'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

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Toots

Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by Toots » Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:02 pm

One would hope respect would be accorded to anyone as a matter of course, but respecting someone doesn't mean you have to agree with them about what is right for your class of children; this is a pragmatic judgement made on the basis of experience with those children.

Perhaps you need to respect the teachers you work with a little more. They may not be disregarding your advice at all- but finding elements of it unworkable. As I said before the teachers are doing the practical real-life testing of the programmes and need to be partners in their development.

Some of these teachers may be inexperienced and not as good as you. Nevertheless, they are the people working day to day with the children while you are not. There will always be a proportion of teachers who are fairly new to the profession, it is simply in the nature of things. Very often they can bring added value by virtue of their fresh outlooks which can compensate for lack of experience - if their observations are not dismissed and belittled by the old hands.

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Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by yvonne meyer » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:06 pm

According to John Hattie's meta-analysis, only those strategies with effect sizes above .4 are worthwhile.

Strategies that we consider to be direct, explicit, systematic and teacher-directed instruction (example Direct Instruction, mastery learning, frequent testing & feedback, setting specific goals) have average effect sizes of .60.

Strategies that fall into the constructivist, child-centred philosophy ( inquiry-based, individualised, differentiated, Whole Language, inductive teaching) have average effect sizes of .17.

.17 is worthless!

The plaintive cry of the typical ineffective teacher is that they are working hard creating an exciting and stimulating classroom in which s/he provides a variety of creative experiences for the children to create their own learning at their own natural pace without being forced to learn by a dictatorial teacher and without being stressed by unnatural testing and gaol-setting.

When it is pointed out to ineffective teacher that a child has not learned the skills necessary to access the curriculum, the teacher resorts to the 'child deficit model' for an explanation - the child must be dyslexic or ADHD, or the child's family does not value education.

As result of the constructivist, child-centred philosophy being dominant in Australia, 50% of school leavers have basic literacy and numeracy skills to weak for everyday activities. 50% of school students are off the education bus (cannot access the curriculum) by Year 4.

The students that do well at school are the ones who have parents who monitor their child's progress and fill in the gaps by providing additional instruction after school.

If teachers want to be respected as 'professionals', then why are we not firing at least 50% of classroom teachers every year for their failure to adequately instruct children in basic literacy and numeracy skills. This is how 'professionals'are treated. They either deliver the results expected of them or they are kicked out of their job.

Here in Australia, primary school teachers almost never leave their jobs. I am not aware of a single instance of a primary teacher being fired for incompetence. Our Ed Schools accept thousands of the lowest-performing high school students into their 4-year Bachelor of Education degrees from which no one is ever failed, so we now have tens of thousands of fully qualified primary school teachers, who do not themselves have adequate personal literacy and numeracy skills, let alone the knowledge to teach children to read, spell and do their sums.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:47 pm

toots you always seem to be able to put a negative spin on what people say.

I don't disrespect teachers whatsoever.

I work incredibly hard trying to support and encourage them in many ways - part of designing resources is precisely about support in actual fact.

Just because I observe the tendency for some teachers to make judgements about their children's needs and abilities which may actually under-estimate what they can do (or indeed what a method or programme used properly can do!) doesn't mean I don't respect them.

I equally accept that there are many challenges in schools - one being that teachers may skew what they provide because of what they think someone wants to see - or because greater pressure comes from people with a different perspective or approach than someone like myself may promote.

It is the constant suggestion that teachers should be 'trusted as professionals' which creates the set of circumstances in which teachers may consider that their individual view, opinion, method, expectations, approach is automatically the best on the basis that they 'know' their children.

Teachers have always 'known their children' but they don't necessarily know enough about the research, the options, the potential, the differences in effect - of various issues to do with education.

There are many times when trainers/consultants like myself are asked to help out teachers who clearly 'know' their children but who are also struggling to cater for their children well enough.

So please let me say loud and clear that this is not about 'respect' or lack thereof for teachers themselves.

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Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by kestrel » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:49 am

Debbie makes a very important point here:
It is the constant suggestion that teachers should be 'trusted as professionals' which creates the set of circumstances in which teachers may consider that their individual view, opinion, method, expectations, approach is automatically the best on the basis that they 'know' their children.
The social psychologist Carol Tavris points out that there is a large body of research showing that professional people in various fields tend to overestimate the accuracy and reliability of their own professional judgements. There are well-demonstrated psychological reasons for this, including confirmation bias and the need to reduce cognitive dissonance. Her book “Mistakes were made but not by me” is an excellent layperson’s introduction to this problem. She also highlights the profound inability often shown by professionals to admit that their professional judgement or practice may have been mistaken, no matter how much statistically significant research they are confronted with to demonstrate this.

This is why, in the field of medicine, the movement for evidence-based practice has arisen. Even doctors, who have some scientific training, suffer from this tendency to overestimate their own professional judgment, and to resist the need to change their own practice to reflect new methods that have been validated by well-conducted research.

Toots

Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by Toots » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:47 am

Yes, Debbie, let's forget the issue of respect and assume that mutual respect is shared by all individuals in educational debates. If we practise that giving of respect the debates will be much more productive. I recall it was you who questioned it in the first place:
But there really ought to be some level of respect for the SP and LP phonics programmes from even the detractors - and there would be if there was a deeper understanding of the amount of work, knowledge, understanding, experience and training that has gone into making the programmes' resources and providing the overarching guidance - and the results which are readily achievable if there was some genuine respect and commitment for high-quality SP and LP teaching and learning.
Teachers are just as likely as yourself to treat colleagues and others with respect. Despite the fact that their professionalism is constantly under threat.

Toots

Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by Toots » Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:32 pm

kestrel wrote:
The social psychologist Carol Tavris points out that there is a large body of research showing that professional people in various fields tend to overestimate the accuracy and reliability of their own professional judgements. There are well-demonstrated psychological reasons for this, including confirmation bias and the need to reduce cognitive dissonance. Her book “Mistakes were made but not by me” is an excellent layperson’s introduction to this problem. She also highlights the profound inability often shown by professionals to admit that their professional judgement or practice may have been mistaken, no matter how much statistically significant research they are confronted with to demonstrate this.

This is why, in the field of medicine, the movement for evidence-based practice has arisen. Even doctors, who have some scientific training, suffer from this tendency to overestimate their own professional judgment, and to resist the need to change their own practice to reflect new methods that have been validated by well-conducted research.
Evidence changes with more effective research techniques and methods which can take into account more and more nuances in the subject matter. To be adequately nuanced and 'well-conducted' to prescribe teacher behaviour research into educational methods should take into account the practicalities of applying the findings in real-life situations. We have a chance to do this, perhaps, in assessing the results of the imposition of SP teaching on all English primary schools in the years to come.

Unfortunately any further thinking on the issue of reading instruction is resisted by those who believe all the research is done and dusted and it is just a matter of making sure every child receives SP training. It is these individuals that are resistant to change, as far as I can see.

It is also advisable to look back at the research which SP proponents claim supports SP and ask whether it actually supports the approach now being advocated, and whether they have interpreted the findings correctly or with a certain amount of 'confirmation bias'.

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Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by kenm » Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:00 pm

To meet the need for assessment of methods in the school context, I would like to see detailed descriptions of the methods used to teach reading by schools that deliver English results at KS1 and KS2 significantly above or below what would be expected from the SE status of their pupils. If identities were withheld, it might be possible also to published their results in the "phonics test". Such a study should be undertaken by teams with at least one member able to assess conformity to SP teaching of decoding and to identify how other skills* relevant to literacy are taught.

* E.g. spelling, writing, comprehension.
"... 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: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by Susan Godsland » Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:07 pm

Ken,

http://literacyblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013 ... ounds.html
The 2013 SATs results from three schools that have implemented Sounds~Write

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Pho ... cation.pdf
Comprehensive report on the Phonics International programme's implementation in a W.Aus. primary school.

http://www.rrf.org.uk/pdf/Matched%20Fun ... 20_MG_.pdf
Empirical study using a synthetic phonics programme 'Sound Discovery' from YR-KS2 (700 children) ''dyslexia eliminated''
http://rrf.org.uk/pdf/Grant%20Follow-Up ... 0-2012.pdf
Follow-up study: The Effects of a Systematic, Synthetic Phonics Programme on Reading and Spelling

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Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by pjay » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:12 pm

Toots is right.We have to allow teachers to modify programmes in the light of their knowledge of their own pupils. Fidelity to a programme IS important but assessment for learning-ie determining the pace of learning and the amount of repetition and reinforcement needed must be possible.
There is a definite move away from (usually teaching assistants) "delivering a programme" to individuals or small groups with no modification or adaptation in the light of progress and a return to more responsive TEACHING of children. This is reflected in several recent reports and in Ofsted observations of interventions. Good teachers are not automatons- they are reflective and adaptable and respond instinctively to their pupils' needs. The less experienced do need frameworks and clear guidelines to follow but competent and experienced teachers do not need or want to follow a script.

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Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by Derrie Clark » Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:30 pm

PJay,
We have to allow teachers to modify programmes in the light of their knowledge of their own pupils.
Yes, as long as it is also in the light of their (the teachers') knowledge of the writing system.

Toots,
Unfortunately any further thinking on the issue of reading instruction is resisted by those who believe all the research is done and dusted and it is just a matter of making sure every child receives SP training. It is these individuals that are resistant to change, as far as I can see.
Personally, I don't think I have been resistant to change when it comes to the teaching of beginning reading (other ares of my life ... yes!). Indeed I have travelled through whole language, traditional phonics, synthetic phonics and linguistic phonics. If you can give me evidence that linguistic phonics does not work where the programme is being delivered as recommended then I am prepared to change my views. Until then, what the research tells us about what works is 'done and dusted', the difficulty is delivering what is required in a content heavy curriculum in Foundation and KS1 when the focus should be on developing language, social skills and basic literacy and numeracy skills. Time will tell of course.

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Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by kenm » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:41 pm

Susan Godsland wrote:http://literacyblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013 ... ounds.html
The 2013 SATs results from three schools that have implemented Sounds~Write

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Pho ... cation.pdf
Comprehensive report on the Phonics International programme's implementation in a W.Aus. primary school.

http://www.rrf.org.uk/pdf/Matched%20Fun ... 20_MG_.pdf
Empirical study using a synthetic phonics programme 'Sound Discovery' from YR-KS2 (700 children) ''dyslexia eliminated''
http://rrf.org.uk/pdf/Grant%20Follow-Up ... 0-2012.pdf
Follow-up study: The Effects of a Systematic, Synthetic Phonics Programme on Reading and Spelling
Thanks. These are interesting studies with impressive results, but they are not, by themselves, what we need. IMO the schools with below average results are now the ones that most need investigation. To judge from the reports of the 2012 and 2013 "Phonics" Tests, there are many teachers in England convinced that their method of teaching reading with phonics needs to be supplemented by other techniques to make it effective; unfortunately something, either their additions or their omissions, is making it less effective than we know good SP would be. A competent OFSTED would be telling these teachers and their heads what is wrong with their methods, but I don't hear of that happening.
"... 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: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by JIM CURRAN » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:06 pm

Toots said: " It is these individuals that are resistant to change, as far as I can see."

I honestly don't think that I am "resistant to change". I trained to teach history and the problem I had was that so many of the students couldn't access the material because of their poor reading skills. I didn't know what to do to help them and I spent a long time looking for answers. I had no preconceived notions and in the beginning all the advice I got was Whole Language.I worked through all their strategies Look and Say,Pause - Prompt and Praise, Language Experience. I was open to anything that worked, unfortunately these strategies didn't work. It was only when I read Diane McGuinness's "Why Children can't Read" in 1998 that things began to make sense. I have been using a SP approach in my classroom to teach reading to older poor readers and the results have been outstanding but as I have already said I am still open to change if anyone can show be a more effective way to teach reading but up to now SP is the best we've got and by a long way.

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Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by yvonne meyer » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:01 pm

Pjay says
Toots is right.We have to allow teachers to modify programmes in the light of their knowledge of their own pupils.
No, both Toots and Pjay are wrong because they don't understand evidence-based protocols. An example of evidence-based protocols are the checklists that airline pilots use. These protocols are changed when new information is received, trialed and proved to be more effective, for example, after 'Sully' safely landed the plane in the Hudson river, the protocol for dealing with bird strike was reviewed, trialed and implemented.

Pilots ( and doctors and others who use protocols) don't deviate from their protocols on the spot and in the moment. Yet many classroom teachers, few of whom actually use protocols anyway, think that making stuff up as they go is good practice. It isn't.

As for the issue of respect, give me a break! I have no respect for incompetant teachers who blight children's education and ruin these children's future prospects.

Toots

Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by Toots » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:41 pm

Derrie, your acknowledgement of the overcrowded early years curriculum pinpoints one of the factors which research is unable to take into account. You can research SP delivered under certain circumstances, but you cannot guarantee that these circumstances will apply in every situation. This means that simply saying, "Teach SP! The evidence is that it works" is never going to be correct in all situations. The emphasis on SP which is enforced by current governmental efforts may well lead to neglect of other elements that are essential to reading success. Add to that a test which tests phonics alone and the distortion is complete. The curriculum is no longer about reading, it is about phonics.

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Re: 'Old Andrew' blogs: Phonics Denialism and Rational Debate

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:20 pm

The curriculum is no longer about reading, it is about phonics.
This is not what I find in terms of the phonics provision.

I am trying to re-educate re the myth of phonics being 20 minutes a day is sufficient.

How can a set amount of time address all the children's needs - indeed how can this small amount of time allow for a full teaching and learning cycle - including the 'apply and extend' and including a teacher managing and supervising up to 30 children in a class?

It can't - it's ridiculous.

I can see teachers use the 20 minutes very badly with no learning going on whatsoever.

If this is multiplied by 5 days a week, it still doesn't amount to effective phonics provision. Five times not much is not much.

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