Totem and Talisman Testimonial

Totem and talisman blog

In this testimonial Sharon Dheraj shares how she uses the Totem and Talisman series in her classroom. Sharon is a SENCO in a one form entry primary school as well as a specialist teacher and assessor of dyslexia.


My day-to-day responsibilities include overseeing the operation of the SEND Policy, coordinating provisions for pupils with SEND and monitoring progress, liaising with parents and external agencies, and delivering training. I am also a specialist teacher and assessor of dyslexia. I tutor children with specific learning difficulties related to Literacy and carry out diagnostic assessments and write reports for dyslexia.

I use decodable books for whole group interventions in Key Stage 2 and for individual 1:1 tuition. I use them to support the application of phonics to reading and writing and I find them very useful for teaching inference skills as well. For whole group teaching (where we focus on one chapter a day), we will read a chapter and discuss, using colourful semantics if required. Children write their own version of events, using a writing frame which breaks the writing down into small manageable chunks.

Out of the Phonic Books range I use the Totem and Talisman series. I find that children love the suspense element of the stories which is brought to life with the detailed illustrations. I also like the vocabulary section which explains terms succinctly. The reading practice is useful as a way to start my group sessions – it helps to indicate that the session has started and children read words together, helping them to focus.

I also use Phonic Books titles for inferencing; I draw out comic strips with thought/speech bubbles. Another trick I use is to make links with colourful semantics to support grammar.

I have used these series with Key Stage 2 children and every student that I have used them with, has enjoyed them. I use Phonic Books in both one-to-one settings and in small groups of up to 6 pupils. They really like the characters and enjoy reading about their adventures. The illustrations really support, engage and immerse them into the story. The text is enough for them to decode and read, whilst the detailed illustrations support comprehension and discussion. The cliff hangers at the end of chapters leave them in suspense, wanting to find out what is going to happen next! Students in general say how much they have enjoyed the series and that they find the books fun.


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