As I write my first post of 2016 and begin to finally think about the upcoming term, I realise that I have not posted the results of my inquiry around phonics last year. I will address that once I return from holiday and have access to my laptop. The student exemplars I used when presenting still have some names on them. In brief: it was successful.
As to this year’s inquiry my thoughts include…
- Something around strategies to engage students in meta cognition
- More formal investigation into effective use of technology-practical strategies and how we know it is effective
- Something around MLE and how that works in a rural ‘school’
- Something around Barbara Brann’s programme as we implement her programme with NE
- Developing independent skills with juniors
I also have some readings to summarise.
Our phonics journey embarks. As a junior team we have decided to use Yolanda Soryl’s teaching method for phonics. Consequently we have the pre data and I have decided to do a mini-inquiry into this.
Observation: students are not making the connection between reading and writing, namely the spelling patterns. This goes across from beginner readers to fluent, beginner writers to fluent.
Question: What effect does systematic teaching of phonics have on student spelling, when explicit teaching is made to help students transfer knowledge from reading to writing?
Assessments: Phonics entry and exit data. Phonics assessment conducted six weekly. Ten minute writing samples (done two times a term). BAS spelling assessment (completed terms 1 and 5).
Methadology: students spread between four phonics groups, receiving fifteen miinutes phonic teaching at the start of each day. Lessons follow the format taught by Yolanda Soryl at her course, as set out in the accompanying manual, and lessons modelled on youtube.
Observation: there are several struggling writers who view writing as a subject inflicted upon them by all the adults in their lives. Before they begin they have already given up. You can watch them visibly sigh, shrink back into themselves and sometimes grit their teeth. These students mostly have good oral language, are boys and have fantastic ideas that disappear into another realm when they are expected to put them to paper. The students are also writing intial and final sounds, with some writing CVC words. They know some high frequency words. These students are presently spending part of their day on ‘speedy writing’, when they record a dictated rhyming sentence, usually consisting of CVC words. The students’ attitude to this time is quite positive. These boys also enjoy time on the computer, including using kidpix.
Hunch: These students find the writing laborious, and already ‘know’ that they will not spell words correctly. Therefore they ‘know’ they cannot write. Obviously this is not the case.
Question: will explicit phonics instruction, with its emphasis of transfer of knowledge from reading to writing, change these students’ attitude to writing?