What is…a consonant blend (consonant cluster)?

In our ‘what is…’ series we’re taking things back to basics! From phonics to decoding, blending and more, we’re going to break things down and give you our expert advice on each area, to help answer any questions you may have around teaching reading. *** A consonant blend or consonant cluster is when two or […]

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Motivation comes first!

Catch up readers

Stanilas Dehaene, a leading neuroscientist, has researched how the brain learns. He has summarised his findings with the ‘four pillars of learning’. The first pillar is attention. Without attention we can’t learn. We need to focus on what is being learnt in order to absorb it. BUT – before attention – comes motivation. We need […]

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‘Sound it out’

Reading decodable book

What do we mean by ‘sound it out’ and what does it entail? When a child gets stuck on a word we often remind them to ‘sound it out’. As fluent readers, we assume this is very straightforward. We recognise these words automatically and skip all the stages that beginner readers need to go through […]

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Let’s make learning fun!

Hazlitt quote about learning

“Let’s make learning fun!” I always do a silent inner eye roll when I hear that phrase. The exclamation is loaded. Loaded with unspoken messages. The first message is that whatever we are currently doing with our pupils must be as dull as ditch water and needs jazzing up. We are urged to bring ‘magic’ […]

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The love of reading non-fiction books

How not to get eaten

All too often, our classroom libraries offer a wonderful selection of fiction but only a limited amount of non-fiction.  Why should we ensure that children have access to a wonderful range of non-fiction books? 1. Non-fiction books are fun Firstly, because so many non-fiction books published today are an absolute joy to read. With amazing […]

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Illiteracy linked to poor mental health

Kids hands on books

During mental health week, we think it is important to highlight the link between mental health and illiteracy. Illiteracy causes poor life outcomes, poor health, depression and poverty leading to crime. The Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Therapies at the University of East Anglia (UEA) has just reported on the global problem of poor […]

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Teaching the rope

Scarboroughs reading rope

Scarborough, H. S. (2001). Connecting early language and literacy to later reading (dis)abilities: Evidence, theory, and practice. In S. Neuman & D. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook for research in early literacy (pp. 97-110). New York: Guilford Press. The Reading Rope was developed by Dr. Hollis Scarborough to provide a framework for understanding the different skills that are necessary […]

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Supporting struggling readers in secondary school

Struggling readers in secondary school

Some years back I worked as a dyslexia specialist in a secondary school.  I often had to seek out my students who were attending other lessons.  The approach was they they couldn’t be withdrawn from their lessons as they had a right to access the curriculum.  Now, these were struggling readers and I always wondered […]

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Consonant blends – speaking and spelling

Sound buttons step

Synthetic Phonics programmes now talk of  ‘consonant blends’ or ‘adjacent consonants’, but what are they? Why is it that the letters ‘bl’ in the word ‘black’ are adjacent consonants while ‘ck’ are not? Speech and language therapist, Hema Desai explains the difference and suggests fun, multisensory activities to embed learning. As a speech and language […]

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Why word-building is the number one lesson we should be teaching

Of all the strategies used for teaching reading, I believe that word-building is the most powerful. Why is that? Word-building incorporates two fundamental skills in learning to read: as children build a word, they learn to segment and blend. When we ask children to build a word, e.g., ‘map’ they need to segment the phonemes […]

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