Feedback on Phonic Check

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

Locked
Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:38 pm

In reply to Kiki:

My experience as a good adult reader is not that I am excellent at decoding fluently. I have a large repertoire of words which I recognise instantly, sometimes from seeing them only partially as my eyes focus at intervals along the line of print. The research supports this personal experience.

New words are read through a combination of analogy to known words or word chunks, morphemic knowledge and phonic decoding. The phonic decoding is only likely to come into play for very unusual words, and it is not guaranteed to supply me with the correct pronunciation.

If your argument for teaching a regime of exclusive systematic synthetic phonics is based on the idea that good adult readers use phonic decoding it is a non-starter.

Kiki
Posts: 60
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:05 am

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Kiki » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:10 pm

Toots wrote:In reply to Kiki:

My experience as a good adult reader is not that I am excellent at decoding fluently. I have a large repertoire of words which I recognise instantly, sometimes from seeing them only partially as my eyes focus at intervals along the line of print. The research supports this personal experience.

New words are read through a combination of analogy to known words or word chunks, morphemic knowledge and phonic decoding. The phonic decoding is only likely to come into play for very unusual words, and it is not guaranteed to supply me with the correct pronunciation.

If your argument for teaching a regime of exclusive systematic synthetic phonics is based on the idea that good adult readers use phonic decoding it is a non-starter.
:shock: am simply amazed that if, as you suggest, you have read the research on eye tracking as it relates to reading/decoding you have somehow come to completely the opposite conclusion that all the authors of that research have come to.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:30 pm

My position is consistent with work on eye movements I have read and consistent with my personal experience.

Perhaps we haven't read the same things and should swap reading references.

Perhaps you could entertain the possibility, too, that individuals taught in different ways track text in different ways. I don't know how I learnt to read, but I do know that I do not serially decode each word when reading now.

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

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by chew8 » Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:21 pm

Most proficient adult readers probably feel as you do, Toots, but what we are concerned with is the question of how best to get young children to this point. There is evidence that a synthetic phonics start leads not only to the ability to sound words out phonically but also to the ability to read unfamiliar words by analogy with familiar words and to recognise words apparently as wholes:
Johnston and Watson, for example, wrote:Synthetic phonics-taught children read irregular words better than the other two groups, indicating better development of the recognition of words by sight. They were also the only group to be able to read by analogy (Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 17, 2004)

See also the following, by Ehri:

http://www.wce.wwu.edu/Depts/SPED/Forms ... arning.pdf

I taught teenagers for 28 years, the first 5 of them in a system where beginners were given a solid phonics grounding and the other 23 of them in a system where they weren’t. On the basis of that experience, and of testing many students in both systems, I’m convinced that general standards of literacy are higher when children do have that grounding, though I also accept that some people become very good readers and spellers apparently without it - you may be one, but if you can't remember how you were taught we can't know for sure.

I think that a phonics grounding is the safest, but also that teachers shouldn’t go on labouring phonics once children have reached a certain point. I also think that input from home can reduce the amount of explicit phonics teaching children need at school. In some cases, I think it can eliminate the need for such teaching altogether. We did lots of story-reading with our own three children as pre-schoolers, but we also taught them phonics to the point where they needed no more phonics teaching when they started school, and the long-term outcomes have justified this. My two oldest grandchildren live in America and are being home-schooled, but they, too, would have needed no more phonics teaching by school-entry age.

My third grandchild is now 3 years 10 months old and I think the same will be true of him when he starts school next September: he is already adept at reading words by sounding out and blending and he picks up new correspondences very quickly, probably because the right mindset has been created by the teaching he’s had so far. He learnt ‘ou’, as in ‘out’, in a brief session in the car last week and was immediately able, when we got home, to read the Read Write Inc. book ‘Look out!’ from cold, accurately sounding out all the ‘ou’ words except ‘pounce’ (he doesn’t know soft ‘c’ yet) and reading most of the other words without overt sounding out. Four days later he informed me that ‘ph’ is /f/, which I think his mum said he had picked up from Alphablocks. I’ll be annoyed if his teacher thinks he still needs a lot of ongoing phonics teaching when he starts school. I would rather he was just allowed to read freely, as his mum and her siblings were. They also wrote freely, using some phonically-plausible but incorrect spellings at first but quickly mastering correct spelling, largely through their reading.

I realise that most children don't get as much input as that as pre-schoolers and I am all in favour of their getting it when they start school, but I would also like teachers to be aware of when it's no longer necessary.

Jenny C.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:18 pm

Yes Jenny, that's an interesting article (the Ehri), but my reading of it does not lead me to conclude that passing a phonics check is a reliable indicator of reading progress. Ehri is quite clear about the fact that readers use their phoneme/grapheme knowledge to enable them to learn words, and also, the reading of words develops their phoneme/grapheme knowledge.

Just as an aside, I found it interesting that children who know letter names seem to have an advantage in learning words over those who do not. I wonder if this is because they have 2 memory 'joggers' - a succession of named letter units alongside the succession of graphic shapes building the word, making it easier to remember. Also read her descriptions of the way irregular words are learned and remembered.

It seems to me that the article's clearest message is that we learn to read by reading, with attention being drawn to the mnemonic usefulness of grapheme/ phoneme correspondences. To regard it as some sort of collaborative evidence for the way phonics is being taught in this country would be a superficial interpretation.

Doesn't Ehri herself note, in conclusion: "However, decoding skill may not be sufficient to move readers to the full phase if it is not practiced as a tool for building a sight vocabulary but is simply applied as a strategy for sounding out the letters in words."?

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

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by chew8 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:50 am

I’m in a school all day today and don’t have time to say much now. Ehri (female, not male) is thoroughly in favour of code-based instruction, but I think her perspective is a bit different from the UK synthetic phonics perspective in some respects – e.g. she seems to assume that children will learn sounds for graphemes only after learning letter-names, and I don’t think that what she has in mind is quite the UK s.p. process of teaching children to look at graphemes from left to right, say sounds for them, and then blend the sounds. She probably thinks more in terms of children being told what the whole word is and then using their phonemic awareness to map the phonemes on to the graphemes. Nevertheless, she does, I think, regard an understanding of grapheme-phoneme mappings as crucial to the ability to recognise words as ‘sight’ words.
She wrote:To summarize, readers learn to process words as phonemic maps that lay out elements of their pronunciations visually. Beginners become skilled at computing these mapping relations spontaneously when they read new words. This is the critical event for sight word learning. Grapheme-phoneme connections provide a powerful mnemonic system. They provide the glue that bonds letters in written words to their pronunciations in memory along with meanings. Once the alphabetic mapping system is known, readers can build a vocabulary of sight words easily. (p. 172)
She has been consulted by the DfE several times, though I can't immediately remember whether she has been consulted about the phonics screening check.

Jenny C.
Last edited by chew8 on Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kenm
Posts: 1495
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Berkshire

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by kenm » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:52 am

Toots wrote:I'm not sure it is such an interesting observation. Consider that there may be several routes to good reading.
Yes, I did consider that hypothesis several years ago, but decided that the evidence did not support it.
The phonics check only checks one.
That's what makes it such a good test. When a task has several elements, some of which
need to be improved, measuring the overall performance still leaves you with the problem of determining which ones are improvable.
Children who use others are discriminated against. In a school using 'eclectic' methods the whole class is discriminated against.

Yes, by the teaching. The test tells you that what they are getting is insufficient.
What is important is that children achieve an automatic response to written and printed words, instantly knowing what spoken words they represent, and what they mean.
Nobody does either of these processes instantaneously. According to a document I read several years ago, the eye has parallel processing, and during the reading process sends to the visual cortex the letters captured by the fovea (the central area of the retina with closely packed cones and no rods) in a single saccade. In fluent readers, the next phase is to decode the captured group grapheme by grapheme, so as to determine how it sounds; more than one saccade will be needed for long words and, (presumably*) this process may need to be repeated if the word is a homograph, possibly some time later if the context only becomes clear later in the text.

* i.e. this is my deduction; the document did not have anything about this.
The phonics check does not test this ability, not least because part of the test does not even use real words. The phonics check checks phonics and nothing else.
The so-called "phonics check" tests decoding. Analytic phonics teaches decoding; synthetic phonics appears to do it more efficiently and some children seem to be capable of working out decoding without specific instruction, just by looking at text while they hear it read.
'Lifting words off the page' is far more sophisticated than simply decoding words using phonics - this can supply the wrong pronunciation and tells you nothing about the meaning.
There are certainly complications to identifying the word within the aural vocabulary. Fortunately, for several scores of millennia we have been evolving brain mechanisms to do this bit (unlike the decoding part, for which general processing mechanisms have to be coopted).
Last edited by kenm on Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

User avatar
maizie
Administrator
Posts: 3121
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: N.E England

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by maizie » Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:01 am


Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:03 pm

Yes, Jenny, I realised Ehri was female when reviewing my post this morning, and edited accordingly. I think our submissions must have crossed. :oops:

My understanding is that Ehri is at pains to describe the process of learning to read rather than recommending any specific course of action. She may be of the opinion that SP is the most effective teaching method, but she doesn't say so in this article. Her description shows the phases she observes children going through in the process, and perhaps she did not observe anyone taught through SP. It is clear from her description that as children learn to read they come across the way the letters in words map onto their pronunciation. Synthetic phonics practice analyses this right down to the smallest units of sound and teaches these grapheme/phoneme correspondences explicitly and exhaustively. But children may learn, as Ehri implies, by finding out the correspondence between a written word on the page and a spoken word uttered, and using their internal image of the written word as a mnemonic for the way sounds are represented as they tackle new text. This would not require the explicit and exhaustive SP training that is the fashion now, which might indeed stand in the way of the two way process of learning - utterance to written word to sound mapping to new word - which involves an understanding of the way a whole word represents a unit of meaning and string of sounds: see this section of the article (my italics):

One advantage of representing sight words completely in memory is that word reading becomes much more accurate, and similarly spelled words are seldom confused. At this phase, readers are able to decode unfamiliar words, they can invent spellings that represent all the phonemes, and they can remember correct spellings of words better than partial phase readers.
We conducted a study to show the difference in sight word learning between full and partial phase readers (Ehri & Wilce, 1987). We selected kindergartners in the partial alphabetic phase. We randomly assigned them to a treatment or a control group. The treatment group received training to make them full phase readers. They practiced reading similarly spelled words that required processing all the grapheme–phoneme relations in the words to read them accurately. The control group remained partial phase readers. They practiced isolated grapheme–phoneme relations. Then we gave both groups practice learning to read a set of 15 words over several trials. The words had similar spellings that made them harder to learn by re- membering partial cues (e.g., spin, stab, stamp, stand). None of the children could read more than 2 of these words prior to training.

Kiki
Posts: 60
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:05 am

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Kiki » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:16 pm

Toots wrote: Just as an aside, I found it interesting that children who know letter names seem to have an advantage in learning words over those who do not. I wonder if this is because they have 2 memory 'joggers' - a succession of named letter units alongside the succession of graphic shapes building the word, making it easier to remember. Also read her descriptions of the way irregular words are learned and remembered.
Knowing letter names or having "print knowledge" is actually a significant indicator of a child have a good, rich, Home Learning Environment. Such children have the other part of the reading process sorted ie the language comprehension, vocabulary and cultural literacy to bring to the learning 'table''. So, it isn't the fact that they know the letter names that has the positive impact (actually, for some SPLD children that can interfere with progress) but the fact that they have someone at home educated enough and interested enough to support them and their learning that makes the real difference.

volunteer
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:46 pm

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by volunteer » Tue Oct 08, 2013 1:45 pm

Yes, it is one of those things where correlation does not necessarily mean causation.

I find it very useful to teach letter names for spelling as it gets very confusing otherwise talking about the specific letters that represent specific sounds. But there is no reason why you should not learn to read without the letter names in the first place. At a certain stage of sophistication knowing letter names makes it easier to explain anomalies e.g. in the word "the" the letter E is making an /uh/ kind of sound .... that kind of thing. You start standing on your head if you don't have a shared terminology for letter names.

Kiki
Posts: 60
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:05 am

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Kiki » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:22 pm

I actually find it is the adults who struggle at first without the crutch of letter names as meta-language (I know I did). The children don't know any different and while most children can cope with a dual approach it really can be confusing and create an unnecessary stumbling block for the more vulnerable children.

Later on when the children are secure with the simple code then yes it can be more helpful.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:35 pm

Kiki wrote: Knowing letter names or having "print knowledge" is actually a significant indicator of a child have a good, rich, Home Learning Environment. Such children have the other part of the reading process sorted ie the language comprehension, vocabulary and cultural literacy to bring to the learning 'table''. So, it isn't the fact that they know the letter names that has the positive impact (actually, for some SPLD children that can interfere with progress) but the fact that they have someone at home educated enough and interested enough to support them and their learning that makes the real difference.
But the 'positive impact' doesn't have anything to do with bringing comprehension, vocabulary and cultural literacy to the table. The positive impact is in enabling children to move to the 'partial alphabetic' phase Ehri identifies. She does not refer to any wider literacy awareness or skills when describing the phase, so we have no way of knowing whether good literacy support at home is an attribute of the group of children she refers to or not. And her group of 'partial alphabetic' phase pupils is made up of those who know letter sounds and those who know letter names without a distinction being made.. Letter namers and letter sounders are all in the same group. To quote:

"Children progress to the partial alphabetic phase when they learn the names or sounds of alphabet letters and use these to remember how to read words."

What I found interesting was the implication that knowing letter names was as useful as knowing letter sounds in the task of remembering how to read words at this stage.

Are you saying that being read to and sharing books and literacy experiences is important to phonic decoding skill? So children who have had these experiences will do better at the phonics check? How does that work?

If you are correct that it is supportive home background that pre-disposes to reading readiness (a sign of which is, according to you, knowing letter names), rather than actual phonic knowledge (perhaps taught at home by well-educated families), why the insistence on synthetic phonics? The insistence should be on improving home environment and general literacy support, not on improving phonics teaching (at home or at school). However, all that is academic because based on an unverifiable assumption about the children in the study. Perhaps another quote from the article is pertinent here:
Fourth: “You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going,
’cause you might not get there.”

Kiki
Posts: 60
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:05 am

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Kiki » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:57 pm

Again, you need BOTH. Phonics is a vital component, and explicit systematic synthetic/linguistic phonics is the most effective approach to ensuring that all children maximise their phonics ability/skills.

Reading = 1) decoding (phonics) x 2) language comp.

Children from rich HLE have lots of (2) and probably a fair bit of (1) as they start school. And if later on they are struggling at school they may well have parents who can instruct them of afford to pay for a tutor.

Children from poor HLE have very little of either though they are just as likely to have an aptitude for (1). Developing their decoding is also another way of enabling them to develop more of (2)

And of course being read to and sharing books and literacy experiences is important to phonic decoding skills especially if you do things like track the text with your fingers, point out, as appropriate, how the words blend, asking them to help you read words that they can read. But just enjoying books is vitally important for reading development.

There is a LOT of work going on as to how to improve the HLE for disadvantaged children, it too is vital. However even if you could wave a magic wand and equalise the HLE for all children you still need SSP.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:22 pm

But Ehri doesn't say anything about the home environments or prior knowledge of literacy of the children in the study. She simply identifies a phase in reading where children remember words more readily if they know letter names or letter sounds than if they do not. My point was about letter names and letter sounds being both identified as facilitators of an ability to remember words at this partial alphabetic phase, where you might expect letter sounds to be of greater significance.

That's interesting because it places a question mark over the idea that it is only through being taught GPCs that children succeed in learning to read. The article contains clear evidence that this is not a necessary conclusion from the evidence. So it indicates that you do not NEED synthetic phonics. Phonics is identified as a component, but the article does not explicitly support SSP and in fact describes a different mechanism which is firmly based on the notion that it is essential to progress that a sight vocabulary is built up. Knowing the phonic correspondences enables the memory of sight words and these memories support the decoding process which becomes more sophisticated as progress is made (no longer based on sounding out GPC by GPC).

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 18 guests