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Phonics for older students – That Reading Thing

Traditional or Progressive? A new narrative

Following are two posts I wrote way back in 2007. I’m re-publishing because the right/left polarisation of education keeps cropping up. It’s appalling to think that teachers will reject a useful educational tool because it is perceived as “right wing”. It’s a tool – not a political statement. Let’s create a new narrative of literacy. I’ve edited a little for this 2020 version. **************************************** January 2007 For a long time now I’ve been frustrated by the polarisation of educators and … Read More

Functional Skills – Phonics at Entry Levels

As I travel around the FE world I’m hearing that people have looked at the Post-16 Phonics Toolkit but haven’t necessarily read it. If that’s you, here’s a quick tour based around the chapter people are most concerned about. Chapter 11 is called “Turning the FSE word lists into a learning tool” It encourages FS teachers not to teach lists but to develop vocabulary for both reading and spelling. The chapter is a bit of a beast, but these six … Read More

Explicit Literacy Instruction

There are two phrases we ask That Reading Thing tutors to avoid: Sound it out Break it down Why? Because our students have heard these two phrases their whole school lives and have no idea what they mean. The analogy I give is learning to build my first website. I started with the WordPress platform because I’d read about their ‘famous 5-minute install’. Brilliant! There were no YouTube demo videos back then so I found the simplest instructions for the … Read More

Phonics: when singer rhymes with finger

I love conversations about how people pronounce words differently and knew I was onto an entertaining twitter thread when I saw a few responses to this tweet. However, reading through the thread made me feel more and more depressed about how people view phonics.  Almost every comment was about whether the girls were wrong or right rather than how we can use what they know to improve their reading and spelling. So here’s my (way too long for Twitter) response. … Read More

Literacy Conversation – start with spelling

This is the second post about developing a literacy conversation in your classroom. What shared language do you use with your students to talk about a word they’re struggling to spell or read? We’re limiting this post to four terms, two of which are perfect for literacy conversations with all students and two of which are useful for talking about the language. sound & spelling phoneme & grapheme Because of changes to the curriculum, your students might need phoneme and … Read More

Do you have ‘Literacy Conversations’?

This is the start of a short series about the language/terminology/jargon of phonics – but first a little news! When I started That Reading Thing I worked in the overlapping sectors of alternative education and youth offending and I wrote the programme for teens who were almost all from the North End of Birkenhead. Since then, both the geography and the sectors have expanded beyond all hope and expectation. With the launch of That Spelling Thing, we’ve got tutors and … Read More