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Letters And Sounds


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I would be interested to know what other Reception teachers' views are on Letters and Sounds. I feel that Phase 1 has some excellent ideas and I completely agree with having multi-sensory systematic and sequential approach to phonics but I am not convinced about the order that the letters are introduced in Phase 2 (why are ck, ll, ff introduced so early?). Also, in Phase 3, are children really expected to learn and remember 4 different vowel digraphs in a week? Surely I'm not the only person to think this is madness!

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Well, I have seen it working very well and schools in my LA do get high % of children secure at phase 3 by the end of reception and in our monitored schools (those who were in the original CLLD programme) they definitely teach at the expected pace and the children do learn them. Because it's a spiral of learning ie, new input is then reviewed and practised over and over it's ot just one off teaching of those new phonemes.

The Dfe website details the phonics programmes that meet the expected criteria for a programme so there are others you could use, although this would have to be a whole school decision I suppose.

 

ll/ff and ck are the same phoneme as c/k/l/f but just have an alternate grapheme as I understand it!

 

Cx

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I teach Letters and Sounds using the Jolly Phonics materials and have done for the past 3 years. I've been amazed at the succes we've had. To be fair, I have a lot of bright children and very supportive parents which really helps. The majority of the children do pick up the sounds and use them in their reading and writing, but we do go over and over them, so if they don't get them the first time they have lots more chances! I can highly recommend the Jolly Phonics IWB software which we use - I know not everyone likes Jolly Phonics but the children absolutely love this!!

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Children are very capable of learning 4 digraphs per week if they have good phonics teaching. I have taught in a wide variety of schools and found that all but the SEN manage this very well. It's a progressive program so everything is reinforced daily which means that the children are constantly reminded of what they have learnt and they use it daily. This means they remember it! I was surprised myself, but experience has taught me never to underestimate children's ability to absorb phonics at a rapid rate.

 

As for the ck, ff, ll being early on these are very common in the language and have the same sound as letters already taught (k, c, f, l). It's very important for children to realise early on that if there is a double sound in the word they don't need to repeat it when sounding out for reading (so pull would be sounded out p-u-l, rather than p-u-l-l). Providing they are secure in the original single sounds I've never seen a child struggle with these double ones.

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I teach in reception and use letters and sounds while dipping into jolly phonics for the actions. I find it really good and I usually get the children to part the way through phase 3 by Christmas (all the single letter sounds and then ch,th,sh) I assess as I go and there will be about 10 out of 30 in my class who after Christmas will recap what we have done so far/practice blending etc before they move on to completing phase 3. My TA takes this group while i motor on with the more able. I send a fair bit home to practice and have had several meetings with parents to talk them through how they can help at home and I have 26 children out of 30 now able to sound out and blend a CVC word independently and all bar a couple are confident with the sounds taught so far. I have never had a problem with the ss, ll, ff etc I always teach them at the same time as the single letter and the children just get it straight away. I do teach 4 sounds a week and go at that pace and never fail to be amazed that children are able to learn the sounds so speedily. I have a very mixed intake by the way with the majority of children living in social housing and my EYFS baseline scores are much lower than average. I use education city phonics games on the interactive whiteboard which the children love and which they often choose in child initiated time which helps. There are loads of resources out there to help make the sessions fun and I think if you allow phonics to permeate everything you do not just in the session you will find that they pick it up very quickly. eg I have a puppet who only sounds out words and doesn't blend and if I have a spare minute eg while waiting for children getting ready for lunch he gives them a message in sound talk and they have to hear what he is telling them. What i would say also is that teaching the sounds at such a pace means that children will be able to be able to use the sounds in their reading and writing quicker.

Deb

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We're having a close look at our phonics teaching at the moment. I have a couple of questions.

 

Do those of you who have found Letters & Sounds to be effective use the 'technical' vocabulary and if so how much of it? I.e. do you say grapheme/phoneme/digraph etc. and expect the children to understand and use them too?

 

How do you do the 'review' bit of each session? I don't have a problem with the fast pace of the sessions but feel that I fall down on the review so that while the children learn a new sound fine on the day it is taught it isn't becoming effectively embedded.

 

I really struggle to get my children to read a digraph as a digraph e.g. many of them with sound out s-h-i-p but then be able to read ship as they use their existing and contexual knowledge to support them. Any suggestions?

 

Sorry, this may be hijacking the thread a little - please let me know if you'd like me to move my questions elsewhere.

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Do those of you who have found Letters & Sounds to be effective use the 'technical' vocabulary and if so how much of it? I.e. do you say grapheme/phoneme/digraph etc. and expect the children to understand and use them too?

 

Yes I would and our schools do. If children are taught the concept they can use the correct label. Also I think if children can use words like Tyrannosaurus rex they can use phoneme!!

 

How do you do the 'review' bit of each session? I don't have a problem with the fast pace of the sessions but feel that I fall down on the review so that while the children learn a new sound fine on the day it is taught it isn't becoming effectively embedded.

 

The Review isn't just the stuff learnt the day before but anything they are still struggling with to embed and all the other new things so it spirals. The reviewed things would also be implicit in the practice/apply alongside the new knowledge or skill. taught that day

 

For digraphs I've often seenpractitioners underline the paired letters and use activities like sound buttons to reinforce - it's the implicitskill of scanning ahead in the word. I would also focus on this in shared/guided reading activities to reinforce.

 

Cx

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I think the technical language is very important and if used from the outset, why would the children find this any more difficult than any other descriptor. Ive had to teach myself though so maybe that we is why we all seem to have a hang up about using that language! Ive also heard the argument that the parents wont understand but then let the children teach them! Also, do we not teach them other things because the parents dont understand?

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Marion - please could you explain which parts you found 'too slow' - we are having a big review of our phonics teaching in the New Year and it's helpful to get as many points of view as possible.

 

Also picking up on HelenD24's point about ensuring that the sounds are properly embedded in the children's learning, how do people actually go about teaching and reviewing the sounds, especially the vowel diagraphs, when you are introducing 4 new ones each week? How long are the children expected to sit on the carpet and how do you keep them interested/motivated to learn?

 

Thanks again for everyone's input - it is really interesting.

 

By the way, I'm not a new member - I had to change my log in name due to an administrative mix up! I have been a member for about 2 years and always find the forum really useful and helpful.

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The whole programme is much slower than how we work.

We teach a new sound every day (so 5 a week)and phase 4 and 6 aren't separately so we can cover most of L&S in reception.

We do 15 min carpet inputs every day revisiting previously taught GPCs

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Also picking up on HelenD24's point about ensuring that the sounds are properly embedded in the children's learning, how do people actually go about teaching and reviewing the sounds, especially the vowel diagraphs, when you are introducing 4 new ones each week? How long are the children expected to sit on the carpet and how do you keep them interested/motivated to learn?

 

I keep the review part short and almost the same each day. I have flash cards of every sound learnt so far and I flash through these with the children at the start of each phonics session. Obviously as you get more diagraphs learnt it's a good idea to drop the single letters that they all know so it doesn't go on forever. (I just kept j, w, v, x, z, y) I also flashed tricky words everyday at the same time. It doesn't sound that exciting but sometimes constant repetition is the best thing and also mine enjoyed it because they took pride in getting faster and faster at it as time went on. Sometimes I would swap it round and get the children to write a sound on their whiteboard as I said it (possibly the last 5-10 sounds they have learnt depending on how quick they are at writing). I also sometimes made it into a game where I would flash the sound or word, hide it, then ask someone to tell me it. Great for concentration and memory! The important thing is to keep it pacey and short, but pack in as much repetition as possible.

 

I would also get in further repetition during 'apply' time. So we would read or write sentences that had words in containing sounds from previous days as well as the new sound just to keep that knowledge in the front of their mind.

 

Also in answer to the other question about sounding out s-h-i-p. I would say that a lot of practise in phonics at sounding out single words and drawing a line under the diagraph (rather than a dot as you would for single letters) helps the children to recognise it. When they write words during phonics get them to put their own sound buttons on so you can check they understand. Also remind them whenever they are sounding out in a reading book. I always used to point and say "what's that sound?" and get them to re-sound out before they could start looking for other clues. Not that using other clues is bad, but if you want to get them used to sounding out properly then it does help to constantly drive the message home!

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Thank you.

 

Kariana - you've reassured me. I do my review in a very similar way to you - short and snappy but I was worrying about it being too samey. I also do the same as you re sounding out, writing a line, not a dot under the digraph, joining those letters etc etc etc. The only thing I don't do is to get them to put their own sound buttons on. Think I will start trying that. I guess I just need to keep at it and hopefully it will sink in!

 

As far as the technical vocabulary goes I am confident with using it myself although I don't - in part because other staff delivering L&S are less confident and I want to be consistent.

 

I also am certain that the majority of the children could cope fine with the technical vocab I suppose I was just wondering if there was any advantage to them learning it. I know that when I've used words like adjective/connective/verb (with slightly older children) they end up knowing that the word they are trying to use has a special name but can't remember which special name it is!

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I'm glad it was helpful to you! :o

 

I used some of the technical vocabulary, but not all. We used diagraph and split diagraph (which they loved!) and I remember teaching them another technical word too, which they all went home and taught their parents, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is! I never taught them 'grapheme' because it to be honest I never saw the point of it, though I'm sure some here will disagree!

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