‘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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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  The approach was they they couldn’t be withdrawn from their lessons as they had a right to access the curriculum.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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Split digraph, Vowel+e, Bossy e, Silent e, magic e – why and how to teach it

The split digraphs ‘a-e’, ‘e-e’, ‘i-e’, ‘o-e’, ‘u-e’ are very common spellings. They have different names: Silent e, Magic e, Vowel Consonant e, Bossy e, Split digraphs. Many children struggle to read words with these spelling patterns, so we need to teach them explicitly. Why do we have these spelling patterns in English? The ‘e’ […]

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Homophones – what to do about them?

What are homophones? Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. The word ‘homophone’ has a Greek origin: ‘Homo’ meaning ‘same’ and ‘phone’ meaning ‘sound’. So, the word ‘homophone’ means same-sounding words that have different meanings. Some homophones have the same spellings: for example, the words ‘row’ as in ‘to row a […]

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Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – scaffolding the teaching of multisyllabic words

Scaffolding the teaching of multisyllabic words – simple to complex Many teachers are focused on teaching children how to sound out graphemes (spellings) and blend sounds together into words. They will even be teaching children how to manipulate phonemes in phonemic awareness activities. These are all essential underlying skills necessary for learning to read. These activities […]

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What is the point of pointing?

Mother and Daughter reading

Often when I read with a pupil, I need to remind her/him (and myself) to point to the words. As fluent readers we don’t point to words on the page, but sometimes if we come across a difficult or new word we are trying to work out – we will use our finger to work […]

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How to write a word chain

Word chains are really important for all children learning to read, especially those who find reading hard. Some programmes call this activity ‘Sound swap’ (Sounds-Write) or ‘Switch it’ (Reading Simplified). Why word chains are a useful teaching tool Word chains offer children practice of the underlying skills of reading: blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation (adding, […]

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Why we should be teaching phonemic awareness to address learning loss and equity

I recently listened to a webinar by Dr Susan Brady and there some really important points I wanted to summarise for busy teachers. Focus what is supported by evidence to accelerate learning We are now racing against time to reverse the learning loss that took place over COVID.  It is so important that we focus […]

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When should children stop using decodable texts?

Decodable books have a very specific and limited purpose in the process of learning to read. They provide reading practice as children learn to use the sound/letter correspondences they have been taught and the strategy of blending sounds. As their code knowledge grows, children will be able to apply it to ‘authentic’ texts. Authentic texts […]

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What if?

What if a young illiterate man had not travelled to New York from the Bahamas to find work? What if he hadn’t been rejected from the American Negro Theatre in Harlem because he couldn’t read? What if he hadn’t had to work as a dish washer in a restaurant in New York? What if an […]

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