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Search results for the Tag keyword: learning to read
By Paul Nisbet on Monday 21st February, 2011 at 3:03pm
A few years ago Aileen MacIntyre, who teaches at Croftcroighn School in Glasgow, produced some 'symbolised' versions of Oxford Reading Tree books for pupils in the school who were struggling to learn to read. Aileen's books and work was featured in Examples of Best Practice in the 2007 Books for All Report. The idea of adding symbols to books intended to help children learn to read might seem unusual, but staff at Croftcroighn have found that the books help children with engage with the text, and they are sure that the books have improved the childrens' reading and word recognition skills.
Teachers might have concerns that children will rely on the symbols rather than learn to read the text, but the exact opposite seems to happen: for example, one teacher at Avenue End primary says:
"It is having a huge impact on their reading. It has helped with their recognition of high frequency words. They can now identify a lot of these words without the symbols. This is improving their reading and is now transferring to their writing."
Another advantage of the books is that they motivate children who are struggling to learn the words. Another teacher remarks that:
"These children were struggling with the reading scheme being used in class and were showing signs of losing confidence. Use of this innovative symbolic approach as an aid to word recognition has helped the pupils regain their enthusiasm for reading with definite signs of progress being made by them.
Aileen has now set up a company called Help Me Read to publish the books, together with worksheets, communication boards and record sheets to support teaching in class. The books are high quality publications, similar to the standard ORT books, and have Widgit symbols printed above the text.
The web site has information about who might benefit from the books, how to use them, an online ordering facility, and examples of how they can be used to support children with additional support needs, reading difficulties or English as a second language.
Most people think of alternative formats as being for example, Large Print, Braille, audio or digital books: Aileen's publications are a great example of how symbols can be used to make books more accessible in a different way.
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By Stuart Aitken on Wednesday 14th April, 2010 at 12:39pm
In the wake of growing evidence in favour of a 'return to phonics' for example from Tommy Mackay's Scottish Executive funded West Dunbartonshire Literacy project, a burgeoning market has emerged that offers a number of products, not just for early readers but also targeted at pupils who have difficulty learning to read. But which product to choose?
CALL Scotland was asked this question recently by someone enquiring on behalf of a pupil with dyslexia. It would have been nice to have been able to give a direct answer but at this stage it isn't yet possible to do that. Understanding why we still need to hedge our bets may offer useful pointers to others who find themselves trying to decide amongst products and suppliers.Sir Jim Rose's Dyslexia Review established a set of key characteristics or core criteria for a good quality phonics approach to reading which the Department for Education describes when discussing how to choose an effective phonics teaching programme. The site also provides links to a number of products and publishers that certify their compliance with the core criteria. NB A new stricter set of criteria has been produced and publishers are being invited to state whether their products meet the new criteria.
Is that enough? It's certainly a big step forward particularly in light of the fact that views were sought from independent assessors who agreed that they (the products not the assessors) did what they said on the tin. Why then is it not yet possible to state categorically that Product X should be used in preference to all others?
A clue lies in the term self-certification. Before any particular product can be favoured as the best method for delivering structured phonics it would need to meet more demanding criteria. With any 'branded product' we want to know that:
- The results showing effectiveness are acquired independently; trials are carried out by people who are independent of the product.
- Results are complete, there should be no gaps. If gaps do occur between pre-and post-tests they should be explained fully.
- There is a control group. In clinical trials for any new drug, more often than not the control group will receive some treatment rather than none at all. They will often be given the current 'best of the crop', raising the bar for any new product. It would be good to see one structured phonics approach being compared with others.
- If at all possible results should come from randomised controlled trials. Often, improvements are reported by showing improvements between pre-test and post-test data. This is helpful but does not allow the same degree of confidence to be placed in the results.
- Information should be given on types of reading test used and these tests should be widely accepted.
- Reading age scores should be provided as standard scores so that reading age is corrected for shifts in chronological age.
- To their credit some suppliers offer links to the data they obtained to support their case for the effectiveness of their product. We welcome this straightforward transparency.
- One of the lessons from Tommy Mackay's work was to show just how important it was to have clear step-by-step descriptions of what lessons were given each day and what procedures need to be followed.
- It is always good to see evidence collected being presented in peer-reviewed studies.
- At this stage the evidence is not quite there to show that any single structured phonics approach should be favoured against the others. Until then the advice remains - caveat emptor.