Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:59 pm

The evaluation of the age 6 phonics screening assessment by Sheffield Hallam University indicated that nearly three-quarters of the schools taking part were still practising the multi-cueing 'searchlights' reading strategies which are supposedly replaced by the Simple View of Reading model (Gough and Tunmer).

I received some 'Nov 2011' booklets about reading designed by a school for parents today - a school that has invested in Read Write Inc, and RWI training I believe, and should, therefore, really be using the synthetic phonics teaching prinicples. Ruth would be horrified - as am I.

It states in the booklet:
STRATEGIES TO HELP YOUR CHILD READ A WORD...

Which letter phonemes do you recognise? Can you blend them together?
Phonic clues - 'The boy lived in the h.............. .' There are a number of words which could fit, but because it begins with an 'h', house is likely.

Does the word make sense? Read the sentence again to check.
Syntactic clues - 'The boy................................his bike on the pavement.' We know that the word will be a verb - rode, pushed, etc.

Are there any words that would make sense?
Contextual clues - 'The boy lived in the ................................. .' The next word is likely to be house, cottage, wood, etc.

What does the picture tell you?
This will support the contextual clues.

Is it a word you know?
Graphic clues - If a child recognises a word like 'all', they are more likely to recognise 'ball, tall, fall, wall, etc'.

Have you read the word before? Is it on another page?

Are there any bits of the word you recognise?

Miss out the word, say 'mmmm, finish the sentence.' Then go back and work out what the word was.

In a rhyming book, think of more words that rhyme.

Use the first 1 or 2 sounds with one of the above strategies'

Go back and read the sentence again for fluency!
Sadly, tragically, systematic synthetic phonics whilst clearly being heavily promoted by the government, is not statutory - only guidance - and no-one can really do anything about schools providing guidance such as this, and following practices such as these.

So, are three-quarters of our primary schools still promoting these flawed strategies above despite everyone's efforts?

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Re: Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by JIM CURRAN » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:30 pm

Geraldine wrote an article in newsletter 46 " Old Habits die hard" http://www.rrf.org.uk/archive.php?n_ID= ... eNumber=46 and unfortunately what she had to say is just as relevant now. Multi- cueing strategies are a lot like learning styles they are so deeply entrenched in educational folklore that they are taken as a given irrespective of what the evidence says.

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Re: Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by chew8 » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:52 pm

Unfortunately there is a complication, which is that the current National Curriculum is still in force and can be interpreted as recommending multi-cueing. The revised NC won't replace it until 2013.

Jenny C.

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Re: Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:00 am

When you look closely at the strategies above, you can see that any teacher believing these to be good practice hasn't a clue about synthetic phonics teaching.

Note that any phonics mentioned is of the 'partial' variety with a bit of guessing and further strategies added to the mix.

I'm sorry to say that I think this is still inevitable without the widespread use of a core Alphabetic Code Chart in every classroom to outline a comprehensive bank of letter/s-sound correspondences.

Teachers who promote these multi-cueing strategies don't really understand about the letter/s-sound correspondences of the alphabetic code and how to apply them to decode words from beginning to end.

I also think we should be promoting the 'incidental' teaching which I keep on mentioning. This enables teachers and parents to address wider reading - and will help to avoid multi-cueing strategies kicking in almost by default.

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Re: Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by JIM CURRAN » Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:15 pm

William said: "My experience is that schools have multi-cueing strategies deeply embedded and are running them alongside their phonics work, not seeing the contradictions."

From what Debbie and others say and from my own experience of working with year 8 pupils who have just moved from the primary school multi- cueing reading strategies are alive and well and continually undermining our best efforts to promote systematic synthetic phonics.

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Re: Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by chew8 » Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:59 pm

Multi-cueing is deeply embedded in schools and is also written into the current National Curriculum 'script' - there is surely a connection between the two. As I keep saying, it may not be until the revised NC comes into force in 2013 that the necessary leverage is in place to ensure change.

Jenny C.

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Re: Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by yvonne meyer » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:22 pm

Ineffective philosophies and strategies are "deeply embedded" into teachers during their training at University Schools & Faculties of Education, before they get anywhere near a classroom.

While getting the Curriculum right is important, I don't believe Curriculum documents can undo the damage (mis-education) done by the Universities. Everything that is done at the school level, additional training & resources, Year 1 Phonics Check etc, are 'crisis management' of a system that is flawed from the beginning.

While the UK Minister for Education has gone a very long way to get effective beginning reading instruction into schools, he hasn't done the one thing that will fix the fatal flaw - refuse to fund University Schools & Faculties of Education unless they teach what the evidence proves is effective in beginning reading instruction.

It's the same here in Australia. Our politicians on both sides make the same statements about teaching phonics, and put heaps of money into things like Curriculum documents and additional training & resources for schools, but none of them will face up to the University Deans of Education and say you can teach whatever you like, but if you want to be funded with tax-payer's money, then teach the evidence or fund your programme yourself.

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Re: Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by JIM CURRAN » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:30 pm

Yvonne said:"While getting the Curriculum right is important, I don't believe Curriculum documents can undo the damage (mis-education) done by the Universities. Everything that is done at the school level, additional training & resources, Year 1 Phonics Check etc, are 'crisis management' of a system that is flawed from the beginning."

I agree.

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Re: Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by palisadesk » Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:34 am

yvonne meyer wrote:Ineffective philosophies and strategies are "deeply embedded" into teachers during their training at University Schools & Faculties of Education, before they get anywhere near a classroom.


While getting the Curriculum right is important, I don't believe Curriculum documents can undo the damage (mis-education) done by the Universities.


Interesting that it seems to be quite different here. The faculties of education do not teach specifics of teaching methods, assessment, reporting or much of anything practical -- that seems to be the responsibility of the employer after the graduate is hired. The teacher preparation program is quite short (one academic year) so there is little time for any specific subject teaching to be covered; there are courses on psychology, education and the law, child development, theories of education, history of education, and so on.

Recent graduates have told me they learned nothing at all about teaching methods or assessment, either Whole Language or otherwise. The school districts have stepped into the breach with their own training programs for new teachers, and teachers are encouraged to take additional qualifications courses in subject areas.

So, there are pros and cons to this. The pro is that the new teachers are bright, highly educated (most were in the top quarter of their university class; their teaching certificate is an additional degree), and not particularly indoctrinated. On the other hand, it would be beneficial if teachers entered the field with a broad knowledge of teaching foundation skills. The program would have to be longer to ensure that.

The other reason it doesn't make sense to train teachers in subject specific skills, like early reading instruction, is that teachers have no say over what grades or subjects they teach. Imagine the frustration at preparing to be the world's best primary teacher only to find oneself assigned to Grade 8 physical education! Happens all the time.

You have an advantage in the UK in having policy that militates against the multi-cueing strategy, while our curriculum requires that it be taught explicitly even if synthetic phonics is used. Schools that use JP must still teach the other "cueing systems." For whatever reason, the UK evidence doesn't seem to impress anyone here.

I think, though, that if you get in there fast with the SP approach and establish all-through-the-word decoding as the default strategy, the others don't do much harm.

Susan S.

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Re: Schools not moving away from the multi-cueing strategies

Post by chew8 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:03 am

Susan S. wrote:You have an advantage in the UK in having policy that militates against the multi-cueing strategy, while our curriculum requires that it be taught explicitly even if synthetic phonics is used. Schools that use JP must still teach the other "cueing systems." For whatever reason, the UK evidence doesn't seem to impress anyone here.


I agree that we do now have an advantage in the UK. It's not as clear-cut as we would like as long as a National Curriculum which enshrines multi-cueing is still in force, but at least the government has made it clear that it wants a phonics-first approach, and the Year 1 screening check will start happening before the revised NC comes into force. Reception and Year 1 teachers should already know, therefore, that they should be putting a lot of emphasis on decoding. I think the DfE will be issuing more guidance about the screening check soon.
Susan S. wrote:I think, though, that if you get in there fast with the SP approach and establish all-through-the-word decoding as the default strategy, the others don't do much harm.
Again I agree.

Jenny C.

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