Tracks Literacy

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Maltesers
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Tracks Literacy

Post by Maltesers » Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:40 pm

http://www.tracksliteracy.co.uk/index.htm

Does anyone know anything about this?

Someone on my forum (a newbie) has just advertised it and I will put my two penneth in if its based on anything other than SP.
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Anna
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Post by Anna » Fri Oct 05, 2007 4:16 pm

Hi Maltesers,

Tracks is used in quite a lot of in schools in my area and I definitely would not consider it to be synthetic phonics. It is difficult to get detailed information on it as it is a 'closed programme' for those who do the training, so you can't look at exactly what is taught. However just from looking at the website you can see that onset/rime is used. The phonics track includes blends, I'm sure. Or at least that was what teachers taught when used as a Wave 3 intervention as part of the old NLS.

I think the read words track is basically 'sight words' and the write words are the same for spelling at least most schools use these strands to teach the HF words. The write words is basically 'look cover write check'.

I believe, from teachers I know who have done the training, that in the reading section, the pupils read 'silently' and you choose a few sentences for them to read aloud. I'm sure this is not decodable text, esp as the pupils in a group are meant to be working at their own pace.

I have tutored several pupils who have done./are doing Tracks at school. However, I'm not sure that the TAs delivering it have always done the training. One of my new pupils is doing it and says it is very boring as he never gets any new words. His mum commented that they are expected to memorise them and said 'you can't memorise every word in English'. This same mum said her son was already reading more accurately after 3 lessons of Fiona Nevola's Oxford Reading System and we had only covered 1:1 correspondences and 'sh'.

I read an article which the author wrote but that didn't really enlighten me to the content of the programme. It seems to stem from her views on the psychology of learning - which I supect would not be the same as views which most of us hold. To be honest I found it a bit 'psychobabbly'. I can dig it out and see if it means more to me now I have an in-depth knowledge of SP principles.

So although I don't know enough to comment in depth, the information I have is that it is a mixed methods programme. :sad:

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Maltesers
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Post by Maltesers » Fri Oct 05, 2007 5:16 pm

Thank you for your speedy response. I thought as much myself when I looked at the website. :evil: So I shall make a response on my forum.

Maizie your support would be appreciated later if you get five mins :lol: :lol:
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Hammered
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Post by Hammered » Fri Oct 05, 2007 6:38 pm

I have done the Tracks Literacy training and have the qualification so will fill you in. It certainly wouldn't subscribe to it being a synthetic phonics based programme and I'm sure the author wouldn't claim it to be so. However I cannot speak highly enough of the programme itself and have had fanstastic results with it in my school (mainly as a result of it filling in gaps in childrens phonic knowledge). The main problem with it is when people use it without following the methods in the training as it is very perscriptive and you have to be very strict about the techniques.

Essentially it is made up of different 'tracks'. The Read Words Track is essentially synthetic phonics (blending for reading) using 42+ sounds and then teaching alternatives. Then there are 3 spelling tracks (2 use segmenting, 1 uses sight for tricky words). Then there are also tracks for writing targets and comprehension. The method the previous poster mentions about reading in your head is used for comprehension and not to practice decoding.

As a loyal user of synthetic phonics I would say much of the programme is in line with its principles. The exceptions probably being in getting children started reading different methods (not a searchlights approach, closer to sight words), but remember it is a special needs programme and this is done along side phonics work. I do not use the methods for early reading in my reception class, but when children have severe literacy needs it is an very good programme.

In respect to the previous poster. Children can easily get stuck with the same words if they are not getting regular or quality support. The spelling part for irregular words means children cannot get new words till they spell the current ones correctly. If they don't get the practice they don't learn them...

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:44 am

I agree with Hammered. 'Tracks' is used by the remedial teacher at a local Key Stage 2 school (age-range 7-11) where I help out voluntarily, and I have worked in the same room as her for the past 6 years. The way she does it is not identical with s.p. in all respects, but there's a lot of overlap.

Jenny C.

Anna
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Post by Anna » Sat Oct 06, 2007 12:04 pm

Hi Hammered and Jenny,

It is very useful to get your feedback. As I mentioned, I have tried to find out more about Tracks in the past but it is very difficult to get detailed information about the programme as it is necessary to do the training to do so (which is fair enough, as clearly that is necessary for it to work properly). I have no desire to do this as I have already invested in training on Fiona's Nevola's programme and am now using the BRI/ARI books quite extensively too.

I am glad to hear that it is much closer to SP principles than I thought. I did know that it was a remedial programme and not a programme for beginners. It was taken on enthusiastically by a previous leader of one of of our SpLD bases locally and I believe she now does the training and I also know that another local SpLD base uses the programme. That is why it is used quite widely as a wave 3 intervention in my area.

I think the problem is that the teaching in local schools does not appear to be done by those who have done the training therefore the results do not seem to be good in children I have worked with and don't reflect what you have both found. Another tutor friend locally has found the same thing.

I did not think multi-cueing was a part of the programme but was concerned about the sight words aspect. This seems to be covered at the expense of the phonics tracks as far as I can see. Hammered, you mention that the reading track using silent reading is for reading comprehension. Can you tell us what sort of text is used for this - ie does it contain only correspondences and tricky words which the children have learned to that point? I do personally think that decodable text is vital until children have learned the code and reached a certain point on fluency in decoding.

Also you say that it is based on the the 42 sounds and alternatives but it does look like onset and rime is used (are these the chunks referred to or are these syllables)?

Any further information would be very useful. Many thanks,

Anna

Hammered
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Post by Hammered » Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:07 pm

It is difficult to explain on here as the programme is so detailed but I will try and explain my understanding.

In terms of the reading track, the author has told me when I trained she believed this to be possibly the most powerful track for progress- this does not necessarily fit in with SP thinking. The comment I made about it being for comprehension is probably not entirely accurate as there is also an element of learning new words by sight involved. The books selected are not decodable but are reading scheme books, intended to be a very gradual progression with slowly introducing new vocabulary. They are selected to contain words the children can read (I think she recommends 95%+ but I would need to check that). Any words that can't be read are told to the reader.

I am not sure where onset and rhyme comes in? Chunks is effectively segmenting using digraphs. There is a technique for teaching children to blend which involve using onset and rhyme as a stepping stone to individual phonemes.

It took me a 2 terms to train and all the TAs at our school have struggled to support the programme due to the complexity and the strictness by which you need to use the techniques. I understand why it percieved as a closed programme but I can understand 100% why the author has made it so difficult for people to carry it out as the effectiveness is all in the details.

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Sat Oct 06, 2007 5:44 pm

What I have seen 'my' remedial teacher doing with the weaker children (she has up to 6 in a group) is using flashcards with digraphs etc. on them to check the children's knowledge of grapheme-phoneme correspondences. I thought these were part of the Tracks kit. In one case, a Y3 boy arrived at the school not even knowing sounds for all the single letters - she asked me to work with him on this. There are also cards with words on them, colour-coded according to GPC complexity. She gives each child a pile of these, at the child's own level, then goes round the group getting each child to read his/her words. Any that they misread go to the back of the pile so that they come up again at the end.

I gather that one thing the Tracks author believes is that very weak blenders can't manage more than 3 sounds, so I think she does recommend teaching blends as units - e.g. 'sp - ot' etc. But then I think Irina Tyk may do this, too, and her results are excellent.

JennyC.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Sat Oct 06, 2007 6:22 pm

Jenny wrote -
I gather that one thing the Tracks author believes is that very weak blenders can't manage more than 3 sounds, so I think she does recommend teaching blends as units - e.g. 'sp - ot' etc. But then I think Irina Tyk may do this, too, and her results are excellent.
I am currently working with a Y4 girl who had lived abroad until nearly a year ago and had not really begun to learn to read properly till she came to me, having apparently learnt to memorise whole stories so that she gave the impression of reading.

She struggled a bit with blending CVC words but not too badly. However, she is havind real difficulties with CCVC and CVCC words, due to her very weak working memory maybe.

We are making progress, albeit very slowly, using the 'tallying' method which has been discussed on another thread - ie for 'spit' I would cover all but the initial letter 's' and then reveal the 'p' and when she has secured the 'sp', I would uncover 'spi' and so on until she finally sees the whole word.

Isn't this a better alternative than teaching blends/consonant clusters which would just increase the number of things she has to learn and also maybe confuse her about phonemes?

Hammered
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Post by Hammered » Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:23 pm

Yes it is true in tracks there is teaching of consonant clusters. Although we would not teach sp -ot, we would teach 'sp' together as a single unit as in 'sp - o - t'. This is common practice in special needs teaching for struggling readers and of course originally was in the NLS as an objective. We also teach some end clusters?! such as 'ing' 'ong' 'unk' ink' etc. as units so I guess this would constitute a more analytic approach. However in my experience I have never had a child have any trouble with these when they got to this level as they are by this stage able to blend through the word, but the provision is there for the weakest children.

Hammered
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Post by Hammered » Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:36 pm

As an add on to Judy's comments, in my opinion, when you teach children consonant clusters - sp sl st gr gl etc. all you are really doing is teaching them and practicing how to blend these two letters quickly, thus making it easier to read words beginning in these letters. In this respect you are doing the same as the tallying method you describe. If they know their graphemes and can blend reasonably well this is usually quite a quick progress. It makes the progresion to CCVC words just that little easier.

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Post by maizie » Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:16 pm

The 'downside' to teaching consonant clusters that I sometimes encounter is that children regard them as one 'sound' and don't always write them accurately when spelling. Also, from time to time you encounter a multisyllable word where a letter combination taught as a 'cluster' doesn't actually 'work' when it is decoded as such and the child has quite a problem readjusting their blending to account for this. I can't think of an example off the top of my head, right now, but I have come across it.

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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Oct 06, 2007 10:24 pm

When I do teacher-training, there is many an adult who cannot 'hear' or understand that consonant clusters such as 'sp' are actually two separate sounds.

You often come across children in special needs groups who have learnt consonant clusters as discrete units of sound.

Sometimes these children do things like sound out the letter 's' as 'st'. I find this very worrying.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Sat Oct 06, 2007 11:52 pm

In this respect you are doing the same as the tallying method you describe.
I don't think it is exactly the same, Hammered.

In tallying you are treating each of the phonemes separately and finishing with saying the sounds all through the word. It's just that you are repeatedly going right back to the beginning to help pupils with weak working memories to remember the first phonemes they sounded out.

They would never learn any two discrete phonemes as a cluster. I think that might add to the confusion that already exists in some of them as to what exactly a phoneme is! I have had a ten year old tell me that 'ig' is a 'sound' - which is perfectly true in a sense, but it is not a phoneme!

(Which is an argument in favour of using the term 'phoneme' - if only I could remember to do it! :oops: )

Mary Charlton
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Post by Mary Charlton » Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:48 pm

I’m the designer of Tracks Literacy. I’d like to clarify a few points - and support Hammered!


Tracks Literacy was designed for pupils who are considered (incorrectly in our view) to need one to one teaching, not Wave 3 ‘catch up’, though Tracks is used for a wider group of pupils.

We don’t teach a sight vocabulary and we don’t use onset and rime as an analytical process.

If pupils can blend sounds easily, then they can do this as advocated by the RRF. If not, the Read Words track (our synthetic phonics track) is constructed so that the highest levels of decoding can take place with 3 sound-segment blending only.

The cards that Jenny describes are used for developing decoding strategies, definitely not the development of sight vocabulary.

‘Do It Yourself Reading’ is what it says. Pupils read independently and fluently and in the process effortlessly acquire new vocabulary. We rarely use decodable books; they would duplicate the work in the Read Words Track. Pupils don't guess.

The Write Words spelling track has nothing at all to do with ‘look, cover, write and check’. It involves different types of memory and relates known words to others. It is one of three spelling tracks that pupils follow in parallel.


There are reasons for everything that we do in Tracks Literacy, right down to the detail of how we deal with blends, the schwa vowel, and mistakes such as ‘sb’ etc. These details are what Tracks is. The programme needs to be understood as a coherent system that meets individual needs in a different way. We are dealing with pupils who find the ‘purer’ form of synthetic phonics cognitively challenging.

Tracks is grounded in mainstream psychology. I am a psychologist. On EPNET, a forum for educational psychologists, Tracks has been described as the ‘most psychological approach to literacy’. LEA psychological services are often the first to ‘pick up’ Tracks.


I’m happy to answer questions, but would prefer this to be via PM or email:

info@tracksliteracy.co.uk If the latter, please put ‘Mary’ in the subject line.

Under certain conditions we train TAs. Materials are available without training though we strongly recommend that practitioners do the training.

Infomation is on the website: www.tracksliteracy.co.uk

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