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why are alphabet arcs used?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by Rosereo, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. I have been asked to use an alphabet arc with a pupil who has been diagnosed as dyslexic. I'm not sure what value this has. I was told it was so he could 'master' the alphabet. However he knows the alphabet and can set up the arc quickly. He also knows all the letter names and sounds of single letters. I have told this to the specialist who told me to do it and they have told me to keep using it and have given me 'games' to play (all involving knowing position of letters in alphabet). He can not say which letter comes before or after a given letter without reciting alphabet.
    I have limited time to work with this boy and there are other things he needs support with, including basic sentence writing and phonics. How useful do you think the alphabet arc is? How necessary is it for children to know alphabet order (without reciting whole alphabet)? I'm sure if I understood why I was doing it I would be happier about doing it.
  2. The alphabet arc is a good visual aid. I don't think I'd spend ages on it but I do think it would be good to include it in each session. If he can set it out easily it can be a quick activity. Ask him to then find the letter before s or the letter after d. This will give him practice in knowing the alphabet without having to recite it from the beginning.

    We use this skill in various ways, perhaps without realising it. Dictionary work is dependent on this skill. Putting words into alphabetical order becomes very difficult if you have to keep reciting the alphabet from the beginning.

    Having it in an arc helps children 'see' the position of the letters even when it is no longer in front of them, much easier than in a straight line from left to right.

    I agree that other phonics and writing activities will be necessary for him but this is important too. I suppose it depends on how many sessions you have with him and how long each of these last.
  3. Get on with the phonics - that will help him to read and spell.
  4. I hadn't thought of this but I've just given it a try myself and definitely easier to visualise an arc. In fact I can't visual whole alphabet in a line.
    Thanks for reply. I only have an hour each week so might set out arc a couple more times and then use a printed arc to a bit of quick aplphabet work.
    Debbie, he is slipping behind most of class in phonics so will be doing mostly phonics work I think.

  5. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    Why not get him to put out the alphabet arc and then use the letters to practice phonics? Ask him to pull the letters (magnetic or on card or whatever) into the middle of the arc to make the words you dictate. Then he puts them back into the right place in the arc afterwards.
    The alphabet arc is used frequently to help pupils with dyslexia in this way.
  6. http://www.phonicsinternational.com/unit5_pdfs/1192482699-5-28561.pdf
    It would be more useful to provide him with visual support of the actual graphemes that you would like him to spell/write with.
    If you are using a systematic programme, you could provide him with the graphemes that he match where he is in the programme.
    Also, what visual aids does the child have to support his understanding of the alphabetic code?
    You could use something like this, printed at half size, so that he can plot what he knows, is learning, as he moves through the programme.
  7. I think an alphabet arc is extremely limiting even though it is a traditional and standard method of beginning lessons for pupils requiring help.
    They certainly do need to know about the alphabet and all the letters - upper and lower case - but they need the alphabetic code chart to teach them about the alphabetic code for reading and spelling - and writing.
  8. http://www.phonicsinternational.com/unit1.html
    There are many versions of the alphabetic code chart here - some are suitable for display on the classroom wall - and others are suitable as smaller versions in pupils' personal clip folders.
    Also, as these are freely available, parents of children who are struggling can print one off at home if they have the facilities.
  9. Alphabet Arcs are a complete waste of time . As Debbie says, these pupils need the Alphabet Code taught systematically and fast with no time wasted doing unnecessary activities.
    This'll probably get me flamed, but what the heck:
    What not to do:
  10. I've just had a look at a few articles on this site, including the one mentioned, and it's very interesting. SusanG are you the same Susan who writes the site?

    Some of the points made about what not to do I would completely agree with. Others came as a surprise to me and I would genuinely like to learn more about the evidence behind these claims so that I can improve my own practice.
  11. takethatno1fan

    takethatno1fan New commenter

    As a specialist teacher, I agree with some of the points on the dyslexia.org site, but I have to say I also disagree with some! What happened to 'teach how the child learns?'
    I have worked with lots of dyslexic pupils, and each one of them learns in a different way, with different strengths and areas of need, as does every pupil. The key is finding out 'how' they learn, what works for them and personalising the teaching to focus on that approach.
    Going back to the original question about alphabet arcs is that they are very useful and can be used for lots of activities. It is not just a simple activity to learn alphabetical order (although that is important at some point), but can be used as a multisensory method of learning blending and segmenting skills, auditory discrimination skills (change hot to hat etc.), auditory and visual memory building etc. etc. all absolutely vital for dyslexic learners.
    To the OP, that is not to say that the alphabet arc should form all of your lesson, but think about a child reading a book, where and how in your lesson are you teaching the skills they will need for reading e.g. phonic knowledge and blending, and where and how are you teaching encoding skills?
  12. I agree that that the alphabet arc is a complete waste of time, particularly with a child who already 'knows ' his alphabet. Letter names and their positions in the traditional 'alphabetic order' are completely irrelevant to learning to decode and blend.

  13. takethatno1fan

    takethatno1fan New commenter

    Could I ask Susan, do you agree then that we should have a 'one size fits all' system?
  14. Can you explain what you mean by 'one size fits all'? It is a very vague phrase.
  15. takethatno1fan

    takethatno1fan New commenter

    I don't think it's a very vague phrase at all.
    I would say it's the exact opposite to personalised learning.
  16. Well,you and I think differently. I think it's a vague phrase.
    What exactly do you mean by 'one size fits all' in connection with SusanG's site?
  17. takethatno1fan

    takethatno1fan New commenter

    Where did I make reference to 'one size fits all' in connection to Susan's website?
    If you look back at the posts you'll find that Susan made a comment and posted a link about my comment on personalised learning.
    I was simply expressing my belief that personalised learning is massively important for dyslexic learners and I find it worrying that others out there could actually disagree with that.
  18. Sorry, I was using that higher order reading skill, inference, to deduce that, as you have looked at the website, your 'one size fits all' comment was a response to what you saw.
    You still haven't explained what you mean by the 'one size fits all', specifically in relation to teaching struggling readers (or, if you prefer the term, dyslexics). It sounded like a criticism but criticism is more helpful when it is explicit.
  19. takethatno1fan

    takethatno1fan New commenter

    I disagree with you actually, I don't think you were using 'inference', you were making an 'assumption' which are two completely different things - and you were wrong to do so.
    I shouldn't need to explain what 'one size fits all' means, and if I do then I'll add you to the many teachers I spend my days educating about the 'different' ways in which dyslexic learners learn, and how we as teachers have to teach children the way they learn, find out exactly what the pattern of strengths and areas of need are, and tailor the teaching to ensure the children make progress.
    I owe you an apology actually as I am now going to deduce that you aren't a specialist teacher for dyslexia? The reason I say this is that not all struggling readers and dyslexic, and not all dyselxic learners struggle with reading.

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