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Reading strategies: helpful or fatal for struggling beginning readers?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by gcf, May 10, 2012.

  1. DebbieH: I claim that your view is that there is SP, there is only SP, there is nothing but SP. I claim that you assert that there is no such thing as sight vocabulary involved in the reading process and that every grapheme in every word is serially decoded no matter how frequently that word is encountered. It is the claim for the ‘exclusivity’ of SP that is damaging because it implies “I am right therefore all others are wrong.” Is this not the classic fundamentalist view and do the annual literacy statistics not clearly demonstrate its fallacy. Where is the extremism and abuse that you accuse me of in these claims? Are these not your views?

    <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">I currently have 63 children in a project who were non-readers in January. They are now all readers because their teachers were sufficiently open-minded to &lsquo;try something else.&rsquo; You may of course claim that they would have learned to read without this intervention but their teachers are in no doubt that that is not the case and they now all wish to repeat the project with their incoming Year 2 non-readers in order to ensure that there will be no more &lsquo;non-readers&rsquo; in their schools.</font> <font size="3" face="Times New Roman">Instead of abusing my views, why don&rsquo;t you explain for the benefit of the possible parent lurkers you mention what these teachers did wrong in ensuring that their pupils have all become competent readers even though it involved an intervention which you would not approve of. Could it [possibly be that their crime is simply that they tried something that is contrary to your views and that it was successful?</font>
     
  2. minnieminx - I don't consider that the comments on this thread or other threads are about being 'jumped on'. This is, in my view, a misinterpretation.
    You yourself (and others) are quick to jump in with advice and suggestions (which is thoughtful and considerate) when teachers ask questions and seek the views and experiences of others.
    Great.
    But you (and others - from all perspectives) are also quick to be sarcastic about the comments of people who disagree with one another in various aspects of reading and spelling instruction.
    The domain of reading and spelling instruction is FUNDAMENTAL to our primary teaching and even our parenting.
    It should not be reduced to sarcasm (not from any side) - or ridicule or excessive language.
    You cannot expect, however, with such a very serious subject, that people will not want to contribute to threads where they feel you may have given misguided advice - or advice limited to your own experience - which might be limited (or perhaps your experience isn't limited).
    I suggest, however, that your experience may be limited when it comes to the breadth of research - historic and more recent - and the breadth of international debate and its consequent understanding of the fuller picture - compared to some of the contributors on this thread.
    This is not to say that all contributions are not valid - THEY ARE.
    In fact, it is the range of contributions which facilitates the depth of the debate - and actually allows people to unpick the details of both the teaching and the learning around the field of reading and spelling instruction.
    In other words, all comments/threads/contributions/argy-bargies and so on help to clarify the various issues and understanding.
    If people don't describe their different experiences, understanding, methods and so on, we would be much the poorer in the teaching profession.
    However, vitriole, sarcasm, put-downs along the lines of 'don't open up that subject' and so on - are not worthy of anyone (whichever the 'understanding').
     
  3. Not in my experience of reading his/her posts. Always been very fair, non-judgemental and offering an opinion to be agreed/disagreed with. [​IMG]
     
  4. eddiecarron - Where have I said that I do not approve of your intervention? I don't know the content or methodology of your intervention - only your original electronic library.
    I think greater practice of reading, spelling and writing is often exactly what children need. There has been too much emphasis on 'teacher-led' and not enough emphasis on 'pupil practice' in my opinion. Thus, anything providing pupil-practice is likely to improve outcomes.
    I would be grateful if you would simply take more care about making claims as to what I believe, or SP proponents believe, because this is where misunderstandings are increased as I find that your claims of what I believe or promote are often inaccurate or incorrect.
    Thank you.
     
  5. <font size="3">The imminent KS2 English tests will yet again reveal the fact that another hundred thousand .plus children have failed to learn to read confidently. That is the unchanging reality which some would prefer to ignore.Whether or not this reality would be different if all teachers were skilled adherents of what is no more that the current fad in a long line of such fads, is completely and utterly irrelevant to these childrens unfortunate status as illiterates. Their status quo is as it is and for these children it is the abuse of illiteracy and that is the only thing that is relevant in this catastrophic annual tradegy which it is a crime to mention.
    The teachers in the schools attended by these 63 children have taken steps which are contrary to the current fad and as a consequently of these steps, have ensured that all of their pupil are now competent readers. By all means campaign to change the status quo but do not demean the efforts of those who would respond to the world as it is and not as they would wish it to be.
    </font>
     
  6. thumbie said:
    "I'm saying that knowing about sand helps them to read 'sand' which contains a letter pattern which they may apply when they come across 'brandish'."
    But thumbie - it is so easy to decode 'brandish' from left to right, all-through-the-word, without needing to look for words within words and to do the sideways move from the 'and' in 'sand' to the 'and' in 'brandish'.
    In fact, what is so thoroughly wonderful about synthetic phonics teaching is that it results in really young learners being able to decode a word such as 'brandish' so easily - even when such a word is completely outside of their oral vocabulary, or mother tongue, and there is no context necessary to decode the word at all.
    Of course the teacher would then need to teach the young learner (or any age learner) the meaning of the word. That is when 'context' is entirely helpful.
    Or, if the learner decoded the word 'brandish' independently within the context of a sentence, or text, his or her oral comprehension is supported by the surrounding words - but the learner could nevertheless decode the word 'brandish' easy-peasy in a word list with no necessity for anything supporting the DECODING of the word.
    This is the beauty of the Simple View of Reading to illustrate the elements of the need to read the words and the need to understand what the words mean.
    A 'reader' needs both elements.
    A teacher needs to understand how to teach both elements and how learners BEST acquire both elements.

     
  7. eddiecarron - I'm not aware of anything I have said which undermines your project. I cannot comment on your project because I have no information about it other than broad things you have written about it online.
    Further, I think that additional pupil practice of reading texts (if that is what is involved in your project) may well be just the ticket for many of the children you refer to.
    I also note that you support the teaching of synthetic phonics - and always have. I appreciate that. But you then sound so strong in your language in a negative emotive way about SP proponents that this is in danger of undermining their work.
    I find it very sad indeed if synthetic phonics promotion and programmes are defined as a 'fad'.
    We have an alphabetic code to our English language - albeit complex. We have now unpicked this code in a fairly comprehensive way and provided both teaching and learning resources to support teachers (and parents where they are interested) to teach that complex code effectively - and to understand (increasingly) the importance of the core skills of blending for reading and oral segmenting for spelling (and knowing about spelling alternatives).
    There is arguably nothing 'faddish' about this. It is simply a body of knowledge (the alphabetic code) and how best to teach this knowledge and its associated skills step by step for reading and spelling.
    If this is regarded as a fad by yourself and teachers, then what a sorry state of affairs.
     
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    and not necessarily one that unlocks other words
    lots of children learn <u>the </u> by sight then try to read <u>the</u>-y and<u> the</u> -re and <u>the</u>-se
    so sometimes it can be an obstacle rather than a help
     
  9. .I cannot comment on your project because I have no information about it other than broad things you have written about it online.
    No. But you could comment on the results I claim and the reports from participants which I posted. You could but you choose not to,
    Further, I think that additional pupil practice of reading texts may well be just the ticket for many of the children you refer to.
    That admission is something which is to be welc omed and contrary to the standard SP preachings which repeatedy claim that decoding practice should precede attempts at reading because all reading is a serial, grapheme by grapheme decoding exercise.
    But you then sound so strong in your language in a negative emotive way about SP proponents that this is in danger of undermining their work.
    This is either a deliberate distortion of my views or a failure to have understood them. I have been a staunch supporter SP since the Clackmannanshire project. I am however, very strongly opposed to the notion of SP exclusivity - viz that there is nothing other than SP in the fight against illiteracy. I regard this and the supportive posts of 'evidence' and 'proof' which are comedic and damaging pseudo-intellectualism. They are harmful not just to the prospects of those condemned to illiteracy but also to the wider perception of SP itself - and therefore counter-productive.
    the importance of the core skills of blending for reading and oral segmenting for spelling (and knowing about spelling alternatives
    I regard such speculative statements as further evidence of pseudo-intellectual nonsense. There is not even the slightest evidence that knowing the spelling rules and their myriad exceptions is what underlies good spelling. Good spelling skills are self-evidently the direct consequence of knowing when words 'look right' which is a perceptually and not a ritually learned skill. There were good and bad spellers long before the SP fashion
    There is arguably nothing 'faddish' about this (SP)
    Why is it only legitimate to describe Searchlights, Reading Recovery, Whole Word etc etc as fads when their impact on illiteracy is demonstrably no different from the impact of SP, when judged by the objective, externally assessed criteria of National Curriculum tests? Fad it is and fad it remains until the 'evidence' proves otherwise and here I use the 'word' evidence as scientifically and not annecdotally defined.
    The 'debate' may be irrelevant but the practice needs more not less and passion and conviction. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and for one hundrend thousand plus children, the current tests will, as all previous tests have, show conclusively that 'hell' for this massive constituency is the ignominy of unnecessary illiteracy.


     
  10. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Hmmmm I am willing to accept some of your criticisms as being truer than is comfortable to read, but I'd really, really like you (and the other serious debaters) to try to see things from the point of view of those less passionate about their own way of doing things.

    The recent threads on phonics and reading have not really helped anyone. They have all become the same few people having the exact same argument over and over again. Many of us, probably yourself included, could easily list the main points of view of each of the serious debaters on this topic. Another thread repeating them isn't needed. The sarcasm, although maybe not especially perfect and professional, stems from the knowledge that this will become just another thread going over the same ground. And it has already become just that.
    Yes you are more knowledgeable about the theories of SP than I am. But then so are other people who hold the polar opposite view to you. All of you repeating your own views over and over again isn't teaching the rest of us anything.

    Believe it or not, I have thrown more tantrums and made more fuss about improving the teaching of phonics in my school this year than anything else. And things have improved massively due largely to the fuss I've made, but there is still a way to go. I'd love to read threads about what teachers in the classroom actually do day in and day out that works and improves standards. Watching the same arguments from a research and theory point of view, although interesting the first time, isn't actually useful for every day classroom life.
     
  11. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Thank you. I try, but perfection isn't always guaranteed.
     
  12. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Great thread, but I haven't had time to read all of it, and what wonderfully useless advice from the Ed Psych who provided it to the boy who could barely read. Be interesting to know if it was followed and what the result was.
     
  13. minnieminx - I really appreciate the tenor of your last response and think that it can take conversations forward rather than in the cirles you describe.
    Thank you for that.
    I am pleased to hear that you have been vocal to improve phonics in your school and wonder if you will find that you yourself do become increasingly effective as your basic literacy subject knowledge increases along with your experience.
    This is the same for me. I learn something new every day and from every event I attend and person I meet and literature I read. I consider myself on a continuum of professional development no less than anyone else.
     
  14. The question I have tried to address is the one posed by the original poster who asked"Reading strategies: helpful or fatal for struggling beginning readers?" The main thesis of my responses have been in support of the view where some children are failing to respond to any one strategy (whatever that strategy may be) it is commonsense to try a different strategy. To fail to do so because of the restrictions imposed by a dogma that claims that there one true path to reading enlightenment is unacceptable arrogance.
    To describe the brains' detection of the relationship between 'and', 'band', 'sand' etc as a SIDEWARDS move is a prime example of 'fuzzy logic' when the brains evolutionary programming and hence, fundamental cognitive process is known to be a pattern-seeking imperative. Could there possibly be a more obvious pattern than that which exists in similarly constructed words such as these or do SP purists actually believe that the most highly developed organ in the universe is incapable of discerning, retaining and hard-wiring such obvious patterns?
    The answer to the original posters question is, as far as I am concerned, any alternative teaching strategy, if it is shown by any objective measure to be successful, is extremely helpful and nothing posted here supports the view that such an alternative strategy could be fatal although that is the clear implication of some of the statements of some fundamental SP supporters who insist that the acquisiton of some decoding skills shuld precede all attempts at reading.
    .

    .


     
  15. And I never cease to be amazed by the children themselves and what they bring to the table. It is essential that we never underestimate them nor hold back their potential.
    It could be that if you take your main phonics reading and spelling display wall up to the next level and experiment with ways to focus on spelling alternatives and building up spelling word banks that your children's spelling awareness and accuracy may improve more than you currently think possible or necessary.
    This takes time. It could be that many infant teachers' perceptions of accessing phonics through various 'fun games and activities' is bordering on the 'extraneous' that Jim Rose alerted everyone to in his Final Report (March 2006).
    This comment is intended to give some food for thought - nothing more.
     
  16. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I agree.

    Because on some days teaching doesn't go to plan, I once asked a child to do the phonics flashcards for me while I sorted something else out. Now all the children want to run that session! They read the words from the back of the flashcard in sound talk and then blended as a word, just as I would. This frees me up to support some children in the class with their spelling of the word read to them in ways that vary depending on need. Even the least able children (who goodness knows how arrived at year 2 still apparently on phase 2!) can run this session with carefully selected flashcards. Many of the children who run the sessions could teach several teachers I know about how to run a 'revise' part of phonics.
    Given that about 10% of my class arrived with me in year 2 at phase 5 or above and I'm supposed to magically get 90% of them to phase 6 by the end of the year, they will flippin have to!
     
  17. Of course it appears to be easy to decode 'brandish' from the other side of the divide between readers and non- readers. And if children know some basic GPCs, and can blend efficiently it is clearly a pretty easy word. There are no irregularities in it.However, look at it from the viewpoint of a child who struggles with blending and who is fazed by the length of the word, or one who is not confident with all the GPCs and spends a long time decoding, and decodes each GPC right through the word before attempting to blend. In this situation if the child recognises 'and' or 'ish', ready blended, he/she stands a far better chance of decoding it correctly and efficiently than the one who labours through it grapheme by grapheme. You might even say it makes it "easy-peasy" for the child (By the way, if a child can read 'easy', does it not make sense for them to use that knowledge when they see 'peasy' rather than having to try out multiple versions of 'ea' and recall that 's' can be /z/ and 'y' is /ee/ at the end of the word). Msz points out that children using analogy can get mixed up when it comes to words starting 'the', and cites children doing this. This is heartening, because it means that those children are starting, quite naturally, to use these short cuts that speed up decoding. Of course, they have to learn that it doesn't always work. This is exactly why it is useful to have a repertoire of strategies. And of course if they tried to decode 'the' using SP chances are they would come unstuck. No one strategy will apply to every situation, that's the point.Some children are going to struggle anyway, I think we have to accept that. What is important is that we work hard to find the right way for every child, and for some it involves extra....extra time, extra support, extra strategies. This is going to apply whichever method is used, as shown by history. So it is the extra support dimension that has to be tackled, getting it in place quickly and following it through with perseverance before children have a chance to give up on themselves. And the extra support needs to focus on what is letting the child down. With every school doing SP the strugglers will be those who have not mastered SP techniques.
     
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I regard it as worrying when it leads to errors
     
  19. Phase 5 alphabetic code knowledge is pretty vast - and it certainly isn't every Year One who will have mastered this for reading - and especially for spelling.
    I suggest, however, that Phase 6 as a phase that notionally 'follows' Phase 5 is not a good idea.
    Phase 6 spelling activities and understanding of language needs to take place from the beginning of teaching reading and spelling - that is, from Reception - and drip-fed into the curriculum as required for natural language for writing and wider reading than controlled vocabulary.
    This does not mean that Year Two teachers shouldn't look closely at the suggestions in Phase 6 of Letters and Sounds - just that preceding teachers need to do this too.
    So, there needs to be a reality check about the notion of the Phases in Letters and Sounds because they are not necessarily helpful or based on the best practice.
     
  20. I regard it as similar to children starting to learn English and making mistakes with grammar when it comes to irregular verbs etc eg "I goed to the park".It's a sign that the child is noting how the written language works.
     

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