Feedback on Phonic Check

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chew8
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Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by chew8 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:02 am

Toots:
You wrote:My reading of Stanovich's longitudinal study of the use of context by readers also supports the notion that context is used during the phase where children are amassing sight vocabulary, and, like phonics, is discarded as the child's reading becomes more automatic.
Which study of Stanovich’s do you have in mind? The thing that sticks in my mind about what he says about readers’ use of context is that he started off thinking, with Goodman and Smith, that ‘the good reader is less reliant on graphic cues and more reliant on contextual information than is the less skilled reader’, but that when he and his colleague investigated this themselves, ‘To our surprise, all of our research results pointed in the opposite direction: it was the poorer readers, not the more skilled readers, who were more reliant on context to facilitate word recognition’ (Progress in Understanding Reading, p. 6). He does say that ‘the younger children showed a somewhat larger context effect’, but also that ‘within each grade, the poorer readers made relatively greater use of context’ (p. 14).

I spent some time yesterday looking at the articles for which you gave links, some of which I already had in my files, and trying to work out why you had cited them, but I may need some help from you. Can you sum up, in a sentence or two, how you see each article as relevant to the present discussion?

I'm in a school this morning and out again from about 4 p.m. until 10.30 p.m., so may not be able to pursue this immediately.

Jenny C.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Thu Oct 10, 2013 9:37 am

I'm not sure what the present discussion is about, Jenny, it seems to range around. I was told off for thinking it was about the Ehri article. :roll:

I chose a random group of articles to link which have fuelled my qualms about SSP. I don't have time to reread the articles, so my brief comments are just off the top of my head, based on memories of them. If you want to discuss them further I will have to reread to check things up:

The Rayner eye movement study shows that skilled readers do not track words left to right. The fovea 'lands' within the word. Short and high frequency words are skipped.

The Ziegler Goswami article acknowledges the inconsistency of the English orthography and that readers need to decode larger units than the GPC to be sure of accuracy.

Dombey critiques the simple view of reading.

Davis explores the philosophical underpinning of synthetic phonics teaching and asks if this can be a single measurable entity.

As regards the Stanovich longitudinal study I think I am right in saying that the less skilled and younger children who used context in reading more frequently than the more skilled became more skilled in time and became less likely to use context (after all there will always be differences in skill between individuals in the same cohort). Does this mean that using context is BAD and conducive to reading failure? Or does it mean that using context is part of reading development?

volunteer
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Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by volunteer » Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:51 am

Toots wrote: Does this mean that using context is BAD and conducive to reading failure? Or does it mean that using context is part of reading development?
I don't know Toots, but I just know that with my own children and all the ones I have worked with so far teaching them to read the words correctly seems to get faster results (and more accurate reading) than teaching them to use context, pictures, bits of the words they recognise etc etc. And I am finding the sloppiness that has developed in my second child who I have had less chance to work with than my first, and who has been heard to read at individually at school by a teacher maybe 10 times in 3 years is extremely annoying.

Doing some careful work on decoding words logically would I am sure help to crack the bad habits, but finding the quiet time with her is another thing entirely.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:01 am

Well, Volunteer, I would worry that my child wasn't reading correctly if there was no use of context going on. Phonics only gets you so far, because many GPCs can represent more than one sound. When a child chooses the right sound from a choice it is going to be by using context. And if the word is not in her vocabulary she may still not pronounce it correctly but at least be able to learn its meaning from the context.

Additionally, it is only the context - whole word, whole sentence, whole text - which has any meaning. Applying SP won't give you meanings.

Are you confusing skilled reading with skilled use of phonics? Skilled reading is when many words are known automatically at a glance - with no recourse to phonics or context.

volunteer
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Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by volunteer » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:29 am

No I'm not making that type of mistake, and neither is she! I'm talking about plain old substitution of one word which is plausible comprehension wise with another that she can't be bothered to work out. Yes I could go through a long guessing game of which word could it be that has that same meaning and contains those bits of the word that you can be bothered to read, but as she is not a walking electronic thesaurus (yet - there's always hope) it's a bit thankless. I'd rather just teach her to decode accurately. I am talking about a 3a/3b reader at end of year 2, 100% in year 1 phonics check, high IQ, eats up books and understands them very well (for her age) etc etc. But sloppy. She uses context to deduce the meaning of new words and phrases very well. That's really not the issue. It could be with some children, but definitely not in this case. I have not yet worked with any of the "hard" cases where English comprehension and vocabulary is very poor for their age.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:52 am

OK. Well, does she look at the words or is she skipping them when she guesses? If she is looking at them it's hard to see how she could say altogether the wrong word (ocean for sea, say), considering she has good phonic knowledge - unless she is just being bolshie! So my guess would be that she is skipping them. What do you think? If she's skipping them because she is sure she knows what they say then maybe she is just in a tearing hurry. Hopefully she will slow down and concentrate when she needs to for understanding or to find out information. My daughter used to miss out words when reading her reading book (at about the same age) and it used to drive me crazy. But she clearly understood the text and I think she just couldn't be bothered with the little words (it would be grammar words). Or maybe she 'said' them in her head but not out loud. She wanted to read speedily so she could get onto something else, more often than not her library book. It doesn't seem to have held her back.

It's just come to me that she might be using the pictures, not the verbal context. Is that the case? If so, it's time for books without illustrations!

And it's just come to me, rereading your post, that, after all, she might not be able to decode the printed word and so is deliberately ignoring it and substituting something she knows is not right but will do. Is that the case? So she does need more phonic practice. But that doesn't mean that her use of context is counter-productive, does it? Even if you could prevent her from using context, which is unlikely, would that make her know the phonics? Of course, in the phonics check, the idea is that children are forced into the position of using their phonic knowledge. But this doesn't happen with real reading. Could you write down the words she doesn't attempt and work on them in isolation, perhaps?
Last edited by Toots on Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kiki
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Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Kiki » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:11 pm

Stanovich is very very clear.

To paraphrase: Good readers decode quickly and efficiently leaving lots of cognitive power left over for understanding new words or concepts. Context will help these good readers not to identify known words (ie words already in their vocabulary) but to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words and ideas.

Poor readers however, who cannot decode fluently and efficiently have to then rely on the cognition hungry higher level processes of using context to guess the identity of words that are known to them (and that good readers with the same vocab would be able to decode). This leaves less of their finite cognitive power left over for comprehension, especially of unfamiliar words and concepts. Such readers are also much more prone to error, for example they have no way of knowing if the word they can't decode is known/unknown to them and and may for example guess it to be a known word when it was in fact new to them (at best a learning opportunity lost and comprehension compromised).

As good adult readers we do not use context guessing to read words that are known to use. We use it to to figure out the meaning of new words and concepts and it is very important not to conflate this with the process of learning to read.

You say you were "told off for thinking it was about the Ehri article". I can't see where that happened but can see where it has been pointed out that you will find it easier to understand Ehri and others if you consider each paper as part of a decades long process. Each paper builds on not only the previous paper by that author but also on other interim papers or rebuttals to that paper etc etc. Reading researchers are part of a large interactive process. What you are trying to do is akin to looking at a small part of an engine in isolation and trying to surmise what it's for and how the whole engine works.

The Stanovich book I recommended is very useful because it presents a very objective overview of decades of research.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:49 pm

Yes, but what is the relationship, if any, between the use of context by poor or inexperienced readers and the long term failure to read skilfully? And what is the relationship, if any, between the use of context by poor or inexperienced readers and the failure to grasp phonics? Perhaps you could cite a paper in which the relationship is shown to be one in which the use of context inhibits and delays reading skill. The Stanovich study is silent on this.

Of course reading research has a long history, and I haven't read everything that is out there. Maybe if I could get a research grant! What I have done is to read the articles and papers I have come across in the course of discussions about reading, recommended or mentioned by others (although I balk at paying for them). I don't pretend to be an expert, just an interested individual.

It sounds as if you are very well-read. Surely you can argue against my position, if you know the arguments. Simply saying, "You haven't read enough", doesn't address the issues at all. You're asking me to take on trust that reading everything will mean I have to agree with you. I don't take that on trust.

volunteer
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Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by volunteer » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:09 pm

Toots wrote:OK. Well, does she look at the words or is she skipping them when she guesses? If she is looking at them it's hard to see how she could say altogether the wrong word (ocean for sea, say), considering she has good phonic knowledge - unless she is just being bolshie! So my guess would be that she is skipping them. What do you think? If she's skipping them because she is sure she knows what they say then maybe she is just in a tearing hurry. Hopefully she will slow down and concentrate when she needs to for understanding or to find out information. My daughter used to miss out words when reading her reading book (at about the same age) and it used to drive me crazy. But she clearly understood the text and I think she just couldn't be bothered with the little words (it would be grammar words). Or maybe she 'said' them in her head but not out loud. She wanted to read speedily so she could get onto something else, more often than not her library book. It doesn't seem to have held her back.

It's just come to me that she might be using the pictures, not the verbal context. Is that the case? If so, it's time for books without illustrations!

And it's just come to me, rereading your post, that, after all, she might not be able to decode the printed word and so is deliberately ignoring it and substituting something she knows is not right but will do. Is that the case? So she does need more phonic practice. But that doesn't mean that her use of context is counter-productive, does it? Even if you could prevent her from using context, which is unlikely, would that make her know the phonics? Of course, in the phonics check, the idea is that children are forced into the position of using their phonic knowledge. But this doesn't happen with real reading. Could you write down the words she doesn't attempt and work on them in isolation, perhaps?
Definitely not using pictures (she's had no pictures for years) and they are words which she could have worked out a couple of years back - but yes she's in a tearing hurry so she just (if she's reading out loud, of course I don't know what is happening when she is doing a marathon silent reading spell) doesn't bother to look at them carefully, chunk them into bits she could decode etc etc and on she charges either completely ignoring the word as she understands well enough with the odd word missing here and there, or substituting one which fits nicely and maybe has something in common.

I don't know exactly what goes on in her head - I don't think I ever did this kind of shoddy reading! I might have mispronounced words that I had only learned from reading, but I used all the material from the full word, and I didn't substitute in another word instead. Sloppy and annoying. Pretty sure I know how to solve it too, but hard when a child is at school all day.

Kiki
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Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Kiki » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:27 pm

Consider the learning scenario, where we are teaching a learner reader how to read. What does a poor/inexperienced reader LEARN from guessing? NOTHING. Certainly nothing about how to read. They can't know if they are right/wrong so they can't learn anything from the guess (indeed they make 'learn' the wrong thing). They learn to DEPEND on such strategies. And the children most likely to do so are exactly those who most need repeated practice and support in using phonics. If they are having to use such strategies then, as explained above' they will make more errors and struggle to understand as texts get more difficult. As they struggle more they tend to read less and thus make slower and slower progress as compared to their peers. All this time their brains are 'learning' the wrong things about how reading works and becoming less and less receptive to any later corrective instruction.

How do children/adults who rely on guessing know that they've made an error? Often the error makes sense (it just isn't the sense the author intended). But if it starts to lose sense how does the reader know where the error lies - it could have been several sentences back.

When my young daughter guesses, even if she got it right, I direct her back and show her that had she tried she could have read the word and been sure she got it right. The point is that we are preparing them to be independent readers. Why guess a word and possibly get it wrong when you could read it and get it right? And like any other skill, each and every correct practice contributes towards their learning how to do it fluently and efficiently. Practice makes permanent, not perfect. Only 'perfect' practice makes perfect.

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

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Kiki » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:37 pm

volunteer wrote: she's in a tearing hurry so she just (if she's reading out loud, of course I don't know what is happening when she is doing a marathon silent reading spell) doesn't bother to look at them carefully, chunk them into bits she could decode etc etc and on she charges either completely ignoring the word as she understands well enough with the odd word missing here and there, or substituting one which fits nicely and maybe has something in common.

Reading too fast is a real bugbear of mine. I think many children, especially those who struggle are given the impression that speed is the aim (and teachers often contribute to this). Of course speed in an indicator of how well someone is reading but they don't understand that speeding up doesn't make you a better reader - it's becoming a better reader that makes you a faster reader. I often have to teach my pupils to SLOW DOWN!!!!!. We pay a lot of attention to punctuation, primarily commas and full-stops and they have to pause, and pause longer etc. Otherwise many struggling pupils don't even register where the sentences are - without sentences we don't have units of sense and without sense why are we reading? One of the primary skills I try to develop in my pupils is for them to ascertain for themselves when they are reading to quickly and need to slow down IF they are to maintain comprehension.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:33 pm

In reply to Kiki.

Look at it in a slightly different way:

Stanovich showed that the better reader does not use context, s/he knows the words. So how do we move the less able, context using, group into the better reader group? Superficially one might say - "It's obvious - stop them from using context!" But would preventing these children from using context guarantee that they would become better readers (know the words)? How would that work?

The better reader knows the words. So you might equally say -"It's obvious - get them to learn the words!". So you would need to look at how the better readers learnt the words, probably by looking back at their progress over time. Oh, the better readers used to use context (in the study - that younger group).

I'm not saying that it was the use of context which facilitated word-learning, there isn't evidence of that in the study. I'm pointing out the lack of correlation between use of context and reading failure.

You say that children use context and get the wrong answer and carry on using context, and that they come to depend on context. Why would that happen? A person wouldn't normally use a strategy that keeps failing, and they would depend less and less upon it if it kept failing them. I can think of a few possibilities :
The child is told that it's fine to guess and it doesn't matter if it's wrong.
The child doesn't know they are wrong and nobody tells them (noone monitors their reading). This could happen if the substitution makes sense, or if the child isn't monitoring whether what they read makes sense (in which case, are they really using context).
The child knows they are wrong but lacks the will to correct themselves (can't be bothered to apply phonic skills).
The child knows they are wrong but lacks the skill to correct themselves (doesn't have phonic skills).

In other words it isn't the use of context which gets the child into trouble. It's misguided teaching or lack of support, reading without trying to find meaning, immature or insufficient phonic skills or lack of commitment and interest in reading (or simply trying to get through it because the teacher says so).

And what is positive in the use of context?
It can help the child find the correct pronunciation.
It can work in tandem with phonics increasing the speed of decoding and the fluency of the reading.
It can allow a child success in the early stages of reading before their phonics knowledge is developed enough.
It can provide a decoding of an unfamiliar word which can then be matched to the word, supporting the decoding of unfamiliar graphemes.

The poor/inexperienced reader cannot, "read the word and get it right". If that was the case that is what they would do. The person who can read a word and get it right is the person for whom that word, or at least the components of it, is in their sight vocabulary. They don't need context and actually, they don't need phonics either. They are past that stage. The poor/inexperienced reader may be able to decode the word and get it right, but may need support in that - it is still a struggle, the word does not jump off the page - in which case all the elements I mentioned above are still needed (good teaching, lots of practice, phonics instruction, encouragement of reading for meaning etc). Using context may be useful here too. In fact, it is very difficult to stop children using context if they are reading for meaning!

You mention your daughter's guesses. Does she guess from context? Or does she guess from
a base of knowing some phonics? Does she come up with a similar sounding word or a word with similar meaning? Because that's the other sort of guess of course. But if she is able to read the word that she guesses, as you imply, why is she guessing? isn't she looking at it? Or is it that she actually struggles to read the word and still needs support. In that case, as much as you might be aiming for her to be an independent reader (of course that is the aim), she is simply not quite there yet.
Last edited by Toots on Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

volunteer
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Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by volunteer » Thu Oct 10, 2013 3:27 pm

Sorry not read the whole thing yet, but my example child (my own) does not know if her method is serving her well or not when she is reading. She enjoys everything she reads, and to date, comprehends well. But she is not reading every word accurately - including some words that she does know / could decode if she was more thorough / slower / I don't know what in her approach.

I will never know what goes on in her head. But with the right practice I am sure I can help her crack this poor habit -- I'm not saying it happens a huge amount, and she is only 7, but it's an unnecessary habit. The guessing words from context and a few letters will not work for her ... it's good crossword and Cloze practice though.

Toots

Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by Toots » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:25 pm

Not reading words she knows accurately? Then she doesn't actually know them, does she? Unless she is totally ignoring them somehow.

So sometimes she is guessing from context and from a few letters and getting it wrong. I'm trying to imagine a possible example of that. Is it that she is missing morphemes, prefixes etc eg reading ungrateful as grateful? Or pup for puppy? I think Debbie mentioned that. Have you got any examples?

Sorry to cross examine you!

volunteer
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Re: Feedback on Phonic Check

Post by volunteer » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:46 pm

Not as simple as that - I'll note down some examples next time she reads to me as I do need to think about it a bit more.

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