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

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

How to make phonics suitable for teens and adults

When people hear “phonics” they think “childish”, and not without reason. Most phonics programmes are childish, but not because they teach reading using the sounds and symbols of the language. They’re childish because they’re created for little children, emergent readers who have no history of trying and failing to learn to read. There are some wonderful programmes for little ones. The problem with using any teaching method intended for young children is that you automatically infantilise the learner no matter … Read More

Reading & Spelling with a Visual Learner

Dusted off and polished up – because the myth of learning styles never goes away. Not all That Reading Thing students are disaffected and disengaged. Pete is in his twenties and formally diagnosed as severely dyslexic. He reads well but his spelling is a huge embarrassment to him. He’s accomplished in many other areas and can clearly explain his strategies for reading and writing. Reading: “I know all the words by sight”. (and he does – sort of) Spelling: “I … 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

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

1 2