Simply the Best Way to Teach Reading and Spelling

This forum has been created to provide a non-challenging environment for teachers and parents new to using synthetic phonics.

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Anne Mc Keefry
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2003 8:35 pm
Location: Co Down

Simply the Best Way to Teach Reading and Spelling

Post by Anne Mc Keefry » Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:12 pm

Simply the Best Way to Teach Reading and Spelling

My name is Anne Mc Keefry and for 35 years I was a teacher, during the last 17 years I taught Primary One and Two classes. In June 2008 I left teaching and now work as an Independent Trainer in Synthetic Phonics.

I would love to see illiteracy eradicated. In Northern Ireland we can be justly proud of our outstanding ‘A’ Level results but should be ashamed that so many school leavers fail to achieve even basic literacy and numeracy skills. If a properly implemented synthetic phonics programme was introduced in Nursery, through Foundation and Keystage 1 we could significantly reduce the problem very quickly.

Discovering Jolly Phonics after 28 years teaching meant that I had finally found a way of ensuring all children learn to read and spell. The following years were incredible as I saw classes of four, five and six year olds reading and writing at a pace I could never have imagined possible.

Nine years ago and quite by chance I discovered Jolly Phonics. I began using it in my P1 class and within weeks amazing things were happening. The children loved the multi sensory approach. Learning to read was fun! Despite having very little knowledge of phonics and only the teacher’s manual for guidance the success of the programme was obvious. By the end of the year most children were reading and spelling well above their chronological age. One of the most rewarding aspects of the programme was the freedom it gave children to write independently. Their stories and captions on drawings were delightful.

Programmes like this really work if they are taught properly. Sadly teachers are still leaving university ill-equipped to teach children the most effective way to decode unknown words and only a tiny percentage of those already in the profession have adequate knowledge of synthetic phonics.

Since August 2008 I have been working in primary schools all over Ireland. I derive tremendous satisfaction in the knowledge that in a small way I am making a big difference in schools that do training.

Like most teachers and parents I was once blissfully unaware of facts such as a competent reader can read 70,000 words and at least 85% of words in English are regular for reading and spelling

Since discovering Jolly Phonics I no longer wonder why we failed so many children. I am amazed that so many succeeded when we managed through lack of knowledge and inadequate training to make the reading process so complicated.

Jolly Phonics has given me an amazing insight into the way some children perceive letters and words.

Until 2001 like most teachers I used a ‘balanced’ approach to teach reading and have always taught ’within the context of a rich literacy environment’ eventually however if children were to progress they needed to recognise keywords from the reading scheme. But it was only when I discovered synthetic phonics and realised through the individual activities I was doing with the children how some of them actually perceived print. They saw letters/words upside down, back to front and when it came to blending it was natural for them to go from right to left. All the class/group left to right tracking while I read had not helped these pupils!

In a typical P1 class as many as six children (mainly boys) saw print like this. No wonder they were doomed to fail.

It has been my experience in the past nine years that no child has failed to make progress when using a synthetic phonics approach. Every child deserves to be taught to read and spell by the most effective method.

Anne Mc Keefry

Accredited Jolly Phonics Trainer

Posts: 4190
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Simply the Best Way to Teach Reading and Spelling

Post by chew8 » Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:51 pm

How heart-warming! Thanks so much for sharing this.

Jenny C.

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