Ghoti = Fish (no it doesn’t)

Ghoti spells Fish. This thing still shows up on social media and still makes me sigh heavily. It also still gets used by literacy professionals as “proof” that the English language is “not phonetic”. More heavy sighing. If we’re being honest about the English language, we have to admit that it comes with a complex written code. There are a lot of ways to represent the sounds that we say. However – and this is a big big deal in … Read More

Literacy for Young People on the Outside of Education

Years ago now, during the Round 8 funding for mentoring young offenders, I sat in a meeting where a woman from the Basic Skills Agency stated categorically that you couldn’t sit a teenaged offender down at a table and teach them to read. It just wasn’t possible. It was early days for That Reading Thing and, lacking guts, I let that comment slide by while fuming at the arrogance of a specialist who was consigning our most vulnerable teens to … Read More

What Older Struggling Readers Need

 Older struggling readers need: 1. to change their minds about reading Reading includes speech and sounds so they learn to use their ears as well as their eyes. English is a code which can be decoded for reading and encoded for spelling. 2. new strategies for attacking unfamiliar words – to replace guessing badly Discover the complete English code Say the sounds and listen for a word Check for meaning in context. 3. confidence All learning needs to be both … Read More

Books for Struggling Readers: 3 – lowest ability

It can be quite difficult to find “real reading” material for those who are working hard through the Foundation Levels of TRT. They can read the decodable sentences but, if they’re not flying towards the Advanced Levels, it’s important that they have something to read that is all of: possible, challenging and age-appropriate. Here are my two favourite solutions for two very different age groups. Star Quest Several years ago, the local youth offending team asked me to work with … Read More

Books for Struggling Readers 2 – mid level strugglers

Here’s the second in a series of posts about a few books I’ve loved working with over the years – starting at those for readers with the highest ability and working down. The first post is here. Older struggling readers have very low expectations of what they can achieve and I’ve generally found those same low expectations are echoed by their teachers and support workers. When I was volunteering in a small school for boys with behavioural and emotional difficulties, … Read More

Books for Struggling Readers 1 – most able strugglers

When I read Dr Bethan Marshall’s comment that: many teenagers will think that being made to read Dickens aged 16 is just tedious… I felt incredibly deflated by the thought that we’ve created a world where people will miss out on the colour, characters, truths and entertainment of reading Dickens. John Walker writes more about the whys of the matter on his blog and comments: Too often the velleities of secondary school expectation are to blame. After looking up “valleity” … Read More

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