Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Moderators: Debbie Hepplewhite, maizie, Lesley Drake, Susan Godsland

MarleneG
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:20 pm

Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by MarleneG » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:54 pm

Over the years many teachers have telephoned me to ask where the Jelly and Bean books fit in book bands. Eventually I had to do research and make decisions.
Like Debbie, I decided that the best solution would be to get decodable books embedded into book bands so that the number of words and sentences per page/book fitted the criteria. The best charts I could find came from the Devon local authority.

http://www.devonldp.org

Their Folio 54 had the most detailed descriptions and the chart is on page 6.

http://www.devonldp.org/view_folder.asp ... &level3id=

A quick summary is:

NC level colour L&S Phase
Towards 1 pink phase 2 Year R
Towards 1 red phase 3 Year R
Within 1(1C) yellow phase 3/4 Year R/1
Within 1(1C/B) blue phase 4/5 Year R/1
Within 1(1B/A) green phase 5 Year 1/2
Towards 2(1B/A) orange phase 5/6 year 1/2
Towards 2(1A) turquoise phase 5/6 Year 1/2

I haven't gone any higher because I still have not covered all Phase 5 with reading material.

This was published by Devon LEA in 2008, so it may have been updated since then. Does anyone know of anything better?

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3654
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:56 pm

OK - here is my confession - I can't be doing with any of this Bookband/Reading Recovery type approach.

I totally don't agree with the '90% decodable' way of approaching reading material for children.

How can busy class teachers with 30 individual children start working out 'which' books are '90% decodable' for each child?

And why should books be '90% decodable' in the first place?

In the Bookbands/RR type approach, what are they suggesting - that the children should guess the other 10% of the words?

I find that all of this deep analysis of how children read and what they get from their texts is pretty much making hard work out of the teaching and assessment approach.

I just wish that teachers could have an understanding about the alphabetic code and how best to teach it, that they were equipped with good sets of cumulative, decodable reading books - and that they could just get on with the business of teaching children to read and providing them with a variety of books TO read.

Sometimes the books might be easier for the children to read, sometimes they might be harder - but this doesn't even matter if the adults are trained in how to support children reading the books.

I think those in authority have over-complicated the whole process of analysing books and in their methods of group and guided reading. It's a nightmare.

I have a different approach entirely.

First of all, I suggest that teachers audit their current book supply. Are the books worth reading or not? Do they have not only a good supply of books which support the technical skills of learning to read, but also books with a variety of content/genre.

Then, if the books are worth reading, I suggest that all the children in the class have access to the books.

Sometimes, the sets of group books will be easily within the reach of some children in terms of decoding the books - but if the content is worth reading, it's worth reading. Such children may read these books pretty much independently and then enjoy discussions about the book with the adult.

Sometimes, with the same set of books 'worth reading', some children may need more support in terms of decoding the book - but can still enjoy discussing the contents of the book. The teacher is modelling how to discuss the contents of books as his or her normal practice.

Sometimes, there are some children in the class who cannot access the quality books with their own decoding skills, and it may be appropriate for the adult to actually read the book to those children - and THEN discuss the contents of the book as they have been discussed with the children's peers.

At other times, the teacher ensures that all the children have books to read which are going to be entirely, or nearly entirely, decodable for all the children whatever their level.

I suggest that teachers lives are being made far more complicated than they need to be. Teachers really only need to know in what 'order' their class books are best read in - and if books are worth reading for some of the children in the class, then they are surely worth reading for all the children in the class (meaning the enrichment, topic type books and books of various genre).

I am going around the country (and sometimes to other countries) to demystify teaching and to simplify the approach to reading books. I try to liberate and inspire the teachers to really enjoy the literature with the children and to make their own choices about matching the teaching and learning intentions according to the books which are available and according to the needs of the children themselves.

So, I don't support Bookbands and I don't support complicated assessment and analysis of books by Bookbanding and National Curriculum levels - all too needlessly complicated in my opinion.

The poor teachers.

The teachers themselves would not be so obsessed with Bookbanding and levelling if their training and advice from advisors was of a different nature.

chew8
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by chew8 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:05 am

Does the Devon document referred to by Marlene mention that books should be '90% decodable'?

I've found this:

'• Text should be at instructional reading level (90% accuracy)'

- but this doesn't use the word 'decodable'. Am I looking in the wrong place?

I help at an infant school which uses Book Bands. I disapprove, and don't use these books in my own work with the children, but I've found it useful to see them and occasionally to watch the children attempting them. In fact the percentage of words which are decodable on the basis of phonics-taught-to-date is more like 10-15% than 90%. 90% seems to assume that the children will know some words as 'sight' words and will work out others by using cues from pictures and context. 75-80% of the words would therefore be 'read' this way rather than by phonic decoding.

Jenny C.

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by Susan Godsland » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:36 am

I think it depends on your interpretation of the word 'decodable', Jenny.

Decodable is, I've discovered, another word that the whole language people have appropriated and use when referring to Book Banded (WL) reading books without turning a hair.

"Decoding must be seen to denote the identification of words typical of English texts, including irregular words such as ‘said’ and ‘island’. It should not be equated with synthetic phonics, which is inadequate as a decoding system for English. So it should be taken to involve ‘flexible unit size strategies’ (Brown and Deavers, 1999), and also morphology and semantics" (Dombey)

MarleneG
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:20 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by MarleneG » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:38 am

I agree absolutely, utterly and entirely with everything Debbie has written.

BUT it is a fact of life that teachers in key stage 1 at the moment ARE instructed and under pressure to level all the books.

I did give a reading order for all the Jelly and Bean books, as did Debbie years ago, but I still got fraught teachers ringing me because I had failed to put the books in the coloured bands.

They complained for exactly the same reason as Debbie. They could not find the book they wanted because it did not have a coloured sticker.

If authors of decodable material do not fit their books to these schemes then someone else will do it for them, as in the case of OUP for Floppy's Phonics.

In the case of Jelly and Bean, someone has levelled the books into the 'Hatcher scheme' and the 'Catch up' scheme. I only agreed to send them the books for this to be done if I was given a copy of the final levels. (I now have them).

This means that when I write stories now I am mindful of word count and sentences as well as the phonic content.

If we want synthetic phonics to be successful in schools then I think these considerations, for the sanity of the teachers, need to be taken into account.

We need to be aware what publishers are saying about the suitability of the books for the age ranges of children.

Even to add a book to the Neilsen standard database that goes out to the whole world you have to decide on a suitable age range or the system will not let you add it. It is a nightmare, because the only 2 categories they have are 0-5 or 5-7.

It is no good sticking one's head in the sand and hoping this will go away. It won't.

We need to help teachers who are stuck between' a rock and a hard place', not put more pressure on them.

MarleneG
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:20 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by MarleneG » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:13 am

I also need to add something else. On another thread Debbie talks about 'incidental' teaching.

Years ago, back in 1998-9, when I was having a whinge about some books called 'Sunshine Spirals. These books had text for Reception children such as 'a clown' or 'a circus', and I was told that the teacher only expected the child to learn 'a', because the other words were classed as 'incidental' words.

This was one of the reasons I tried very hard to write books which were 100% decodable within the NLS, and hence how I came to use the specific words 'see' and 'look' etc.

BUT since then I have heard the term 'incidental' used many times (not in the way Debbie means) but I am always wary when I hear it.

chew8
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by chew8 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 10:22 am

Susan: I know that the whole-language people have their own interpretation of 'decodable', but what I was asking was whether the Devon document mentioned by Marlene actually uses the word 'decodable'. Debbie's response to Marlene's post used the wording '90% decodable', but I had not found that wording and wondered whether I'd missed something.

Marlene: I think you are saying that we need to work with the system as far as possible, for the sake of teachers and children. That makes sense. I also agree that what Debbie means by the word 'incidental' is different from what many others mean by it.

Jenny C.

JIM CURRAN
Posts: 3187
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 7:18 am

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:53 pm

It’s always been a major problem in Education that classrooms and teachers are driven by a system and not the needs of the children.

MarleneG
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:20 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by MarleneG » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:08 pm

I have been scouring the internet for more information on this topic and still found nothing more comprehensive than the Devon Folio 54.

On page 4 it does make two contradictory points.
• Strategy checks for making meaning : eg use of illustrations; knowledge of context

• reinforce phonics first approach; saying sounds from left to right all the way through a word


Independent reading

• using phonics as the primary approach to decode text, blending the phonemes in the order in which they occur
What on earth is that supposed to mean??

Then I found a similar structure chart to the OUP chart on 'bug club'
http://www.pearsonschoolsandfecolleges. ... cture.aspx

http://www.pearsonschoolsandfecolleges. ... _May11.pdf

as well as a section comparing Oxford Owl and Bug Club
http://www.pearsonschoolsandfecolleges. ... Books.aspx

Given that these two programmes and resources are on the DfE list, and I expect they will make the ESPO catalogue, then teachers are almost certainly going to use the charts for information about phonic content and 'levels' of reading. They will not be able to opt out because it will all be connected to assessment.

If we do not tackle these problems we are not serving the teachers properly.

chew8
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by chew8 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:50 pm

Marlene quotes the Devon document as follows:

'• reinforce phonics first approach; saying sounds from left to right all the way through a word'

I'm not too impressed with the wording. 'Left to right' is an appropriate way of expressing the order in which letters should be processed in English, but it's not an appropriate way of talking about the order in which sounds are said.

OK, I know what it's supposed to mean, but it should be better expressed.

Jenny C.

MarleneG
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:20 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by MarleneG » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:51 pm

… and this is where I really get into trouble …

…. looking at the development of synthetic phonics since 2007

Letters and Sounds was published in 2007 with its phonic phases 1-6 to cover key stage 1.

Phase 3 is significant because it says all 44 sounds should to be taught by the end of the Reception year.

(Diane Mc Guinness in 'Why children Can't Read' says 'By the middle of Year 1 children should have a good grasp of the Basic Code'. P252)

Phase 5 of Letters and Sounds is significant because it has all the alternative spellings of the phonemes to be taught by the end of Year 1.

So OUP and Pearson introduce their own programmes with everything taught by the end of Year 1.

Someone, somewhere, links the book band colours and the NC levels to this.

Letters and Sounds advocates some flexibility implying that Phase 5 can go on into Year 2 and someone guesses that the book band colours orange and turquoise can also cover Phase 5. This gives some scope to write longer texts, introduce the alternative graphemes slowly and carefully and in doing so carry the whole phonic teaching into Year 2.

But OUP and Pearson take a stricter view. Pearson have Phase 5 and the Orange book band going into Year 2.

OUP have the whole programme ending at the Green book band level part way through Year 1.

So, in effect, once their phonic programmes are finished, children can decode anything, and all their whole language books can then be used. Phonics done and dusted!


…. And all those children who can't keep up at this pace are …..??????

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3654
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:40 pm

Text should be at instructional reading level (90% accuracy)
'

Does this mean that the teacher would expect the pupil to read the text with '90% accuracy'?

chew8
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by chew8 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:29 pm

I think it probably does mean that, Debbie, but with the children relying on 'sight' words and picture cues etc. and very likely being talked through the book in advance by the teacher.

Jenny C.

MarleneG
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:20 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by MarleneG » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:27 pm

I am going on about book bands again!!!

At the moment I have written 6 stories about a snakes in a cave. The phonic detail is that they introduce the split digraphs in a-e, i-e, o-e and u-e to carry on the progression from Follifoot Farm Series 2.

I am cleaning up all the pictures now and at this stage the text always gets changed. I have 17 - 25 words per page at the moment and 10 pages for each. At some time in the recent past I learnt that orange band had about 250 words per book and green band had 200 words per book.

I know now that I will get hassled to band them, and I will have to face angry teachers on the telephone if I don't. Either that or they won't buy them.

I could aim the books at SENCOs as being suitable for struggling older readers, and they won't worry about book bands, but I am actually trying to write decodable books for mainstream.

I will make a decision one way or the other, but, in practical terms, someone makes these decisions about book bands and everything else has to fit around them.

It makes me want to scream.

I am not powerful enough to overturn the established way of grading. Is the RRF? Even Ruth's books are graded in this way!!!!!

Who has this power????? Institute of Education????

Elizabeth
Posts: 994
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2004 8:47 pm

Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by Elizabeth » Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:59 pm

I do so agree with you, Marlene. Bookbands are a menace.
Elizabeth

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests