Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

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kenm
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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by kenm » Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:59 pm

Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:Even when children can readily read the words in the word bank, spell the words in the word bank, they still need to recall which words are in the word bank.
If I understand the human brain correctly, that's not part of reading. The word bank is part of the spoken language machine that we have been evolving for some scores of thousands of years. The ability to read impacts on it, because at some stage during a successful educational process the rate of acquisition of new words from print overtakes that from speech. Of course, the sounds that embed a newly-read word in the bank may not be the orthodox pronunciation. Meanings of new words in technical literature are usually defined within the text, so that one has no need to use a dictionary.
"... 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

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by maizie » Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:26 pm

Waht do you all make of this, then?

A defence of the Davis paper on the grounds that it is Philosophy, not empirical research (I don't say 'research' unqualified because the blog writer claims that Davis spent 3 years 'researching' his pamphlet.)
The recent controversy sparked by the theoretical piece from Andrew Davis, written as a member of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (of which I may as well say I am a member) caused a great deal of confusion.
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His central claim, to my mind, was that if we are teaching students to do something which has no meaning outside the educational context then we are not teaching them at all. This definition of the limits of the category called "teaching" seemed to some, however, ludicrous.

http://tinyurl.com/o8zo7sv

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by kenm » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:38 am

The blog seems to me to be written by an amateur philosopher who pontificates on epistemology in a potentially scientific field without having read Popper.
Theoretical work continually asks what we should do, what we should say, how we should interpret the world.
In the system described by Popper, theories are suggested by observation and measurement, and a good theory suggests further observations and measurements that have the potential to show that it is incorrect. I don't think Davis is doing that; the best I can make of the blog is that he is arguing about the meaning of words, which I had not noticed before.
It is a naturalistic fallacy to expect the way of the world to always tell us everything we need to know.
Yes; that's why we need theorists with both imagination and a thorough knowledge of the subject to steer them in the right direction.
Last edited by kenm on Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:49 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

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:35 pm

I did develop the charts whilst I was still teaching - and teaching children in primary of all ages - from four year olds to Year Six.

The thrust of what I am trying to clarify in this thread, however, is that regardless of what route has led to precocious four year old readers, my level and approach towards phonics provision is not going to patronise these able four years olds - or any other age of learner - compared to perhaps some phonics provision - and I mentioned 'Letters and Sounds' as it is the government programme, in most schools as the guiding programme - and Jenny knows it well as a contributing author.

Over the latest postings, then, we are addressing Jenny's sympathy towards the point Davis makes about early readers not needing phonics and that teachers must choose which children get phonics provision - or words to that effect.

Jenny describes her children and grandchildren who have had a phonics background and become very early, able readers and spellers - and would therefore not need any of the early steps of introducing phonics - further Jenny implies they would not really need any phonics teaching moving forwards.

I am trying to unpick why I have a very different view - and it could be that my 'understanding' of phonics provision is based on my own approach and programmes which would not, delivered advisedly (that is, as I suggest as the programme-devisor and trainer) patronise young able children or waste their time.

On the other hand, if one's perspective and experience was based only on the introduction of a simple code at first (mainly one spelling for each sound) of letter/s-sound correspondences that the child knows already, then it would be understandable if there were some concerns.

But in my programme-design and guidance, I have catered for differentiation with resources, the 'two-pronged approach' and giving the history and overview of a full Alphabetic Code Chart from the outset.

Plus - I provide the kind of resources which can be accessed at the stage of learning of each learner - thus some may have more emphasis on the need to read the texts as independently as possible - whilst others may benefit from the texts for writing, spelling and handwriting - and extension can include creative development of 'what happens next' for some children (for example).

Whereas 'Letters and Sounds' provides word lists with guidance that these are not to be 'used slavishly', I would offer no such negative-sounding guidance.

Whereas 'Letters and Sounds' provides word lists for every new correspondence and a collection of some captions and sentences at phase-end, the content in my version of phonics includes cumulative sentences and texts for EVERY correspondence therefore providing more content and more rigour.

Whereas in 'Letters and Sounds' description are given of whole class or group games and activities, my version of phonics is very much based on EACH learner practising the three core skills on personal paper-based material which is built up in personal folders - this has multiple advantages but a worried parent would know whether the activities were appropriate for the child.

In other words, when you start to analyse what each phonics programme provides by way of content, resources, expectations, training - and so on - they do look very different.

Add to that the teacher's 'professional judgement' that Davis is fighting for- that they can adapt and modify their provision, and we do have a rather patchy, parlous picture of what may well be happening in schools in terms of phonics provision.

I confess to wanting to persuade Jenny that her children and grandchildren would not be patronised or neglected in a class that would match my vision and guidance and programme-design.

Mind you, I have failed to do this following other attempts in the past and I don't expect Jenny will ever change her point of view - but that's fine! ;-)

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by chew8 » Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:58 pm

Debbie wrote:Jenny describes her children and grandchildren who have had a phonics background and become very early, able readers and spellers - and would therefore not need any of the early steps of introducing phonics - further Jenny implies they would not really need any phonics teaching moving forwards.
It’s not that I think that my children and grandchildren ‘WOULD not really need any further phonics provision’ – rather, it’s that I know that the 5 of them who have reached school age or beyond DID not need more phonics when they started school. In other words, I’m not being hypothetical – I’m stating a fact. They were reading freely and avidly, absorbing a lot of what they needed to learn about spelling from their reading, and successfully learning new spellings, as required by their schools and me, without phonic reminders. Their subsequent performance in reading and spelling has been pretty well at ceiling, so I don't feel that it would have been any better with ongoing phonics teaching, whether or not via alphabetic code charts.

If I had only my family to go on, I would be hesitant to draw conclusions, but in fact the pattern was very similar when I was a child and when, in the 1960s, I taught secondary-school children who were the products of a similar approach at primary school. At the time, parents seemed happy to leave the whole job of teaching the 3 Rs to the schools, so I think that few if any children could read at school entry – I couldn’t, though I had been read to a lot and could recite the alphabet when I started school. Good phonics teaching was the norm in the first 2 or 3 years of school, however - I'm sure I've mentioned the incident about 3 weeks into my time in school when a great-aunt asked me 'Are they teaching you cee-ay-tee' spells cat?' and I replied indignantly 'It's not cee-ay-tee - it's /c/-/a/-/t/'. After 2 or 3 years, many children became avid readers and probably started absorbing a lot of word-specific spellings in the process. Spelling continued to be rigorously taught and corrected, but without explicit reference to phonics. I honestly believe that most children didn’t need to be reminded of the phonics angle by then: the earlier teaching they had received had made it perfectly clear that words were made up of sounds and that most sounds could be spelt in different ways. My old school spelling list shows ‘learn’ and ‘learnt’ for the third year of school – I don’t think most of us would had a problem in realising that 'ear' was a new spelling for a sound we already knew from words such as ‘burn’, ‘girl’ and ‘her’ which had been included in earlier lists.
Debbie wrote:I confess to wanting to persuade Jenny that her children and grandchildren would not be patronised or neglected in a class that would match my vision and guidance and programme-design.
I have said often enough, Debbie, that you could convince me quite easily if you provided relevant data. At the moment, though, your theoretical position is not strong enough to counter-balance the facts that I know.

Jenny C.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Lesley Drake » Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:07 pm

While this is an interesting debate, I would still ask where it is laid down in new government policy that children already fluent in decoding would be force fed phonics on entry to school?

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:29 pm

I have said often enough, Debbie, that you could convince me quite easily if you provided relevant data. At the moment, though, your theoretical position is not strong enough to counter-balance the facts that I know.
All programmes and approaches have to start somewhere - they cannot necessarily start from the position of being researched in a formal way.

You yourself, Jenny, are not unknown at calling upon 'common sense' when it suits you. :grin:

I suspect you would not be 'convinced quite easily' unless any statistics met with your approval undertaken by an academic of some description.

You have had some of my personal findings and noted they were better than Clackmannanshire results - but my personal findings are just that - personal - therefore they would not be taken seriously in the context of education and politics generally.

But gaining interest from universities seems nigh on impossible - take for instance the entrenchment of Reading Recovery at the Institute of Education (and other university based programmes).

Without some considerable attention being drawn by those in the know in the establishments to undertake the kind of research that would be taken seriously, how does one ever move something forward?

But even then, we have the ongoing battle of 'approaches' even with a considerable body of research showing the commonalities of the most successful practices (and aspects of methods which can be damaging) and STILL we are not there yet with common understanding.

How you can expect me to miraculously come up with body of research to persuade you I simply don't know.

In the meantime, I'm just getting on with practical resource-design and guidance - with differentiation and class management very much a driving consideration.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by chew8 » Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:53 pm

Lesley wrote:While this is an interesting debate, I would still ask where it is laid down in new government policy that children already fluent in decoding would be force fed phonics on entry to school?
I don’t think it is laid down in government policy, Lesley. The fact of the screening check signals that teachers should be ensuring that children can decode to an appropriate level by the end of Year 1, but if some children can already do that (and more) in Reception, teachers can surely use their discretion about the way they teach those children. In the present context, we probably need to distinguish between Debbie’s view and government policy.
Debbie wrote:But even then, we have the ongoing battle of 'approaches' even with a considerable body of research showing the commonalities of the most successful practices (and aspects of methods which can be damaging) and STILL we are not there yet with common understanding.

How you can expect me to miraculously come up with body of research to persuade you I simply don't know.
I don’t expect you to ‘miraculously come up with some body of research’. I would just prefer you not to press strongly for things which don't yet have research support and which are not among what you call the 'commonalities' - e.g. alphabetic code charts. As long as we stick to the ‘commonalities’, I think we are on firm ground.

On a slightly different tack: Davis mentions the findings of the TorgersON et al. review on s.p. vs. analytic phonics, and those findings have been referred to at various points in this thread. I’ve referred to a paragraph in a paper by Johnston et al. published in 2011 in Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, but there’s also an unpublished paper on Rhona Johnston’s website which goes into more detail:

http://www2.hull.ac.uk/science/psycholo ... nston.aspx

Click on ‘Key publications’ then scroll down to the penultimate item.

Jenny C.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:25 pm

I would just prefer you not to press strongly for things which don't yet have research support and which are not among what you call the 'commonalities' - e.g. alphabetic code charts. As long as we stick to the ‘commonalities’, I think we are on firm ground.
I appreciate your point of view but I don't agree as you know.

There is nothing irresponsible about promoting and using Alphabetic Code Charts.

It's an extremely sensible and helpful resource for organising the body of knowledge we are attempting to teach and explain.

It informs adults to learners - including parents.

It supports self-teaching.

It provides an excellent spelling reference chart in phonics and for wider writing.

It provides visual support in an organised way and not a random way (introducing the alphabetic code without a chart can seem like a never-ending story).

I have never found your arguments that the chart, per se, is not researched therefore promotion of it needs to be downplayed or guarded.

The 'two-pronged systematic and incidental teaching approach' is great for differentiation, for addressing the teaching of the code as arises in the wider curriculum, and it addresses at least to some extent the danger of invented spelling becoming embedded and not addressed by early years and infant teachers.

Other than stating the use of the alphabetic code chart has no research to support its specific promotion, you have never provided any reasons why it is not a good idea or helpful resource.

I do realise that some people just don't 'get it' and others don't get why people don't get it.

No worries, I just keep plodding on and I have never been approached by anyone that it could be damaging in some way - although a couple of programme authors have said it is 'not necessary' and one programme author thinks it is 'too much' for young children.

Plenty of teachers have told me they have been amazed how their four and five year olds have understood it, used it to work out the code themselves, and come up with words with code that is not on the charts. Anecdotes only I know - but real experiences nevertheless. :grin:

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by maizie » Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:43 pm

chew8 wrote:Lesley wrote:
While this is an interesting debate, I would still ask where it is laid down in new government policy that children already fluent in decoding would be force fed phonics on entry to school?

I don’t think it is laid down in government policy, Lesley
I suspect that Lesley was being a tad sarcastic about the governement enforced force feeding of phonics to the very few children who are fluent readers on school entry ;-)

I don't know if you've looked at the link I posted earlier, Lesley. Apparently Davis doesn't have to know anything about the topic he pilosophises about; his thinking is his research. So I am assuming that if he thinks that early readers will be force fed phonics then it is indeed so...

It did take him 3 years to come up with it :shock:

Actually, in relation to Davis's 'death of the phoneme' musings, on TES he, and others, have been declaring that this has to be the End of Phonics because phonics is built on a Lie. In this case, I wonder what the implications are for other disciplines which work specifically with phonemes, such as Speech Therapy?

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by chew8 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:53 am

Debbie wrote:I have never found your arguments that the chart, per se, is not researched therefore promotion of it needs to be downplayed or guarded.
That sentence seems to be incomplete, but you probably mean that you have not found my arguments convincing, Debbie. Note, though, that I have never said that you should not promote your charts in connection with your own programme – just that I would not want them to be promoted as a part of all good s.p. teaching or as something that should be included in government materials.

Re. what you say about 'the death of the phoneme', Maizie: this is a fascinating subject which takes us into quite deep water.The way I see it is that the details that concern linguists are not necessarily details that should concern people who teach children to read and write in languages with alphabetic writing systems, and that linguists themselves would probably agree. I'm trying to find out more about this.

Jenny C.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:29 am

just that I would not want them to be promoted as a part of all good s.p. teaching
I don't see why not - it could only provide greater organisation and clarity of 'an' alphabetic code in numerous ways.

I'll give this subject a rest after my following comment:

What I have never understood is why some people don't seem to be able to 'view' the 'notion' of Alphabetic Code Charts and their potential the way that I seem to view them as it all seems pretty obvious to me. I know that I would have benefited hugely from the outset of learning about phonics if I had seen such a chart - in fact, essential (in my opinion) from the outset of teaching and parenting - and indeed from the outset of me learning to read, spell and write as a child!

I acknowledge and appreciate that the lack of such a chart did not prevent me from becoming literate - reading, spelling or writing - but I certainly don't think they would have done me any harm at all - and I would certainly have been a much better teacher and parent much earlier on if I had understood the alphabetic code through such a visual resource.

I seriously began to include their use as mini personal resources for learners themselves when focusing on special needs teaching in a Learning Support Unit. I wish people could have seen the engagement, the light bulbs switching on, and the progress, of the children I taught phonics using proto-types of what I have now refined. It was remarkable.

They are helpful in numerous ways for student-teachers, teachers, learners and learners' parents and, arguably, should be regarded as a necessary resource - and their use to be expected as much as the use of a resource such as alphabet posters.

If various programme authors and various authors of academic books and material written for students (for example) had established a version of alphabetic code charts at the outset of their work, or to check their work, there might not be so many contradictions, inconsistencies and errors in their work - for example, the way they notate the sounds compared to the spelling alternatives.

One very strong and important feature to come out of the work of Professor Diane McGuinness, built on by John Walker and colleagues (Sounds-Write) and Fiona Nevola (The Sound Reading System), is this notion of building the alphabetic code up from sounds to spellings - that is, rooting the code in the sounds.

This is what an Alphabetic Code Chart illustrates so very clearly as it is rooted in the sounds, as Diane says, they come to 'an end point'.

'Nuf said. :roll:

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by chew8 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:28 am

Debbie: Can you put me in touch with a school reasonably near me which you regard as using alphabetic code charts the way you would wish? I could try to visit the school to see how it works in practice.

Jenny C.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by chew8 » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:47 am

Re. Susan's request to Maizie for a precis: this would be useful, but as the controversy has arisen in connection with Davis's paper, I think people should also re-read the relevant parts of that.

Jenny C.

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Re: Outstanding overview addresses nonsense in Davis's paper

Post by Papermover » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:54 am

Thanks so much for your incredibly helpful response to my question Debbie. It is printed out and is going in my handbag with my PI handbook and Code chart. All the information from the RRF forum has helped me to become more and more confident in what I can do to help my daughter.

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