I’ve been thinking about something Vivian Paley once wrote in her book Wally’s Stories Conversations in the Kindergarten. She said, ‘The adult should not underestimate the young child’s tendency to revert to earlier thinking: new concepts have not been ‘learned’ but are only in temporary custody. They have been glimpsed but are not in permanent… Continue reading On the teaching of conceptual understanding: from Vivian Paley
People have been asking me recently about the new Reading Framework’s guidance on teaching phonics and specifically on the use of mini-whiteboards. The guidance states that ’… sitting on the floor and writing on a mini-whiteboard does not help children learn to hold a pencil and form letters correctly. To write, they should sit… Continue reading Mini whiteboards, major outcomes!
Frankly, I thought that the notion of ‘silent letters’ had gone out with the Ark. Evidently not! What still doesn’t seem to be understood by some advocates of phonics is that all letters are silent! All letters are silent because letters, singly or in combination, are symbols for the sounds in speech. Speech is biologically… Continue reading Shh Silent letters at work – again!
Phonemes and graphemes or sounds and spellings: it depends on the context. Yesterday, I published ‘This and that’, a short blog post on the importance of maintaining consistency in the language we use when training teachers in how to teach phonics and teaching children phonics. After publishing, another example of the way in which we… Continue reading More on ‘This and that’
What’s in a word? On our Sounds-Write training courses, to teachers, we use the word ‘represents’ all the time when describing the relationship between the sounds in the English language and the way in which those sounds are characterised. For teachers and teaching, the reason for using the word is strategic. We want to make… Continue reading This and that
This post has been written as a quick response to a debate on Twitter about whether teachers should be teaching letter names or sounds or both to young children just embarking on learning to read and spell Until young children (Reception/Y1) are secure with sounds – i.e, they understand that letters are representations of sounds… Continue reading Sounds or letter names? An update
Making the decision whether to teach phonics ‘whole-class’ or in small groups can be a difficult one but, in this post, I want to make the case for whole-class teaching. It’s pretty obvious that if you’re a teacher of a class combining different years, you will almost certainly want to ‘set’ them and, in this… Continue reading Teaching phonics: whole class or small group?
Word building is the perfect place to start teaching young children to read and write from the moment they enter school because by so doing we can mitigate the problem of teaching an alphabetic code that is highly opaque. Here’s how: word building ensures children understand the direction of the code – from each… Continue reading Word building – the foundation stone of beginning literacy
A reply to The Reading Ape: ‘Controlling the text – the dilemma of decodable texts’. Now that we’ve finally got used to the idea of supporting the teaching of beginning reading using decodable texts, in the blog post ‘Controlling the text – the dilemma of decodable texts’, The Reading Ape (TRA) is asking a thorny… Continue reading A reply to The Reading Ape: ‘Controlling the text – the dilemma of decodable texts’
In their book The Writing Revolution, Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler argue that sentences rather than paragraphs are the ‘building blocks’ of good writing. They reason that many students simply don’t have mental ‘bandwidth’ to cope simultaneously with the grammar, syntax, spelling and punctuation, as well as the meaning they are trying to convey: the… Continue reading And in the beginning was the word…