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Synthetic Phonics


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Hi everyone

Have had a day closure today and our school invited several local schools to attend a day's course which involved an Introduction to Synthetic Phonics with Debbie Hepplewhite. Basically she is advocating that we stop teaching phonics according to the National Literacy scheme (PIPS) and teach the children to read purely using synthetic phonics. This involves teaching the children to decode text using their sound,segmenting and blending knowledge alone.

She is saying that at present we are largely teaching children to read by guessing the word. We are not actually teaching them to read the word because we are not teaching them the all letter sounds and how to segment them and blend them to read a word. She has told us that we must teach the first 42 sounds that make up the English language alone without any other reading strategies. She believes that it is every child's right to be taught these in order for them to learn how to read properly any word that they would later be faced with.

Debbie has told us that we must start doing this from the first week that they start school in September and by the end of the first term we could have taught them all the 42 sounds. She was disappointed that local nurseries hadn't attended because she has said that this should start as soon as possible. She has talked about and praised Jolly Phonics and included the schemes choice of the order that the sounds should be taught. She also talked about Ruth Miskin's work in a London inner city school.

We have never taught the vowel phonemes in Year R before and she is advocating lots of paper/whiteboard letter direction exercises and dictation which we don't do until the summer term usually. Her comments stirred up a lot of debate and discussion during the day....is this the way forward we are asking ourselves...

Has anyone tried any pure synthetic phonic teaching? Are the results AMAZING, UNBELIEVABLE, INCREDIBLE.. as Debbie is saying that they can be? Please let me know....

Look forward to anyone's comments

Trudiex

Edited by Trudie
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We are currently part of a DFES pilot which is looking at teaching phonics. They do say teach it fast and teach all the phonemes but the main message is about using and applying. So we teach phonics and then the children are encouraged to use these skills. I am enjoying it as are the children and I can see lots of progress.

Its called Early Reading Development Pilot and links in with the Rose report.

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I totally agree with the principle - and I think it's what most school's are already doing.

 

BUT...

 

Not all our children learn in the same way. is there enough evidence to say that teaching children some sight vocab alongside the main programme of phonics is harmful?

 

As Literacy co-ord (only just moved to new school) I recently heard some Yr 2's read, and was horrified to see them trying to sound out words like 'it' and 'was'. They should know these words by now, and for 'was' the purely phonics system doesn't work!

 

I could be persuaded otherwise if I saw proof, but at the moment I think we should be focusing on synthetic phonics, but consider other strategies alongside it. Doesn't a lot of the stuff in PIPs support this anyway?

Edited by Guest
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I agree Kelly Not ALL children learn the same way (Thought we had a move towards individual learning styles xD ) All I can say from a totally personal point of view is that if my son had to learn phonics before he was allowed to read I doubt he'd be reading yet :o as it was he was reading real books by the age of 3 and had a reading age 5 years above his chronological age when tested by an ed phych. As teachers I feel we should provide children with every available tool and skill to master reading and not just one because it suits most children.

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Hi

I teach a reception class of 27 children and use jolly phonics. We introduce a sound a day once we have all the children in school (after 2 weeks) The children love the actions, books, pictures, songs etc. At this stage all but 3 children know all their 26 letter sounds and many of the majority of the phonemes. The children take home the sound sheet each night to practice at home with parents. (no pressure) We also send home information on blending and what we are working on each half term. We begin to send home 6 high frequency words at a time and also incorporate these words through our continuous prov area. i.e. finding letter sounds to make words in sand, using large white board to write words.

My children have now been introducd to reading books and many are well on the way to becoming quite capable readers.

The key to the success we have received has been to use the jolly phonic material and high frequency word list both in the classroom and at home through regular liason and information sent home for parents to work in partnership with us.

 

hope this makes sense :o

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I am a huge fan of Jolly Phonics and this is my second year of using it with Reception. I introduce 4 sounds a week throughout the first term and start making words with the children after introducing the first six. They start with reading books around Christmas time and I also start to introduce tricky words. I explain to them that there are some words we just need to know by the end of Reception and some we can easily sound out and the others are tricky. (We have a wall with tricky words on - I use the JP hat and flower words).

 

The progress of the children is amazing and by the end of the Autumn term at least 3/4 of the children know all the sounds and are at different levels when it comes to blending etc. I then revise the sounds again with those who have struggled to pick them up (these are usually the ones who first come in to Reception and struggle to concentrate). I work in a challenging area and have varying degrees of ability in my class. JP reaches all the children - it has actions/songs/stories - and they all love it. I have children in my class already writing sentences and are all really keen to write!

 

Hope this helps.

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Not much to add, really. There is no "one-size fits all" so like others I do send home high frequency words (two or three a week maximum). We cover all the JP sounds for YR by Christmas (42) and revise them everyday. We have been blending and segmenting with a vengeance and the children take books home to share with parents right from the start (pictures only at first, then following Cliff Moon's banding system). The majority of the class are develoing a good sight vocab (some already have the 45 YR words) and even my weakest child knows 18 letter sounds. We write a class sentence incorporating high frequency words most days and my extension children have dictated sentences to write on white boards instead. I encourage children to use all cues available to them when reading but do stress the importance of trying to read the word as well. We have been using JP for the past 7 years and have been delighted with the results.

Edited by Guest
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We are currently part of a DFES pilot which is looking at teaching phonics. They do say teach it fast and teach all the phonemes but the main message is about using and applying. So we teach phonics and then the children are encouraged to use these skills. I am enjoying it as are the children and I can see lots of progress.

Its called Early Reading Development Pilot and links in with the Rose report.

48634[/snapback]

 

Hi josiebrad

Please can you tell me how you teach your phonics, in which order do you introduce the letters?how often do you do it a week?How many letters you introduce? What do you do once you have introduced the 42 sounds, do you revise them or go on to the different spellings for the same sound? Do you use any other strategies to help them learn, Like sight vocab and picture clues? Which reading books do you use? Do your reading books have words that they can all read and not guess at? How often do you hear them read?

Sorry to ask so many questions but I'm very interested to know how you are doing the Early Reading Development Pilot.

Hope you can answer my queries

Thanks

Trudie

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We teach a sound a day until all are taught then use odd 5 mins to review as often as possible we also use action words to introduce HFW and our reading scheme is Rigby. We also use PIPs and Playing with Sound materials as part of the whole class literacy work. Also alot of work on rime and spelling patterns.

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Hi Marion

We do very similar to you but it looks like it is all going to change at our place since we have had this input on synthetic phonics. Have read the synopsis of Rose report issued in Dec 05. Also have been visiting 2 websites....www.rrf.org.uk and www.syntheticphonics.com to find out more.

Research suggests that NLS has not been tested thoroughly to see if it has made significant improvements in children learning to read. It does seemed to have made the teaching of phonics much more of a priority in the classroom but the argument now seems to be how this should be done and whether synthetic phonics should be the only way we teach the children to read. I am beginning to feel I would like to give it a go to see if it does help more of my children to become better readers, especially the boys. According to Debbie Hepplewhite and Ruth Miskin it does and they have thoroughly researched this over the years.

Debbie's argument for teaching it systematically to all the children even the ones who can read when they come into school is that we all need to know ALL the phonetic variations in the English language so that as adults we can read any word that we might come across as we can do it phonetically.

I'm looking forward to our next staff meeting to discuss this further

Thanks for your comments

Trudie

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Thanks Trudie I have printed off the info from synthetic phonics sight my only concern is that unfortunately English isnt a phontically regular language and so we have so many words that break all the rules. I will be interested to read the suggestions.

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Just found this while I was looking for something else :o

Early learning in other countries

 

Scandinavia: Children in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland start their education in nurseries where they are encouraged to learn by play and discovery. They are not taught anything of the three Rs and instead learn about sounds, shapes and co ordination until they start primary school at seven. All the countries score in the top ten for reading standards.

 

 

Hungary: Nurseries have strict guidelines not to start on literacy and numeracy, and instead teach children how to listen, pay attention and remember shapes, sizes and sounds. All the teaching is done orally with extensive use of music. Primary school starts at six, and seven-year-olds do twice as well in reading tests as Britons. Switzerland and Austria have similar systems.

 

 

New Zealand: Reading is taught early, as in Britain, and the country suffers from many of the same educational problems: girls perform better than boys; there is a large gap between the best and worst pupils; and general literacy standards are disappointing. Trinidad and the Republic of Ireland, which have similar approaches, also have similar problems.

(Times 23/6/99)

 

 

 

 

Copyright © The National Literacy Trust 2006

 

Maybe it adds to the debate xD

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Hi

Have printed out the BAECE article and put it in the head and deputy's pigeon hole. Hopefully they will read it before Monday. Will also print out that article u have provided Marion.I have 3 very young boys in my class who just want to play and explore and I feel they are going to be even more switched off if we do more formal work(Pencil and Paper) stuff that has been recommended.

One of the arguments for teaching synthetic phonic in English rather than other languages is because our language system is so complicated whereas other languages are much more straight forward and hence children who speak and read other languages have less difficulty than English speaking children learning to read. What do you think?

 

Any one got any hard research or evidence to show that teaching NLS has made significant improvement in reading over the years?

 

Trudie

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Just to agree Marion! Children are forced into formal education at a very early age. We need to concentrate on PSE Development, develop social skills, speaking and listening skills, and Citizenship in the early years.

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We virtually abandoned the Literacy strategy when the Foundation Stage guidance was published (keeping the bits we thought worked)

I read the Debbie Hepplewhite material and with the exception of using only a phonics reading scheme everything else fits in the way we have taught phonics for the past 10 years (we have used a phonics scheme but found that children struggled when faced with phonically irregular words)

For my children i still believe we need to develop a range of skills providing a broad base rather than limit them to only one method.

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Hi had our debate today and we have decided to keep a mixture of different strategies to teach reading. We will be teaching more phonics in YrR but not until all the children have started full time. Before that we won't be teaching any letter sounds, instead we are going to concentrate on listening for environmental, musical and sound patterns. We are going to work on syllables and segmenting words, sounding out the letters in words as we read them, providing a rich literate environment and playing lots of sound games and listening and speaking games. After the first half term we are then going to follow the Jolly phonics and carry on with our sight vocab work.

I'm so pleased that we haven't gone over to a purely synthetic phonic approach as I wouldn't have been comfortable about that.

Thanks for all your comments, especially the BAECE report, it went along way to broadening the debate today.

Trudie

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  • 3 weeks later...

If you would like to have a resource which I prepared in conjunction with the Child Ed's article this month.....

 

www.prometheanworld.com/uk/scholastic

 

Download the viewer which won't allow full functionality but you will at least perhaps get some ideas on your iwb if you don't have Promethean...

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How annoying.... :o

 

not being funny.... but have you "executed" it once you have downloaded it? In other words you download and then double click on it to make it operable.

 

xD

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Hi

Have printed out the BAECE article and put it in the head and deputy's pigeon hole. Hopefully they will read it before Monday. Will also print out that article u have provided Marion.I have 3 very young boys in my class who just want to play and explore and I feel they are going to be even more switched off if we do more formal work(Pencil and Paper) stuff that  has been recommended.

One of the arguments for teaching synthetic phonic in English rather than other languages is because our language system is so complicated whereas other languages are much more straight forward and hence children who speak and read other languages have less difficulty than English speaking children learning to read. What do you think?

 

Any one got any hard research or evidence to show that teaching NLS has made significant improvement in reading over the years?

 

Trudie

48916[/snapback]

 

Trudie, I'm not sure if you have heard of the Enriched Curriculum Project, but there is lots of in-depth research into the formal/play debate, phonics, research into the practice of other countries etc. They began their research after the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Too much too soon (Mills and Mills 1998). Not sure if that is what you are looking for, but it might be worth investigating. If you want more info I can try to find more references.

G.

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Re this argument over synthetic phonics - I attended a conference where Prof. Gregg Brooks gave a talk on this very subject (he also fed into the Rose Review) and while he said that there was certainly some interesting and postiive results from teaching synthetic phonics, what he also said and this has also been highlighted in the Rose Review is that they should not necessarily be used in isolation - one size does not fit all and there should be other strategies used to support phonics.

Nikki

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