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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

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The ill-conceived idea of ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ spelling – a reprise

This post is a reprise of a post I wrote in February 2016. As its subject matter seems to crop up all the time in discussions about phonics teaching, I thought it would be helpful to re-post it. What do people mean when they talk about ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ spellings? ‘Regular’, as the dictionary definition… Continue reading The ill-conceived idea of ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ spelling – a reprise

Teaching Beginning Literacy · Uncategorized

Laying the foundations for literacy

  Whether you’re a religious person or not, the gospel according to St Matthew is a veritable treasure trove of useful stories and proverbs that provide useful analogies to the process of learning to read. Keith Stanovich was inspired by Matthew Chapter 25, v 20 to call one of his most quoted papers on the… Continue reading Laying the foundations for literacy

Word building

Cognitive load theory, element interactivity and phonics teaching

While there has been much interest in cognitive load theory (CLT)  – Dylan Wiliam, quoted in Greg Ashman’s blog Filling the pail, says he thinks it is ‘the single most important thing for a teacher to know’ – very little has been written that specifically address early years teaching. One aspect of CLT discussed by… Continue reading Cognitive load theory, element interactivity and phonics teaching