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#71047 - 05/23/02 08:40 PM Post deleted by ewein
ewein Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 184
Loc: USA

#71048 - 05/24/02 02:44 AM Re: Phonics
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Yes it is a YART in that it has been touched on a few times in the "Declining Standards" thread but even I can't find it so....

Edinburgh Schools have had increasing success in teaching reading and spelling in recent years. The method, based on phonics, has been found to have significantly better results than previous "mix and match" programmes which relied on an eclectic mix of phonics and "whole word" teaching.

My children, who were pretty bad spellers, arrived in Edinburgh before the scheme was launched in their school and their spelling improved dramatically when it was introduced. The teaching method meant that parts of the day were set aside for whole class teaching (suddenly back in fashion in primary schools), concentrating on word families - eg pink, think, sink. Where words sounded the same but were spelt differently or were spelt the same but sounded differently were circled in red. So words such as glue and stew and rough would appear on the -ough list for words like through, marked in red.

Before this was introduced at the school, spelling was taught mainly by studying lists of whole words, according to their frequency of use in the english language. My intitial reaction was that the classes might be rather dull but instead, the way that it was taught, encouraged the children to think for themselves - they seemed have great fun building up the word lists. although the teachers, did seem to move rather quickly through some word groups, for example duck, pluck, muck .. oh, is it time for lunch?

In English schools, there is a programme called the "Literacy Hour" where teachers have to follow a set programme for an hour every morning. I have no direct experience of the programme. It was much resisted by teachers but friends tell me that it is working well for their children. If you google on "literacy hour" you will find out more about it.

Here is a link to some research on the use of a method called synthetic phonics for those in their first year at school, conducted over a five year period in Edinburgh schools:
Prior to doing this research we had believed that it was good to use an eclectic approach to teaching reading from the earliest stages. So we thought that on school entry it was effective to teach children some phonics and some sight words, but also that it was necessary to introduce them to reading books very early on so that they learn that reading is a pleasurable and meaningful activity. What we have learnt is that a ‘phonics first’ approach, whereby children are taught right from the start that letter sounds can be blended together to pronounce words, gives them an excellent start, and the basic elements can be completed in the first term of school if intensive teaching is given. Of course this phonics teaching can alternatively be carried out in the context of reading attractive books from a reading scheme.


#71049 - 05/24/02 10:43 AM Re: Phonics
TheFallibleFiend Offline

Registered: 01/23/02
Posts: 1523
Loc: Virginia, USA
My kids' school use what they call a mixed approach. I'm not sure what to think about it, as my own kids do very well reading, but my oldest has told me there is at least one girl in the sixth grade who can barely read at all. Now, this could be an anomaly (there will always be), or it could be she has some disability (dyslexia), or it could be she's getting zero support at home. Any number of things.

I recently wrote a letter to the superintendent of our schools to tell him how happy I am at the school- and grade-wide support for reading instruction at my kids' school. Specifically, they have this program called DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) nearly every day in which for about 20-25 minutes near the end of the day, nearly every class in the school stops what they're doing and the students read. Great idea. They also hold read-a-thons once or twice a year in which the students bring blankets, pillows, and a stack of books in to read. My favorite is the classical parents program. Two or three classical books are selected for the year and the parents read those books to the kids over the course of several weeks. I was already doing this with my kids and it's nice to have a way of sharing this with the other parents and kids. Each sixth grade class does a play every year. This year was Julius Caesar - severely edited, but still a lot better than Dick and Jane. Amy got to play Marc Antony she loved the words - the way he said exactly the opposite of what he said. ("I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him" "Brutus is an honorable man" "I come not, friends, to steal your hearts away" "I am no orator")

I don't support or oppose any particular method of instruction. Instead, I think what's really important are individual, motivated teachers who really want to teach and not just stand up and blabber or follow some script.


#71050 - 05/24/02 12:50 PM Re: Phonics
slithy toves Offline

Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 320
Loc: Sarasota, Florida, US
I have always felt that good reading instruction needs to have as its basis a solid phonics approach. However, if that's all there is, some students are going to be left behind. Great numbers of young kids lack the ability to interpret phonetic symbols. Why? Poor diet? Too much TV? Unstable home environment? All of the above, and much more, I'm sure. Dyslexia and poor auditory memory are among the factors that contribute to delayed reading ability. These kids usually require small-group or individual instruction, allowing them the extra attention they need to crack the code. But along with phonics they need to learn how to use the "whole-word" approach, context clues, all the skills normally developing kids generally pick up on their own. My experience--which is limited to US public schools--is that all too often the people who teach reading will drop what they are doing and shift to a new program with a radically different emphasis, simply because a new magic bullet has come down from academia. This goes back, at least, to the Chomsky era in the 60's. I believe that many, many students identified as learning-disabled would be doing just fine with a systematic, balanced approach to reading instruction.

This is a concern in other academic areas as well--remember "new math"? But that's another subject.

#71051 - 05/24/02 01:22 PM Re: Phonics
TheFallibleFiend Offline

Registered: 01/23/02
Posts: 1523
Loc: Virginia, USA

I was a victim of the new math. Although, I suspect that if my teachers had been more understanding (of their subject) that it wouldn't have been so painful. I failed second grade. When I took math in third grade, they would take me out of class and walk me to he other end of the school to take it with the first graders. I just couldn't understand the point of the whole thing. In particular, I didn't quite 'believe' multiplication. And I couldn't understand inequalities at all. Of course those are trivial things to me now, and it's difficult to understand what all the fuss was about. I think my brain just wasn't ready to receive those concepts yet. Nevertheless, I'm convinced that if I had had teachers who were actually thinking about what was going on instead of just spewing back what they thought they knew that things might have turned out differently.

One of my brothers failed second grade twice. He was entering fourth grade before someone finally realized he couldn't read. Not a word. Part of this was the fact that we moved to so many different schools. My mom says we went to 8 different schools that year, but I swear I only remember 3. Part of it was the fact that my parents weren't involved in school at all. And a big part, I think, was that the teachers just weren't paying attention. They have this script that they go through and if you ask questions in the wrong way it's like you're ad-libbing and they loose track of where they are.

I agree that too often teachers (and parents and everyone else) are out for the next silver bullet. That doesn't mean they're all fool's silver. But the main thing is having a teacher who really understands the subject and who is enthusiastic, who wants to help the student to understand things in whatever way the student is ready to accept it.


#71052 - 05/25/02 11:47 AM Re: Phonics
pjandq Offline

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 9
Loc: california
This is a popular question with the our homeschool group. It seems we all do a mix of phonics and sight reading. It's amazing the differences in children just in one family on their preferred method.

foggy gardens
foggy gardens

#71053 - 06/03/05 10:17 PM Re: Phonics
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
This has come back to top of the news agenda in the UK in the last few days, with a government announcement of a new review in the light of 1 in 5 children getting to the end of primary schooling with inadequate language skills. Tony Bliar used to rattle on about “Education, education, education” but that was before he discovered the appeal of “war, war, war”.




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