"So" is a sight word and can't be sounded out...

(313 Posts)
Stampstamp Thu 19-Sep-13 13:11:46

Said the reception class teacher today. Aaargh! Thank heavens DD can already mostly read (she's nearly 5). Why do some teachers and schools have such a limited understanding of phonics, it seems so fundamental to me?

Very interesting thank you maizieD and soundswrite

maizieD Tue 22-Oct-13 21:37:16

'argues' S~W? hmm

Interesting notes on its derivation. Thanks.

SoundsWrite Tue 22-Oct-13 20:09:10

Just to add to what maizeD had to say: you might also, Icapturethecastle, want to think of word derivation. The Latin for island is 'insula'; in modern day Italian, it's 'isola'; and, in Spanish, it is 'isla'. In the last two, the <i> represents the sound /ee/ and the <s> /s/.
Then again, the word could come from Old England 'yland' or 'igland', derived from Old German.
The explanations of where more complex spellings of sounds come from are often fascinating for children of a certain age and can motivate learning.
Take your pick! However, things change and, as maizieD argues, today, the <i> and <s> represent the sound /igh/ in English.

maizieD Tue 22-Oct-13 14:44:07

I would just explain it as the 'is' being a rare/unusual spelling of the /igh/ sound. You'll find it in all the words derived from 'island' (isle & islet being fairly common), in 'lisle' (but I don't think anyone wears lisle stockings any more smile ) and the place name Carlisle. those were the only examples I could find.

The thing about these very unusual correspondences is that they are often the easiest to remember because they are so unusual. To remember it for spelling I'd tell my kids to remind themselves that it looks like 'is land'

A few years ago 'Kensuke's Kingdom' was studied at many of our feeder primaries. None of the 'strugglers' I worked with at that time had any problem with reading or spelling 'island'. Which just goes to show how using a word helps to embed it in memorygrin

A bit off topic but what is the phonic rule for "island". How do you explain s. I tried to google but could find an answer but am sure the experts on here would know.

ClayDavis Mon 21-Oct-13 22:17:04

That's interesting, Maizie. I've noticed a couple of extra resources (mainly the video) for JP that have odd inconsistencies compared with what's written in the handbook. The blurb on the back of the early editions of the readers seems to be one of them. I usually work on the assumption that the publishers have sometimes got a bit carried away rather than it being written by the authors of the programme itself.

mrz Mon 21-Oct-13 20:25:05

true ... as you know in Sounds~Write all letters are silent grin

maizieD Mon 21-Oct-13 19:24:15

mrz

Sue did say that she and Sara do use the term 'silent letters' and she doesn't think it really makes much difference to results. (which is why the 'b' in 'lamb' is noted as not being sounded out)

However, until someone funds some studies which compare different systematic phonics programmes it can't be proved one way or the other.

mrz Mon 21-Oct-13 18:45:22

thecatisatwat I would suggest that the reason b isn't sounded out is because mb is an alternative spelling for the sound /m/ but the publishers are trying to make it simple for parents (and some teachers)

mrz Mon 21-Oct-13 18:42:15

Never mind maizie perhaps next time wink it's good to know that Sue & Sara support such statements.

maizieD Mon 21-Oct-13 17:20:40

@thecatisatwat

OK, one more try.

On the back of dd's JP Yellow Level reader reading book, amongst the blurb it says;

'Light type is used for those few letters that should not be sounded out, such as the (b) in 'lamb'. There are also a few 'tricky' words, in which light type is not used, as children should learn them by sight. The tricky words introduced at the Yellow level are shown at the end of each book'.

Which probably explains why I am still confused about the tricky/sight word issue.

I was so surprised by this that I got in touch with Sue Lloyd. This is what she had to say about the blurb on the reading book:

When the reading books were published in 2001 it did say that the tricky words needed to be learnt by sight. Sara and I were not shown the blurb on the back until they had been published. On the next print run, in 2003, the wording was changed (after we had objected to calling them sight words) to 'As before, light type is used for those few letters that should not be sounded out, such as the <b> in 'Lamb' ( but not in the new tricky words, which should already be familiar without this help).

So it looks as though you have an older edition of the reader. However, it is damaging that there are JP books around that say that. But it is clear that neither Sue nor Sara would endorse that statement.

(I didn't ask her about the video, though, mrz)

mrz Sat 19-Oct-13 11:29:21

zebedeee you might be interested in a new book - Dandelion Book of High-frequency Words (This photocopiable workbook offers a phonics approach to teach reading and spelling of those tricky high-frequency words.)

mrz Fri 18-Oct-13 19:25:35

and Dandelion books

"High frequency words are common words, some of which have complex spellings. Beginner readers may have difficulty decoding them. To help with these words point to the graphemes (letters) and say the sounds ..."

mrz Fri 18-Oct-13 19:21:28

This document is intended to show where all of the high frequency words presented in Letters and Sounds occur in the Sounds~Write programme. However, we feel that the term 'high-frequency words' should be accompanied by a reading and spelling health warning.
In the minds of many teaching practitioners, the term 'high-frequency words' has become synonymous with 'sight words'. Very many of the high-frequency words in the Letters and Sounds word list are easily decodable in the early stages of the Sounds~Write programme and over seventy-five percent of the list of three hundred words can be decoded by pupils taught using Sounds~Write by the end of Y1.
From the beginning, our focus is on transparency: that is to say that we teach pupils a transparent system within which if they can read a word, they can spell it. Nonetheless, the focus on transparency from the beginning can initially restrict pupils’ ability to access text because there are a number of essential single-syllable words whose spelling at this early stage in their learning is not transparent to them. Words such as 'is', 'of' and 'the', for example, cannot easily be avoided when learning to read and write. When encountered in text, or in dictation, the teacher should take responsibility for these words and introduce them in the manner outlined in 'Reading and writing in text' in the 'Introduction to the Initial Code'.

"when reading a high frequency word the teachers says "This is of then immediately points sequentially to the two graphemes <o. & <f> saying and gesturing /o/ .../v/ - "of".

When writing a high frequency word the teacher says, "This is how we write the word is and whilst writing it points sequentially to the two graphemes <i> & <s> saying and gesturing /i/ .../z/ -"is" as they are written.

zebedeee Fri 18-Oct-13 19:13:30

So... they don't have sight words but use the term 'sight words' - I've quoted from their printed material.

mrz Fri 18-Oct-13 19:07:06

I don't use JP now but I taught it for 15+ years and was trained by Sue Lloyd

mrz Fri 18-Oct-13 19:05:27

No zebedee SoundsWrite & Dandelion don't have sight words at any level

zebedeee Fri 18-Oct-13 14:40:21

From the materials I have seen, Dandelion Readers have 'sight words at this level' printed on the inside front cover and Sounds-Write has 'sight words to introduce' in each unit.

Thecatisatwat Fri 18-Oct-13 14:12:17

OK, one more try.

On the back of dd's JP Yellow Level reader reading book, amongst the blurb it says;

'Light type is used for those few letters that should not be sounded out, such as the (b) in 'lamb'. There are also a few 'tricky' words, in which light type is not used, as children should learn them by sight. The tricky words introduced at the Yellow level are shown at the end of each book'.

Which probably explains why I am still confused about the tricky/sight word issue.

I'm curious, Mrz, Feenie and MaizieD, do any of you teach phonics using JP since none of you appear to even vaguely recognise any of the stuff that I am quoting?

Not that I really care, I'm fed up of banging my head against a brick wall as usual on a phonics thread.

mrz Thu 17-Oct-13 17:47:02

No Thecatisatwat a "tricky word" most definitely does NOT equal a "sight word"

Feenie Thu 17-Oct-13 17:36:26

By learning 'so' by sight they are surely learning how to also read 'go', 'lo', 'no' (and even ho!)

What you describe there is phonics teaching - not sight word teaching.

Feenie Thu 17-Oct-13 17:34:50

Nothing you've said there encourages teaching tricky words as sight words - nothing whatsoever.

Thecatisatwat Thu 17-Oct-13 16:04:10

Mrz - so tricky word = sight word?

Anyway, from what I can gather from JP workbooks and reading books (I don't obviously have the teacher resource books) JP teaches words that it thinks are tricky in a completely different way to the methods descibed here by Mrz et al.

e.g. 'These are the tricky words introduced in level 2 [reading books]'
The following list then includes words such as 'are', 'come', 'you', 'there', 'all' etc. The book then says 'Hint: encourage children to identify new tricky words from the same word family. For e.g. if they know the word "all", they can read ball, call, fall etc'
To me this seems far more logical than the whole 'phonetically decodeable bit plus a bit that you'll learn how to decode further down the line' (especially to a 5 year old). By learning 'so' by sight they are surely learning how to also read 'go', 'lo', 'no' (and even ho!) and learning that since 'to' and 'do' are NOT part of the family, they are read differently?

I'm surprised that the DoE hasn't banned JP from schools since JP methods seem to be different to what the government wishes teachers to teach.

Anyway, as many have said life really is too short to waste on these threads, I just thought that the op was being unfairly harsh towards the teacher concerned.

Thecatisatwat Thu 17-Oct-13 11:57:31

Well MaizieD, she's clearly changed her views since she wrote the JP workbooks with Sara Wernham.

maizieD Wed 16-Oct-13 23:51:40

In dd's Jolly Phonics workbooks it says 'Some words are tricky and cannot be spelt out'

I am absolutely astounded by this.

This is from the Reading Reform Foundation web site, part of the 'Principles of synthetic phonics teaching', a document co-authored by Sue Lloyd, one of the authors of Jolly Phonics

Introduce useful, common ‘tricky words’ slowly and systematically emphasising the blending skill once the tricky letter or letters have been pointed out. For example, when teaching the word ‘you’, say, “In this word (pointing at ‘you’), these letters (pointing at ‘ou’), are code for /oo/.” (‘Tricky words’ are a small number of words, in which there are rare/unusual graphemes, or, words in which not all the graphemes have yet been formally taught, which might be used in early reading material .)

To my knowledge, Sue would never say that tricky words cannot be sounded out

www.rrf.org.uk/pdf/Final_03__The_Synthetic_Phonics_Teaching_Principles%2011-2-10.pdf

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