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Read, Write, Inc - experiences?

(23 Posts)
AChickenCalledKorma Mon 03-Oct-11 21:44:30

My daughters' school is launching a grand new literacy strategy, in a concerted effort to raise standards across the school. We are in an area with a history of low achievement so this is all good news.

They are implementing synthetic phonics using a programme called Read, Write, Inc, which I've heard of, but know little about. Yet!

Just wondering whether anyone has any experience to share.

The thing which has slightly taken me aback is that they are sorting all the children into ability groups across the whole of Years 1 to 4. We had letters today, telling us which teachers our children will be with. As far as I can tell through my less-than-subtle-questioning, my younger daughter's group will have children from three different year groups in it. So there could be children aged just-turned-six to nearly-nine. I'm quite interested to find out whether this is the norm for the programme - and if so, how on earth they engage such a wide age range in a single class!

maizieD Mon 03-Oct-11 22:10:49

The reason for ability grouping across the age ranges is that children all working at the same 'level' remain engaged; none are sitting waiting for the slower ones to catch up, nor are there any 'slower' children getting left behind. Once the programme has been running for a few years there should be less need for 'across age' groups as fewer children will be struggling higher up the school; apart, perhaps, for new starters who haven't had such a solid foundation...

The RWI programme is designed to keep children occupied all the time; it is an excellent programme which most children thrive in. Some teachers don't like it as it is very 'prescriptive' but few deny that it gets excellent results.

SE13Mummy Mon 03-Oct-11 23:29:18

We started this at 'my' school a year ago. Co-ordinating it across the year groups, especially when one class is out on a trip/something similar, has been the tricky aspect of it as it pretty much runs itself.

I have a Y4 class and at the start of last year all but two were still in the phonics scheme. By the end of the year all but four of the class had graduated onto the spelling programme. Personally, I would say it works for the vast majority of children and the fact that it is systematic and prescriptive means that it can be delivered by all the adults who've received the training i.e. each group has a maximum of about 14 children. In the groups I had last year there were children from Y2, Y3 and Y4. As the year went on, and more children progressed to the spelling programme there were groups that had some children from each year from 1-4.

If your DD's school is just starting to use RWI you may find that the groupings change across the year as the adults leading them may encounter pairings that don't work, children who are at the same level but who have a faster/slower writing speed etc. so it's unlikely that your DD will be with that exact group of children for the year.

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 04-Oct-11 09:42:28

Thanks for the responses. My daughter is one of the youngest children in Year 2, so I am experiencing a whole mixture of feeling proud of her for doing well, while also being a bit concerned that she might feel rather "lost" in a group with much older children.

I'm reassured to hear that it is normal to have a wide spread of ages in groups, and also that the groups are fairly small. And yes, the school has said that all the children will be reassessed after five weeks. It does sound like quite a rigourous programme, which has got to be good news for the many children who are struggling.

IndigoBell Tue 04-Oct-11 09:49:06

I echo what everyone else has said.

It's a very good program - particularly if it's used from Reception onwards.

It teaches the vast majority of kids (90-95%).

It doesn't work for a tiny minority smile (Like my DD)

And it's far better to be in a group with kids who are at the same stage of learning to read, then who are the same age.

sarahfreck Tue 04-Oct-11 14:53:38

I use elements of the programme in my tutoring and think it is really good.

Fairenuff Tue 04-Oct-11 18:28:12

Our school stopped using it because children were only applying what they learned during the specific phonics lesson. When they went back to class they went back to all their old habits (forgetting full stops, incorrect spelling, etc). We have gone back to incorporating phonics in all literacy and we seem to have better results with their writing. We prefer to use a variety of teaching methods rather than just one to help the children with reading and writing. The RWI stories are really boring too.

IndigoBell Tue 04-Oct-11 18:31:45

Fairenuff - are you a parent or a teacher?

Fairenuff Tue 04-Oct-11 18:38:01

Teacher's assistant. I had a phonics group to teach for an hour every day, as did all the TAs and teaching staff. This was another thing which I did not think was very good about the scheme because, in effect, you have teaching assistants doing the literacy hour. This should really be taught, in my opinion, by the teachers. Although everyone was trained to deliver the RWI scheme, teachers are still the best people to teach the children with assistance from the TAs but because each class is split into at least 3 groups, extra staff are needed to teach it.

IndigoBell Tue 04-Oct-11 18:50:38

Fairenuff - that's very interesting, because that's exactly my complaint with RWI

1. DD was taught by a TA and I felt her teacher didn't really take responsibility for teaching her to read and write. And also didn't even know what she'd been learning, to encourage her to do the same in the afternoons.

2. Her writing did not improve at all.

But I thought those problems were due to DD being 'atypical' rather than the scheme. blush

In fact as a governor I questioned the writing progress of kids still on RWI and was shown stats to prove it was working....

Fairenuff Tue 04-Oct-11 19:25:12

It does work with a lot of children but should not, imo, be the only way of teaching literacy or be relied on too heavily.

Not all the sounds are represented. There is the sound 'ear' as in 'hear' but no 'ere' as in 'here'. Also, 'air' as in 'hair' but no 'ere' as in 'there'. There is however 'ow' as in 'cow' and 'ow' as in blow. I don't know why some sounds are taught and others not but there are loads of anomalies like that. There is 'or' as in 'door' which doesn't make sense to me as that would be d-o-or confused. There is no 'our' as in 'pour'.

Sorry if this is confusing you. You can imagine what it's like for some of the children! We do still use parts of the scheme but now the lesson is delivered by the teacher.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 04-Oct-11 19:34:37

I think it is fantastic. I started work as a supply teacher in Monmouthshire after a four year break and was amazed at the high standard of literacy I encountered in the schools I visited (all schools in the county take part, except for one). I paid for myself to do the training and am now teaching full time in a school that has just introduced it.

I think one of the main strenths is the streaming and systematic way the children are taught. The prescriptive nature of the scheme means that it is easy for a TA or LSA to deliver it as well, and as the child moves through the system they will be taught by teachers and teaching assistants. All the assessments are done by a teacher. As stated earlier, once a school has introduced this at reception level, there will be less variation with the ages within groups.

I think it IS weaker where writing is concerned, but it would be a very strange school that only taught writing in a RWI session, so this should not be a problem.

lljkk Tue 04-Oct-11 19:37:49

I am a fan, seems to work well with basics. DC school ditch it when they get to about free reader status, though, so avoid the restrictions (I have heard about) wrt writing.

talkingnonsense Tue 04-Oct-11 20:47:59

I've got to teach it on supply so I'm glad it's easy to follow! Any quick comparisons to jolly phonics? I like the idea of only having 14 or so though.

SE13Mummy Tue 04-Oct-11 21:05:44

We do a daily, 20 minute session of RWI. Writing is still taught as part of the Literacy hour/lesson. Once children are in Y4 and have moved onto the spelling part of the RWI programme they stay in class and we deliver the spelling units (but with pairs of children starting at different units depending upon the spelling patterns they need to learn).

HumphreyCobbler Tue 04-Oct-11 21:07:27

sorry, I never taught jolly phonics so can't compare

as long as they leave you the handbooks out you will be fine. I had a few hairy moments as a supply when they assumed I knew what Fred talk was or how EXACTLY to hold a sentence grin

mrz Tue 04-Oct-11 21:10:02

RWI is very effective but I'm not a fan to be honest.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 04-Oct-11 21:15:04

What do you do at your school mrz?

talkingnonsense Tue 04-Oct-11 21:17:13

Well I shall see! What they've given me looks dull, but I guess 20 min will be pacey anyway. Every time I breathe something has changed at the moment! I was good at letterland and ort, just about mastered all the wretched actions for jolly phonics( except I still kept stroking dippy ducks back!) so I expect I'll get the hang of it.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 04-Oct-11 21:21:04

It is far from dull - but I suppose it could be if you just stuck to the book. We do a lot of stuff the children enjoy, it is brisk and snappy. No long tasks. The children seem to enjoy the books. It is the funniest part of the day here, especially when we bounce across the vowels.

mrz Tue 04-Oct-11 21:27:32

We still use Jolly Phonics to introduce sounds in reception because we find it effective and our parents like it.
We worked with an independent consultant to put together our own "programme" for Y1 & 2 then move into Get Spelling in KS2.

HumphreyCobbler Tue 04-Oct-11 21:33:45

I just wondered if you did THRASS (not even sure if I spelled it correctly?) as my son will attend the only school in monmouthshire that does not do RWI, and they use thrass instead.

The thing about RWI is that it compensates for schools who don't teach phonics systematically. Your school is bound to mrz, you are so well informed and articulate on the subject of education I have picked up a lot of tips just from reading your posts. You obviously have a systematic approach. But lots of schools seem to approach it so haphazardly that a scheme like RWI kind of negates that problem.

mrz Tue 04-Oct-11 21:44:22

Yes RWI provides a solid structure for teaching phonics which many teachers find really useful.

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