Look and Say, Phonics??

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Moderator: maizie

Posts: 1859
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:41 pm

Look and Say, Phonics??

Post by g.carter »

Susan Godsland has placed Maizie's TES Early Years' message board post (no.33)on the RRF . Have also included Jim Curran's RRF forum response.

'I'm not saying that I have 20%+ *non* readers in Y7, if by 'non-reader' you mean a child who is unable to read any words. I am talking of the 20% of children who cannot read well enough to access the secondary curriculum. If they can't do that, they don't have any reading skill for life, either. These children can read nothing but a few HFWs (because they have been dinned into them since YR) and some simple single syllable words containing one to one letter/sound correspondences. Their preferred reading strategies are to have a wild guess from the initial letter of words, to read the first few words, then to make it up as they go along, to sit and gaze at me helplessly and say 'I don't know that word' or to avoid reading altogether. I am really not exaggerating. I work with all the children who come to us with L3 or below at KS2 and, apart from one or two obvious underachievers, this is what they are all like. Most of these are children with fairly average ability; a few are quite bright and a few have cognitive problems, mostly in the area of expressive language. I work in an area of social deprivation, but not inner city; just fairly bog standard kind of 'normal'!

I don't think Ofsted (up until now, though I feel that things could be changing) are particularly concerned about 20% of children not reading competently. After all, as Msz says, this figure appears to have been pretty constant since WW2 and it fits in very nicely with the Warnock estimate (1978)that 20% of children will have special educational needs. But also consider that the post WW2 era was the time when Whole Language/Look & Say methods were accepted wholeheartedly by the teaching profession as the best way to teach children to read. (See Joyce Morris's 'Phonics Phobia: www.spellingsociety.org/journals/j17/fonicsfobia.php The 1 or 2 children in each class, despite good phonics teaching that margew notes is probably about 'right', and they probably have some underlying difficulty which makes it harder for them.

I will probably be drummed off the EY forum for saying this, but I don't think it is at all important that children 'learn to love books'. Reading for entertainment is a personal choice, the same way that watching TV or a football match is. I don't care for either. Does this cause anyone undue concern? No.

What is more important is that people CAN read, that they can negotiate their way through all the reading that is needed to live life successfully and not be disadvantaged in a society where reading is a key skill.

While I question the 'developmental' argument, I do think that some children take longer to 'catch on' than others do, but I can safely say that I haven't worked with a child at KS3 yet who is unable to blend; they just don't do it because they have been discouraged by being told it's 'babyish' or because they have been taught to use the 'searchlights' and it is much easier to guess than sound out and blend. So, even if they haven't 'got it' in EY, they've certainly got the idea somewhere along the line.

I know, just from reading this forum, the pressure that you are all under to be able to tick all the boxes and get good results at KS1, but I also know, from working with the children at a later stage, that shortcut methods, such as teaching sight words, don't benefit children; they just keep me in a job which I would much rather didn't exist. '
http://www.tes.co.uk/section/staffroom/ ... sagePage=1

Joined: 31 Oct 2003
Posted: Sat Nov 17, 2007 7:01 am Post subject: Subject
After a lifetime spent in the Secondary Sector I would have to agree with everything that Maizie has said. Unfortunately in disadvantaged areas the percentage of children who leave the primary sector unable to access the Secondary curriculum because of poor literacy skills is much higher, somewhere in the region of 40 %.
To learn to read children must be taught how the alphabetic code works and how they can use it to decipher words. Many children from middle class backgrounds because of their language rich experience and exposure to books from the cradle, will manage to work the code out for themselves, unfortunately many children from disadvantaged backgrounds need to be taught explicitly how the code works and how to use it. If this doesn’t happen they are left to the mercy of a system that crushes them and moves on without them.
What we are really talking about is an educational system that only compounds the early disadvantage that many of these children experience and that consigns them to a continuing cycle of disadvantage and deprivation. Is that really what we want our educational system to be about because that is the reality?

W. Tweedie
Posts: 39
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:05 pm

Re: Look and Say, Phonics??

Post by W. Tweedie »

I can confirm what the previous two people have said.
In my special needs teaching career, I have only come across three people whom I could not teach to read.
One boy, aged 17, was intelligent with no behaviour problems. He appeared to have no visual memory at all. Phonically, he could decode words up to the 3 sound level, but could not visually remember any words. 3 different teachers at the centre tried to help him, to no avail.
Another boy had such severe home problems (he always came with a mentor), that he was not receptive to learning to read. His Reptilian Brain (if one can still use that term!) was closed. I could not reach him.
The third boy was on the Autistic Spectrum with no visual memory. He could only sound out 3 and 4 letter words, but never progressed beyond that.
But otherwise, no matter what the difficulties were, with patience, they all learnt at least enough to access the world out there.
One of my successes a boy, aged 13, came for his one to one lessons, hunched up with no eye contact. One day I used a mindmap which he could not read, asking him all the things he thought he was good at and highlighting them. The page was covered in yellow, because he saw himself as good at most things. I looked at him and said, 'Wow, your intelligent!' He answered, 'yeah!' and proceeded to tell me the horrors of his years at primary school. He not only started to read from that moment on, but he also started walking tall, a fact which was pointed out to me by the receptionist downstairs. But that child had missed 8 years of reading, as compared to his peers. How sad is that?
All the children I have succeeded with, have been taught through a Synthetic Phonic approach, whilst battling against the guessing game which had been instilled into them at school.
Wendy Tweedie
Wendy Tweedie
Phonic Books Ltd.