Reading Recovery still do not 'get' phonics!

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maizie
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Reading Recovery still do not 'get' phonics!

Post by maizie » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:04 pm

Reading Recovery, in response to reports such as the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000) or the Rose Report (2006), and to government requirements or advice to use phonics as the only method of word identification for beginning readers, are at pains to emphasise that they use phonics as part of their intervention.

An example from the Reading Recovery Council of North America's website:
Examples of Instructional Procedures

Using magnetic letters, children learn quick and flexible recognition of letters; they also learn how to take words apart using phonological and orthographic knowledge.
When reading continuous text, children learn to take words apart ‘on the run.’
In writing, children learn to hear the sounds in words and represent them with letters or letter clusters.
Children work with letters and related sounds (e.g., making personalized alphabet books to link sounds and letters).
Reassembling a cut-up sentence requires children to think about sounds in words as they place the words in order; the teacher segments words to focus on what a child needs to learn next.
During oral reading of texts, children learn to use phonological and orthographic information to monitor their reading and to decode unfamiliar words; they learn to ‘take words apart’ on the run while reading texts.
http://readingrecovery.org/reading-reco ... ng/phonics

Yet in this very recent blog post (dated 5th Oct 2014) it is clear that Reading Recovery teachers and trainers really don't quite understand the purpose of phonic knowledge and skills

Andrea Sherratt: Reading Recovery/ECaR Teacher Leader describes a training session she has recently attended on 'Comprehension'

In the last paragraph she has this to say:
Give children a ‘toolkit’ of strategies

Good readers have a range of, what Tony calls, ‘breakdown strategies’. A toolkit of things to try if they detect their reading does not make sense. In my recent experience, when a child begins to struggle on particular words within text, their default strategy is to ‘sound it out’. This may not always be the most efficient or effective way of dealing with the obstacle and if we can equip children to have a ‘toolkit’ of strategies, they will have the flexibility to choose from a number of ways to repair the breakdown. E.g. re-read sentence/phrase to clarify, look back and identify key words to get meaning, think aloud and verbalise thoughts, make a rich picture in their mind.
It seems from this that the RR teacher is seriously expecting the child to be able to work out the meaning of an unfamiliar word by the process of sounding it out and is saying that sounding out is not an effective strategy for this. Which is quite true; while sounding out and blending may well produce a word with which a child is familiar in their receptive or expressive vocabulary, and thus lead to knowing its meaning, as far as I am aware no phonics proponent would ever expect a child to know the meaning of a word unfamiliar to them in both its written form and meaning. Yet no-one who fully understands the purpose of phonics (i.e to be able to identify what a word 'says' before attending to meaning) would, as suggested by this RR trainer, actively discourage a child from sounding out and blending a word in favour of a range of other strategies focussed on working out its meaning. There is serious confusion of the skills of word identification and meaning identification apparent in this 'advice'. It demonstrates that RR is still, despite the lip service paid to phonics, giving priority to 'making meaning' over promoting automatic word identification by the practising of phonic knowledge and skills.

Perhaps the last point in the 'Examples of Instructional Procedures' should really read :
During oral reading of texts, children learn to use phonological and orthographic information to monitor their reading and to decode unfamiliar words; except when they don't know what the word means before they have sounded it out.
In the course of googling for the RR take on phonics instruction I came across this:

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6021542

The comments are interesting.

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Re: Reading Recovery still do not 'get' phonics!

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:49 pm

It seems to me that what Andrea Sherratt is describing is a complete muddle between word identification (being able to pronounce the word) and meaning-making.

The emphasis of the posting is on 'comprehension' - but Andrea seems to be suggesting that 'sounding out' is a default strategy for lifting the word off the page - or does she mean for meaning-making? I'm not really sure from what she has written - and maybe she is not really sure.

If a word is unknown to the reader, the wider 'strategies' such as reading around the word may well help the reader to deduce the meaning (that is how most of us increase our vocabularies) - but what good is the meaning of the word if the reader cannot pronounce the word itself?

A completely unknown word can only enter into a reader's oral vocabulary fully if it has both a meaning and a pronunciation.

Thus, surely the first step to meaning-making of a completely unknown word is sounding it to be able to pronounce it and then to use the surrounding context to infer a meaning.

However, if a reader goes to sound out an unknown word first to come up with a pronunciation, then the reader may well discover that the word is already in oral vocabulary - in which case the meaning may be derived automatically simply from the pronunciation triggering existing comprehension.

Either way, the 'sounding out' process should come first - this is not a chicken and egg scenario - whereas Andrea appears to be diminishing the importance of sounding out as the 'default' strategy.

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Re: Reading Recovery still do not 'get' phonics!

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:05 pm

Maizie - I followed your link to the TES piece on Reading Recovery and particularly liked the following two responses as the second comment so brilliantly addresses the claims made about Reading Recovery 'strategies' in the top comment (I have done the emboldening in these comments: ;-)

fizzkiz says:

Learning to read is something that most of us have forgotten - adult readers use the same strategies employed by Reading Recovery to work out how to say unknown words and understand their meanings, before consulting the dictionary. Despite the emphasis on phonics in the classroom, some children cannot gain access to reading with this strategy alone. Children move on, catch up and achieve with Reading Recovery - and they know it! All reading strategies are used with the children and they become proficient problem solvers - this should not be under-estimated.

elene says:
and another thing fizzkiz- adult readers DEFINITELY DO NOT use the same strategies employed by RR to work out how to say unknown words. How can I say an unknown word unless I sound it out??? if it's unknown, I am not going to be able to pull it out of the air and say it.
The only time I found myself using meaning and semantics to work out a word was when I was looking at an old print and the writing was fuzzy-I actually could not make out the letters so I had to resort to the laborious task of looking at the picture and using my prior knowledge-it was a rare event!!! The word was scissors. Which are the very things you should use to destroy your Marie Clay books!

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Re: Reading Recovery still do not 'get' phonics!

Post by JIM CURRAN » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:29 pm

It's all part of the old lie propagated by Kenneth Goodman that reading is a "psycholinguistic guessing game".

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Re: Reading Recovery still do not 'get' phonics!

Post by cartwheel » Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:59 am

Well, I think Elene has the same impression that I used to have: That "adult readers" = "highly skilled readers".
adult readers DEFINITELY DO NOT use the same strategies employed by RR to work out how to say unknown words. How can I say an unknown word unless I sound it out?
Part of the communication problem surrounding "SP vs. mixed methods" is that many adults do actually use the "context clues; skip words and read to the end; look for small words in larger words" types of strategies to identify an unfamiliar word. And some of them teach in elementary schools. These adults do not realize that adults who are highly skilled readers (those found, e.g., in the English Literature departments of top colleges and in law schools) do not use such strategies. The highly-skilled decode unfamiliar words with ease and by looking at the word itself, not the surrounding environs.

I suspect that if U.S. ed schools were anywhere near as selective as those in Finland (i.e. HIGHLY selective), then more teachers in the States would be highly skilled readers. And highly skilled readers understand that teaching children the alphabetic code is crucial, and that teaching students to use "context clues" and picture clues for word i.d. (as opposed to using context to determine meaning), is counter-productive.

Jennie (U.S.)

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Re: Reading Recovery still do not 'get' phonics!

Post by kenm » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:18 am

cartwheel wrote:The highly-skilled decode unfamiliar words with ease and by looking at the word itself, not the surrounding environs.
I agree that that is usual, but I wondered whether it would be possible to draw of flow chart of the process by which an expert determines the meaning of a relatively familiar homograph such as "cleave" or how she would cope with the pronunciation of a word like "thorough" if it were not familiar. The first needs context; either syntactic or semantic context will do, since it is transitive when it means separate and intransitive when it means stick together. If we lacked "sight word" knowledge of the second, we would have to try the combinations (54?) of all the multiple phonemes corresponding to four of its five graphemes.
"... 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: Reading Recovery still do not 'get' phonics!

Post by maizie » Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:32 pm

kenm wrote:but I wondered whether it would be possible to draw of flow chart of the process by which an expert determines the meaning of a relatively familiar homograph such as "cleave" or how she would cope with the pronunciation of a word like "thorough" if it were not familiar.
That is changing the focus of the discussion slightly, Ken. We were, surely, talking about how skilled readers read through a piece of text, not how they work out unfamiliar words. When it comes to previously unseen words don't skilled readers generally go for decoding and blending (as the research says)? Pronunciation may not be precise. for example, I'm having a problem with the word 'Lidl'. I can't recall hearing it pronounced but I go for /liddle/. My friend called it /lie dle/ in conversation - I am non the wiser as to which is correct but I did decode it and I know what the word 'means'!

Do 'cleave' - stick to, and 'cleave'-cut up, come from two different languages? They're both pronounced the same, though, aren't they.

'thorough' has got to be a red herring! You surely can't be a skilled reader and never have come across 'thorough'?

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Re: Reading Recovery still do not 'get' phonics!

Post by kenm » Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:59 pm

maizie wrote:
kenm wrote:but I wondered whether it would be possible to draw of flow chart of the process by which an expert determines the meaning of a relatively familiar homograph such as "cleave" or how she would cope with the pronunciation of a word like "thorough" if it were not familiar.
That is changing the focus of the discussion slightly, Ken. We were, surely, talking about how skilled readers read through a piece of text, not how they work out unfamiliar words. When it comes to previously unseen words don't skilled readers generally go for decoding and blending (as the research says)? Pronunciation may not be precise.
Yes, that's how I put it into my oral vocabulary, but if the meaning is not clear from the context (Scientific American is very good at defining terms with a specific meaning within the subject under review) I go for the dictionary, from which I might or might not remember the usual pronunciation.
Do 'cleave' - stick to, and 'cleave'-cut up, come from two different languages? They're both pronounced the same, though, aren't they.

No (to the language question); the stick version is from O.E. clifian, Ger. kleben, the split version O.E. cleofan, Ger. klieben. Yes to pronunciation.
'thorough' has got to be a red herring! You surely can't be a skilled reader and never have come across 'thorough'?
Unsurprisingly, I couldn't think of a word with so many multiple correspondences that I had never heard before.
"... 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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