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Shh Silent letters at work – again!

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!

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More on ‘This and that’

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’

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Sounds or letter names? An update

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

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Teaching phonics: whole class or small group?

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?

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Word building – the foundation stone of beginning literacy

  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

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A reply to The Reading Ape: ‘Controlling the text – the dilemma of decodable texts’

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’

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And in the beginning was the word…

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…

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Learning to read and write – a schema, Part 2

Following my last post in which I offered, with special regard to the teaching of phonics, a working definition of what a schema is, I want to continue at the point at which the additive process of assimilation cannot proceed without breaking down in the face of contrary evidence. You may have seen a novice… Continue reading Learning to read and write – a schema, Part 2

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Learning to read and write – a schema

Developing a schema for learning to read and write I’ve been thinking for some time about the usefulness of schema theory in helping us to understand better how we teach young children to read and spell when they enter school. Let’s start by asking what a schema is. According to Kirschner and Hendrik, a schema… Continue reading Learning to read and write – a schema