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

Decodable text for teens and adults

We’re often asked what decodable readers we recommend and the answer is ‘none’. This is because the vast majority of TRT learners, even those who are working slowly through the *Foundation levels, are not beginning readers. They all come with some sight words so there’s no reason to limit those in text. They usually know all the basic alphabet sounds for both reading and writing and can work with multisyllabic words from the first lesson. That Reading Thing is structured … 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

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

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: sound & spelling phoneme & grapheme Because of changes to the curriculum, your students might need phoneme and grapheme. However, I prefer to start with the familiar because older students who’ve struggled with reading and spelling in the past can feel anxious about learning terminology and recalling terms can waste precious memory in … Read More

Do you have ‘Literacy Conversations’?

That Reading Thing is still our gold standard one-to-one programme for older struggling readers who need a boost before they feel confident enough to engage in more formal lessons in a group or classroom. That Spelling Thing is much less prescriptive and is home almost anywhere as long as students (of any age) are beyond the emergent reader level. When you combine the two you have a whole school vision for improving literacy across the curriculum. What is a ‘literacy … Read More

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