Connecting the Universal
English Speech & Spelling Code
The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach
Growing Engaged Readers * Orthographically Mapped Words * Mapped Words from The Reading Hut
* DIFFERENT Speech & Language with Orthographic Knowledge Training* Visible English Spelling Teacher Training
* Show the Code * Supporting NeuroReadies!
This approach is called 'The Speech Sound Pics' Approach (SSP) because children think about taking pictures of speech sounds, and map those speech sounds to the 'Sound Pics' (graphemes) in order to 'talk on paper'. It is a very 'child friendly' and engaging way to address the issues outlined above.
Although the initial stages are very much about exploring speech and phonemic awareness - so that we identify and overcome issues early - we take a 'speech to print' AND 'print to speech' approach - depending on the activities (target learning goals) and child (what are their needs, to master these skills?)
Literacy starts with spoken language and the introduction to mapping speech sounds to 'pictures of speech sounds' and listening for those sounds (phonemes) to map them correctly - using a universal spelling code, that may not marry up with how they speak! This is why the 'kick-start' phase is taught systematically and explicitly.
As you can see in the Kick-start phase for schools, we start with a group of 6 speech sounds and their main correspondence, so that they can read and write whole words within a couple of weeks. We add in a few high frequency words so that they can read and write sentences.
At a certain point of their own kick-start phase we have found that children can more easily explore less commonly used correspondences (maps) and they explore the Spelling Clouds using activities like the Speech Six Spelling Routine (20 minutes a day - words are linked with the children and their interests, current topics etc)
From the beginning children understand that they are exploring their 'Code Level' words (words that only consist of their target graphemes) however the high frequency words are also mapped, and may have 1 'sound pic' that is not included within the 4 code levels - but are needed as used for frequently.
We have to make sure that this is introduced in ways that make sense to each individual child, as memorising words is not a good long term strategy (the brain can only memorise a limited number by shape) This process also helps children get really excited about finding patterns when they are exploring words- word mapping is an active process, and fun! They are pattern finders. Speech Sound Pic Detectives! The goal is that they quickly shift into the Implicit Learning phase
We need to make sure that no child slips through the gaps during this 'kick-start phase.
Unfortunately a lot of children do not even experience the explicit kick-start phase
This is why the 'kick-start' phase, taught systematically and explicitly, is so important. Although some do not need this for long - if at all! - when classroom teaching the routines and continual monitoring of of the 'orthographic awareness' phase prevents issues. As specialist teachers and speech and language therapists, working together, we are very aware of the 20 - 30% of children who are so easily failed, and that all children need to be engaged, and motivated within their own learning journey. Even if a child demonstrates mastery are they excited and intrinsically motivated to keep learning? The goal is that they grow into engaged readers.
Breaking down the 'learning to read and spell' journey into easy-to-understand inter-woven skills and steps.
Embracing the Active View of Reading
'Code Mapping® words to highlight the
'Speech Sound Pics®' (graphemes)
- Using the IPA to make English Orthography more 'Transparent'
- Bridging the gap between spoken and written English
I spent 10 years in Australia supporting teachers, tutors and speech therapists, developing strategies that can be used and adapted for children in any school setting. As a neurodivergent educator who loves puzzles and patterns, I wanted to share my way of thinking about learning! I wanted to share my ideas for meeting the emotional and cognitive needs of every child, including figuring out a way for 25+ children in a diverse classroom to learn the same essential skills and concepts, that we know lead to independent reading and spelling, but at their pace and in the way that 'just makes sense' to them. I love words, and I love mapping them! I am obsessed with understanding the development of orthographic awareness and knowledge.
Thousands of Aussie teachers collaborated and shared their journeys in a supportive community, and more and more children learned to read and spell - with passion! - every year. So many have leaders who understand the science relating to 'reading brains' and are creating a community of 'readies' and leading from the front! Without a fabulous learning leader SSP and knowledgeable Speech and Language Pathologists it will not thrive however; ongoing collaboration, reflection and critical thinking is key to improving literacy learning outcomes.
While Speech and Language Pathologists, Educational Psychologists and Specialist Reading Teachers should have the knowledge needed to help children who struggle with speech & language AND orthographic awareness, processing and learning, it is my experience that the three fields of expertise can be worlds apart. My aim, moving forwards, is to offer training that unifies - so that we can prevent speech, language and literacy difficulties earlier, and also better support those who are struggling to speak, read and spell.
I do understand - even though it saddens me so much - why so many leaders choose scripted phonics programmes with handbooks; effective teaching of reading and spelling is not something many teachers see or learn about, and telling them exactly what to say and do might be appealing.
I now more fully understand why so many children become instructional casualties, why so many families are choose to home-school, and why so many teachers are leaving the profession. The education system is in crisis. But more of the same, with the same 'cooks' in the kitchen is not going to bring about the change that is needed. Rather than continuing to feel frustrated I think we should open a new kitchen! Build something different - a more unified Science of LEARNING to Read (and communicate).
"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new"
For example, Mapped Words® are a powerful resource, as seen in Australia, but when combined with a series of readers it brings everything together so well. The number of children reading independently can shift to 95% or more by end of primary. The target in the UK by 2025 is 90% but that won't happen while Systematic Synthetic Phonics is mandatory for mainstream schools because learning differences are not effectively accounted for and decoding fluency does not 'sequentially' lead to reading comprehension for all.
In 2022, 41% of year 6 pupils in England left primary school without meeting the expected standards in literacy and maths – 275,000 11-year-olds, according to researchers at the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) thinktank. That is 50,000 more than in 2019.
We cannot put simply blame to the pandemic - in 2018/2019 27% failed.
I delivered a series of PATOSS lectures with the fabulous Dr Grace Elliott to start conversations about this last year. We introduced an alternative theory from Nell Duke (2021) - The Active View of Reading. They are now on-demand. But this isn't enough. The government is being petitioned for funding - but this will likely take too long, and be used to give these children even MORE synthetic phonics! Children in KS2 need help, now. Yes, they need to learn to decode, which means phonics taught systematically, but the way they are taught matters - especially if they are NeuroReadies.
We are embracing a neurodiversity paradigm shift.
'Different' does not equate to 'deficit'; learning differences should be celebrated!
Miss Emma x
Emma Hartnell-Baker MA SEN Doctoral Student (University of Reading, UK)
Director, The Reading Hut.
I Can Read Without You ICRWY Project Lead.
It takes a village to raise a reader - The Village with Three Corners
Let's Kickstart Orthographic Awareness and Learning Differently,
by Fully Embracing the Neurodiverse Classroom!
Explicit, systematic DIFFERENTIATED phonics instruction kick-starts implicit orthographic learning for ALL.
Code Mapping® and Monster Mapping® speed up the Orthographic Learning journey towards Orthographic Mapping
Education is about enhancing learning, and neuroscience is about understanding the mental processes involved in learning. The emerging field of educational neuroscience presents opportunities to develop a common language and bridge the gulf between educators, psychologists and neuroscientists. The goal? To develop a single, unified, Science of Reading; a world in which at least 95% of children start high school being able to say 'I Can Read Without You' as they are fluent readers of written English.
Although we know what skilled readers do, the HOW of getting them to the 'orthographic mapping' stage is not currently 'working' for at least 25% of children - even in the UK, where phonics instruction and screening/ testing has been mandatory for over a decade. More effective orthographic awareness and learning is needed! Explicit instruction should lead to implicit learning as quickly as possible for each child.
'Less Teaching, More Learning'
'Miss Emma' aka The Reading Whisperer
The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach is an approach to teaching reading and spelling in a 1:1, small group or whole class setting; created by a teacher with a Masters Degree in Special Educational Needs, and a passion for teaching children in the way they learn best. Nothing she was given to use with her students was engaging all learners, or allowing for full differentiation. She also recognised that each child needed to work at the PACE that was optimal for their needs; to allow for reinforcement, consolidation and the learning of new skills and concepts. Many of her techniques came about after working with disengaged, delinquent, functionally illiterate teenagers; many living in care and permanently excluded from mainstream school because of challenging behaviours. She became determined to not only help all instructional casualties but to prevent these issues in the first place, through early intervention. She is undertaking a doctorate; with a focus on this element of literacy teaching.
Although SSP is a synthetic phonics programme in the sense that we teach what the UK government recommends should be taught in a synthetic phonics programme, it is primarily an 'Orthographic Learning'' program.
Ultimately however, when all SSP activities are utilised, it is an approach to teaching every student to read, write and spell with independence and confidence, and to love learning. We focus on HOW to teach children to read, write and spell using an evidence based approach; which means that within our approach to teaching reading we include oral language, phonemic awareness, systematically taught phonics, fluency, vocabulary knowledge and comprehension! But we do it in ways that facilitate implicit learning.
When teaching students (of any age) to read and spell, we are helping them, fundamentally, to map phonemes to graphemes, and vice versa. This is called 'Code Mapping', an SSP patented technique. We use the universally accepted IPA 'code' to represent the phonemes in words, even if the student then 'translates' the word as they use different phonemes. So even very young children become interested in our 'alternative phonetic symbols - the IPA is used by speech pathologists and teachers of children who speak English as a Second language) When teaching older children we now use this system as it offers a quicker bridge - a bridge between spoken and written language. The two are often very different.
The only way to successfully learn to read in English is to know the 'speech sound' values of the letters in order to facilitate orthographic learning. We call graphemes 'pictures of speech sounds' or 'Speech Sound Pics'.
The SSP Approach to teaching phonics and spelling in schools was launched in Australia in 2012.
The I Can Read Without You ICRWY Project launched in 2022, along with Reading Ready Brains for pre-school aged children in order to AVOID the issues at least 1 in 4 children face when learning to read and spell in most schools.
We are Learning Whisperers® - Rewiring Dyslexic Brains and improving Speech, Language and Communication Skills in the Early Years with the Speech Sound Monsters! Monster Mapping®
These Speech Sound Monsters make speech sounds 'visible' - an essential tool when teaching English and its opaque orthography. They also help adults become Learning Whisperers as they understand phonetic symbols and the IPA.
The written code was created to represent language, not the other way around, so a predominantly 'Speech to Print' approach is taken in the early stages, ie Linguistic Phonics. Phonics is essential for ALL readers, but students will struggle to learn phonics without good phonemic awareness. They need a foundation of phonic knowledge to read! Phonics is important, but only one piece of the learning to read (and spell) puzzle.
Some children need very little explicit instruction in phonics, some need a lot - Learning Whisperers® are trained to understand individual needs.
We use our unique innovation patent design technique 'Code Mapping®' to SHOW students how all words are segmented into sound units (graphemes).
This sentence is code mapped®!
We also make 'speech sounds' visible, and meaningful - using Speech Sound Monster® characters that are used as alternatives to phonetic symbols ie they link only with speech sounds; the direct link to the sounds makes the 'opaque' orthography far easier to learn and get excited about! This is Visual Phonics
We call this approach to using the IPA with children Speech Sound Monster Mapping ®
Even when children have good phonemic awareness and are taught 'phonics' systematically they can struggle to know how to pronounce the graphemes they see in unfamiliar words. Many ESL educators would use phonetic symbols, but these are not suitable for those in the early stages of learning to read or appealing to young children. Miss Emma 'Code Maps' and 'Monster Maps' texts and books for children, so that they can actually read unfamiliar texts without any help, and reach the stage of 'self-teaching' and orthographic mapping' far earlier!
How the Speech Sound Monsters are used depends on the stage of their orthographic learning journey. Over 99% of written words are easily mapped by children, orthographically, to become 'sight words'.
Children explore these correspondences using the SSP Speech Sound Wall and Spelling Clouds®, along their orthographic learning journey. The Code Mapping Tool is now in the ICRWY Lessons app for parents.
Why are we so passionate about EDSLiP?
The Early Dyslexia Screening and Literacy Intervention Project?
We don't see 'data' as numbers, we see children. Every single child matters.
A Message from Rory's Mum.
When our eldest son was in Grade 3 he was diagnosed with dyslexia. Unfortunately by then the damage was done, his reading age was assessed as being below the age of six (he was 8.5 at the time). The most heartbreaking part of his journey was the devastating effect it had on his self-esteem.
The psychologist at the time introduced me to the Speech Sound Pics SSP approach, which turned out to be life-changing! Under Miss Emma's guidance, we cleared the slate and started his journey again at home after school. He warmed very quickly to the approach and in just five weeks he had increased six reading levels. I am extremely proud to announce that he is now in Grade 6 and reading at grade level!!
In fact, he is doing so well that in his LP meeting recently I was questioned whether he even had a learning disability.
This brings us to Rory, our youngest. From a young age, he showed signs of possessing the same strengths and weaknesses as his older brother. Not willing to sit back and watch him suffer the same fate we jumped at the chance to be part of the ICRWY pilot, he was two months shy of his fifth birthday at the time.
Now at six, he is doing so well, this video is proof of that. This is Rory reading his home reader to me. So proud and so very grateful for Miss Emma and SSP
At least 1 in 4 children become instructional casualties in the UK, USA and Australia, and yet teachers and policymakers continue to focus on promoting programs rather than teacher training.
Even if the claim is that the programs are 'evidence based' - built on the back of the body of knowledge known as 'The Science of Reading' (what children need to learn, see Cheat Sheet) the HOW of getting them there is less clear, and why any one-size-fits-all program always leaves at least 20% behind, as instructional casualties. The solution isn't for schools to switch to another program, it is to empower their team to learn more about 'reading brains', and be better consumers. Program switching is costly, in many ways.
Those implementing the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach are 'learner focused' and so inclusion and differentiation are our priority ie not just what to teach but HOW - understanding that this will look different, depending on each child. Some children, for example, will need very little explicit phonics instruction, and some need a lot! Some come to school with fabulous speech and language skills, and some need specific activities to be able to connect with written language - and what of engagement and motivation to learn to read? There are so many elements to consider, and so an APPROACH to teaching reading and spelling offers teachers greater support and insight into the learning needs of their students.
Programs can often be written to 'simplify' the progress for those delivering the lessons (they may even outline what is taught week by week in a handbook/ teaching manual - as if every child starts as an 'empty vessel and can learn the lesson at the same pace) Without an understanding of phonology and orthographic learning, differentiation, motivation, language and learning differences, however, teachers may miss out on identifying those most at risk of literacy difficulties and not be aware of how to adapt the phonics programme they are using, to provide children with early intervention as part of their KS1 in-class learning journey.
They may not be shown how to manage a diverse classroom or how to manage the threads as seen in Scarborough's Rope eg how to bridge the gap between 'decodable readers' and authentic texts.
Fluent decoding is the hallmark of a skilled reader but so much more is needed if children are to become avid readers. An understanding of language and an intrinsic desire to read are key! Understanding how much we have moved on from thinking that 'decoding leads to comprehension' (The Simple View of Reading) can help with this. Let's talk about the Active View of Reading!
We discuss some of these issues (and how to overcome them) within the PATOSS 'best practice in the assessment and intervention of children with literacy disorders for primary and secondary age students' lecture series Please do join us
Why EDSLiP - the Early Dyslexia Screening and Literacy Intervention Project?
To save so many kids from slipping through the cracks within an education system predominantly designed by neurotypical adults, for neurotypical learners. We are so committed to protecting children we are training Learning Whisperers® to deliver the ICRWY Early Orthographic Learning System (Reading Ready Brains) within EY centres. 2,3 and 4 year olds will go through Phase 1- and parents supported (especially if their child is flagged as 'at risk') Our team has outstanding practitioners with the qualifications to conduct Dyslexia Assessments and ensure that children do not have to wait to get the support they need and deserve - from term 1 of their first year in school!
We are committed to improving global literacy, and sharing our love of reading for pleasure and information. Literacy is life-changing.
SSP- the explicit, systematic, linguistic (& visual) phonics instruction ‘program’ designed for those who learn differently; unlocking access to orthographic learning for at least 95% in any neurodiverse classroom.
Explicit instruction is multisensory, engaging, differentiated and quickly replaced with implicit learning. Everything revolves around understanding individual needs, and so there are no scripted lessons!
Teachers need to understand reading brains, not follow pre-planned generic lessons for neurotypical leaners.
‘Less teaching, more learning’ is our mantra. Tech is our friend. Acceptance, independence & empowerment guides the learning road map - and this applies to teachers. If teachers don't feel understood how can they thrive?
I Can Read Without You (ICRWY) Lessons app
- Miss Emma will help you teach your 2 - 5-year-old to read, under your guidance.
Parent / Tutor apps for Home Use - Apple and Android - Search ICRWY Lessons
Single Use - 2 devices
Includes 300+ Step by Step Lessons with Miss Emma, Scaffolded Readers AND the new Code Mapping Tool - explore the grapho-phonemic structure of English words!
Miss Emma teaches, you support!
'Oh Miss Emma you are amazing
We just had a parent teacher with Rory's teacher...wow, wow, wow is all I can say. When we last saw her she said he was totally disengaged in any activity literacy based, did not actively participate in group discussions, gross motor skills were lacking, basically had no confidence in anything but numbers and colours. We started the pilot just after that meeting.
Tonight we met with her again and we were simply blown away!! His development has amazed his teacher and not just in literacy it's been across the board. She said she is now a believer in what we've been doing with him at home, I told her I can provide her with details if she would like join in the SSP fun
Thank you so much, you have given Rory so much I don't know how we can ever thank you enough you truly are a gem xx'
ICRWY Lessons Apps for Pre-Schoolers (2 - 5 year olds)
Miss Emma teaches the lessons in the ICRWY Lessons app!