'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

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chew8
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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by chew8 » Sun Nov 13, 2011 11:04 pm

Two points, John:

1. As I've already said, I don't think that common sense has featured much in schools' teaching of reading over the past few decades, so I don't think it can be said to have been tried and found wanting. It did feature in the way I was taught in the 1940s and in the way I taught my own children in the 1970s. Nothing remotely approaching rocket science was involved and yet the results were very good.

2. Before commenting on the Scarlett video I was careful to ask 'Would the watching which the mum did have amounted to getting the full Sounds~Write training?' You replied 'No. Mum only gets what she needs to teach her daughter, which is really only a small part of the whole course.' That implied that she had not had anything approaching rocket-science training.

Can we at least agree that people with something well short of rocket-science training can teach very effectively, even if we disagree about the role of common sense?

Re. common sense, though: 15 years ago, in collecting evidence for an article eventually published in 1997 in Journal of Research in Reading, I visited 10 parents who responded to an appeal in a local paper for people to get in touch with me if they had taught their own children to read as preschoolers. I asked their permission to test the children on the reading of 18 cvc words (as used by Goswami in an experiment with children aged 6+) and they all agreed. The children did very well - several got full marks (including a child aged 3 years 4 months) and the average score was 16. None of the parents had used a published programme or had any training - they had all just relied on a home-grown phonics approach, very much as I myself had done in the 1970s.

Jenny C.

Derrie Clark
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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by Derrie Clark » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:07 pm

I was just wondering Jenny how you would define common sense? It is highly likely that people who use whole language strategies/Reading Recovery believe they are using common sense. As John said it seems common sense that the Sun rises.

I don't know where John is in the programme with his pupil but the lad's mum would certainly need ongoing input in mapping phoneme to grapheme through the Extended Code. I find adults have much difficulty with this activity and the success of this cannot really be left to chance or 'common sense'.

Perhaps John could ask the Mum if she feels she has used common sense?

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by chew8 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:46 am

Derrie wrote:I was just wondering Jenny how you would define common sense? It is highly likely that people who use whole language strategies/Reading Recovery believe they are using common sense.
I think the whole-language and Reading Recovery people believe that they are relying on something superior to common sense. Here is a quotation from Henrietta Dombey's pamphlet Words and Worlds, published in 1992 by the National Association of Advisers in English as part of the backlash against Martin Turner's findings:
Dombey wrote:Phonics

It seems common sense that in teaching children to read we should begin with the simplest elements. Certainly this view has been widely and vociferously expressed in the media and strongly supported by the Secretary of State at the time of writing. In an alphabetic writing system such as ours, matching letters to phonemes seems an obvious point of departure. 'C-A-T 'spells 'cat' seems a sensible early lesson. Larger lessons, such as those about the structure of texts, can surely be left until later. However, research in many countries over many decades has shown the fallaciousness of this appealing common sense view (Gollasch, 1977; Harste et al., 1984).
I think that Dombey is right about what many people at the time regarded as a common-sense approach. Maybe things have changed since that pamphlet appeared, but I suspect not - I think most ordinary people still believe that it's best to start simple and not expect children to run before they can walk. Where Dombey and others are horribly wrong is in trying to persuade people that 'this appealing common sense view' is fallacious.

Jenny C.

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by maizie » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:55 pm

Do you know anything about the papers she cites, Jenny?

I recall from the last production I read by her, 'Teaching Reading: What the evidence says' that the 'research' she cites is very superficial and not very relevant...

chew8
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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by chew8 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:12 pm

The Gollasch paper is 'Language in Literacy: The Selected Writings of Kenneth Goodman' (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977), and the Harste paper is 'Language Stories and Literacy Lessons' (Heinemann, 1984). Harste has also collaborated with Goodman.

I haven't read either of these papers, but both authors are very much in the whole-language camp. They have clear links with Goodman, who is the originator of miscue analysis and of the theory that reading is 'a psycholinguistic guessing game'.

Jenny C.

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by john walker » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:58 pm

In reply to Jenny:
You say, Jenny,
... Dombey is right about what many people at the time regarded as a common-sense approach ..
Dombey believes her notion of what constitutes common-sense to be correct and so do you even though your views are diametrically opposed to one another's. Whose version of common-sense is correct and how would we begin to know?
Then you tell us that you
think most ordinary people still believe that it's best to start simple and not expect children to run before they can walk
, as if ordinary people share some kind of consensus about what it might mean to 'start simple'. In my experience, people (the lay public) haven't the foggiest conception of what is 'simple'. Most of them have never thought about it, much less understood it. And teachers? Teaching practitioners who attend our courses are so imbued with the common-sense practices of the past (and the present if some of the other threads are anything to go by), they often have no clear idea either.
Now, taking your example of evidence collected in the 90s: I imagine if the piece was published, you must have given chapter and verse on how old each child was, the particular approach each set of parents or parent used, etc, etc. However,
10 parents who responded to an appeal in a local paper for people to get in touch with me if they had taught their own children to read as preschoolers
can hardly be regarded as a representative sample, can it? If a parent is semi-literate, or their child has not made a good start, or if parent and child lack confidence, they are unlikely to put themselves forward to be included. It seems pretty much like a self-selected and, therefore, heavily biased sample to me - not that I believe that there is any such thing as a completely unbiased sample.
You also say that the test involved eighteen CVC words. Again, in my experience, there are very few children who get stuck with CVC words, although even this depends on how old they are and how they are taught. Once we begin to move from simple to more complex is where good readers and spellers begin to part company from poor readers and spellers. For some, the consonant clusters are a major impediment, for others, the one-sound-to-many-spellings, and so on. To know what is 'simple' and what is 'complex' presupposes a foundation of understanding of how the writing system works in relation to the sounds of the language. Which is why I don't agree with you at all and think your appeal to a common-sense view is as fallacious as Dombey’s.
Common sense does not necessarily accurately reflect or predict reality. What we need is a method of enquiry which might do this. That is what we, largely through the painstaking efforts of David Philpot, have tried to do in collecting data on over one thousand five hundred pupils taught using Sounds-Write all the way through KS1.
Finally,
Can we at least agree that people with something well short of rocket-science training can teach very effectively, even if we disagree about the role of common sense?
I'm afraid we cannot - for all the reasons I outlined in a previous posting on this thread.
John Walker
Sounds-Write
www.sounds-write.co.uk
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

chew8
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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by chew8 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:04 am

John wrote:Dombey believes her notion of what constitutes common-sense to be correct and so do you even though your views are diametrically opposed to one another's. Whose version of common-sense is correct and how would we begin to know?
I agree that Dombey's views and mine are in most respects very different. I did think she was right, however, about the common-sense view at the time her pamphlet was published in 1992:
She wrote:In an alphabetic writing system such as ours, matching letters to phonemes seems an obvious point of departure. 'C-A-T 'spells 'cat' seems a sensible early lesson.
With my own children in the 1970s, I had started by teaching them to match letters to phonemes. I've done the same with my three grandchildren - the youngest (not quite two) knows sounds for all 26 letters and two or three digraphs. Some years ago, I told Diane McGuinness about the approach I had used with family members - she said she thought it was the right thing to do with very young children. I now have far more theoretical knowledge than I had in the 1970s, but this hasn't changed the way I teach.
John wrote:You also say that the test involved eighteen CVC words. Again, in my experience, there are very few children who get stuck with CVC words, although even this depends on how old they are and how they are taught.
I mentioned CVC words because you had said that Scarlett's brother could not read them at the end of Reception:
You wrote:The only common sense being exercised here was when this mother, frustrated with the fact that her son was not able to read at all (not even CVC words) at the end of YR, asked me to help.
What I said about parent-taught children in my 1997 article was only a small part of the evidence I presented. All the rest was on whole classes in schools teaching phonics very systematically at the time - I submitted the article in March 1996 and the term 'synthetic phonics' had not yet come to the fore. The article was a response to things that Goswami had been saying about 'traditional' phonics, which she seemed to think involved teaching 'sight' words then teaching children to break them down and match phonemes to graphemes. She thought it was better for the breaking-down to be at the onset-rime level.

In a 1993 article in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, she had reported results of children taught by mixed methods on a test she had devised involving 18 CVC words - she had administered it and the Schonell reading test to children with an average age of 6 years 5 months. The five people named as contributors to my article helped me to get the Goswami test administered to whole classes of phonics-taught children about a year younger in order to show that they coped much better with the words than Goswami's subjects - two schools also administered the Schonell test. In fact Goswami gave her subjects two shots at the CVC test - the second was with the help of 'clue' words, which improved their scores a bit, but even their second-attempt scores were lower than those of our year-younger subjects on their first and only attempt. I reported our results exactly as she had done, giving means and standard deviations for ages and scores. In the case of the parent-taught children, I also gave the age-range - 3 years 4 months to 5 years 7 months.

I realise that the parent-taught children were not representative, but then I specifically wanted parents who had used the sort of 'traditional phonics' approach I had in mind, though I didn't use this term at all with them. In fact 12 or 13 parents contacted me, but when I asked on the 'phone whether they would be happy for me to test the children's reading of 18 words which might be unfamiliar, some said that the children would not manage this as they could read only words which they had been taught. I tested all the other children, however, and they had clearly been taught to read by saying sounds for the letters from left to right and then blending the sounds, just as we see Scarlett doing in your video, John.

Jenny C.

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by Derrie Clark » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:28 pm

I've got a bit lost now re the 'common sense' thread.

I think Jenny you have been arguing that teachers can teach reading on the basis of common sense. But this is only my interpretation and may not be what you are saying?

I believe that effective teaching is dependent on professional development in the area of evidence based practice (which is why psychological learning theories and an understanding of child development and the application of these to literacy teaching) is so important otherwise why do we train teachers? None of this is rocket science but it certainly cannot be left to different people's interpretation of what is common sense. One could argue the latter view has dominated education for far too long.

chew8
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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by chew8 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:46 pm

What I've said all along, Derrie, is that I would not want to see the '(almost) rocket science' view (John's phrase in the 'Adult literacy' thread) promoted 'AT THE EXPENSE OF' a common-sense view - i.e. I don't want the common-sense view elbowed out completely. This doesn't mean that I think that all teachers and parents can teach effectively on this basis - I do think, however, that a fair number can, because I've seen it happening. Moreover, the teaching in these cases has been firmly based on the common-sense view as outlined by Dombey - i.e. that 'in an alphabetic writing system such as ours, matching letters to phonemes seems an obvious point of departure'. Dombey doesn't approve, but I do.

I just don't want the case for the '(almost) rocket science' type of training pushed so hard that there is no room for anything else.

Jenny C.

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by geraldinecarter » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:24 pm

I'll put my rambling 2p. worth in here -

For the majority of educationalists/opinion makers since around the mid sixties phonics has definitely represented skills-based/sterile/philistine/arid/unsophisticated 'common sense'.
Whole language has represented subtle interactions etc. considering the 'whole person', bla, di, bla.

Home schoolers in the States - mainly religious, I gather, and others because their children weren't learning to read, seem to be able to perform the task of teaching their children to read. My mother, aeons ago in her Irish school was expected to read before she went to school ( I wish now, of course, i'd got the details from her).

All sorts of things may be mitigating against 'learning' a skill:

noisy, chaotic classrooms, children facing away from the teacher (especially harmful when a child has glue ear), teachers schooled at a time when meticulous handwriting practice, and the teaching of grammar, was a no-no, when there was no correction of poor spelling,and little sustained writing. At the moment, there is little sustained reading for many children - the books they are presented with are two- dimensional and lacking in rich characterisation, and richness of language. Then there are shorter school days and more is crammed into the day.

My kids multi racial school in Brixton which bucked the trend had a young but deeply unfashionable head who took little notice of prevailing fashions and said he just used common sense. One lad, out of 330 pupils, couldn't read. Same with Jac's nearby school in an even more deprived area - they ALL left infant school being able to read.

So maybe both 'sides' have elements of truth. Children just don't get the grounding that a 'common sense' approach provided and this may mean that teachers need more rigorous training now - they also have to untangle the mess of the last 40+ years.

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by Derrie Clark » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:03 am

I don't want the common-sense view elbowed out completely.
I think you are talking about, what I call 'professional judgement' in relation to teachers. This means they have all the appropriate knowledge and skills (through training and practice) so they can make the relevant choices about their strategies/approaches in response to the child they are working with at any one time.

I would feel more worried about giving the general message that teaching children to read is common sense. Common sense is dependent on your world view.

I think it is essential that we promote training for teachers and parents. If you see this as promoting the rocket science approach at the expense of a common sense view, or the elbowing out of a common sense view, then of course you are entitled to that opinion.

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:23 pm

Two-thirds 'fail new primary phonics reading check'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-16091737
The test-run of a new primary school reading check suggests two-thirds of pupils are likely to fail it when it is introduced in England next year.

Government statistics show just 32% of the six-year-olds in 300 schools who took the test last summer passed it.

The test is controversial because it contains non-words as well as real words.

This is to ensure that pupils are using the government's chosen method, synthetic phonics, to decode words.

Children who learn to read using synthetic phonics, are taught to decode words by breaking them down into individual sounds.

Most schools use phonic methods to teach children to read. But the Department for Education says only 27% uses phonics systematically.

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by geraldinecarter » Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:06 pm

Wow! Do we know what the pass mark is?

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by Susan Godsland » Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:17 pm

This DfE page was updated today -it contains several links to info:

http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/tea ... ning-check

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Re: 'Light-touch, phonics-based check' for Y1 children

Post by Derrie Clark » Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:06 pm

Over the last eight years I have had several KS2 SENCos come back to me after completing the Sounds-Write training to report that more than half the children in KS2 classes were unsuccessful on the Sounds-Write Diagnostic Assessment (this has always incorporated nonsense words too).  However, these SENCos could not convince anyone on the SMT that something should be done about it.  Teaching to the SATs is the order of the day and Jenny's view that children don't need teaching phonics in KS2 is widely held.

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