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Read Write Inc vs ORT - can someone explain to me...

(20 Posts)
Kewcumber Mon 19-Sep-11 14:51:05

Our school uses ORT mostly but has just started (at Easter last year) doing half an hour of Phonics using Read Write inc every day. These sessions are based on ability levels so Recpeption yr 1,2 and some of 3 (I gather) mix p to do thier RWI phonics.

I understand they love it and DS (yr1) seems very keen on it.

But it seems that DS has been assigned to th eYR2 reading group along with a handful of his year and most of the other names (apart from 1) are all childrne that I know (from volunteering in the school last year) are pretty ahead in their reading.

BUt DS is only reading ORT level 2 books confused surely thats not considered a year 2 level. I say "only" not because I have a problme with it but because I'm confused about he seems to be fairly avaergae at reading on the ORT system but apparently is ahead using RWI - are they really so different - can anyone explain it to me.

I bumped into DS's recpetion teacher toady (off on maternity leave) who said she wasn't at all surprised as he knew his "little ditties" by the end of last year.

Lordy I'm getting too old for this new fangled stuff confused.

I don't want to grill DS about it and haven't had a chance to talk to his new teacher yet because I feel like an idiot not knowing what its all about.

Someone take pity on me and explain how level 2 books can translate as reading phonics with YR2.... pretty please!

IndigoBell Mon 19-Sep-11 15:23:18

ORT teaches reading via 'look and guess', whereas RWI teaches via phonics.

So he is better at phonics than at guessing whole words. Which is great.

Kewcumber Mon 19-Sep-11 17:00:33

interestingly he seems to me to be pretty good at guessing whole words (though it is obvious to me that he is guessing from the context).

Bumping for any other teachers around.

I (mistakenly) thought ORT was phonics based?

IndigoBell Mon 19-Sep-11 17:17:14

Only ORT Floppy Phonics and Sonbirds is phonics based.

Classic ORT isn't.

Kewcumber Mon 19-Sep-11 17:20:14

So they are teaching sounds phonetically but then using a reading scheme that doesn't use phonics confused or using two reading schemes now - one phonics one not.

Blimey its a minefield isn't it!

IndigoBell Mon 19-Sep-11 17:27:33


They are either sending home non phonics books because they have lots of them and don't want to throw them out - or they don't believe in phonics and believe 'that children learn via a variety of methods' and so are deliberately sending home old books.

Probably both smile

Ferguson Mon 19-Sep-11 18:46:50


I was ten years a TA in an Infant Sch, now a voluntary helper in small Primary Sch. We are using more phonics based books, which is what SHOULD be taught these days, but unfortunately many schools still seem not to be. In my experience children do become better readers from using phonics; some my take a while to get used to it, but once it 'clicks' they can progress rapidly.

It probably doesn't hurt for a child to be reading material from both systems, as obviously even the 'non phonics' books will still contain many words that can be sounded phonetically. Years ago, using picture-clues and context to aid reading was taught and encouraged, but nowadays the emphasis should be on phonics and 'sounding out'. Of course, plenty of words can't be sounded so they still need to be learnt as exceptions, often called 'tricky' words, I think.

By coincidence, we have today had a visit from our area Literacy Adviser, and we are going to 'bin' a quantity of our old ORT books!

Kewcumber Mon 19-Sep-11 19:02:44

According to old reception teacher the issue is the cost of replacing all the ort reading scheme books. Not sure if that's the official line though.
D's seems pretty good at the phonics and sounding out words but gets very upset and not being able to sound out many of the org book words (some books seem to be easier than others)

I guess looking at it that way it makes sense that he's further ahead in a phonics system than a non-phonics one.

Feel a bit of an idiot that I hasn't realised ort wasn't phonic!

maizieD Mon 19-Sep-11 20:24:45

Feel a bit of an idiot that I hasn't realised ort wasn't phonic!

No need to feel like that. Phonics is a bit of a closed book to lots of people (including some teachers...sad)

Phonics is basically about learning how the 44 'sounds' of English are represented by the 'alphabetic code'. Unfortunately English has a very complex code becasue of the way we have absorbed lots of words from different languages into our language. If the 'code' is taught systematically from simple (one way of representing one sound) to complex (alternative ways of representing a sound) children usually learn it quite easily, as your ds is with the Read Write Inc. Problem with ORT is that they are designed for learning words as 'wholes' and so introduce complex code right from the start. Very difficult for a beginning reader.

When he has learned more of the code he will be able to cope with ORT.

I would disagree that there are words which can't be sounded out. All words are based on the alphabetic code, it's just that sometimes children are expected to 'learn' them before they have the appropriate code knowledge.

tillyfernackerpants Mon 19-Sep-11 21:31:34

This thread is v interesting.

I worry that ds1 is struggling with his reading, he tries to sound out as he's taught in school but the ORT books don't seem to support that, and now reading Maizies post it seems to make sense as to why!

Does anyone know if there any books we can get for home that would make more sense to him?

Kewcumber Mon 19-Sep-11 22:00:13

We got one of the ort songbird books which certainly seemed more phonic. Expensive though I wonder if you can get them from the library?

Kewcumber Mon 19-Sep-11 22:02:31

I'm afraid I circumvent ort books by e pecting him to get all the easy words and helping him with the tricky ones. I probably fail the parent test.

maverick Mon 19-Sep-11 22:17:01

For those of you with beginning readers in schools still using whole language readers such as classic ORT, you might like to know the following:

In Oct 2010 the DfE introduced a revised set of criteria for synthetic phonics programmes. Please note that it includes new advice on early texts to practise reading: '(E)nsure that as pupils move through the early stages of acquiring phonics, they are invited to practise by reading texts which are entirely decodable for them, so that they experience success and learn to rely on phonemic strategies. It is important that texts are of the appropriate level for children to apply and practise the phonic knowledge and skills that they have learnt. Children should not be expected to use strategies such as whole-word recognition and/or cues from context, grammar, or pictures.'

tillyfernackerpants Mon 19-Sep-11 22:25:01

Kew, I do the same as well. Would rather help him than have him get upset and me frustrated!

Maverick, thanks, v useful to read

Kewcumber Mon 19-Sep-11 23:14:13

Maverick - thats really really helpful. I know the head teacher pretty well, think I might have a quiet word with him...

The ORT books we are getting are certainly not "entirely decodable" and it really winds me up when the un-decodable (?!) bits are in teh first sentence of the book - then I have to work twice as hard to keep DS engaged.

maverick Tue 20-Sep-11 10:14:29

I think that schools really need to get their act together re. synthetic phonics and decodable books -I suspect that the new Ofsted framework for 2012 will focus on this strongly.

Kewcumber, Have you seen my decodable books page?
It includes sources of free decodable text and a postal lending scheme

Kewcumber Tue 20-Sep-11 10:58:09

thanks will take a look at it.

tillyfernackerpants Tue 20-Sep-11 12:18:00

Maverick, thanks again, that is really useful!

Ds1 also gets Snapdragon books as well as classic ORT but again they rely on recognising whole words, rather than decoding them. I may have a word with the headteacher but she's not very proactive...

Kewcumber Tue 20-Sep-11 13:33:48

where is the postal lending scheme - I can't see it?

maverick Tue 20-Sep-11 13:45:36
A book rental service specialising in reading scheme books for children aged 4 to 9 years Caution: decodable books are available but many of the books stocked are whole language readers.

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