Literacy Methods: Shame or Safety?

I was speaking at a high school where I had one hour to train 30 staff members in spelling with the English code which meant no time for the usual asides, quips or soapbox moments. I found myself saying, “I love the idea of very high expectations, but…” and moving on before I could expound. I did get to share this slide, but, again, with no time to discuss the concept of every classroom being a “shame free learning space”. … Read More

Literacy that’s both progressive and traditional

posted in: Thoughts on Education | 2

Everything these days, including education, seems to come in a polarised package. If I like A then I must also embrace B and C, and reject without question, D. I despise the assumptive and dismissive nature of these “sides”, not least because I have a mongrel educational history that can’t now be undone. You see, I am a product of the early 70’s West Coast Open Education (home of Frank Smith) and I bless those experimenting teachers of the Bayview … Read More

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

Why the Changes at That Reading Thing?

That Reading Thing is now global and online. That means anyone in the English speaking world can deliver this proven effective literacy method to teens and adults who are struggling readers and spellers. They can access the full TRT training and all the materials for a fraction of the previous cost. As is often the case, this change was inspired by a difficulty that needed surmounting – in this situation, drastic funding cuts to both education and youth work. I … 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

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