The How the What and the Why of Fast Phonics

October 1, 2016 4:39 pm Published by

School scraps homework, ‘to help staff plan their lessons.’

And there was I believing teenagers were the ‘snowflake generation.’ I make no apology for believing this to be one huge cop-out. Teachers have good jobs, well paid, secure and by and large, undemanding, while at the same time providing enormous job-satisfaction. They also have perhaps the most generous holidays of any profession. Even their in-service training is carried out in school time as an adjunct to their holiday break. And now the principal of a very large school (1650 pupils) has called time on homework. The reason? Marking homework was taking up too much time for staff. She thinks her teachers need more time to plan lessons.

As teachers we are privileged to have the lives, thoughts and careers of present and future generations in our hands. We are trusted to impart knowledge, understanding, guidance and, of course, inspiration as well as our time. Classrooms can be noisy and disruptive places but that, as they say, is part of the package. The homework we assign probably forms the few golden secluded hours a student gets to ingest and understand the welter of information he is given. It also gives young people a chance to research and select, such brilliant and necessary skills for the future. So, the setting and marking of homework has always been as integral to the job as explaining a history lesson, or directing a chemistry experiment. Every teacher’s evenings from way, way back have been given to marking, and we have all moaned but never shirked. Lesson planning? At Teachers’ College we were told that’s what our holidays were for. Apart from the statutory number of weeks given to other workers our time out from school was to deal with work we had taken home over the break.

I realize there are so many extra legal and political demands placed on staff today, but then our class sizes were not decided by local authorities but by numbers of pupils enrolled that year. We regularly had classes in the high forties and up to fifty. It evens out.

I only hope the teachers at Philip Morant School and College, as they shake out their own gowns, dust off their mortar boards and acknowledge the committed staff who gave them an opportunity to excel, will consider their action deeply. Whilst other pupils (such as those I tutor) are getting shed-loads of work from teachers who mark it (in addition to their own lesson planning) and give detailed feedback, there are 1650 pupils not being given this same help to achieve their aspirations.

Back to sounds and your own teaching of fast phonics.

Your reader now knows:

The phonic alphabet.

Sight words: you, the, they, I, me, no, little, you, we, beauti-ful, came, go, to, be, she, saw, my, house, was, do, for, he, oo, ee, sh, wh, th, ck, oh, y on the end of a word.

Magic ‘e’ (split digraphs).

And now we add.

ang (bang, clang, mango, fang, sang).

eng (England).

ing (sing, ring, wing, thing, swing, ping).

ong (pong, gong, dong, long, Hong Kong).

ung (bung, mung, rung, swung, lung).

These sounds are great and your little reader can have fun. Mix them up.

‘I swung a dwang in a long song with a gong and a bang in Hong Kong.’

Ing is the present participle ending for verbs in our language. It is also added to form a gerund – simply a verb turned into a noun, e.g swim (v) ‘the swimming this year was of a high standard.’ Here ‘swim’ has become a noun and a gerund.

And so adding ing, ong, ang, eng and ung will create an even wider reading vocabulary.

As promised, and following on from my last post: The HOW, WHAT and WHY of teaching your young, or older struggling child, to read with fast phonics.

The HOW is exactly the way I am showing you, nothing more, no difficult extras, just exactly the way we are going.

And again the WHAT is exactly the information I am providing.

As for the WHY. Well, at the beginning of this post I mentioned a Head Teacher who is, against all rational argument, changing her school’s policy on homework. If your children are confident and competent readers they will be able to pursue academic subjects, rising above such misfortune should it ever occur at their own schools in the future. It places them in a position to understand and moreover enjoy lifelong reading and academia.

This is Teaching Post 6

Link to Teaching Post 7

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This post was written by Alonah Reading Cambridge

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