More worries. From TES TA forum

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More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by maizie » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:02 am

I apologise to Jenny in advance for this thread, but I am bringing it up because I think it illustrates a couple of points; the apparent lack of training in or understanding of SP; the unintended consequences of the L & S 'phases'; the blame for neither of these can be laid at the door of the authors.

I think it illustrates that just because the DFES issues 'guidance' it doesn't mean that it will be correctly interpreted or taught :sad:

I'd be interested in comments.

The person who posted this on TES posts on this forum too, under a different name. I'm sure she won't mind me posting this here.
I teach letters and sounds my way! The biggest issue I have with it is that there is so little on applying the sounds taught. It seems there is a bigger and bigger push to teach different phases in certain year groups whether the children are ready or not. We are getting children in year 2 who have had 2 years plus teaching of Letters and Sounds who still cannot read. They are a class of blenders and segmenters but not a clue when it comes to reading a book or writing. They blend their way through every word in a book without any understanding of what they have read.It is all this rushing that is doing it. Rushing to learn and read the sounds as fast as possible. Hence I have a large group of year 2s who cannot read who have done phase 3 3 times now and still don't have the sounds. I am going much slower with teaching the sounds and spending more time practising and applying sounds. I know some won't agree but I teach a maximum of 2 sounds in a week. They are at last making progress.

As for the ccvc or cvcc words Maizie there does seem to be a time in phonics teaching when children are ready to take this on board. Thinking of my littlies, out of a group of 7 children 2 are hearing that extra consonant in ccvc or cvcc words the rest will need to be taught it. They are slightly better at blending them but I do include the teaching of this within phase 3. Phase 4 is a complete nonsense phase. I think most young children certainly at my school would not be able to blend or segment ccvc or cvcc words after only learning 6 sounds.
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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by geraldinecarter » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:22 am

Thanks for posting this, Maizie. It gives a great insight into what can happen on the ground. I'd like more of the TES and Mumsnet threads posted here. It's not the individual voice, but the accumulation of voices that open a window to the reality of what is actually happening. Ofsted reports tell us virtually nothing, and even SATs 2, which is really the only marker of progress we have, can be unreliable - as you have pointed out.

There IS too little attention paid to context. If reading continues to rely on 2-dimensional books for too long, then it's not altogether surprising that there are so many children still stumbling and unable to rely on automaticity.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by maizie » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:07 pm

geraldinecarter wrote:There IS too little attention paid to context. If reading continues to rely on 2-dimensional books for too long, then it's not altogether surprising that there are so many children still stumbling and unable to rely on automaticity.
I'm afraid that this example strikes me as no books at all, 2 dimensional or not!

I don't know there is a language problem mixed in with this somewhere. I'm hoping that the original poster might come and join in here. She would be able to tell us if these children have poor receptive/expressive vocabularies. That would certainly contribute to the 'understanding' problem.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Maltesers » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:36 pm

I am here :grin:

Expressive and receptive language on the whole is reasonable, not brilliant! We do have a fair few children with poor language skills though and a fair few EAL pupils.

I think the biggest problem is the advice given by advisors is that the children need phonic books and banded books too. We don't seem to stick to one scheme in the early stages. I suppose the worry is that the children need that expressive and receptive language and they aren't getting it from phonic books. I would personally stick to the more language rich books during Literacy to improve those areas. Amazing how much language you can get out of Jelly and Bean though when you think about it. Only the other day I was asking a child where he thought the bell came from on the front of the book and he said he thought it would have come from a big tower or a church. I made him 'think' very easily about a picture. It's not rocket science.

I have put my group on Jelly and Bean and was told I must give them another book as well to send home as it's not good for them to just read one type of book. Hmm yes I can see some sense in that if the children could read but they can't. 'I forgot' to do that and will continue to forget until I feel the children are ready for other books. After 3 weeks on Jelly and Bean they are growing in confidence, actually wanting to read, reading at home and chatting about the stories. I do think that we lack supportive parents but my reasoning is that if a child comes home with a book they can't read then a parent can feel frustrated and helpless. Send them home with an easy book to read and it becomes a lovely shared experience. Everyone is happy.

I do feel that teachers assess phonics as being able to read sounds, not apply them also there is much more emphasis on reading the sounds during lessons and not writing them. So you get children who can read /igh/ but when writing for example 'night' they will write nit, nayt.
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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by chew8 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:33 pm

On the TES forum, Greenteaaddict wrote:We are getting children in year 2 who have had 2 years plus teaching of Letters and Sounds who still cannot read. They are a class of blenders and segmenters but not a clue when it comes to reading a book or writing. They blend their way through every word in a book without any understanding of what they have read.
This is not what I’m finding in a Letters and Sounds school where I’ve helped voluntarily since January 2010. The children now in Y2 are the ones who were in their second term of Reception when I started working with them, and there is only one (out of 28) who still does a lot of overt sounding out and blending. She was very weak at decoding throughout Reception and I suspect that she might still have been floundering without extra practice on decodable books. Even she is now reading ‘real’ books, however (as are all the rest), and although her comprehension isn’t brilliant I don’t feel it’s non-existent. Levels of decoding, fluency and expression among the other 27 children vary, but are sufficient in all cases to make me feel that comprehension is at least adequate.

Jenny C.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by maizie » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:52 pm

chew8 wrote:This is not what I’m finding in a Letters and Sounds school where I’ve helped voluntarily since January 2010.
Different school, different teachers, Jenny.

Perhaps they understand better how to teach SP?

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Maltesers » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:54 pm

Out of 23 we had 17 who I would class as non readers in September. It would be easy to say they are a low ability class, but I still think that much more progress should have been made. The 6 who are good readers I think would have been good readers however they had been taught. Thinking back to my own children they didn't really learn with phonics but were bright enough to work out the code themselves. I think these 6 children are bright enough to have done that.
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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by chew8 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:46 pm

Maizie wrote:Different school, different teachers, Jenny.

Perhaps they understand better how to teach SP?
Yes – but how do we know whether ‘my’ school or the one mentioned by Maltesers is more typical? What the teachers at ‘my’ school know about teaching SP has, I think, been gleaned entirely/mainly from Letters and Sounds. As I’ve said before, the discrete teaching is good, as far as I can see, but undermined to some extent by the use of non-decodable books, so the situation is not ideal.
Maltesers wrote:Out of 23 we had 17 who I would class as non readers in September. It would be easy to say they are a low ability class, but I still think that much more progress should have been made. The 6 who are good readers I think would have been good readers however they had been taught.
I have end-of-Y1 reading test results for all 28 of ‘my’ Y2 children (30, actually, as two have left since then). The test used was the British Ability Scales – the lowest two reading ages were 6 years 2 months (1 month below the child’s chronological age) and 6 years 6 months (3 months below CA) – the latter child had started at the school only in the third term of Reception. All the rest had RA above CA, 22 of them by 6 months or more; the child who is still doing a lot of overt sounding out had a RA of 6 years 9 months, 3 months above CA. On the whole the children’s BAS results are in line with my subjective impressions of their reading – e.g. those with reading ages of 8 and over read very fluently, accurately and expressively, and those with reading ages under 7 are much less fluent, though most of them read most words without overt sounding out, unlike the girl I mentioned

Jenny C.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by volunteer » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:44 pm

It's interesting because this stuck at Phase 3 notion seems to crop up again and again - on TES, and on another forum that I am a member of.

As a volunteer at just one school at the moment I don't have any insight into this, but the child I have spent the most time with one to one happens to be a child who was being kept on Phase 3 again and again when I took him on. Unfortunately I don't really have any great detail about the past, why he was repeating phase 3 again and again etc.
I don't know if he was maybe just a "passenger" in the phonics classes, or if he needed meaningful practice to put it altogether and there wasn't ( no decodables going home, or if there were, confused by also sending a fairly high level ORT book which both the parents and the teacher seemed to indicate was more important). All I know is that when working with him one to one, from lesson one, I could see no reason why he would not be able to learn more gpcs and no reason why he could not string together more complicated words. Also he seemed to me to have an OK memory, decent understanding,

So I just bashed on, with the guidance of a lot of people on here, and I'm definitely seeing progress. My nagging doubt was the slow speed at which he reads, and the amount of sounding out he does, but amazingly it does not seem to affect his comprehension. I have completely lost track of a sentence sometimes by the time he gets to the end of it but he has taken it all in, and over time his speed does seem to be increasing, and the amount of sounding out going down. Also he reads at home now - the decodables.

I think if teachers had the time to do some one to one work with these phase 3 non-progressors they might see for what each individual child is capable of and move on from there rather than putting them back again and again through the same phase 3 phonics programme. I guess though that this is a luxury which cannot take place in most schools?

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by chew8 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:12 pm

On the TA forum Maizie wrote:Consider. Children have learned s,a,t,p,i,n. You can make a lot of words with those (which is why they are usually the first correspondences taught). From what I understand (I've lost my copy of L & S so can't check) phase 2 demands that they only use these correspondences for cvc words. Am I right? Because if I am, it's bonkers. You will have children who can bearly sound out and blend 'at' and 'it' and children who would be perfectly capable of sounding out and blending 'satin' & 'span' & 'spin' etc.
Letters and Sounds recommends that s, a, t, p are taught in the first week of Phase 2 and i, n, m, d are taught in the second week. It’s true that only words of two and three letters are suggested for the first three weeks, but this doesn’t seem unreasonable for absolute beginners. Words of two syllables are suggested from the fourth week onwards, which is still in Phase 2.

The reading of captions is also suggested for Phase 2. It’s stated that ‘The captions are included to provide a bridge between the reading of single words and the reading of books. They enable children to apply their decoding skills on simple materials fully compatible with the word-reading level they have reached. This helps them to gain confidence and begin to read simple books’.

Yes/no questions are introduced in Phase 3 (e.g.'Is a lemon red?', ‘Can we get wool from sheep?’) and also more captions and sentences and texts of several sentences – e.g. ‘Chip the dog runs to the woods. He is looking for rabbits but sees a fox. The fox sees him and rushes off to its den. Chip dashes after it but cannot see it. He feels sad and runs back to his kennel.’

So I think that if teachers use all the material suggested in L and S, they should be giving children quite a lot of practice at applying their decoding skills and reading for meaning.

Jenny C.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by maizie » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:37 pm

Thank you for that explanation, Jenny.

As I said, I can't find my copy.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by JIM CURRAN » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:24 pm

"I have end-of-Y1 reading test results for all 28 of ‘my’ Y2 children (30, actually, as two have left since then). The test used was the British Ability Scales – the lowest two reading ages were 6 years 2 months (1 month below the child’s chronological age) and 6 years 6 months (3 months below CA) – the latter child had started at the school only in the third term of Reception. All the rest had RA above CA, 22 of them by 6 months or more; the child who is still doing a lot of overt sounding out had a RA of 6 years 9 months, 3 months above CA. On the whole the children’s BAS results are in line with my subjective impressions of their reading – e.g. those with reading ages of 8 and over read very fluently, accurately and expressively, and those with reading ages under 7 are much less fluent, though most of them read most words without overt sounding out, unlike the girl I mentioned"

These are very impressive results Jenny.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Maltesers » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:17 am

So I think that if teachers use all the material suggested in L and S, they should be giving children quite a lot of practice at applying their decoding skills and reading for meaning.
I agree but I do think that teachers rush this bit. Also the children are often 'shared' reading of a caption so not working independently. It is almost like a bit to fit in at the end when perhaps other parts of the 20minutes lesson have taken longer. An awful lot of children at the early stages and later (at my school) struggle to retain a caption/sentence to actually write it so not enough time is given to this. Perhaps for the 'average' or 'above average' child this is enough but for the SEN or lower ability it just isn't enough. Too much emphasis on reciting sounds, teaching new sounds and no way enough time on applying. As I said earlier I have addressed this imbalance with my children and they are now making progress. We are spending a good 10 minutes on sentence work where they are working independently or with a partner. I use real books with the target sound to make that link into 'proper' reading. I can see exactly where their problems lie and address them. Again I work with groups, to do this with a whole class would be very difficult.
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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:56 pm

It isn't necessarily difficult with a whole class.

I've designed resources/programmes/routines to teach whole classes (and which can also be used with groups and individuals) but teachers are often fixated with what, to them, amounts to 'interactive, multi-sensory' teaching and learning - which is not multi-sensory in the sense of the code knowledge and core skills and sub-skills that need to be learned.

I suggest that there is insufficient understanding that the children need rigorous INDIVIDUAL core practice - best with paper and pencil routines - to maximise learning and develop the full potential of all the children.

I agree with the observations mentioned above - but there ARE solutions.

However, we have a growing anti paper and pencil culture in our infant and primary schools - which is counterproductive to basic literacy skills teaching and learning.

I have said all along that Letters and Sounds is not the full programme that teachers actually need.

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Re: More worries. From TES TA forum

Post by Maltesers » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:35 pm

However, we have a growing anti paper and pencil culture in our infant and primary schools - which is counterproductive to basic literacy skills teaching and learning.
I couldn't agree more. Very counterproductive to basic literacy. It is something I have noticed over the years that literacy and numeracy skills have worsened in year 2 with the almost abolishment of paper and pencils. I personally see children who are no longer able to sit at a task for more than 2 minutes as they are so used to flitting around and doing things they want to do in the early years. There comes a point where children need to understand that even if it is boring and difficult it still needs to be done. Practise pays off. We are raising children who think they have the right to pick and choose what they want to do in my opinion.
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