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Grade 2+ and still not in the 'reading to learn' phase?
This page will show you how to get Grade 2+ students (who aren't otherwise having difficulties in school) through the 'learning to read' phase in around 10 weeks / 1 academic term.
As I've been getting SO MANY messages from upper primary (grades 2+) teachers who are trying to teach the curriculum, and yet many of their students are not yet in the 'reading to learn' phase (and so can't keep up with the demands of the curriculum) I have created this page just for them. Please do share this with any parents or teachers who are facing this problem. However wonderful they are as teachers, many have 25 or so students who are working at very different level with regards to literacy ; one may not be able to read a PM10 and another is reading series books for pleasure. It can be a nightmare trying to actually teach anything. Even when teaching maths or science if half the class can't read the word problems or experiment then they can't focus on the SKILLS they are trying to learn, or understand the CONCEPTS outlined in the text as they can't read it - even if perfectly capable of understanding it if the text is read to them. This is not always practical. Teaching is difficult enough as it is, let's send all students to grade 2 OUT of the 'learning to read' phase (unless there is a genuine reason they are not there yet)
I have often had to take students of all ages out of class to teach them to read and spell in a term. I give myself this deadline as the earlier they can get stuck in with their peers the better, we simply cannot keep removing them, or take months or years to teach them something they could have learned in their first two years of school IF TAUGHT DIFFERENTLY! So please encourage the foundation and year 1 teachers to work together to ensure that all children (without an II) go up to grade 2 'reading to learn' so that teachers in grades 2+ can actually teach. Bottom line, let's get these old kids out of the 'learning to read' phase asap. Team effort! Get all hands on deck and make this your priority. Otherwise the gap between the students who are 'learning to read' and the students who are 'reading to learn' becomes wider and wider - and it negatively impacts on behaviour and engagement across the school. No-one likes feeling like a failure, most will soon find ways to avoid the shame of being unable to read. So let's DO THIS folks. If I can do it anyone can; I'm just a regular teacher with fantastic strategies and tools. I am sharing them with anyone interested.
So if you have a genuine desire to get these kids reading QUICKLY so they can read to learn (and experience the JOY of reading for pleasure) then pull up a chair. You'll need patience and dedication, and the belief that you can see dramatic results in a short period of time because 95% of students who are struggling even after 2 years of school just need teaching differently - there is nothing 'WRONG' with them !! And when do this you will also help the 5% who do have a learning challenge; they may need more time, and an even more scaffolded approach, and some may have limits ...but we always assume they won't, and keep giving them the very best learning experiences.
Miss Emma X
BEd Hons. MA Special Educational Needs.
Step One - Checking the Basics
So I don't know the student, but I have worked with more students than I can count. I am told they 'read slowly', are 'guessing at words, or missing them out', or that they are 'still trying to sound out words' (as if that's a bad thing) or that they 'can't remember what they just read' or 'don't seem to understand what they just read'. And with every single one of them I start by checking their phonemic awareness and basic code knowledge.
Members can access the full 20 minute video and the student record sheet for this Code Knowledge test. The 30 Minute Phonics Program fills in the gaps quickly; they do three activities : Speedy Code Mapping in pairs, Code Level Video and Coding Poster.
If you don't have access to the ConDUCKtors.com members' area then use a phonemic awareness test and also a basic phonics screen. The UK phonics check is a very basic test of high frequency graphemes that are covered in the UK Letters and Sounds program, and also the 4 SSP Code Levels. So that we can evaluate if they are recognising these graphemes and blending them there are 'nonsense' words that they will not recognise / know by memory. This is because the test is purely to check grapheme recognition and blending, and not the other skills needed to be a 'reader'.
Sample grapheme recognition and blending tests.
2017 2018 2019
They should be getting at least 32 right by the end of grade 1 at the latest (within SSP we check that they can get at least 32 by the end of their first year of school, if using the 30 Minute Phonics Program.)
This will show if they have successfully learnt to recognise high frequency graphemes in words, and can blend them.
You can get an idea of their phonemic awareness by doing this really quickly. Answer in brackets.
If I say 'bedroom' without 'room' what would I say? (bed)
If I say 'matchsticks' without 'match' what would I say? (sticks)
You are adding and removing phonemes (speech sounds, not using the letter names)
If I say 'swig' without the 's' (sound) what would I say? (wig)
If I say 'flog' without the 'l' what would I say? (fog)
If I add a 't' after the 's' sound in 'sock' what would I say?
Which speech sound did I change to say 'shark' instead of 'shook'?
If they find these easy then sign in relief as they are very unlikely to be dyslexic!
If they struggle then this deficit will affect every reading and spelling activity you give them, across the curriculum.
You could also ask them to read Code Level sentences in a 'speaking voice' (ie without 'sounding out' the words.) You're checking if they can use (blend) these high frequency graphemes with automaticity. Their ability to do this will correlate with the 'Code Level' they struggled with, if any, during the SSP Assessment, and also with the Phonics check. When you've used the UK Phonics check you will also see, roughly, which 'Code Level' they are working at. Often they have been taught phonics, but not quickly enough - and are stuck around the middle of SSP Yellow even by the end of Year 1. By the end of their first year of school they should be able to read all of these sentences without having to stop and pause at a word, after first scanning it. If not, or if they 'read' them but really slowly, there may be an issue with the instructional ie basic phonics not taught quickly enough, with a focus on fluency. If this is the case they will struggle to comprehend, as their basic decoding skills using high frequency graphemes are slow, and they may not even be exploring the other graphemes. Always ask 'is this looking like the student is an instructional casualty?' It is my experience that around 95% of students simply needed to be taught differently, and could have been reading chapter book by the end of grade 1 if they had different instruction. The good news is that it is never too late to teach then in the way that they can learn, just as it is never too late to retrain teachers!
Pat and the ant sat in the pan. (Green Code Level)
Jack and the red cat got stuck on the little hill. (Purple Code Level)
Milly looks happy when she sings in the green boat under the bright moon. (Yellow Code Level)
The grouchy brown bear started to play with the black and white cow in the field next to the tow truck.
(Blue Code Level)
SSP students using the 30 Minute Phonics program are practising reading Code LevelSentences every day using the coding poster,and the code level readers.