Do children really have to 'learn' high frquency words?

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Do children really have to 'learn' high frquency words?

Post by maizie » Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:23 pm

This thread on TES has spurred me to see what you all think of my bete noir; high frequency words!

http://www.tes.co.uk/section/staffroom/ ... readPage=1

I learned to read 50 (sh!) years ago without a HFW in sight. As I understand it, HFWs were introduced as a whole language device to get children reading in the absence of any other way to teach word attack skills.

Reading schemes were deliberately written around vocabulary taught as HFWs.

Most of the HFws are decodeable at the appropriate level of phonics instruction.

Most of the HFWs are function words and do very little to convey the 'meaning' of a text.

It seems to me that HFWs have been incorporated into SP programmes to satisfy the requirements of the NLS, which has insisted that children 'learn' them (which I think is a cock eyed concept, children don't have to 'learn' individual words, they just have to read them)

The new Framework still contains a requirement to 'teach' the HFWs. Even if they are taught as 'tricky' words, is it really necessary for such iimportance to be placed on 'learning' them by a particular stage. If children have access to decodeable texts which are not written to satisfy the requirement to 'learn' HFWs will the world fall apart, will it hamper their acquisition of reading skills?

I loathe the things, especially when I see TES threads like the one I've posted.

When I get KS3 children to work with who have been working on 'learning' the 45 YR HFWs for 6 years, so can read 'said' but not 'sad', 'went' but not 'wet' etc. it makes me so cross that so much time has been wasted on forcing 45 words into these children's heads that could have been spent teaching them how to access any word.


Can anyone convince me that they have a place in initial reading instruction? (or any reading instruction)

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Post by mtyler » Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:16 pm

I completely agree with you, Maizie.

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Post by elsy » Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:20 pm

The high frequency words listed in the back of the Framework are not intended to be taught by rote. They are included because they represent a high proportion of the words children are likely to meet in the early stages of reading. Many of these words are phonically regular and thus perfectly decodable. A proportion are irregular and will need to be taught as ‘tricky’ words’. You should use this list as a checklist to ensure that all the regular words can be decoded, as children learn the relevant phonic skills. You should teach children to recognise the other words as they encounter them in Shared and Guided Reading.
Progression in Phonics 1999

My heart goes out to all those little mites in reception and those in Y1 who STILL have the card with the first set of YR words to learn. And, as Maizie finds, STILL being made to plough on right ot the end of KS2 and beyond.

And some people criticise phonics for being dull.

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Post by maizie » Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:15 pm

Elsy,

You're absolutely right that that is what it says in PiPs. But you, as a fellow TES reader, know how that is generally ignored! How many threads have you read on 'teaching the HFWs', usually full of advice on flash cards :evil:

But surely, it would be better if the HFWs were completely removed from the new Framework? And even, perhaps, that the rrf had a view on this?

I think that their continued inclusion is going to blight the teaching of SP.

I'd be interested to know what others think.

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Post by Dianne Brewer » Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:13 pm

Your thread reminds me that I've 'forgotten' to teach any HFW to my class this year! Oh well, never mind...

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Post by elsy » Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:56 pm

Ah but, Maizie, I suspect that the guidance is not actually known more than it is ignored. (emoticon showing complete despair and disbelief)

That's the reason I quoted it.

I can't quite make my mind up about their inclusion on a checklist, but I suppose that, because these words ARE so common, children have every possibility of meeting them regularly in their reading. I agree though, that as soon as there is a list, someone, somewhere, feels the need to teach it by rote.

I think the tenacity of searchlights will be a bigger blight along with the idea that blending CVC words comes, developmentally, after memorising text and guessing from initial letters and pictures. At least if children are taught SP they stand half a chance of applying phonics to the words on the lists they take home to learn.

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Post by maizie » Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:12 pm

I can't quite make my mind up about their inclusion on a checklist, but I suppose that, because these words ARE so common, children have every possibility of meeting them regularly in their reading. I agree though, that as soon as there is a list, someone, somewhere, feels the need to teach it by rote.
Not just by 'rote', elsy, but by 'sight' :mrgreen:

There's actually a post on that thread now where the teacher says that she tells the children which words to blend and which ones to learn as sight words. GRRRRRRRR

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Post by Judy » Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:59 pm

If children understand how the Alphabet Code works from the start, it's easy enough to explain to them that certain 'HF' words they are likely to come across at an early stage simply use correspondences they haven't yet learnt.

I use the columns as per Debbie's website and they write the words in the correct column so that they can see where they will 'fit' later. The number of words which don't fit in any column is so few that it's not a problem.

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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Dec 04, 2006 12:45 am

Speaking of which - MrH has more spelling variation charts to put on my www.syntheticphonics.com website by kind courtesy of Maizie. This is on his rather long 'to do' list. :oops:

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Post by chew8 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:21 am

The leading UK synthetic phonics programmes that I know reasonably well ('Jolly Phonics', 'Read-Write Inc.' and 'Fast Phonics First') all introduce a few H-F words quite early on, though only after a sounding-and-blending start. If teachers were officially advised against introducing H-F words, they might feel unable to use the very programmes that they would be best-off using.

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Post by CuriousMum » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:58 am

I've just laminated and chopped up sets of 20 of the HFW for this year's reception classes at my sons' school. I've posted on Debbie's site about the responses I got to my questioning re the teaching of reading.

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Post by Kelly » Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:55 pm

It will depend on what system used.

I use Monas and alot of the high frequency words come up when I teach a new sound e.g. I teach 'the' at 'th', 'was' when we learn about the sound of 'a' next to a 'w' etc.

I find 'be', 'he', 'so', 'no' are incredibly simple as the it is only trialling the letter saying its name.

I find that I am only having to explain 'said', 'put', 'of', 'to' by memory.

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Post by maizie » Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:57 pm

Jenny,

Officially advising teachers not to teach HFWs seems like a sledgehammer to crack a nut to me. Surely all that would need to be done would be to remove the requirement to teach them, along with all reference to them in the Framework??

I always thought (though I may be quite wrong) that SP programmes included the HFWs (albeit as 'tricky' words or some such terminology) to satisfy the requirement to teach them. I would have thought that most of the programme developers would be relieved to be able to severely prune the number they have included, or relocate them to a logical place in the instructional sequence (i.e. when the correspondences they contain are being taught)

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Post by chew8 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:35 pm

Maizie:

1. 'H-F' words are referred to in the 'core position papers', published in Sept., so there is already an official commitment to having them in the framework, though fortunately not until Phase 3 - i.e. at about the point where good s.p. programmes introduce them.

2. My understanding re. s.p. programmes including H-F words to satisfy the requirement to teach them is not quite the same as yours. As far as I know, s.p, teachers have always recognised that there is some value in getting children quickly to the point where they can read simple texts, because this does provide additional motivation. So I'm not sure that they would drop H-F words even if the official requirement were removed.

I honestly think that if such words are quite compatible with good s.p. teaching provided that they are taught sparingly and sensibly.

Jenny.

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Post by maizie » Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:32 pm

I have in front of me the list of HFWs (from the Dfes Standards site) for YR & Y1/2. There are 160 of them. Of these, about 13 are in any way 'difficult': come, you, are, the, of, (and, perhaps no & go) from the Yr list, who, again, another, two, once & one (and, perhaps, 'so') in the Y1/2 list. All the rest, with a systematic SP programme, have nothing problematical about them, so long as they are taught at the appropriate stage.

As a good SP programme should have taught children to handle all the most common correspondences well before Y2 and well written decodeable books should introduce these words at the appropriate stage of children's learning, I can't see that there can be any need at all to perpetuate this list. A child who learns to read fast, and is able to 'self teach' will be beyond the confines of this list before the end of Y2, children who are slower shouldn't be asked to grapple with 'advanced code' before they have mastered the basic skills.

There are plenty of words on the list which can be introduced in the early stages of learning to read - . dog, big, am, it, at, on, yes, cat, went, up, if, us, but, man, did, an, then, him, with, must, dig, ran, jump, just, from, not, bed, last (up our way, anyway) had, than, that, help & them (33) should all be readable after the first term as they encompass the 'simple code'.

Most of the rest should be covered by the advanced code in the remainder of the first year (I'd analyse further but it's tiring working with one and a half functioning hands :( )

They may well be in the 'core position' papers, but that doesn't make them A Good Thing! I suspect they are there because the writers of the 'core position' papers have no real idea of what can be achieved with SP and cling doggedly to the whole language myth that it is necessary that children learn the HFWs. When in fact nobody 'learns' words, they read them and become familiar with them. They 'learn' the correspondences needed to read any word.

Heavens, I have a Y8 boy who could barely read in Y7. I haven't 'taught' him a single word, but today he read 50 fairly complex multisyllable words (persecuted, creator, creature, manufactured etc.) in 32 seconds; some of them he hadn't even seen a week ago.

As I have said before, I think the HFWs will be a stumbling block for SP as teachers will remain hung up on the need for children to 'learn' them and continue to perceive them as 'difficult'. There are many teachers on TES who really do believe that all the HFWs are difficult. It's going to be hard to change their perception and their method of teaching them (too difficult to decode, have to learn them as whole words, out with the flash cards;).

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