Friday, August 11, 2023

Systematic Synthetic Phonics and Word-Callers


Here is a tweet by LondonJohn on 10.8.2023 and a tweet in reply by Dr. Sam Bommarito



I'm working with a parent whose child has had a year's systematic synthetic phonics teaching, can't read and doesn't want to go to school, especially as she failed the dreaded 'Phonics Screening Check'.


Dr. Sam Bommarito @DoctorSam7

There are many children exactly like that. Very often they are word callers. Word callers make up significant numbers of the kids doing poorly on tests. Glad there are folks like @londonjohn9 who provide kids who have needs like that with what they need.


Why is Dr. Sam Bommarito doing this to himself? Surely he should understand the meaning of word-callers after reading my post here. Why is he still referring to struggling kids as word-callers?


LondonJohn explicitly said that the girl can’t read. A word-caller is by definition someone who can read as fluently as a proficient reader.

The girl is similar to Louis whose mother I guided to teach him to read. Louis was able to read after two lessons from my book.  Read an extract of the dialogue, copied below, I had with the mother in December/January 2020/21.

What LondonJohn says above is exactly what Alanna Maurin said to Dr. Sam on 4th January 2021.

‘After 1 year of a scripted structured synthetic phonics program, he was still sounding out cvc words and was having lots difficulty retaining tricky words.’

After listening to my video at LINK and reading 2 of my lessons with her son she tweeted the following:

He's attending to print and reading words that he hasn't mastered the code of yet.

This is a child who for a year has been switched off to reading and struggled to decode and blend simple cvc words and was distressed by his inability to retain 'tricky' words out of context.

After just two lessons he is now asking me to help him read words from packages, from his games and he now sounds t p b l f d correctly every time.


Shouldn’t Dr. Sam or his research friends ask how a kid who ‘switched off’ reading after a year of scripted systematic synthetic phonics programme was suddenly able to read and was interested in learning to read?

When the mother twitted and asked why her son was eager to read after the 2 lessons, Dr. Sam’s answer was: "What works with one child doesn't always work with another. Glad you found something that is working for your student."

My answer is: The kid’s confusion was cleared. He could now blend letters to form words. He memorised the high frequency words.

For those who want to read extracts of the discussion between the mother and me please continue reading.

Luqman Michel:

The sounds of the letters are his problem. He has been taught many of the sounds wrongly.

We can get him to read. You need to follow exactly what I tell you to do.

Alanna Maurin:

He had stomach aches to go to school.

He is confused. Very much so.

And he's sad and emotional about learning to read.

Luqman Michel:

He is pronouncing many of the consonants with extraneous sounds.

I will tell you what he has learned wrongly. Start from the beginning and he will read in no time.

The consonants he is pronouncing wrongly are b,c, d, g,j,k,p,t. I did not hear the sound of 'h'.

The sounds he is pronouncing correctly are l,m,n and maybe s - (s is not clear)

Teach the first lesson with the correct pronunciation of the consonants as shown on the lesson.

At the end of the lesson make sure he learns the Dolch words by heart. Forget all that you may have heard about Dolch words should not be memorised etc.

Alanna Maurin:

After just two lessons he is now asking me to help him read words from packages, from his games and he now sounds t p b l f d correctly every time.

We are only JUST scratching the surface of understanding how the brain reads, so how can these people claim to understand the 'science' of how to teach reading??? Especially when so many observations from the field contradict what they say.

I am sure if I told them about Louis they will say there is something wrong with his brain.

The reading wars need to end. Too many are so busy proving their own ways that they are blind to simple solutions.

You have presented as such, a simple solution. And I believe you.

I have 14 years of teaching experience and I am almost finished a master’s in reading and literacy. You make a lot of sense. You see clearly the issues.

I think this clouds the minds of a great many people who are otherwise clever.

He is doing well :-)

I will send you a video tomorrow.

He is slow with the Dolch words but he has finally mastered 'near'. He is able to read the first 4 lessons fluently and we are working on 5.

He is progressing well apart from being a bit slow with the Dolch words. We are all back at school now so life had gotten very busy! He is up to lesson 5 part 2 and can read without mistakes.

Jan 30, 2021, 1:29 PM

Note: I lost touch with Allana until 28.9.2021 when she said the following:

Alanna Maurin:

You really helped he and I get out of being stuck.  Reading is now fun, he enjoys it and chooses to read rather than me having to make him.






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