching SP as efficiently as they could or ought to be.
    The bottom line, it seems to me is this - there are various routes to learning to read - and to teaching reading - and some children (many of us included) have had a hotchpotch of routes. The trouble is that the multiple route approach also fails a considerable number of children - and fails a considerable number of children in the long term - often which is not identified - or is attributed to weaknesses in learning ability of the individual student or lack of support from home.
    The fact is that there is now a body of research which shows rigorous, systematic SP teaching is the most effective and the most fail-safe way to go.
    So, who, realistically, could pick out those children who will be better off with a hotchpotch and who would be better off without the hotchpotch.
    Whilst, thumbie, you do sound so reasonable in your postings, your postings are to ignore, for example, the prevailing research conclusions, and also the leading-edge practice which Jim Rose and his team witnessed and described from their national review of reading instruction.
    Teachers surely need to hone their skills to focus on the most effective and failsafe routes, notwithstanding that some children will, and always have, managed to learn whatever their experiences - and so.
    I do agree, however, that children will bring their own experiences and methods to bear on how they read - but would not want to think, as a teacher, that any bad habits such as guessing words from multi-cueing, was a consequence of my direct teaching.
  13. Furthermore - I have typed at speed and not all of what I have written makes sense and I have missed the odd 'not' out - therefore inversing what I meant to write.
    Ah well....[​IMG]
  14. A quick trawl
    of the internet shows that this is not universally accepted, and that Jim
    Rose himself has not expressed his support for SP as strongly as some
    have expressed theirs in this thread.

    respect your viewpoint and all your efforts, evidence of which I have
    seen on this forum. However my position remains different from yours.

    To some extent I think the arguments all pale against the big argument about time and provision.
    Time- to hear children read with 1 to 1 teacher/child interaction.
    Time- for children to play, build up their experiences and their speaking and listening skills so that they are bringing maturity and a basic understanding from heard and shared texts to the reading process (at age 6/7 for some children, maybe?).
    Provision- of well-trained staff who respond appropriately to children's needs and have the time to spend with them.
    Provision- of guidance to parents about giving good quality reading support to their children.
    Provision- of a rich environment with opportunities for children to explore literacy.
    And I would add - trust. Trust that our children will learn given the right conditions and support, together with an understanding that children will learn differently and at different rates.

  15. thumbie - we shall definitely have to agree to disagree.
    I am not leaving the level of literacy of children based on 'trust'. Millions of children have had caring, hard-working teachers and they have still been left illiterate or semi-literate. With regard to reading instruction, this is one area where a teacher can teach his or her heart out and still fail children.
    Regarding the vast majority of what you say above regarding time and provision, however, there is nothing with which I disagree apart from the 'trust'. Unless you mean all of those things exclusive of a good synthetic phonics programme.
    I am not entirely sure, either, what your full position really is regarding the teaching. You say you support SP teaching but you seem to defend the range of strategies reading approach which is not SP teaching.
    You are in danger of your apparent range of comments leaving people not quite sure what the teaching in your class would consist of.

  16. I have been asked to post the statement below on behalf of someone who has followed developments in analogy theories since the early 1990s and has been following this thread:
    She says:
    "The problem with the analogy theory as originally proposed (chiefly by Goswami) was that children were believed to be capable of making analogies based on onset and rime before they were capable of applying grapheme-phoneme knowledge: for example, in her 1996 Rhyme and Analogy Teacher's Guide (OUP) Goswami wrote However, in order to become good readers and spellers of written English, children must eventually progress from onset-rime units to phonemes. Although onsets and rimes are a good place to begin to learn about reading and writing, phonemic knowledge is the eventual goal of the fluent reader' (p. 127). The assumption was that the very first step was the acquisition of a 'sight' vocabulary - I think this assumption remained unstated for some years but then Goswami wrote the following in a book published in 1999: 'Which skills should teachers foster in order to encourage the development of analogy strategies? One is good sight word knowledge, as children will use more analogies as the size of their reading vocabulary increases' (Reading Development and the Teaching of Reading, eds. Oakhill and Beard, p. 184). The next step was assumed to be that because young children were better at detecting rhymes than phonemes in spoken words, they would see similarities at the onset-rime level between known 'sight' words and newly-encountered words. There was a flaw in the logic here, however: even if children had memorised the written and spoken forms of 'sight' words, a new word encountered in reading would be in its written (not spoken) form, and any ability to detect onsets and rimes in the spoken form of that word could not be used. People also overlooked the fact that with the simple words which even Goswami regarded as suitable for beginners ('cat', 'bat', 'hat', 'sat' etc.), an analogy strategy would require children to see each new printed word as two units (initial letter plus '-at') when in fact it was much more obvious for them to see it as three units because of the three letters. Goswami herself seemed at last to have realised this by 2002: 'However, the small units phonemes) usually correspond to single letters, which are clearly separable in the orthography, and most words used in the early reading curriculum have a 1:1 correspondence between letters and sounds.... Hence pedagogically it may well be easier to begin teaching children about letters, which many of them will already know about, and then to proceed to larger units such as rimes' (Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 82, p. 49). Compare this with the quotation from her Rhyme and Analogy Teacher's Guide in the first paragraph above.
    However, even though it makes much sense for beginners to start by being taught to read by saying a sound for each letter and blending the sounds rather than by onset-rime, synthetic phonics advocates can accommodate the idea that once children are no longer beginners they can start making analogies. Johnston and Watson found this in their Clackmannanshire research, as also did Wimmer et al. in Austria. It's probably mostly a matter of the children doing it spontaneously once they get to a certain point in their reading development, though I think the Austrians do teach something about word-families for spelling purposes, and this can probably be useful in English, too."
  17. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I think this is the difference the children I see using rime to generate word lists are already competent decoders
  18. Please remember the information about analogy was posted by me on someone's behalf and it is not my statement.

    msz - I note what you say.
    Also, there is a difference between an activity which is playing around with word-making and language play and reading new text.

  19. We have to take on trust children's ability to learn to read. If not, the child will soon sense our panic and lack of belief. With trust comes perseverence, a sense of good humour and patience around the reading project, and a sense of faith in the child.
    In almost every post I have emphasised my acceptance of the value of SP as essential for decoding words.
    Other learning strategies which are 'not SP' do not exclude or devalue SP, they follow on naturally from an initial introduction to reading through SP.

  20. And made negative statements about decoding and then wanted to add more strategies!
    I'm afraid I trust the power of SP teaching! Why would there be any reason to panic when time and time again it has rescued an 'unteachable' child.[​IMG]


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