Monday, March 23, 2015

Linkedin – Forum on how to teach reluctant and struggling readers- Part 2

This is academic and parents may skip this post.

An interesting discussion
I've watched the wider arguments between those who argue for Synthetic Phonics as it's now called, who seem convinced that you always teach letter-by-letter f-u-r as well as c-a-t
And those who are convinced you teach using Onset and rime f/ur as well as c/at. (Apparently, now it is called Analytic Phonics, at least by advocates of the former method.)
It's the first that has won the political battle. But as yet I've never seen any convincing evidence that discriminates between the effectiveness of either, from either camp.
I assume that outside of the purist camp of Synthetic Phonics f/ur would be acceptable for use by ordinary working teachers.

My thoughts: I have no problem with what Tom has said. I believe all teachers worth their salt know what are consonant blends, schwa, digraphs,consonant digraphs etc. AND most teachers have been teaching this to kids but has it reduced the number of reluctant and struggling readers over the years? Has anyone of us in that forum really benefited from it? Is anyone of us going to change our ways of teaching reluctant and struggling kids?

2 sounds, not 3. Just as /th/, /sh/, and /ch/, although called digraph sounds, is taught as a single sound. There are 44 sounds in the English language, many of which contain 2 letters. The example of c/at is indeed a rime, but traditionally used when teaching "families" to beginning readers to assist in reading new words and understanding how rhyming works.

My thoughts:
Most teachers know that, I believe. The problem will still persist with kids who will ask how to pronounce ‘th’ and then we will have to have a day’s lesson to teach the slightly different sounds of ‘th’ in the following words: them, this, that, these, those, then, fifth and many other words containing the ‘th’ sound. Kids will only end up more confused than before they started this lesson.

I find it easier to teach the sounds of each alphabet - just one of the sounds – and explicitly tell them that many of the letters have more than one sound. Tell them that they can combine with other letters to make different sounds. I tell them that if one of the sounds does not unlock a word, he should try the others until he recognises the word and it fits in with the sentence he is reading.

The ch sound also poses a problem as in Choir, chair, school, chaos, chemist etcetera.

I think this is a good example of why we should be flexible and relaxed about the number of sounds and how to teach them. There is no one 'correct' way to pronounce the sounds of English.

I should make it clear that I mean only that we should be flexible about how to teach the pronunciation of different sounds. I do NOT mean we should be flexible about fundamental teaching methods. We should absolutely teach letter-sound correspondences, blending them to read words and identifying the sounds before spelling words, systematically, with no guessing or memorising without phonics.

My Thoughts: I think that this is the most acceptable comment, besides the comment made by Tom earlier, I have read so far. We should be trying to see what works with reluctant and struggling students. If we have been teaching in one way for the past umpteen years and if the rate of students who fail to read after a few years of teaching remain the same then we have to reconsider and ask ourselves what we can do to improve the situation. There is no point in continuing a 'scientific system' of teaching reluctant kids if it has not worked all these years. Teach in a way that is suitable for all children. Learn from the thousands of teachers who successfully teach reluctant and struggling students all over the world.

Definition of insanity by Einstein: “Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”.

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