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Reading Recovery...

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

  1. OK. The training of the teachers is crucial. So the effectiveness of the intervention can only really be measured where the training is complete. That must be the same for all interventions. It can't really be compared to non-interventions (eg Letters and Sounds or Jolly Phonics which are used for all the children in a cohort and don't require specialist training, but even with those you can only measure the effectiveness of the programme if it has been followed correctly as set down).
    Published evaluation are questionable - so there needs to be proper independent evaluation. Does anyone know of any?
    This is to be expected, surely, and would be an indicator for further intervention.
    Mmm... some studies. What do the other studies say?
    This needs some further unravelling- is reaching the average the aim of the programme or is it about being able to 'keep up' with the average? There are always going to be 50% of children below the average, and these are always likely to be pupils who have had a difficult start with literacy. Do these children catch up later, I wonder?
    Thank you for the information Msz. I would agree that more research is needed into the effects and efficacy of RR but would not agree with those posts that have dismissed it so forcefully.
    Apparently RR has been going for over 20 years, so presumable there are some long term studies. Are there any formalised SP intervention programmes that have been going that long, for comparison?

  2. It would be interesting to know if the OP is still following the thread! And what she thinks. Although, if I recall she was coming form a different angle which was about the well-being of a child and whether a child should be subjected to RR intervention when it appears to be so formal and out of step with the EYFS ethos.

  3. It appears from the extract below (by Jonathon Solity) that there were methodological problems with this study


    This extract makes it clear that the 'Phonological intervention' was actually based on rhyme and alliteration, which we now know (as Solity points out above) is not at all an effective way of teaching children to read; although at the time that Bradley & Bryant devised it, it was slightly better than the 'no phonics at all' which children normally experienced.
    If I could afford 30 dollars for the original study, and another 30 for Solity's paper, I would have a look myself...

  4. Thanks Maizie. Do you know what the phonics element of the RR programme is like? I think I read something about identifying sounds using magnetic letters, am I right? So, is that just the basic alphabet single graphemes or does it go further? Anyone know?
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Most of the studies into RR have been conducted by ....Reading Recover
    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:XPuT8FDbeZ0J:www.edu.dudley.gov.uk/primary/ECaR/background%2520%26%2520research/ECaRbackres_ReadingRecover_summary.pdf+long+term+independent+studies+of+reading+recovery&hl=en&gl=uk&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESieB1tRzmqBpCA1OOmnEGSVpP-4nABRDgE6S0ccDtEE9X0oTSQHt8BTtO2AWkJaILbHIwgNIm-XUqdtnZNLZWhk57t0aCPmm6yRaL87x77MSnbKdodP68872xgR0s6e0ZI1AL5x&sig=AHIEtbSLfacMCHUGZ9XP38Yzh4x1IYlRdQand they say it is the best thing since sliced bread which is why many people are sceptical.

    Pobably the best known research into synthetic phonics is the Clackmannanshire research(conducted over 7 years)

    Glocestershire conducted a research into synthetic phonics on the same age group as RR
    (possibly called Bear Necessities? )

    There was also some research carried out in Belfast into Linguistic phonics

    I think it needs to be remembered that prior to Rose many schools using phonics (or claiming to) used Analytical phonics as part of mixed methods phonics reading schemes were pretty dire and most teachers had very little if any training
  6. thumbie, if you would like to pm me with your email address I do have some transcripts which I made of RR lessons (or parts of lessons) that were available for viewing on the Web a year or two ago; two came from Teachers' TV and one from the ECAR section of the then DCFS website. I don't know if these videos are still available for you to check the accuracy of my transcriptions. I would be happy to email them to you so that you can see how an RR lesson goes. There is very little work with magnetic letters and what there is would not, as I recall, be recognised as good phonics instruction.
    Interestingly, although RR make a great 'thing' of the lessons being individually tailored to the child, they all follow exactly the same format, as laid down by Marie Clay, and I believe that RR teachers are carefully monitored to ensure that they stick to the format. This includes the timings of each element of the lesson. RR teachers learn a series of 'prompt' and 'praise' phrases to use. Lessons are not actually scripted, as teachers are free to use these prompt and praise phrases where they think appropriate (I truly believe that this is where the, what RR calls, 'skilled teaching' might well be, in the use of these phrases,because I can't see any evidence of 'skilled teaching' anywhere else). Marie Clay (I have read her book 'Lessons in Literacy, Part 2) is very insistent that the teacher says as little as possible in the way of explanations to the child[​IMG] I find it very hard to see how teachers can 'individualise' lessons for children within these constraints.
    I would also say that, despite RR making a Big Thing about working with the 'hardest to teach' children, most of the children I saw in the videos did not appear to me to be children with any particular difficulties in learning (you do really learn to spot them after a few years!), the girls particularly seemed very bright and engaged; it was noticeable that many of the children featured were probably EAL . Never forget that the actual ability level of the children chosen for RR will vary greatly from school to school. They have no cut off point, above which they would not take a child; they just take the '6 poorest'. It is obvious that the 6 poorest children in one school might be much 'better' or much 'worse' than the poorest 6 children in another school. Also, do not forget that RR is not successful with nearly 1 in 4 of the children they taken on. They routinely (and this, oddly, does not seem to vary from country to country) 'refer' on (i.e. send for more intervention) 23% of children.These are, surely, the truly 'hardest to teach' children, yet they are precisely the ones RR fail[​IMG]
    In respect of comparative research, I don't think that you will find anything which directly compares RR with an SP intervention, where both interventions are given absolutely equal treatment in terms of time and one to one instruction with a teacher trained in the intervention. I have been told by an academic researcher, who would be very keen to do such a study, that RR were approached but would not agree to it.

  7. 2-3 minutes daily making and breaking up words using magnetic letters. They also sometimes use Elkonin boxes to help with spelling. It is all completely ad hoc and unsystematic.
  8. Thanks
    I found a link to Teachers' TV:
  9. The video does show phonics being used during reading. What struck me was how quickly the teacher jumped in to give the child the word, without any explanation of the hows and whys. I can see this helps to keep the flow of the story, so might be the right approach in some circumstances, but I instinctively felt like saying, "Stop, hold on a minute, lets have a closer look!" Presumably, though, there is a clear rationale for this - to avoid a sense of failure? Maybe?
    Difficult to tell much from the video, however, which only shows short sections of the session.
  10. This is the word making part of the lesson formerly shown on the ACAR section of the DCFS site. It is from the transcript which accompanied it (i.e Ididn'ttranscribe it). It does make a bit more sense when you see the part of the video it is transcribed from, but even that didn't really show much.
    The child has had 47 RR sessions (23+ hours of one to one teaching)
    Please ignore all the funny text at the top of the quote.
    The child responds with letter names at all times. I highlighted her responses because I was gobsmacked that she didn't know what letter she had used! After 47 sessions!
  11. You have to wonder why this child was so uncertain of letter names and indeed why she was using letter names where most children would probably use sounds.
    She starts with 'the' which has to be a sight vocabulary word from the outset - it can't really be sounded out. From that she moves onto 'then'. Although that is a phonetically regular word the fact she has moved on from 'the' suggests she just knows that it looks like 'the' but with the added 'n', rather than that she has sounded it out. Similarly 'there'- difficult to sound out, but she seems to know already what it looks like. For these particular words it is less crucial to know the sounds of the letters than with an unfamiliar but phonetically regular word, such as 'bog', which a child may not have encountered before but which is easy to sound out. So in this context it is not actually that relevant that the child is unsure of the letter sounds/names. Of course she needs to learn these but I can see that the teacher might not stop and address this at this particular point. Having said that, the teacher does make sure the child corrects herself each time.
    So, although I can see it is surprising and problematic that she does not know the names of the letters she is using, and that learning the sounds should be a priority within her learning programme, it is encouraging that she can spell and probably recognise these high frequency words. This will be of considerable value to her in her reading.
    Again, it is only a small part of one session that is transcribed, and it is about high frequency words rather than about phonics. I'm not sure what it shows for or against RR. But I do wonder about initial teaching if this child habitually uses letter names rather than sounds. At her stage of reading development I would imagine using sounds would be more useful to her than knowing names. It reminds me of the profile statement about naming and sounding letters - a real bugbear! The other factor is about parental expectations and misconceptions. Parents sometimes spend a lot of wasted time teaching children letter names - time they could use, with a little input from teachers, on teaching letter sounds.
  12. thumbie - it is good to see you thinking this through.
    Do you remember me saying that we have to talk 'details' when we talk about reading instruction? We need to look at exact content and practice.
    When we have done this with RR lessons and the teachers' RR literature, this is when we have become horrified.
    And please bear in mind that this has to be viewed by noting how much this all costs, how much time is spent with the children, what kind of books they are given to 'read' and what 'reading strategies' they are taught to do that reading - and so on.
    When one really starts getting into the detail, for us the picture gets worse and worse and we despair for the children themselves.
    We have already discussed that children are designed to 'learn' - you couched it in terms of 'trust' that the children will learn, I couched it in terms that I 'know' they will learn - but the more you look at RR practice, the more you realise that they still learn in spite of the practice and not because of it.
  13. Don't misunderstand me Debbie.
    I agree that there are things that have surprised me about the two examples of RR that I have looked at:
    The lack of teacher intervention to guide the child in the teachers' TV clip.
    The child's use of letter names (and confusion around this) in the transcript.
    I don't know how much either of these factors are down to RR as a reading programme. The lack of intervention may be a deliberate strategy ( an 'exact' and purposeful content to the programme). In the second case, I'm pretty sure it was not the RR teacher who taught Buse letter names in preference to sounds. I tried to explain that I felt the RR teacher might not be tackling this because the context was one of sight vocab rather than a phonics session.
    I did not feel horrified by either extract, and still have an open mind about the RR programme, especially as these are only short extracts from a programme that apparently has several different focuses within each session. I would hope that in the first case the teacher would be directly teaching the child some useful strategies outside of the actual text reading experience shown. In the second case I would hope that there was plenty of phonic content elsewhere in the session to balance out the learning of 'tricky words'.
    I can appreciate your concern about the time and money that is spent on RR - it must be very expensive. but as I say - I would need to know more before feeling 'horrified'. You talk about kinds of books used- how are these chosen, and why do you have an issue with them?
    Another question - what would you replace RR with as an intervention for children who have not made good progress in reading? I know you believe strongly in SP. Would your preferred programme be more SP, maybe starting again right at the beginning? Would you use texts? If you had the money and time given to RR what would you do with it?
  14. gcf


    This is rather long but shows that there are plenty of excellent SP programmes that have been used specifically for struggling readers, as well as, with the majority of those listed, with children who progress quickly. All of them cost a mere fraction of Reading Recovery :
    <font size="3" face="Arial">(in alphabetic order)</font><font size="3" face="Arial">
    <font size="3" face="Arial">BRI (Beginning Reading Instruction): includes Back-up! Catch-up! Teaching Assistant Guide about how to use BRI with young children who need extra help. (www.piperbooks.co.uk)</font><font size="3" face="Arial"> Fast Phonics First: interactive programme with software, designed for initial teaching with classes of young children; includes assessment and &lsquo;catch-up&rsquo; activities (<font size="3" face="Arial">www.pearsonschoolsandfecolleges.co.uk/Primary/Earlyyears/Allearlyyearsresources/RigbyStarPhonics/RigbyStarPhonics.aspx</font><font size="3" face="Arial"> ) </font>
    </font><font size="3" face="Arial">Jolly Learning: programme and resources for initial teaching with classes of young children; easy to adapt to provide extra practice one-to-one or in small groups; training provided by authorised trainers or through an online training programme (</font><font size="3" face="Arial">www.jollylearning.co.uk</font><font size="3" face="Arial">)</font>
    <font size="3" face="Arial">Phonics International: programme for whole school or individuals, available to download online, includes resources suitable for struggling readers of any age; training provided (</font><font size="3" face="Arial">www.phonicsinternational.com</font><font size="3" face="Arial">)</font>
    <font size="3" face="Arial">Read Write Inc: comprehensive whole school programme; training provided includes advice about how to organise phonics lessons throughout the school to ensure that all children make good progress from whatever level they have reached. (</font><font size="3" face="Arial">www.ruthmiskinliteracy.com</font><font size="3" face="Arial">)</font>
    <font size="3" face="Arial">Sound Discovery: programme for mainstream; also especially suitable for teaching assistants working with small groups of children at all levels who have fallen behind; includes Snappy Lesson for structuring lessons; training provided (</font><font size="3" face="Arial">www.syntheticphonics.net</font><font size="3" face="Arial">)</font>
    <font size="3" face="Arial">Sound Foundations: programme and resources for one-to-one teaching of children who are failing to learn to read as expected, including those with severe difficulties; training provided (</font><font size="3" face="Arial">www.soundfoundationsbooks.co.uk</font><font size="3" face="Arial">)</font>
    <font size="3" face="Arial">Sound Reading System: ideal for one-to-one tuition for children and adults with reading and spelling difficulties; also whole class programme; training provided (www.soundreadingsystem.co.uk/index.html)</font>
    <font size="3" face="Arial">Sounds~Write: for mainstream and children at all levels who have fallen behind in their reading and spelling; training provided (</font><font size="3" face="Arial">www.sounds-write.co.uk</font><font size="3" face="Arial">)</font>
    <font size="3" face="Arial">The Butterfly Book: suitable for all ages; has been used at a Saturday school in West London to teach children from 5 to 13 from deprived backgrounds, who have not learned to read (</font><font size="3" face="Arial">www.civitas.org.uk/butterfly</font><font size="3" face="Arial">)</font>
    <font size="3" face="Arial"><font size="3" face="Arial">As for using the hundreds of huge amount of savings, Thumbie, what an enticing thought! The list is endless : more spent on music, drama, inviting poets/authors/artists into school, ensuring that the library is well stocked with stimulating books, giving more expert attention to those with autism, introducing Latin - the list is endless.</font>
  15. One of the core principles of the kind of SP which RRFers (Reading Reform Foundation) promote is that children are not asked to read aloud books where the text does not match the level of alphabetic code knowledge of the child.
    We see children on the RR videos reading text which is beyond them - other than having to get the words from all sorts of strategies. We see guidance where the overarching method is not mainly applying code knowledge and blending, and we do not see teachers modelling good blending where the child cannot do this him or herself.
    Even where we see any reference to 'phonics' it is often hindsight or random rather than all-through-the-word blending. Clay herself considered phonics to be a last resort or a checking the word you already said type of phonics.
    No-one ever seems to refer to the writing task in RR. These are my personal thoughts. Much time is spent on chopping up the sentence and rearranging it. This does not emulate what we do as experienced writers where we develop a thought in our heads, hold that in memory and write down the sentence. Then we would re-read the sentence to ensure it expresses our original thought - at which point we may wish to adjust or improve it.
    Once again, these are my personal thoughts: I suggest that our teaching of basic reading and writing needs to be simple and consistent and not wander around with 'various' strategies which are too far from what we ultimately need to do. I agree there are 'steps' to get to learn an ultimate process.
    If you give children too much material which is not at their level for phonics application, then of course other strategies have to come into play but what do we ultimately want readers to be able to do? They have to read text without picture clues and they need to read it quickly and automatically.
    I know that you can get a reading profile whereby people can get the gist of a sentence and then make deductions of the new and unknown words - but this is far from ideal. We have had a few people who contribute to the RRF message forum who describe how they, as adults, can read well enough to attain a university degree but could not choose subjects which involved a lot of new and technical, or challenging, vocabulary because they are mainly whole word readers using lots of deduction (when words are within their oral vocabulary) and they have basically reached their maximum level of reading capacity - with lots of 'blurghing' (through no choice) of the challenging words.
    If we want children to be good code appliers and automatic blenders, then that is what we need to teach and teach well.
    If we spend lots of time and all our efforts on intensive 'round the houses' type reading, then that is more likely the kind of 'reader' you will end up with.
    Who has done a reader-profile study of the kind of readers RR children end up being?
    Some of them may well become natural code deducers, or code appliers, if they are also getting the teaching of code knowledge and blending in their mainstream lessons.
    But then, in that case, which methodology is helping them the most? The round the houses RR teaching or the SP teaching? Perhaps they are both giving the child a leg-up in different ways.
    The point is that the body of research does not include a comparison between RR and SP intensive teaching.
    Yes, if necessary, I would start again with a fresh SP programme if the children were really struggling. Or continue with the mainstream SP programme if that was good enough and gave me the resources I wanted to teach the children.
    We seriously question that the children selected for RR have been 'failed' by SP teaching. We would ask whether the SP teaching was good and rigorous and whether it was ever actually SP - and we would look at whether the children selected had other issues like English as an additional language, or immature and just needed more time to do the learning and application.
    We certainly would never advocate taking children and intensively giving them a different set of books and teaching methods than they are getting in their SP classrooms. Which 'teacher' is the child to follow. The teaching methods in their mainstream teaching or their RR tutor?
    That, in itself, is outrageous. You, in theory, have the main SP teacher saying 'don't guess, sound out and blend' (if he or she is really a SP teacher) and you have the RR teacher giving the child books which can barely be blended.
    Now, if RR teachers are changing and becoming closer to SP teachers, or using cumulative decodable books - then that is almost becoming less than transparent. It means that RR is getting closer to not being RR - in which case we need to see any new teachers' literature and know how the courses are being changed.
    Meanwhile, RR personnel are claiming that their UK 'RR' is including more phonics and they claim their results are improving. Then why isn't the country/advisors/government asking the question, 'Well, why don't we just give the intervention children SP and see what happens properly?'

  16. I just need to add this.
    If I had a group of slower-to-learn children in my class, I would not whisk them away to give them the opposite to my phonics teaching.
    I would look closely at what aspect of the 'phonics' teaching were they struggling with. Which letter/s-sound correspondences do they know them to automaticity. Is this a stumbling block?
    Do they know the letter/s-sound correspondences of the words that I am asking them to read?
    Can they blend well at word level or do they need a lot more practice before being asked to read books independently?
    Have they been given enough rehearsal time to learn letter/s-sound correspondences?
    Have they been given enough rehearsal time to apply their knowledge of l/s corresp. to words for blending, and spoken words for spelling?
    Have they a specific difficulty such as they cannot identify the sounds all-through-the-spoken-word? In which case, more time needs to be spent on oral segmenting.
    Have they a difficulty in that they cannot discern the focus word when they sound out the graphemes - or can they sound out quickly enough.
    When they read simple decodable sentences, or they still insufficiently automatic to read so many words in one 'hit'? Perhaps it helps their fluency build up to read simple sentences and not just isolated words.
    But what I absolutely would not do is suggest that the phonics teaching has failed them and therefore they need something else which contradicts it.
    To take the weakest readers and give them the type of teaching which Rose rejected (along with a professional group of inspectors/experts) is really the most extraordinary thing to do.
  17. OK Debbie, we are back at square one now.
    I can't agree that SP is all you need to become a fluent, relaxed, comprehending reading. See my previous posts, before we started discussing RR. However, this thread has quite effectively teased out the issues and hopefully it has been useful to others.
    I'm going on holiday this afternoon, so you won't hear from me for a bit. Happy posting!
  18. Enjoy your holiday and thank you for your many contributions to the thread![​IMG]

  19. For other readers who may be still following this thread, of course synthetic phonics teaching is not all you need to become a reader and I, nor other RRFers, have ever said that!
    This is a simple (and old) version of the Two Stage Teaching Model that I devised precisely to counteract the criticism and the misunderstanding that we are suggesting that SP is all children need to be readers.
  20. http://www.syntheticphonics.com/pdf%20files/teachingmodels.pdf
    This is the pdf version.
    Note the date - 2005!
    It is so disappointing that people are still thinking, or suggesting, that we are saying 'only' do phonics as the entire language and literacy diet!

    I have just printed off some APP proformas from Staffordshire County Council for reading.
    As an 'add-on' to the Foundation Stage Reading Record Sheet, someone has thought to make some additions for a list of concepts and skills for early reading. No problems with that - but then I reach this bit:
    "We need to develop children's interest in and enjoyment of reading and their sense of storytelling. Phonics and word level work support reading but should not be used instead of book experiences for children who are working towards National Curriculum Level 1."

    Now - what does this reveal and how is it couched?
    First of all, no-one, to my knowledge, of the most passionate SP promoters has ever said don't provide your children with book experience!!!
    But look how the Staffordshire person has given his or her advice. It is worded as if phonics and word level work runs counter to the enjoyment of reading. False - being able to decode words enhances enjoyment of reading because the children are being taught to read for themselves! And they can join in with adults sharing books with them.
    Also, who is doing phonics and word level work and not providing experiences of books - looking at books of all sorts, talking about different types of books and how books work and reading stories to the children getting them to participate in the story language and predict what might happen next. Who doesn't do this stuff as normal early years practice?
    Who has ever said this should not go on?
    All we have said is teach children to decode words fully for themselves by teaching them the alphabetic code and the skill of blending. What is the problem with that?
    Because we have also said, Don't ask children to read books where they have to guess their way through the book either because you have told them to predict the words and think which words would make sense, or they have to guess by default.
    See also this that I have provided for some time to stick into children's reading record books:

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