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Reading strategies: helpful or fatal for struggling beginning readers?

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

  1. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Maybe it was me being nosey! [​IMG] I like to understand what people really mean in practice by the approach that they favour. You certainly do seem to have an approach that you favour - I reach this conclusion as there is an approach that you clearly dislike, and I just wanted to understand the one you favour better.
    I'm really not sure about Clacky myself and wouldn't get too hung up on it. I've not read a detailed enough description of it, or the results anywhere, to express an opinion on Clacky itself. But I've read plenty of meta-studies from the world over which all lean in their findings towards systematic phonics instruction being a good thing (but clearly not missing out other aspects of good literacy instruction) and solving many apparent cases of "reading difficulties" or "dyslexia".

  2. No, it was Maizie. It's the way she asks, mystery, like the Spanish inquisition, that makes me come over all rebellious and uncooperative. [​IMG]You may not be too hung up on Clacky, but many are, including Jim Rose. It's not a matter of liking or disliking a method. I don't trust SP, in its present manifestation, to do what has been promised. I base that on the fact that children need strategies to decode words that are not readily decodable by SP. I look at the overall aim of teaching reading, ie that the reader can respond efficiently to the written text with immediate, automatic recognition of words or at least chunks of words, and I see that SP will not deliver this on its own. Decoding has to be automatic to free up the mind for construing meaning and applying higher order skill of interpretation. SP can start a person on the road to that but has to be outgrown at some point, with other skills coming into play. Children need to have a growing ability in these skills as they progress. SP has to be accompanied by so many other things in order to fully engage a child in reading, the way your children are engaged by their home experience, that to emphasise SP the way it is emphasised at the moment is counter-productive ( I'm especially thinking of the test).So that is in a nutshell why I argue the point on these forums. It isn't because I am a huge fan of 'searchlights'. I would always recommend SP as an initial method. But it needs keeping in its place.
  3. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Ok, but the point at which you are itching to let "other skills" come into play, as you call it, is very early isn't it? [​IMG] For example, it sounds as though in that reception class you were talking about the other day, you were itching to do something different when it sounds like they barely had single letter graphemes and blending of CVC words under their belts. I'm trying to grasp what you felt was necessary at that stage. I'm presuming the simple words they were attempting to read were all within their listening vocab so once they had sounded out and glued together each word, no matter how laboriously, they would have understood what they were reading wouldn't they?
    When I tried to teach my first child to read, I did it by playing a game with flashcards with the words in the book on them so that she pre-learned the words before we read the book. It did kind of work, but I soon learned that it hadn't really as she could, for example, read cat and dog in that particular book but not necessarily elsewhere, and although she could read cat and dog on a good day, she couldn't read dot, or cog, which logically she should have been able to. Also she would probably have read dong as dog unless I had specifically taught her the word dong. After the initial thrill she got bored with it, and then as a consequence, so did I. I also tried Peter and Jane - similar method with the "new words" for the page at the bottom of the page. It worked for a while and then fizzled out. It worked quite rapidly at first, but not long enough to achieve competence. I know it works with lots of children (I must somehow have learned in some way like this) but it wasn't going to work for this particular one - not at a desirable pace or in a pleasurable manner anyhow.
    Well taught, I think that phonics can work for everyone whether they "need" it or not. I don't see the disadvantage to it if it's very pacey for those who are just lightning fast at picking up the code for themselves anyhow.
    Why do people seem to have so much more angst about teaching early reading than early maths? I think early maths is much harder to teach well - you really do have to have so much more of a grasp of what is going on in a child's head, and so many more tricks up your sleeve to make it interesting. But in a way they are both very similar - if the early stages are taught very systematically you seem to be able to have some very fast gains with a huge range of children, but taught in a bit of a dippy way lots of kids get confused and turned off quite fast.

  4. Well, this is the problem, thumbie. Whenever I read anything about the intial teaching of reading from the UKLA they come up with all sorts of assertions, just like you do, and sometimes even refer to studies; but, when you look at the 'studies' they refer to they don't give any information on the attainment of children taught by the methods which they, and you, prefer. There is plenty of rubbishing of Clackmananshire, but no proof of the superiority of any other method. It makes one wonder if they aren't trying to defend the indefensible?
    Well, you aren't busy teaching at the moment so perhaps you could make up for lost time?
    I can't fail to have noticed. Unfortunately argument is not particularly valuable if it is not informed. Anyone can have an opinion which they can defend by argument.
    I just love the Spanish Inquisition. Michael Palin rushing in with his baby face smile and sweeping red robes[​IMG]
  5. Maizie, you might think I have exposed the Clackmannanshire study to be rubbish. That's up to you. In fact, I have just pointed out a few interesting aspects of it that not many people know about or have reflected upon. After all it has been hugely influential, so well worth looking at carefully.You could look at the Henrietta Dombey piece I sited before for evidence about different approaches. There are plenty of references to research supporting what is said:http://www.ite.org.uk/ite_research/research_primary_focus.pdfI'm not going to apologise for backing my arguments up with logic rather than a string of references to research. I'm sure the people who come on here can decide for themselves which arguments seem to hold water within their experiences of teaching. If they want to to look at research I'm sure they are capable of doing so, they are mostly graduates after all.
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Pity Michael Rosen isn't better informed, although he has an excuse ... it's more alarming that teachers don't know the structure of phonics instruction.
  7. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I'm sure he is better informed; it just wouldn't make for as good an argument if he gave a more balanced view of what good literacy teachers who use SP do in the classroom in addition to pure SP. It's a political stance as much as anything isn't it? It's an ideological objection to a particular style of teaching isn't it rather than to synthetic phonics specifically? These ideological arguments about how to teach happen in all subject areas to a degree I guess, but more so in literacy as anyone thinks they can have a go at thinking about how to teach literacy and, well, the literati are very good at eloquent at writing about it, whether their views really make that much practical sense or not.
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Actually I'm not convinced he does know what a phonics lesson looks like ... after all there are plenty of teachers who don't.
  9. Your portrait of a bad SP school has set me thinking, mystery. Let's think of the national picture, all the schools in the country. This works well because it is a huge sample; comparing national results in different years is about as close as you can get to comparing like with like when looking at something as complex as pupil performance.Your bad SP school is one school in the sample. There are good SP schools in the sample as well. And the vast majority of these schools previously implemented the NLS and used the 'searchlight' model. Some will have used it well. Some will have used it badly. Now consider this:The NLS searchlights method delivered disappointing results and was discredited because of its lack of success. Organisations such as RRF railed against it for failing children, making a lot of noise about their preferred method (SP). Jim Rose was charged with the responsibility of looking into it all. Rose looked at the Clackmannanshire study, a small scale study which showed good results for SP, and listened to many reports from enthusiastic schools with well-organised programmes of learning for SP. He recommended that SP should be adopted as the preferred teaching method. Now lets consider what might be happening now:SP has become the norm. It has been taken up by the vast majority of schools who have bought in all the materials and set to work. Of course, some have implemented it well, with consistency and enthusiasm, while others may not have done as well, although nevertheless using the method (your school, mystery). So the enthusiastic pro-SP first cohort of schools who had great success with SP are joined by all the other schools, the ones who may be less enthusiastic, keen and curious, including the schools who just say, " Well, we'd better get on with it. The phonics test is coming up. Ofsted is round the corner. It is a good method - read the Rose Review." But these schools perhaps don't implement SP too well. Their approach is a touch mediocre. And this affects national results. Instead of the major improvement expected, along the lines of the Clackmannanshire study, results continue to stagnate as they did with searchlights. Mmmm.... thus the whole cycle starts again. Well, time will tell. If the searchlights method took the blame in the Rose Review, should results continue to stagnate will the SP method be blamed? It will be interesting to see. All speculative, of course.
  10. So what will the next Big Idea for teaching reading be, then?
  11. Reading lots of books. It's really that simple.
  12. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    to read lots of books you need to be able to read ... it's that simple
  13. I taught myself to walk, talk and read!
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  15. I've no idea what the next big thing might be, but my hope is that it focuses on curriculum balance rather than instructional method.
  16. I tend to agree with a lot of your comments her, I had many a discussion with the local school on what I considered to be good reading material for me to be involved with my youngest child at home. I kept getting either something that was way above his comprehension or something so boring that it would hardly keep a gold fish interested. I'm not sure how most parents now feel with the selection or choices available but, it sparked me into setting up my own site which I now concentrate on more than any other part as it used to frustrate me so much when I couldn't keep the attention span going to finish even the small books! I found that using some of the Big Readers and Pop Ups to be useful whilst he was under 5 but now he has moved up a couple of years he still gets as much enjoyment out of me making silly noises when we share and narrate a story together which I actually find more satisfying than making him so it all himself.
    Posted by James at http://www.book-buyers.co.uk/education/

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