Book bands, Phases and NC levels

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Hammered
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by Hammered » Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:10 pm

MarleneG wrote:I am going on about book bands again!!!

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????
I do sympathise with you - it also worries with me that teachers are so hung up on bookbands that they can't make an informed choice about when it is appropriate to give a book to a child off there own back. The whole bookband regime is a flawed in a post-Rose review world and phonic books should never have had to become part of it. If a child has to move from successfully reading one of your books decoding CVC words and then is given an ORT book in the same band where 'Kate came to make a cake' - allegedly still Phase 2?! then its not working...

I do think there is some value in the 90% figure though as children start to read more fluently (when talking about independent reading as opposed to needing teacher support). I would want a child to be able to decode 100% of the words but would be wanting them to be relatively fluent in the majority, only having to sound out a small percentage. Obviously this isn't the same meaning as Marie Clay's instructional 90% that is meant earlier but I think still has some merit. I do agree with Debbie's earlier comments on literature generally for the class - it would be great to see more Booktalk in foundation stage.

W. Tweedie
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by W. Tweedie » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:37 pm

Yes, book bands are a menace in one respect, but could be so useful. Once a child has mastered the sounds of the alphabet, how wonderful to have a band for books called CVC.
And then lets have the next book band which has 4 and 5 sounds in them.
And a book band where the consonant digraphs are present.
The difficulty after this would be vowel digraphs.
There are 18 vowel sounds and these could be kept in a specific order for access rather than level of difficulty.

Maybe these bands should have a different name to bookbanding:

How about 'Sound-Banding' and presented as a precursor to Book Banding. Some children can move fairly quickly into Book Banding books, as they exist at the moment, others would need a slower approach and spend time working through the Sound-Banding books before accessing the Book Bands.
If something like this worked, I think that pink and red bands would probably disappear.
I am about to jump in a car now and drive to London.
Any thoughts to improve the concept?
No 40 page volume for teachers to plow through - just a simple structured suggestion, which would make sense to teachers and TAs.
Wendy Tweedie
Phonic Books Ltd.

Hammered
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by Hammered » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:20 pm

Sounds good to me. Although I believe Marlene already has done this with Jelly and Bean - now all you have to do is convince all the other publishers to band their books to fit in with your series'. Problem solved.

Phil

MarleneG
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by MarleneG » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:45 pm

BUT ... everyone else has introduced the 'sounds' or 'graphemes' or 'vowels' in a different order to me.
Help! Don't suggest me!

Seriously, many people are trying to line up with 'Letters and Sounds', maybe there should be a definite order!

No, we would all have to scrap everything and start from scratch.

W. Tweedie
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by W. Tweedie » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:17 am

For those against boxes of books, it is what many teachers use, and it is the way some teachers think. And if that is the equipment now in schools, it needs to be built on, and not discredited. Now that teachers are teaching phonics, they must see a mismatch between what they teach and what they offer the children to read and take home. Schools are full of wonderful books, which we want children to access. If schools are going to have an assortment of phonic books, then maybe these need to be sorted for easy access, to start with.

I was not suggesting a detailed sorting of books. CVC would be a broad group of books with 3 sound words.
This would allow the children to pick something they can manage. The teachers would be following their own programme and would have their own sequence of teaching and blending of sounds, so the actual sequence of introducing sounds would be teacher led, not book led, according to the programme being followed. This is what happens in the classroom anyway.

'Consonant digraphs' is also a broad band as are 4 sound words and 5 sound words.

Possibly the more common vowel digraphs could be banded- the 'ae' sound, 'ee' sound etc. The young readers then move in to all the other books, banded according to length of text on a page.

In other words, the early banding should be based on 'phonics' e.g. CVC, consonant digraphs etc., and later banding based on word length and sentence length, and text length on the page, as by this time the pupil will have learnt to blend.
Wendy Tweedie
Phonic Books Ltd.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:51 am

My comments here are just 'food for thought':

1) I suggest that a diet of only simple three letter, three sound words from the outset is not necessarily the best thing for children and such a restriction can lead to texts which are more stilted than they need to be.

2) Not all programmes have followed the restrictions of word length/structure - only some. This may lead to some teachers being overly concerned about word length at the expense of more natural language. Some children find it easier to decode a longer word in their oral vocabulary than a shorter word which is obscure to them. I understand, however, that children need to be able to decode the obscure/unknown words too - but the point I am making is that 'longer' does not necessarily equate to 'harder' - and a diet which includes some longer words from the outset can help children to become fearless decoders. I have also seen children get stuck in the 'three beat' word level for both blending and segmenting (the latter skill becomes one where children are not rehearsed at segmenting words longer than three sounds so they have a tendency to segment any length word into three beats because of lack of experience of segmenting longer words).

3) For books based on an order of introduction of letter/s-sound correspondences, the order should take precedence over the word length/structure.

4) I also cannnot understand publishers' hang-up over very precise word length per page and word count per book. Some children need shorter 'quick' books, other children need/love meatier books - even when they are beginners.

Basically, I suggest that we need variety from which teachers can select.

Perhaps decodable books need a very clear system of showing on the front cover 'which' letter/s-sound correspondences and any tricky words which are included.

Perhaps any catalogue system needs to have a separate section for the cumulative, decodable type reading books?

chew8
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by chew8 » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:19 pm

Here's my latest Book Bands anecdote:

I help on Mondays at an infant school which uses Book Bands. I myself use only decodables with the children, but they sometimes bring along their BB books and I take the opportunity to sneak a look and make a few notes. Yesterday, a Reception child whom I've seen only three times and who seems very timid by nature brought along a book called 'Shopping'. Each page had a large picture and a 2-word caption underneath it - I noted down 'The bread', 'The ice-cream', 'The toothpaste', 'The peas' etc. Needless to say, the child couldn't read it and was too timid even to try. I then gave her something decodable - she managed 'at' and 'up' OK (also 'the'), but couldn't read other VC and CVC words and was again, I felt, too timid to try. The books the school issues probably exacerbate her timidity.

Jenny C.

Elizabeth
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by Elizabeth » Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:49 pm

Debbie wrote
Perhaps decodable books need a very clear system of showing on the front cover 'which' letter/s-sound correspondences and any tricky words which are included.
Not perhaps, but definitely. This is exactly what teachers need when children are in the early stages of learning to read through phonics. It could be on the front cover, at the beginning, at the end or on the back cover - just somewhere clearly.

Unfortunately Phases (Letters and Sounds) are as unreliable as Bookbands and Reading Recovery levels, because sometimes publishers label books incorrectly according to Phases. I have been asked about how to choose the right book for children, using Phases and Bookbands. My reply is that you have to ignore the labels and look at the text to find which letter-sound correspondences and 'tricky words' are included. It is an enormous help if it tells you somewhere - accurately.

Several schemes do.
Elizabeth

chew8
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by chew8 » Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:01 pm

The Project X Phonics books use the back cover of each book to list the grapheme-phoneme which are new in that book - also the 'common' words and the 'tricky' words (i.e. the distinction between 'common' and 'tricky' is made).

Jenny C.

W. Tweedie
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by W. Tweedie » Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:33 pm

I would appreciate knowing the distinction between 'high frequency words' 'tricky words' and 'common words'.

Elizabeth
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by Elizabeth » Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:17 pm

These words are used in different ways by different people – very confusing. :???:

High frequency and common mean the same thing. The term "sight word" confuses people even more.

My Definitions

A tricky word is a word with a letter-sound correspondence that is rare, unique or has not yet been taught.
A high frequency word is a word that is common.
A sight word is a word that can be read instantly without overt sounding and blending.

tricky and high frequency: “was”
tricky (and high frequency) until it's been taught: "like", if the split digraph "i-e" has not yet been taught
tricky but not high frequency: “yacht”
high frequency but not tricky: “big”
not high frequency, not tricky: “minimalist”

A sight word may be a word children are asked to learn with no understanding or explanation of the phonics involved – as though it were a pattern or picture. That’s what we don’t want.

Allternatively, a sight word may be a word which has been read repeatedly using knowledge of letter-sound correspondences and the skill of blending, and then is read instantly. That’s what we do want. The difference is that the sight word reading is securely based on knowing how to decode words. The aim is for all common words to become sight words, with only the occasional need to sound and blend. As literate adults, most words are sight words for us. It’s only when we read things like unusual names, old English, technical documents or legal documents that we may have to revert to using our phonics knowledge and skills.
Elizabeth

W. Tweedie
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by W. Tweedie » Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:55 pm

It has taken me a while to answer Debbie's email with her 'food for thoughts'
My comments here are just 'food for thought':

1) I suggest that a diet of only simple three letter, three sound words from the outset is not necessarily the best thing for children and such a restriction can lead to texts which are more stilted than they need to be.
My reply:
Children who come from literate homes, who have had plenty of story input sitting on Mum or Dad’s knee, do not necessarily need to start at CVC level. One of my daughters was a fluent reader at the age of 5 and would have rebelled at a diet of CVC! (I have come across teachers who would not accept where a child was at, and instead of letting the child forge ahead, try to stilt the child’s progress!).
Unfortunately, in the schools I have worked in, many of the children have not had stories read to them, have a poor understanding of books and literacy, and some also have poor visual memory. Of course, children in literate families can also have poor visual memory. I speak with experience, as I am one of those. Such children can only progress in small steps, do not make analogies when looking at words because of visual stress levels, and can only progress through small incremental steps, until the brain, bless it, does it automatically. (Learning to drive is another analogy where the brain eventually takes over).
So lucky are those who can look at words, see patterns, apply them unconsciously to other words and read fluently at an early age.
The structured books are written for the latter children, and not the former. And those children exist in every classroom. Addressed in the right way from the beginning, with books which are accessible and practise what they have been taught in the classroom gives meaning to the process of learning to read.
2) Not all programmes have followed the restrictions of word length/structure - only some. This may lead to some teachers being overly concerned about word length at the expense of more natural language. Some children find it easier to decode a longer word in their oral vocabulary than a shorter word which is obscure to them. I understand, however, that children need to be able to decode the obscure/unknown words too - but the point I am making is that 'longer' does not necessarily equate to 'harder' - and a diet which includes some longer words from the outset can help children to become fearless decoders. I have also seen children get stuck in the 'three beat' word level for both blending and segmenting (the latter skill becomes one where children are not rehearsed at segmenting words longer than three sounds so they have a tendency to segment any length word into three beats because of lack of experience of segmenting longer words).
My reply:
In my teaching I would go from the simple to the complex. All those 8 plus year olds who cannot read, are stuck unable to decode the sounds of vowel digraphs, and stuck on how to break up a multi-syllable word. They have to be taught to do this, and no amount of oral blending and clapping syllables will do this. Clapping syllables will help with spelling, as they learn to spell a word syllable by syllable. With reading, they need to recognise where a syllable could possibly end, and another begin. Again some children can do this with no effort, others need very precise instruction and lots of practice.
As to sentence length, 5 year olds who are struggling balk at lots of print. Having a short story with short sentences helps them on their way to decoding print.
3) For books based on an order of introduction of letter/s-sound correspondences, the order should take precedence over the word length/structure.
My reply:
I agree. These books are not written for those who do not need them.
They are a resource for those who need to learn in small sequential steps, following one order – and that is at the teacher’s discretion. Once the child has had practice word-building with specific letters, how great to have a little book where the child can put into practice what he/she has learnt.
I accept that some children learn to read by osmosis. A good teacher is one who can teach the child who struggles. The ‘osmosis’ children will get there mostly on their own.
4) I also cannnot understand publishers' hang-up over very precise word length per page and word count per book. Some children need shorter 'quick' books, other children need/love meatier books - even when they are beginners.
I believe that we need variety from which teachers can select. But how much easier for the teacher if that variety is sorted for easy access. I personally have to be very organized so that I can operate effectively.

quote]Perhaps decodable books need a very clear system of showing on the front cover 'which' letter/s-sound correspondences and any tricky words which are included. [/quote]
My reply:
We do provide this information either on the cover or inside the front cover of our books.
Basically, I suggest that we need variety from which teachers can select.
My reply:
I agree, but a teacher needs to understand that whereas some children can teach themselves to read by osmosis, others need very structured readers and clear instruction.

Perhaps any catalogue system needs to have a separate section for the cumulative, decodable type reading books?
My reply:
Catalogues do present the decodable book type reading books, in their Special Needs sections. Unfortunately, this is seen as catch up books for children who are failing. But I believe if they were taught from the beginning with those ‘Some people think boring' little decodable books, with a progression selected by the school, so that teachers always knew exactly at what level the child was at, they might take longer than your average child, but they would get there by the time they left primary school. I only took off with reading at the end of my primary schooling, and never stopped reading after that. I am a slow reader, and a slow processor of information. I left school when I was 14 and did Open University in my 20s. I was not taught the way I could learn at school, and that is why I am so committed to teaching those kiddies who have been failed by the system of ‘real book’ teaching used to date. Not all children can get there by the end of year 1. This has to be recognised. A good progression, understood by all teachers in the school, and good record keeping that moves up with the child to the next teacher, would contribute towards a successful outcome.
Children with good visual memory, can progress with any old text, supermarket boxes, etc… etc…
Length of text per page, as mentioned before, is initially kept at a minimum because those who have experienced teaching children who have difficulty learning to read, know that the amount of text on the page, has an adverse effect on the effort they will put into reading. Those children for whom reading does not come naturally, find decoding text quite an exhausting process. Having a short text at a level that they can decode is extremely beneficial and rewarding.
I have had struggling readers look up at me with shining eyes and say,’I have read a whole book!’. These are the children who have been encouraged to take any book out of the book box and made no progress at all.
But this does not mean that books with more text per page are not equally valuable for those others who are shooting ahead. Those books exist and are out there for them already. They do not have to be ‘specially written books’.
Sadly, it is very difficult to write early books which are non-fiction, because many of the context words have vowel digraphs, or are multisyllable words. So yes, early readers tend to be story books, and not as motivating as books about cars, spiders and monsters. But once the code has been mastered, dinosaur cards make a great impact on reading skills, especially with multisyllable words!
Classroom teaching of the code occurs in a distracting environment, and not all children are able to pick up what is going on. Very simple little books can help those children understand what it is all about, learning about sounds in the context of games and reading.
When you say a
teacher needs a variety of books
, nobody could possibly deny such a truism. But I put it that many teachers do not understand ‘variety’ and the needs of individual children. I get many phone calls from desperate parents which confirm my point. I believe high flyers are well catered for. It is the others we need to worry about and for whom materials need to be provided at their level.

chew8
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by chew8 » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:04 pm

I had drafted the following, in answer to W.Tweedie's query, before reading Elizabeth's response, but will post it anyway.

I don't think there's a distinction between 'common words' and 'high-frequency words' - Letters and Sounds treats them as equivalent (see, for example, the heading on p. 64 of the Six Phase Teaching book). Within that category, however, there are words that are decodable on the basis of the phonics-taught-to-date and words which are not, the latter being the 'tricky words'.

Letters and Sounds introduces high-frequency (i.e. common) words as far as possible in the phases in which they are fully decodable - see the arrangement of the lists on p. 194 of the Six Phase Teaching Programme book. The point is also made there that some words which are 'tricky' when first introduced become decodable later on - e.g. 'my', 'her' and 'out' are tricky when first introduced but become fully decodable once alternative ways of spelling those vowel sounds are taught in Phase 5.

Letters and Sounds recommends (e.g. on p. 64 and elsewhere) that a group of decodable high-frequency words should be read each day 'by applying grapheme-phoneme knowledge as it is acquired'. This should serve several purposes, e.g. (a) counteract the idea that these words should be learnt as 'sight' words, (b) nevertheless help children to start reading them more automatically, but in a way that is underpinned by grapheme-phoneme knowledge, and (c) help children who are slower to catch on to sounding out and blending - e.g. if they practise sounding and blending 'can', 'and' and 'big' every day for a few days until it becomes automatic, they should get a 'feel' for the process and may find it easier to apply it to words that they haven't practised on.

Jenny C.

MarleneG
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by MarleneG » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:24 am

Just to return to the book band system again.
I am now totally outraged!!!

I have spent my £22 and bought the book 'Book Bands for Guided Reading'.

In it there is a Errata:
On the introductory pages to each of the colour-banded listings, Phases 2-6 refer to the document Letters and Sounds(Primary national Strategy 2007)
Then on page 47, band1, Pink A, it has
Aligned to Phase 2 Progression in Phonics
But really they mean letters and Sounds Phase 2.

There is a list of books from Gardner, Collins, Heinemann, Badger, Pearson, Kingscourt, Ginn, Rigby, OUP, Nelson Thornes and none of them have anything like the vocabulary that can be taught or read in Phonic Phase 2.

Given that the government are promoting synthetic phonics, this book has got to be totally out of date.
It need scrapping.

More to come later when I have actually read some of it properly.

MarleneG
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Re: Book bands, Phases and NC levels

Post by MarleneG » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:28 am

Sorry for all the typing errors in that last post. I did it too quickly.

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