APPROACHES TO PHONICS AND READING
Read, Write Inc.
Reading is the one ability, that once set in motion, has the ability to feed itself, grow exponentially and provide a basis from which possibilities are limitless.
At Beech Grove, we believe that the ability to read is an essential life skill that lies at the heart of learning. Phonics is a way of decoding written letters or spoken sounds and we use a scheme called Read, Write Inc. to teach our children how to make sense of written symbols to enable them to learn to read and write.
To begin children are taught individual sounds daily during 'Speedy Sounds' sessions. After these have been learnt, children begin to learn how to blend these sounds into words during regular 'Word Time' sessions. Word Time sessions are repeated while new sounds are learned and these are then incorporated into further Word Time sessions.
What is phonics and why do we teach it?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read skillfully.
They are taught how to:
- recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
- identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
- blend those sounds together from left to right to make a word.
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘decode’ new words that they see or hear. This is the first important step to learning to read.
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7.
Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and read for enjoyment.
Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning difficult to read, for example those who have dyslexia. At Beech Grove we use the Read, Write Inc. scheme for teaching phonics.
Please see www.gov.uk/government/collections/phonics for more information.
Supporting Information for Parents
Set 1 sounds
Children learn their sounds in groups, building to using these groups of sounds to read and spell words in Word Time sessions. To begin with their are 6 groups in set 1.
Set 2 sounds
As children progress into learning set 2 sounds they will move from ditty books onto books with one, longer story. Read, Write Inc. lessons will contain time to learn new sounds, existing sound practice, time for reading and also writing.
Set 3 sounds
Children begin to learn that there are multiple ways to read and spell some sounds. They are reminded of one way and learn another, new way.
New Phonic Videos from Read Write Inc to watch:
'Green' words are phonetically decodable words that the children learn to read. They allow children to become fluent readers because regular reading of these words mean that they become familiar and are able to recognise/read them on sight. They can then use their knowledge of these words to read similar words more quickly. The following are not an exhaustive list of the only words that children will read but instead are an indication of the types of words that will be read at each stage. Children are not tested on these as reading or spelling tests but their ability to read them may be used to inform us of their progress.
The Green words build in stages, called 'Word Time' lessons and during these sessions the children use their recently learnt sounds to segment and blend words.
These are words that children will need to learn on sight because they contain parts that are not decodable. They are arranged into groups according to the colour of the books that they appear in. They might only be red words until a specific sound is learnt or because people pronounce them differently in different parts of the country.
Fred is our Read, Write Inc. mascot/friend. He can only speak in sounds though, so we have to help him learn to say words, instead of sounds. For example Fred says 'c-a-t' instead of cat. We also teach him not to add 'uh' to our sounds in order to keep them pure. For example we say 'c' and not 'cuh'.
We use 'Fred Fingers' to help make the transition between oral sounding out and spelling with magnetic letters or on paper.
Firstly we count how many sounds we can hear:
"cat, c-a-t, 3 sounds".
Then we hold up that many fingers.
For each sound we use our other hand to squeeze a Fred Finger and say the sound
Then we use our free hand to 'sweep' over our Fred Fingers and to blend the sounds into a word
Watch out - words such as fish needs 3 Fred Fingers - "f-i-sh". Words such as flight need 4 Fred Fingers - "f-l-igh-t".
As children become more confident with their sounds and spelling words they will move away from using their Fred Fingers and instead rely on sounding out in their head.
Read, Write Inc. books
After children have learned enough sounds they will begin to read 'Ditty' books in their Read, Write Inc. lessons, as well as continuing Speedy Sounds and Word Time sessions. Ditty books contain 3 short stories that the children read and these stories are made up from green and red words.
Following Ditty books children continue to read groups of books that have been specially written to support progress through the scheme. These books follow their own colour scheme and do not tie in with the home/school reading books scheme.
Each colour band contains 10 main books, with extra books to support non-fiction reading as well. Children are taught to read the 'green' and 'red' words at the beginning of each book, before checking understanding using the 'vocab check' page. The children also talk about the upcoming story to make links to their own experiences before reading the book, usually 3 times. The first time is to practise decoding the words, the second time is to practise expression and the third time is to read for comprehension. Each book focuses on a particular sound or set of sounds, allowing the children to practise the sounds that they have been learning most recently. Adults will move their group through the books, picking and choosing books that they feel will best support the learning of their group.
Writing in Read, Write Inc. sessions
A typical Read, Write Inc. session contains a mix of learning and practising sounds, reading and writing. Each of the coloured storybook bands have a matching 'Get Writing' book that contains activities that the adults can use to build on the reading activities the children will have completed. The activities are designed to support the learning of sentence structure and grammar but also developing vocabulary and generating ideas for writing. Activities often include:
Hold a sentence - listening to, orally repeating and then writing a sentence linked to the book they were reading.
Edit a sentence - correcting errors in a sentence, for example missing capital letters, punctuation and spelling mistakes.
Create a sentence - writing about a stimulus, often a picture from the storybook they were reading, for example filling in a speech bubble, completing a 'Wanted' poster or writing a simple recipe.
Adults use these activities when appropriate but also create their own activities as a result of their ongoing assessment of the children. This way Read, Write Inc. sessions always contain activities that are exciting, appropriate and fun!
Research has shown that incorporating nonsense words into teaching reading can be an effective way to establish blending and segmenting skills. However it is important to ensure that children understand that they are reading nonsense words (and why) so that they are not confused by trying to read the words for meaning. By reading nonsense words children develop their ability to decode individual sounds and then blend them together to read. They are an indicator of early reading skills and work as a quick, reliable and valid way of assessing children. However reading nonsense words is only a small part of the Read, Write Inc. phonics teaching.
Below you can find some examples of nonsense words for each stage of Read, Write Inc. Of course, any number of nonsense words exist and the following lists are only to give an idea of the kinds of words that might be used.
In addition to our Read, Write Inc. books, our pupils at Beech Grove also follow a phonically decodable colour banded reading scheme that matches their home reading to their current reading attainment. In addition, our children select books that interest them from our library, during their regular library slots, as well as enjoying daily class story time and guided reading sessions.
To further encourage our budding readers to invest more time devouring books, we have established a Reading Challenge where classes compete for the highest number of children reading four times or more each week. Every child who achieves this will be entered into a monthly raffle where they could win their own book. The more they read, the more chances they receive!