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The beautiful simplicity in McGuinness’s prototype

I’m writing this post because I’ve just realised that after over four hundred posts, to my horror, I’ve never talked about Diane McGuinness’s ‘Prototype for teaching the alphabet code’ before. Fifteen years ago, amongst the most enthusiastic phonics advocates in the UK, everyone was thoroughly conversant with it. However, from what we’ve seen on Twitter… Continue reading The beautiful simplicity in McGuinness’s prototype

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The building blocks of writing

Have you read Natalie Wexler’s excellent article ‘Writing and Cognitive Load Theory’ in the latest issue (No 4) of researchEd? If you haven’t, it’s well worth a careful look. Natalie is the co-author, with Dr Judith Hochman, of The Writing Revolution, of which I am a great fan. In her researchEd piece, Wexler explains that… Continue reading The building blocks of writing

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What the Georgian alphabet can teach us about teaching reading and writing

The other day, I decided to attend a lecture on the Georgian alphabet, which you can view here, to put myself through the extremely challenging exercise of learning more. During the lecture, I and my fellow attendees were introduced to the thirty-three characters that make up the script. All were presented in one single session… Continue reading What the Georgian alphabet can teach us about teaching reading and writing

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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?