Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach
Ironically, the SSP Approach is not a 'systematic synthetic phonics' programme, but could be considered an 'extended' systematic synthetic phonics programme that addresses the limitations. The limitations of synthetic phonics are considered in this informative youtube clip by Dr Valerie Muter, for the British Dyslexia Association and Positive Dyslexia
To show support for dyslexic learners, who may find synthetic phonics as the main approach to learning phonics restrictive, please sign the petition from the British Dyslexia Association here
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.
Children take pictures of speech sounds, with their
Magic Speech Sound Cameras. What might the 'Sound Pics'
look like, in written words?
Let's Code Map! Mapping Speech Sounds with Sound Pics.
Orthographic mapping is a skill that develops from phonemic awareness and grapheme-phoneme knowledge.
Within the SSP Approach children call this 'Code Mapping'.
Orthographic recall is required in order for the child to demonstrate spelling abilities.
In order to be good Code Mappers, three skills need to be developed:
Automatic phoneme to grapheme association
Proficient phonemic awareness (ability to isolate, segment, blend and manipulate phonemes)
Word study (process of connecting phonemes in spoken words to the written form of the word)
Word study anchors words in permanent memory
The Phase 2 Routine
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 a 'Linguistic Phonics' program, which is a 'Speech (sounds) to Print' approach; we start from the sounds in our speech and teach the spelling choices that were invented to represent the sounds in the language. SSP is also a Visual Phonics program, as students can use the Speech Sound Monsters to know WHICH speech sound each segmented grapheme (Sound Pic) represents.
Ultimately however, when all 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!
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 these phonetic symbols (used by speech pathologists and teachers of children who speak English as a Second language) as each links with its own 'Monster' We are using these strategies to develop 'Teacherless Teaching Tools' so that anyone can learn to read and spell in English, from anywhere in the word.
Teaching students using a 'Speech to Print Approach' and as if all have poor phonemic awareness (and may have dyslexia)
The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach includes a systematic 'Linguistic Phonics' program but it is also a 'Visual Phonics' program as students are given activities and resources with visual clues as to the pronunciation of each grapheme. We consider this to EXTEND the Linguistic Phonics approach. However the characters link to a phoneme, not a letter that may represent that phoneme in some words.
(This is an important distinction) They offer a direct link to the speech sound when embedded.
So SSP teaches everything the UK government recommends, following the Rose Report, and so much more ; words can be Code Mapped to show the phoneme to grapheme mapping (segmentation) and ALSO show the substitute IPA symbol (the monster. It is incredible powerful.
It is used as much to teach teachers about the alphabetic doe, as it is to engage and excited students. Teachers learn how to teach reading and spelling alongside their students.
SSP offers teachers a highly structured, multi-sensory, scaffolded approach to explicitly and systematically teach students to read and spell. The Speech Sound Pics Approach '30 Minute Phonics' program, Snap and Crack (Cracking Comprehension) and Speedy Six Spelling and Speedy Sight Word Programs can all be implemented in the grade and multi-year level classroom with a minimum of planning, preparation and expense.
Students move through the ‘stepping stones’ required to learn to read and spell quickly and easily, using unique activities and strategies. For example ‘spaced repetition’ is used to teach the 90+ high frequency graphemes and 400+ high frequency words, using the resources. The teacher is a guide who walks around the learning area to monitor engagement and progress; this is ‘explicit learning’, rather than the more traditional approach using a ‘step by step’ program that is facilitated by a teacher at the front of the class. While any program teaching oral language, phonemic awareness, phonics (taught systematically) fluency, vocabulary knowledge and fluency, are likely to yield better learning outcomes for the highest number of students than those taking more of a ‘whole word’ approach, our attention is to the pace and differentiation of learning, and application in real reading and writing activities. Miss Emma is sharing her ‘approach’ to teaching, that centres around the concept of ‘less teaching, more learning for all’.
Within all SSP activities students learn to isolate phonemes, segment, blend and manipulate, and map them with graphemes within a range of reading, writing and spelling activities. Students experience 'explicit learning' opportunities as student led; the resources enable them to problem solve and use an'inquiry learning' approach. They are able to make best use of incidental learning opportunities, and learn to read and spell within meaningful context. We are giving them the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and allowing them to put them together, acting as silent guides during some activities (the 30 Minute Phonics Program) and are then far more involved during activities that require students to apply and extend knowledge, and to develop verbal intelligence.
The 30 Minute Daily Phonics Routine includes student videos for tablets and whiteboard, and an A3 'Coding Poster'. These enable students to learn the 4 Code Levels at their pace. It is a fast paced method incorporating 'spaced repetition'; these are elements that students can learn with relatively little help from others, which frees up the adults in the room to observe, support and extend individual students in the way that most class teachers cannot. When a relief teacher comes in he or she can generally just observe ! Many teachers use a buzzer to let students know when to finish one activity, rub off their board, and get ready for the next.
30 Minutes of Daily Phonics Routine is only part of SSP Phase 2 - Activities, with the focus on phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency.
(Phase 1 is undertaken first, and can last 1 - 20 hours depending on the level of phonemic awareness of each student)
We take an 'Explicit Learning' approach.
Dornyei's (2009) distinction: Explicit learning refers to the learner's conscious and deliberate attempt to master some material or solve a problem.
When students are working at the SSP Blue Code Level they can read real and nonsense words from the UK Phonics test, and achieve the pass rate. By the end of SSP Yellow they can start non 'decodable' readers eg PM 10.
By the end of SSP Blue they can read a 'level 20' or thereabouts, unseen, if using this phonics teaching approach with the other SSP activities. This is because they are already recognising phoneme to grapheme links in words, and can read (with automaticity) the huge number of high frequency words contained within these books. We have been working on fluency, vocabulary and comprehension during 'Snap and Crack' and during 'Writing for a Purpose' activities. Reading and Spelling are taught simultaneously. They can also spell the high frequency words (Duck Level words) within their independent writing.
We have been collecting data from SSP teachers across Australia for about 5 years, and the correlation between 'Code Level' and 'PM Levels' are clear. The rate at which students reach these levels is determined by a number of factors, including how much teacher experience using this approach, whether blocked from using all activities, whether told to 'benchmark' before they are ready (which can mean the teacher is encouraged to 'teach to the test' and use the 'sight word' approach (memorising whole words, not paying attention to the mapping of phonemes to graphemes) as around 85% of the books in levels 1 - 10 are these 'high frequency words' children will need to have mastered around 100 words. We have a video to enable them to do this quickly, and PM Level 1 - 10 HFW booklet to send home. But if asked to 'benchmark' early some may want to ask children to just memorise the whole words, and not know how to spell them. They will also be aware that the best way to 'benchmark' during the beginning reader stage, if the children cannot decode the words, is to guess from 'first sound' and illustrations, miss out words, guess from the context etc. Buy holding off, the children learn using 'the super six' skills, and actually READ the Level 10+ readers using the strategies we know are more likely to help children to read independently as quickly as possible.
But if asked to 'benchmark' early some may want to ask children to just memorise the whole words, and not know how to spell them. They will also be aware that the best way to 'benchmark' during the beginning reader stage, if the children cannot decode the words, is to guess from 'first sound' and illustrations, miss out words, guess from the context etc. By holding off, the children learn using 'the super six' skills, and actually READ the Level 10+ readers using the strategies we know are more likely to help children to read independently as quickly as possible.