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Synthetic phonics

Discussion in 'Primary' started by SusanG, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. Phonics is a great common sense approach to decoding words, because children have to associate letters and groups of letters with sounds when they are learning. That group of letters could be a whole word, but phonics breaks it down so that children have a strategy available when approaching words they haven't come across before, so, until they have built up a good sight vocabulary, phonics is very helpful.SSP is the government approved method of teaching phonics, and there are lots of materials available to support it (including Debbie's). It is definitely flavour of the month, and the phonics check in Y1 makes it somewhat imperative. But note that phonics is very helpful for decoding but does not do whole job. Firstly, the English spelling is so complex that there can be several ways of representing the same sound in letters, and several ways for the same letters to represent different sounds. For this reason there needs to be a way for children to decide which representation they need, ie through context. In addition there are other strategies that can help some children to decode, such as recognising the rimes in simple words and applying that knowledge, or noticing that a word is similar to one already known and using analogy. Secondly, phonics is about decoding words, not reading, it does not tell children what the words mean and it is not an aid to comprehension, except in that it aids correct decoding of the words and sentences which are then available for comprehension. You will note from Minnie's post that while she is committed to teaching through phonics her class does lots of other activities to support the children in literacy and to gaining a sense of themselves as readers. The problem with SSP, is that some people regard it as the answer to all the problems children have with literacy; they think that as long as SSP is taught rigorously enough all children will learn to read. This rigour means that children are actively discouraged from using other cues such as context, making the accessing of meaning less of a priority in the reading progress. The phonics test underlines this by requiring that children read non words in order to check that they can decode.
     
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  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    LOLOL...

    Thing is ,as someone else has already said, phonics is a great way to learn to decode, but reading is more than that. Children need to have experience of every possible strategy in terms of teaching reading and lots of opportunity to practise. Some words they will just 'learn' because they see them over and over and over. Some they will just recognise and be able to spell, just because. Other words they need to work out and may well always need to work out (I can never manage to spell jewellery without sounding it out incorrectly to be able to do so). But hey it doesn't matter how they do it as long as they do.
     
  4. There is very little direct research on 'Synthetic Phonics' , if you are meaning it as a teaching method. You could try looking for studies done by Morag Stuart (IOE) which used Jolly Phonics.
    Or there is the well known Clackmannanshire study, Johnston and Watson.
    There is data produced by Sounds~Write, which isn't an SP programme but is very similar.
    On the other hand, there is masses of research into how reading occurrs, the most effective way to teach it etc. It is mostly by cognitive scientists (who have been concluding for several decades now that learning letter/sound correspondences and blending for reading is the most effective way to learn to read) on the components of skilled reading, the problems of impaired readers and all stage bewtween You could try the US National Reading Panel meta-analysis (which started, apparently, with 100,000 studies!)
    Names?
    Just a few. There are many, many more.
    Stanovich, West, Perfetti, Torgeson. J, Ehri, Tumner, Chapman, Gough, Share, Cunningham, Coltheart, Castles, Wheldall, Hempenstall, Stuart.M, Jager-Adams, Liberman, Beck, Juel.

    There are also John Hattie's conclusions in his book 'Visible Learning' in which he meta-analysed meta-analyses to determine what had the most effect in teaching (and covers all sorts of aspects, the teaching of reading being only one among many others)
    I think that Debbie H would be very disappointed that you regarded her training as nothing but a sales pitch, but she'll probably tell you that herself as she has been a regular on TES for many years (long before she wrote her own programme or became associated with OUP)




     
  5. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    Our brnais are vrey cevler. As lnog as the frsit and lsat lteetrs of a wrod are in the rgiht oderr, we can utsdenrnad waht is wtiretn dwon. So is the way a wrod lkoos rlleay taht ipormatn?
     
  6. Sales pitch?
    What a strange interpretation of the training. The training is delivered on the basis that the school has ALREADY invested in the specific programme and senior management consider that the staff require training in that specific programme.
     
  7. Those two statements by Minnie tell u more than
    anything else what the secret to good reading progress is: spending a lot of
    time teaching it at levels appropriate to the children.
    U start with simple
    phonics, but it's only by going over all the common English words over and over
    again, so that they become imprinted on children's minds, that children become
    fluent readers. After roughly a year of phonics on average (as recommended by the Rose Review)
    children have to aim increasingly for instant recognition of words. Many children grasp
    basic phonics much faster (in just a few weeks) and can move on to the reading for meaning stage sooner.
    Because of the craziness of English spelling
    http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2009/12/reading-problems.html
    the children who are able to
    move on to the reading for meaning stage fastest, tend to become the best
    readers. Phonics is a good start, but the greater part of learning to read
    is to imprint all common words on your memory. </font>

    Those two statements by Minnie tell u more than
    anything else what the secret to good reading progress is: spending a lot of
    time teaching it at levels appropriate to the children. U start with simple
    phonics, but it's only by going over all the common English words over and over
    again, so that they become imprinted on children's minds, that children become
    fluent readers. After roughly a year of phonics (as recommended by the Rose)
    children have to aim for instant recognition of words. Many children grasp
    basic phonics much faster (in just a few weeks) and can move on to reading for meaning stage sooner.
    Because of the craziness of English spelling
    http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2009/12/reading-problems.html
    the children who are able to
    move on to the reading for meaning stage fastest, tend to become the best
    readers. Phonics is a good start, but the greater part of learning to read
    English is to imprint all common words on your memory. </font>


    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=baboons-recognize-words<font size="2"></font><font size="2">It concludes:</font>"There's an ongoing debate about the extent to which the ability to identify
    words is largely visual or the extent to which it relies on phonology&mdash;getting
    sounds out of letters. This study makes a big contribution to solving that
    debate. Although being able to utilize phonological code is helpful, it's not
    essential."
     
  8. coffeecakes

    coffeecakes New commenter

    What are your activities on your carousel minnieminx? I am revamping mine and I would love to know how you organise.
     
  9. I think that the following two sentences by Minnie explain the secret of her success with teaching reading very clearly: spending a lot of time teaching it.
    An article in the current Scientific American
    <font size="3" color="#0000ff">http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=baboons-recognize-words</font>
    <font size="3">"There's an ongoing debate about the extent to which the ability to identify words is largely visual or the extent to which it relies on phonology&mdash;getting sounds out of letters. This study makes a big contribution to solving that debate. Although being able to utilize phonological code is helpful, it's not essential."</font> IMO,phonics of whatever ilk is good to start with, but reading fluency is achieved when all common words are imprinted on your memory, so that u recognise them instantly, without needing to decode them. This achieved by going over them again and again and again, as Msz has often said too.
    In English there is more need for it, because so many words are difficult for children to decode by themselves.
     
  10. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    One group reading with me. One group doing a levelled reading comprehension with the TA. One group in the reading corner. One group doing 'reading jobs' (someone on here gave me a template and I just adapted it for KS1). One group doing a reading journal activity responding to something they have read recently. That's it.

    And huge expectations that they will be working hard and concentrating and not twitting about. Meant I was a bit of a cow in September, but they all love GR sessions now and get lots out of them.
     
  11. coffeecakes

    coffeecakes New commenter

    Thank you for your reply minnieminx, that is really helpful. That sounds like exactly what I'm aiming for, what I find hard is that I have mix y1/2 and finding a reading activity that the LA y1s could do independently is my challenge. What sort of activities are your 'reading jobs'? My other challenge is that I don't have a TA for that slot, and now I'm wondering whether to fiddle with my timetable so I do have my TA for guided reading, at the cost of having TA in literacy lesson.
     
  12. I have mixed Y1/2 and do guided reading in a similar way each day. For my LA Y1's I often give them a puppet theatre job to retell known stories using puppets. I have this area set up for continuous provision and change the puppets and books regularly linked to our theme. I also have a range of literacy games, either printed and laminated or those I have bought te.g making silly sentences using word cards, phonics bingo, etc... For HA Y1's and Y2's I have a reading journal where they record activities from a guided reading activity card set i downloaded from somewhere (may have been TES resources) and it has activities they can choose to do, such as, making wanted poster for character, making puppet and retelling story, describe setting of book, among other activities I can't remember off the top of my head. I also have the children reading their home reading book quietly and then talking to a partner about what they have read once finished. I then a have a group reading with me, who then have a follow up task the next day if appropriate. Children enjoy this time as we have fostered a love of reading in my class. Hope that makes sense . (Posted from iPad so no paragraphs)
     

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