Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

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kestrel
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by kestrel » Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:00 pm

I notice nobody seems to be talking about HOW best to teach spelling, or considering whether their existing methods could be improved to help ensure success for all...just lamenting that the spellings are 'inappropriate' for 'those' kinds of children.

volunteer
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by volunteer » Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:52 pm

Yes, and I am not really sure why they feel the list of spellings is so very different from what might have been expected from "Support for Spelling" for those year groups in the old literacy strategy?

The appendix is probably not "didactic" enough though. It maybe needs the relevant teaching points so it can be easily seen where to fit these words in to the teaching of spelling set out elsewhere in the appendix.

Maybe things have swung the other way over the years - many teachers seem to want telling how to teach now, not just to be given a syllabus .......... but they don't want to be told what to teach either.

I'm finding that these lists are being used in a weird way at our school - where there are plenty of children who could learn these words easily. At the start of term years 5 and 6 were given a big test on the years 5 and 6 list. Then the ones they got wrong have to be entered two at a time by the child themselves as a personal words in their weekly spelling list. Unfortunately, accommodate was marked correct with one m in the big test, and marked as incorrect as a personal word in last week's spelling test when spelled correctly with two 'm's. This was in the same week that year 4 child was learning about consonant doubling.

Confusion all round?

kestrel
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by kestrel » Mon Sep 29, 2014 3:53 pm

Well, I suppose the charitable interpretation is human error rather than ignorance or carelessness. That said, it is a problem that so many teachers were themselves educated in schools where spelling was unimportant and phonics was not taught.

This is an example of the problems caused by the huge hole at the heart of pedagogy in the UK that is down to the Teacher Training Institutions' disregard for reliable standards of evidence. The government is understandably reluctant to tell teachers how to teach - after all, they got it seriously wrong with the Literacy Strategy. But there are no experts in accredited academic positions who might step forward to fill the gap with reliable, evidence-based information on possible methods to use. Meanwhile, individual primary schools all are in the position of having to duplicate the effort of trying to find out what works by searching the Web. Yet many of them won't have anyone on their staff who understands the nature of evidence, because that is not something teachers are trained in. That's even if they are willing to try.

One encouraging sign on the horizon is the efforts of loose associations of blogging and tweeting teachers on the Internet to publicise the need for evidence based practice, and the importance of research, as well as the helpfulness of online conversations for teachers who want to improve their practice - but they seem to be mostly secondary teachers. Have you seen this website? Lots of interesting stuff.

http://educationechochamber.wordpress.com/

The other thing I've got my fingers crossed for is the review of initial teacher training that started last May. Here's hoping they tackle these issues.

chew8
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by chew8 » Mon Sep 29, 2014 7:41 pm

dagnabit wrote:The year 1 spellings are useless. There's only my LA chn getting cvc words for spellings. It doesn't fit with any of the phonics age related expectations they've been pedalling for last few years - very low expectations.
I don't really know what point he/she is making. Does 'LA group' mean 'low-ability' group? Is he/she implying that the Y1 requirements don't go beyond the cvc words that this group of his/hers is getting? That's surely not true - the Y1 words match up pretty well with what needs to be covered for the Y1 phonics check, which embodies the age-related requirements that have been peddled (not 'pedalled') for the past 3 years. A number of alternatives are covered in the check, as also in the Y1 spelling examples (e.g. 'her','girl', 'church', 'home', toe', 'blow', 'boat'), plus words such as 'dolphin'.

Jenny C.

volunteer
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by volunteer » Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:20 pm

It is probably something that his/her lit coord has told them to do in reception. It certainly bears no relation to the spelling section of the new curriculum.

chew8
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by chew8 » Mon Sep 29, 2014 9:12 pm

But 'dagnabit' is talking about Y1 and saying the expectations are very low because it's all cvc.

Jenny C.

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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by volunteer » Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:11 pm

Sorry, meant to say year 1 - slip of the fingers! I don't know what they're talking about either - it bears no relation to the NC document itself. I just feel that in my children's school currently that a lot of the teachers maybe haven't looked at the original national curriculum document but are working from something else that the maths or literacy co-ordinator, for example, have turned into a scheme of work. Lots of it seem to get lost in translation.

chew8
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by chew8 » Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:42 am

You're right about lots getting lost in translation! Several years ago, I was talking to a teacher who was enthusing about (a) Letters and Sounds and (b) picture cues. I pointed out that the L and S 'Notes of Guidance' warn against the use of picture cues - she hadn't realised this, but even when I had pointed it out I don't think she changed her practice.

Jenny C.

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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by volunteer » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:08 am

She probably thought you could not read properly.

I don't think a lot of teachers have the time to read the original documents relating to reading schemes, national curriculum etc and their pay depends on doing what the school tells them to do, not what the document tells them to do.

It makes well versed ofsted inspectors even more necessary than in the days when teachers seemed to have more autonomy and "new practice" might have infiltrated a school more easily because the SMT were less bothered about "style". Even though school advisor teams have been dismantled wholesale teachers still seem to go on courses about, for example, the new national curriculum but come back and teach something entirely different.

chew8
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by chew8 » Tue Sep 30, 2014 3:53 pm

Even if all classroom teachers don't read all he documents, shouldn't someone (literacy co-ordinator?) be responsible for this and for ensuring that others know?

Jenny C.

volunteer
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by volunteer » Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:46 pm

Well, yes you would most certainly think so. But certainly at our school this would seem to be the point at which people see what they want to see in the document, and not what they don't want to see! Maybe our school is unusual, but to add to the issue, the literacy co-ordinator seems as though she must be quite overloaded -- teaches a mixed age upper KS2 class, is mentoring a full-time student teacher on "Direct Teach" at the same time, only works 3.5 days a week herself, and is the early years co-ordinator for the school too.

I'm getting the impression from TES (and from the plans for this year for my own children) that the new curriculum (and not just in English) is being taught as though it is the same as the old curriculum with a few variations here and there. There is still a lot of use in both English and Maths of the old primary strategy units which were archived a long while back.

chew8
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by chew8 » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:01 pm

That doesn't surprise me. I think many schools are also still using the non-phonic Book Bands grading system, despite the fact that the new curriculum says that children should read books matched to their decoding level. Old habits die hard.

Jenny C.

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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by volunteer » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:24 pm

That maybe is as much to do with the belief that those different colour books do, in some mysteriously scientific way, match to a child's reading skill ( and hence, in their eyes, decoding skill).

I suppose if you followed a "whole word" reading scheme through logically from start to finish, and the child was learning to recognise whole words from a carefully controlled and gradually expanding vocabulary, there would be a certain element of truth in this.

But a lot of schools (ours included) that are still wedded to the old "sight words" books mix up all the scheme books of the same colour level, and children read them in a fairly random order in one glorious mish mash.

chew8
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Re: Spelling in the new national curriculum for English

Post by chew8 » Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:19 am

What you say rings true, volunteer. I've heard things which suggest that teachers do think there's something scientific about the Book Bands grading system, or at least that they aren't aware of an alternative.

Jenny C.

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