Phonics and how to teach it

‘Curly c’ and ‘kicking k’ or ‘This spelling of /k/’?

Very often I hear teachers talking about “curly ‘kuh’” and “kicking ‘kuh” to register the difference between the spellings [ c ] and [ k ], representing the sound /k/.

Why don’t we use this language in Sounds-Write? The answer is simple. If instead we talk about “This kind of /k/,” or “This spelling of /k/” and then model it on a whiteboard or in the air, we are already orienting our learners towards the idea that sounds can be spelled in more than one way. Moreover, this is a concept that we will shortly be using a lot. For example, we shall be introducing different spellings of the sound /ae/, /ee/, etc.

If we teach explicitly that sounds in the English language can be spelled in more than one way (not a difficult concept to understand) when it is very easy to teach, young learners will already be thoroughly familiar with it by the time we have to teach different spellings of /ae/ and /ee/.

So, when a child is writing and wants to know how to spell, say, ‘kit’, we ask them first, “What’s the difficult bit for you in this word?” Invariably, the answer will be “The /k/.” and we then model the spelling and say, “This is the way we spell /k/ in ‘kit’.” The effect of this is two-fold: first, it makes the pupil aware of what is problematical in any specific word and encourages them to be more analytical about their own practice; and, second, it provides the correct spelling. 
The technique can be used for any spelling a pupil is unsure of in any word.
Thanks for the cartoon image go to Fernando. Muchas gracias!