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Sensible approach to literacy teaching

Discussion in 'Primary' started by mashabell, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. I have been away for a bit and have been amazed to find that the debate continues, and still on the same entrenchend lines.
    Perhaps Msz no longer consider herself an advocate of SP, but a few posts ago she said,
    "I'm afraid it has very little to do with reliable/unreliable letter/sound correspondences".
    Following a commercial phonics course may make literacy teaching easier, but there is no evidence at all yet that it makes a difference to the persistence of the 20% rate of literacy failure which continues to bedevil all English-speaking countries.
    I don't think that any teaching method can make a substantial difference to this while English spelling remains as inconsistent as it is.

    But I think that debates about literacy teaching need to take a closer look at the inconsistencies which are chiefly responsible for English literacy failure. There is no mystery about how to teach children to read and write words like 'a fat cat sat on a mat'.
    What needs honest discussion is how best to help them cope with 'and any apron' or 'on only once'.
     
  2. I can't see that changing any time soon either, but let's at least be more honest about the exact causes of reading and writing failure and evaluate teaching methods in the light of that, with a realistic appreciation of what they can achieve.

    Let's take them into account when evaluating proposals for raising educational standards, such as league tables or free schools and academies.
    Not at all. It's only that the most obvious and totally fail-safe solution is regarded as unacceptable, on the grounds that there must be no meddling whatsoever with our cultural and historical heritage, even though heritage came about in a very haphazard way -
    http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-english-spelling-became-so.html
    Regardless of all that, we could begin to have honest discussions about how best to help children cope with the inconsistencies of English spelling, instead of pretending that more teaching of phonics helps them to do so.
    Phonics if fine for the first steps on the road to literacy, but what is the best way of dealing with all the horrors that come after phonics for the children who get no help with learning to read or write at home?

     
  3. I can't see that changing any time soon either, but let's at least be more honest about the exact causes of reading and writing failure and evaluate teaching methods in the light of that, with a realistic appreciation of what they can achieve.
    I have seen no indications pf dishonesty in that respect on this forim. In any event I dont think its necessary to change the orthograph even it that were possible.. The greates barrier to progress is the reluctance ot accept that SP is not a strategy that is ever going to help the 20%
    If we can identify the 20% in Year 2 (and I believe we can) this is the time to resolve the literacy difficulties before they become an entrenched expectation of failure.
    I have shown in a pilot study and will report in a credible sample of about 100 schools in July that literacy difficulties can be resolved in the later years but that is too late and robs too many children of the opportunity to achieve higher level literacy skills.
    You say "Phonics if fine for the first steps on the road to literacy, but what is the best way of dealing with all the horrors that come after phonics for the children who get no help with learning to read or write at home?"
    or in school?
    We must not be afraid of thinking outside the box and if enough ideas are tried and researched - mwe will reach a solution - if not because of SP enthusiast then in spite of them.
     
  4. A very interesting thread. Eddie's system would seem to mirror the Reading Recovery method from NZ. And they swear by it. Interestingly they don't use SP as they believe this can lead to 'barking at text' somehting which has been mentioned in this thread (altho not explicitly as such). They believe that reading involves extracting meaning from words so their system involves reading and reading and reading and... Or so i understand.
    Now Australia believes in SP more., using Clackmannanshire as their evidence. And I'm not sure what Canada does. Both do use Reading Recovery. Recent 'evidence' shows that NZ 15 yo (I think 15; may be undergrads) read better than Scottish 15yo (who used SP).
    Now, for what it is worth, check out their postions in the PISA tests.
    A possible conclusion to draw is that one method is not the panacea nor will it solve the 20% problem. Maybe SP will, in time, solve the 20%.
    Altho I did read above that all English speaking countries have a 20% problem. Which suggests again that one method alone will not work. Maybe.
    If SP was used many years ago but thendropped, the question arises-why? Eddie says there was a 20% problem then. it suggests that SP was considered not to be working so other methods were brought in to try to solve this issue. Nowit is considered that SP will solve that 20% issue. Why? Is it being suggested that it will be taught better now?
    Again there may be the possibility that one method is not enough.
     
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We've had many years of mixed methods which saw no improvement in literacy levels.
    RR expensive with temporary results ...
     
  6. Again there may be the possibility that one method is not enough.
    Nothing will ever resolve the 20% illiterate problem but I am convinced that there is one way which will resolve 18.5% and that is the Hot Reading strategy - there is as yet no 'proof' of this but there is quite strong evidence. In one school with nine poor readers who could only stumble through texts - after two tems of Hot Reading - every one achieved Level 4 and is now a confident reader. In another one of the six schools in the pilot study - one year 6 class used the strategy and one didn't TThe one that did acheved 100% pass rate - the class that didn't achieved 75% as predicte In another of the pilot schools, the proportion of L5s went up by 40%. In every school that used the strategy, virtually every child predicted to achieve L3 achieved L4 or higher. Every one of these schools has adopted the strategy, not just with Year 6 children but from Year 3 to Year 6. In July I wll be able to report on and name, about one hundred schools many of whom will be using it for the second year. That is not the problem.
    The problem is that there are SP enthusiasts that would rather see 20% of children leave school illiterate than concede that their commitment to SP might have been misplaced, They are the real barrier to progress. When I revealed the fact that 20 head teachers had volunteered to take part in a Year 2 intervention, one contributor here found that 'scary' The reality is that almost one hundred heads wanted to participate which he must have found very scary indeed. If we are to make progress in resolving illiteracy, we need to scare such people right out of teaching altogether.
     
  7. A very interesting thread. Eddie's system would seem to mirror the Reading Recovery method from NZ.
    No. Its nothing like Reading Recovery. When the Institute of Education (London University) purchased the right to train teachers in RR their lawyers wrote to me threatening me with legal action if I did not immediately hand over all my work to them, Since I had been researching before Dr Clay introduced her RR ideas and could prove it, I agreed to go to court to settle the matter.
    London Un/iversity promptly withdrew their claim and formally acknowledged my own rights to my own work.
    That saved them a lot of money!
     
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    You must be a very patient man Eddie
     
  9. You must be a very patient man Eddie
    I am both patient and persisent.
     
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    So you've been researching your method since pre1976 and only just got it into schools last year for a pilot study? Has your methods changed in all that time?
     
  11. Absolutely. The stuff I produced in the first instance bears no relation to what I am doing now. My first courses which bears any relationship to what I am doing now were produced for the first computers to be used in schools ie the BBC computers. As computers improved I wrote three books to accompany particular computer programmes. I lGoogled one of the titles a few weeks ago to see if I could find any mention of it and lo and behold, there was a copy for sale on ebay!
    My first courses were confined to boosting reading skills but I find now that moving on to the other literacy skills as quickly as possible is highly productive. The trick in resolving literacy difficulties is to catch them early. They can be resolved quite easily later on but the childen whose literacy difficulties are left unresolved until Year 6 recover them sufficiently to achieve L4 English but never sufficiently to go on to acquire the higher level literacy skills.
    Hence my foray into piloting an intervention in Year 2. I am expecting my first reactions from the teachers involved at the end of this month. It iwll be interesting to see what proportion have got it off the ground successfully. Teachers are as diverse as any other group in society therefore the results will inevitable vary mostly in relation to the degree of effort they are willing to invest in something as radical and new as this. The idea is to start with a group of children in 20 schools who are non or near-non readers and who are not responding to whavever strategies the schools are currently using - and to end up at the end of Year 2 with all of them safely 'caught up' with their peers. If more than half of the participating Y2 children's reading difficulties are resolved, I will consider looking at the strategy again to consider how it might be improved in the light of the teacher's comments. If it less than half, I will go back to the drawing board altogether.
    I believe a profession that fails one fifth of its clients (and indeed is actually injurious to them) is not worthy of the name.
    Time will tell.
     
  12. Yet all that the Clacky study really proved was that if u identify children who are falling behind early on and then give them lots of regular daily individual help, very few children get left seriously behind.
    The teaching method is irrelevant. The amount of help is what really counts.
    Most middle class parents provide it copiously and for free, which explains why home background invariably makes a big difference.

     
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    But they didn't get daily individual help they were taught in class for 20 mins a day.
     
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    "A typical lesson using our scheme would be as follows. Soon after starting school, the
    children are taught the sounds for the letters ‘t’, ‘a’, and ‘p’. Then a child at the front of
    the class is asked to select these letters from the teacher’s large magnetic board, and to
    place them in a row below the other letters of the alphabet. The class then give the
    sounds of the letters, ‘t’, ‘a’, ‘p’ and then blend the sounds together to pronounce the
    word ‘tap’, whilst the letters are pushed together. Spelling is taught in the same session,
    the teacher either saying or showing a picture of a word using the letters that have been
    taught. The children pick out the letters for the sounds that they hear in the word, and
    place them together on their own magnetic boards. They will then sound and blend,
    pushing the letters together".

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/933/0044071.pdf
     

  15. Most middle class parents provide it copiously and for free, which explains why home background invariably makes a big difference.
    A high percentage of teacher's children can read before they start school.
     
  16. And I'm not sure what Canada does.
    About ten years ago, an organisation called 'First Canadians' purchased a licence from me to use my Electroncic Libary in all of their schools.
     
  17. Eddie wrote:
    "The problem is that there are SP enthusiasts that would rather see 20% of children leave school illiterate than concede that their commitment to SP might have been misplaced, They are the real barrier to progress."
    Dearie me...what an extraordinary thing to say, or even think![​IMG]
     
  18. Well, Debbie, there does seem to be a measure of intransigence from SP enthusiasts who post on these forums, and some are very quick to attempt to use ridicule to dismiss the arguments and views of others. This seems to indicate an adherence to SP which overrules other concerns, even, possibly, the task of ensuring children's progress.
     
  19. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I haven't really met such people on this forum but I have met living and practising examples of them at school. I've come across teachers who would keep a child on lower levels of RWI, for example, in the belief that this would cure all ills - spelling, reading, comprehension, rather than moving them on. It was done out of fear and misunderstanding I believe. I haven't come across any really well informed SP enthusiasts on these fora who I feel would stand in the way of children's progress.
    On the contrary, I think that the majority of posts I've read by the truly fervent SP'ers on these fora are expecting, and getting, a lot very young out of children, and have a real concern that a bottom lagging low progress group (whether 5% or 20%) should not happen.
     
  20. Dearie me...what an extraordinary thing to say, or even think!
    If somebody doesn't say or think extraordinary things, nothing will change and 100,000 will contintue to leave school every year with their outlook on life, not enhanced by their expensive educational experience but significantly damaged by it.
    SP is as good as any other initiial teachin strategy but as long as teachers are encouraged to think of SP as an effrective remedial literacy strategy, children will continue to be damaged rather than helped by their schooling.
    There are plenty of SP enthusiasts who continue to push SP as a remedial strategy in spite of any proof that is it even vaguely effective.
     

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