Make no mistake:
‘Context dependent whole word guessing’ is developmentally inappropriate for infant grades.
A predictable well organised classroom literacy programme allows for some personal space; peace of mind & above all else, work satisfaction.
Teaching is not a job for the faint-hearted. It’s a huge responsibility, particularly for early grade teachers.
Multi-sensory programmes are know to be the best option for the large majority of infants and yields the most solid foundation for reading and spelling.
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to test VAS when early reading failure occurs. Low VAS plus a Whole Language approach guarantees Reading Failure. It could be this simple. Don’t assume the child has a learning difficulty. Switch to a Phonics approach, Phonics does not require a high VAS. See the video “Sam’s Story” in Consequences, to understand why Sam succeeded regardless of his low VAS.
This is a story of arrested development, it has been dubbed as the “4th Year Slump”. It is the result of failure to teach Phonics in early grades or “Balanced Literacy”. Given a choice between “guessing” and “decoding”, a high VAS student will choose “guessing” - it’s fast, “decoding” is initially slow. See the video “Eve’s Story” in Consequences to understand the inherent dangers and the complex remediation difficulties.
This assumes that there is a difference of opinion between two different ideologies on how reading should be taught. Wrong assumption. Phonics isn’t, and never has been, an ‘ideology’. Phonics is simply a bag of practical tools to make learning to read manageable for infants. See the short video on “Cognitive Load” in Consequences to understand why we can’t expect infants to use grown-up context cuing strategies.
VAS matters. VAS, when coupled with Whole Language teaching in infant grades, can be the sole cause of an “apparent” learning problem. VAS is tied to visual working memory. Each & every person on the planet has a VAS level. It’s developmental and varies greatly between individuals - and it can impact on learning. Boys in general are one year behind girls in VAS development. If the failing student is taught by a systematic phonics approach the problem will disappear. VAS may be a compounding factor for any student experiencing a Specific Learning Deficit.
That meaning matters is a given. However, beware of the teaching focus. * "Read to the end of the sentence and see if that helps you identify the word." X This strategy by Whole Language advocates is a) cognitively too advanced for early learners b) meaning should NEVER be used for word identification in any case. Meaning is used for meaning of course but also for predicting what is unfolding (increasing fluency) and building vocabulary. Blending & chunking and increasingly, morphology are appropriate skills for assisting accurate word identification, hence ever more reliable meaning & increased vocabulary.
The teaching of reading & writing is undoubtedly the most important teaching task there is. All learning beyond infant grades is dependent upon it.
It is imperative that teachers have programmes that are structured, sequential, provide practice and consolidation and above all else, yield results.
We have chosen 3 programmes that work effectively in the classroom, each with the attributes set out on the previous slide. They differ only in the manner of delivery.
Teachers need to feel comfortable in their own skin.
This new app is available from the Apple App Store
or from Google Play (Android version)
Click on the catalogue to see how comprehensive this programme is, while it may seem expensive, it is very good value indeed.
You can download this app from this webpage:
Take a look at their newest resources while you are there.
Part of a Sounds-Write Conference held in Melbourne 2014. Please note: This video was taken live and the sound quality is poor. The message, however, is too vital to be left unsaid.
Ear-phones are recommended for increasing the sound output.
We must respect the cognitive load we place on the early learner at the point of learning
Author : Sue Dickson
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