As seen in the UK, where phonics teaching and testing has been mandatory for over a decade, at least 25% of children do not reach the 'self-teaching' phase, after 2 years of systematic synthetic phonics instruction. Book a session with Miss Emma, the Neurodivergent Learning Whisperer. Visible English Spelling Code is the perfect bridge to self-teaching.
One of the best predictors of future education achievement and life success is reading ability - or, more significantly, being an engaged reader; purposeful, intrinsically motivated & socially interactive. We are Specialist Teachers and Speech & Language Therapists who focus on students who learn differently. NeuroReadies!
Finding texts children will enjoy is vital.
One, Two Three and Away! Series by Sheila K. McCullagh
Order Books and Story People from 123andAway.com
The Village With Three Corners
Message to grown ups
Start the series once they are working at the SSP Yellow Code Level. Use the Code Mapped version and use within the Speedy Paired Code Mapping activity (first 5 minutes of the phonics block - 30 minute phonic)
One, Two, Three and Away! The Village with Three Corners
Access The Village with Three Corners stories as videos and booklets within the SSP I Can Read Without You (ICRWY) Project app and were used within the I Can Read Without You (ICRWY) Early Years Project in 2021
These were used a 'reading scheme' in the UK, in the 80s, and have been out of print.
Miss Emma has secured the rights in order to bring back 'The Hats', with words 'Code Mapped' so that children use decoding strategies rather than guesswork.
Children in the I Can Read Without You (reading for pleasure by 6) project trialed them within the ICRWY Pilot!
Sheila K. McCullagh MBE (3 December 1920 – 7 July 2014) was an English author. Born in Surrey, her work was first published in the 1950s. Since then she went on write many children’s fantasy and educational books, including Dragon Pirate Stories, Griffin Pirate Stories, Puddle Lane, The Village with Three Corners or One Two Three and Away, Tim and the Hidden People (series) Hummingbirds, Seahawk, Buccaneers (series) - Illustrated by Derek Collard, Adventures in Space, Little Dragons and of course Puddle Lane (for television)
Sheila died July 7, 2014 in Bradford on Avon, United Kingdom
The stories were written with the goal that children are immersed in a literacy-rich environment, and experience pleasure during the learning to read phase. As they are not written using a scaffolded number of high frequency graphemes (as within the decodable readers included in commercial phonics programs) they were criticised for 'encouraging three cueing strategies', which was heavily discouraged in the UK following the Rose Report .
In the Primary National Strategy (2006a), the three cueing model (known in Great Britain as the Searchlight model) is finally and explicitly discredited. Instead, the Strategy has acknowledged the value of addressing decoding and comprehension separately in the initial stage of reading instruction."
"… attention should be focused on decoding words rather than the use of unreliable strategies such as looking at the illustrations, rereading the sentence, saying the first sound or guessing what might 'fit'. Although these strategies might result in intelligent guesses, none of them is sufficiently reliable and they can hinder the acquisition and application of phonic knowledge and skills, prolonging the word recognition process and lessening children's overall understanding."
"Children who routinely adopt alternative cues for reading unknown words, instead of learning to decode them, later find themselves stranded when texts become more demanding and meanings less predictable. The best route for children to become fluent and independent readers lies in securing phonics as the prime approach to decoding unfamiliar words (Primary National Strategy, 2006b, p.9)."
So these 'reading schemes' and also 'levelled' readers (eg F&P or used within PM benchmarking) are currently very much discouraged.
A recent APM report stated that 'The Arkansas Division of Secondary and Elementary Education announced in October 2019 that any curriculum that utilizes cueing strategies won’t be approved for use in the state, meaning that Calkins’ materials and another popular program, Fountas and Pinnell Classroom, are effectively banned'.
The approach introduces high frequency words and controls the number of words, and uses illustrations so the children can guess or predict words, and deduce meaning. However if words were shown outside of the books the children may not 'remember' them. They are predictable and can be repetitive.
Because phonics is an essential element of teaching reading and spelling, in order to meet the needs of the highest number of children, 'decodable readers' have become more popular. You will have seen Miss Emma introduce decodable readers in Shana's Year 2 class about 6 years ago, in a school that did not use them. There is a huge market for 'decodable readers' in order to give children the opportunity to identify and blend the 100 or so high frequency graphemes they are learning, and for them to be used within meaningful context.
Dr Paul Gardner, senior lecturer in Literacy Education at WA's Curtin University, said the reading wars had caused much tension and conflict in education. He is concerned by the Federal Government's moves to implement a national Year 1 phonics screening check because, he said, it was a flawed method of assessing student outcomes. He said the push towards synthetic phonics also tended to be supported by commercial enterprises promoting decodable books.
"There is profit to be made in this particular approach," he said.
"If you take a much broader approach to the teaching of early reading, you actually take it out of the economic sphere."
However, there are over 350 graphemes seen in 'real' books, and so even when children have learned the graphemes taught explicitly within phonics programs it can be years before they can actually READ.
This is one reason WHY the three cueing system has persisted, even with the wide range of 'decodable readers' available on the market. And despite the understanding that children need to understand the phoneme to grapheme mapping of words there is currently little research relating to how useful 'decodable readers' are, other than in the initial stages.
From Corrigendum: Ending the Reading Wars: Reading Acquisition From Novice to Expert
'Beyond the initial stages of reading, however, the case for decodable books weakens. First, evidence indicates that once children have learned a core set of grapheme-phoneme correspondences, they get no more opportunity to practice these in decodable books than they do in other books they might be reading (i.e., books not specifically written with decodability in mind). Solity and Vousden (2009) analyzed the vocabulary within three sets of books in the United Kingdom: two structured reading schemes consisting of specially written books for school children containing highfrequency and phonically regular words and one set of story books found in typical Year 1 and 2 classrooms (i.e., children ages 5–7). They found that the percentage of monosyllabic words within the books that would be decodable by children knowing 64 grapheme-phoneme correspondences was equal across the three sets (approximately 75%). A second issue with decodable books is that they are likely to be somewhat restricted in word choice and so may tend to be inferior to real books in (a) maintaining children’s interest and motivation to read and (b) in achieving the broader goals of building children’s vocabularies and knowledge. Solity and Vousden (2009) give the example of the words used in the book The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Sharratt & Tucker, 2004) with the analogous decodable reader Billy the Kid (Miskin, 2008). The only word used to describe the characters speaking to each other in Billy the Kid is said, which is repeated 11 times. In contrast, in the book The Three Billy Goats Gruff, the word said is also used 11 times, but eight other words and phrases are used to describe how the different characters speak (e.g., shouted out, grunted, replied, roared, snapped, and spluttered). As we discuss later in this review, exposure to complex words and nuanced meanings is important. Therefore, in our view, once children move beyond the very early stages of reading, the benefits of decodable readers are likely to be outweighed by their limitations. More research is needed to determine when this tipping point occurs'
However, with books based around the three cueing system there is little attention to phonics other than 'first sound', and so this approach can fail a lot of children. It is essential, if children are to read the stage of using 'orthogaphic mapping' (to read without conscious thought) and to be able to spell well (without memorising words) that students understand how speech sounds (phonemes) map with the 'pictures of the speech sounds' ie the graphemes. So that when we say the word 'said' we are using three speech sounds, even though there are 4 letters, and that the word would be segmented as s/ai/d When words are taught as whole words this deprives children of the opportunity to understand this 'mapping', and apply this knowledge to better attempt to decode unfamiliar words, and to spell (encode) them. This is why so many push for a 'phonics' approach, however they can ignore the obvious - teachers can't cover nearly enough of these phoneme to grapheme connections to read and spell independently. So the 'whole language' approach omits a systematic approach to teaching the code, many 'phonics' program do not teach high frequency words as they would all other words, and are not fast-paced or comprehensive enough to ensure that every child reaches the 'self-teaching' stage early, so that they can 'take over' their own learning - through more reading and exploration of words.
Children can learn to read by being taught 100+ high frequency graphemes within 4 'Code Levels' (that align to decodable readers) in addition to the other 250+ within inquiry learning type activities (The Speedy Six Spelling activities) and by learning high frequency words - not by memory but as 'pictures of speech sounds'.
Children ALSO watch videos with text that has been segmented (as they would using the IPA) while listening to the speech sounds - using my 'follow the sounds, say the words' technique. Including words that were taught as 'sight words' using whole language type programs (that utilise the three cueing system) You can see our ICRWY pilot children reading these high frequency words below - mapping the phonemes to graphemes.
Monster Mapping is also used, with each 'character' being an alternative to a phonetic symbol. They can therefore work out ANY words, by seeing the word 'Code Mapped' AND 'Monster Mapped' Watch Lara read a joke - this is text that she could not work out using three cueing OR be able to read for a long time if waiting until taught these graphemes within a phonics program. These children have not even started school yet. The project aims to ensure that every child (without an intellectual impairment) is reading by 6.
Professor Castle said the reading wars had got in the way of teaching children to read.
"It's become politicised; it's become a case of ideology rather than science," Professor Castle said.
"It's become about which side are you on, rather than taking the evidence in its entirety."
But negotiating a ceasefire in the reading wars might not be so simple, as much debate still rages, even about the type of phonics that should be used — synthetic or analytic.
Dr Paul Gardner, senior lecturer in Literacy Education at WA's Curtin University, said the reading wars had caused much tension and conflict in education.
"Most literacy advocates would advocate a broad, mixed approach to the teaching of early reading, acknowledging the importance of phonics as one strategy in that approach," Dr Gardner said.
"I think it has become politicised because there is a particular strand of people that are pushing this particular approach as a panacea — it is not a panacea, it is not the golden bullet.
"Whilst this paper acknowledges the importance of phonics, as do most people, it also recognises that phonics in isolation will not help children to read; that it must be embedded in a much broader approach."
We can do away with 'The Reading Wars' by discarding both 'whole language' AND 'phonics' as 'black and white, solo solutions' to teaching reading and spelling. We need strategies from both, but it is the WAY we teach them (in the way each individual needs) that makes the difference. I have found a way to actually combine the two.
It is called 'Code Mapping' and is the approach I have taken, as a teacher. Nothing I was ever given met the needs of ALL of my students. So I created solutions. It's what we do, as teachers - if we are not blocked. All written words are segmented to SHOW the graphemes, using my patented technique.
As teachers we can often know far more than policy makers or researchers who simply follow old or 'rebranded' paths, and try to make the teaching of reading and spelling something that can be written as a 'one size fits all' curriculum document, or be measured. Great teachers are ALWAYS learning, and wanting to be even better teachers.
And this is actually supported by a growing number of academics.
A new scientific study that aims to end the so-called reading wars has found that phonics is an essential foundation in the early stages of learning to read, but it is only part of the approach.
The paper said the battle between phonics and a whole language approach had become too politicised and they hoped their findings would resolve the issue once and for all.
But an end to hostilities could seem optimistic, with some educators still maintaining their opposition to structured phonics screening checks.
In the one camp are those who advocate what is known as a "whole language" approach, and in the other, those who favour "phonics", which involves sounding out words.
But the new study done by a team of Australian and UK academics has found a
combination of both works best.
In order to help teachers to marry these two seemingly different approaches (this 'combination') I am busy 'Code Mapping' a reading scheme that I know children LOVE. I know this because I used it when I first graduated as a primary school teacher! I have been using it within the ICRWY Pilot (with preschool aged children) and they have been FLYING. All will be reading BEFORE they start school. It is called One, Two, Three and Away.
I am doing something no-one has done before, and it could potentially be applied to any readers or curriculum resources eg F&P or PM readers.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I Can Read Without You Project. Every Child Reading By 6.
Miss Emma, The Reading Whisperer
BEd Hons. MA Special Educational Needs. Doctoral Student (University of Reading)
One, Two, Three and Away! The Village With Three Corners
Code Mapped and Monster Mapped by Miss Emma for the ICRWY Project!
Every child reading by 6.