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Advocating the teaching of letter names to children just entering school is crass

Here we go again! in the latest issue of Nomanis, Stephen Parker has written an article on how we should be teaching phonics to children entering school. While Stephen offers some very useful advice, there is (at least) one of his recommendations that needs to be studiously ignored: his invocation to teach letter names to… Continue reading Advocating the teaching of letter names to children just entering school is crass

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The weekly spelling list

The weekly spelling list is still a feature in the homework given to thousands of schoolchildren every week. Rarely, if ever, is this practice greeted with any enthusiasm. Children/students with good visual memories can often battle their way, with the appropriate amount of practice, through the ordeal. Students with less than stupendous visual memories struggle… Continue reading The weekly spelling list

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Poor vocabulary? Teach them phonics!

On Saturday, I was listening to Kathy Rastle’s keynote at the DSF conference in Perth. Kathy was talking about ‘The journey from form to meaning in English and other writing systems’, and arguing that, whilst learning to speak is primary knowledge, learning to read and write isn’t and has to be taught explicitly: phonics instruction… Continue reading Poor vocabulary? Teach them phonics!

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Super-charged phonics

I’ve talked a lot on this blog about the skills, the knowledge, and conceptual understanding young children need to develop to mastery level. What I haven’t mentioned is the sort of really ‘super-charged, value-added component’ that should come with any high-quality phonics teaching. As always on this blog, I’ll talk about the detail of what… Continue reading Super-charged phonics

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Is a ‘blend’ a thing? No, it’s a process

We argue very strongly against the use of the word ‘blend’ as a noun. ‘Blend’ is a verb; it’s something we do. In one sense, all words are blends, blends of sounds. To be clear, what people are referring to when they talk about blends is really consonant clusters or adjacent consonants and some teachers… Continue reading Is a ‘blend’ a thing? No, it’s a process

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Why do we emphasise segmenting skills more than blending in learning to read and write?

Why, at Sounds-Write, do we begin our teaching with word-building? There are three main reasons: we are teaching children that spellings stand for sounds in the language; we are teaching them specifically which particular spellings stand for the particular sounds in the words we are going to be using; and, we are teaching the skill… Continue reading Why do we emphasise segmenting skills more than blending in learning to read and write?

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Sorting out some of the confusion in ‘Learning to Read: A primer | Part 1’

I’ve just been reading ‘Learning to Read: A Primer | Part 1‘. It’s the latest in a long line of publications attempting to clarify for teachers and others what the nature of the task is in the teaching of reading and writing. There are in the document lots of things with which to agree and… Continue reading Sorting out some of the confusion in ‘Learning to Read: A primer | Part 1’

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Some eggsellent advice from scientist Tim Birkhead

Just a few weeks ago I listened to a programme on Radio 4 in which British evolutionary biologist and ornithologist professor Tim Birkhead from the University of Sheffield talked about a mystery which has fascinated him for the past six years. The mystery? Explaining why guillemot eggs are shaped the way they are. [He’s a… Continue reading Some eggsellent advice from scientist Tim Birkhead