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Calling Mrz and other year 1 teachers/ phonics enthusiasts!

(46 Posts)
ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 17:58:54

I teach in a primary school. We have some very needy children in Year 1 but have recently changed the way we teach phonics.

We just did the screening test with our class. We had 100% pass rate, even some with SEN who I think would've definitely failed, prior to our new phonics teaching regime.

We often teach non word reading as part of the daily phonics lesson, but have been doing extra non word reading this week, in preparation. This was because some of the children were tending to convert some non words in the closest real word that they know.

We wanted to really emphasise the point that you should read only the sounds that they you can see.

A colleague suggested that we had unfairly 'taught to the test'. What do you think?

Feenie Thu 20-Jun-13 18:06:07

It isn't possible to teach to the test. Either you teach children to use phonics to read words - any words - effectively, or you don't!

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 18:08:49

That's how I feel, feenie!

We have just slightly altered our phonics teaching in the last week to mirror the format of the screening.

The implication was that this was giving a true picture of their phonic knowledge.

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 18:09:15

'Wasnt giving at rue picture'

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 18:09:41

Gah! iPad !

ClayDavis Thu 20-Jun-13 18:11:53

You haven't 'taught to the test', you've 'taught'. If you've emphasised that they should only read the sounds they see and consolidate this in the rest of their reading, you are teaching them to read not to pass a test.

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 18:14:51

Thanks. Sorry, I should also say we did a couple of extra lessons of phonics this week too, to revise tricky graphemes. I think the suggestion was that we should have gone in totally 'cold' without giving phonic knowledge/ teaching any kind of 'boost'.

boredofwork Thu 20-Jun-13 18:25:17

And the other teachers in your school do no prep for SATs, optional SATs etc?

We all help to prepare our children in some way. They need to remember these children are 5 and 6 years old, they need an idea of the format otherwise they will be terrified. Or at least my children would be!

I have done lots of buried treasure and non-word reading over the last couple of weeks.

You have done nothing wrong as long as you administered the actual test according to the guidelines.

ClayDavis Thu 20-Jun-13 18:26:18

I'm still not sure that matters. Presumably, in order to revise the tricky graphemes, you have to identify which graphemes the children find tricky and then revise them. That should form part of good phonics teaching anyway with or without the test.

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 18:30:53

Bored, clay, I absolutely agree but wanted to see what others think. I guess I just wanted to know what others felt about raising the profile of phonics teaching in the run up to the assessment.

Periwinkle007 Thu 20-Jun-13 18:35:04

I am just a parent but quite frankly to me 'teaching to the test' would be to be doing lots of example practice tests or cheating and giving them the actual test words before the test itself. The extra work you have put in should (one hopes) remain in their heads in which case they have learned how to do it so it doesn't matter if it was this week or a month ago really. I would be interested to know though if you are now changing how you teach it in general as if such a concentrated couple of weeks on it has made a big difference then if that concentrated couple of weeks had been say in January would they be further on.

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 18:39:40

Good point peri. I guess what I would say to that is that in a typical week we also go work on sight and high frequency words, spelling dictation etc and this week we have focused on the non word reading and let the others areas get neglected. But I agree, there may be something to be said for upping the pace/ amount of the phonics for some children, the light of this success.

Periwinkle007 Thu 20-Jun-13 18:46:37

it would be interesting to perhaps look at that for next year wouldn't it.

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 18:48:19

Peri, we reflect on our practise all the time, I promise smile

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 18:49:21

We already do extra, but maybe we should do 'extra extra' smile

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 19:03:11

Tbh, I am rather upset as the person who criticised is SMT and no longer in the classroom. Very easy to forget the pressure that class teachers are under.

mrz Thu 20-Jun-13 19:11:43

Does this person think you shouldn't teach the curriculum because children will be tested on it at some point.
It's a bit like saying that a secondary teacher shouldn't teach Romeo and Juliet because their pupils will have to answer questions on it in their GCSE exams

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 19:18:44

Hi Mrz, I quite agree but somehow she got me thinking that I might not have played fair. She is very senior. I am new to the school and whilst I absolutely stand by our treatment of this assessment process I did not feel able to defend myself fully. And she caught me off guard, so I struggled to put forward a defence at the time.

sittinginthesun Thu 20-Jun-13 19:22:30

I can't believe you feel you have to defend yourself - you have taught the class the the point where you have achieved 100%! What is her problem?

In my ds's class, they have been practising alien words all year. Great fun - they all have alien names, and have had "Alien Days".

If your SMT have a problem with the test itself, that is a different issue. Y

mrz Thu 20-Jun-13 19:29:47

I've got to be honest I haven't done any practice checks or alien words with my class

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 19:30:17

There was a reason why this discussion point came up, but I don't want to out myself...

ThermalGirl Thu 20-Jun-13 19:32:18

It would be nice to think everyone could pass without any kind of a 'boost' but in truth, I do think this made a difference to a small number of children.

mrz Thu 20-Jun-13 19:34:34

Don't get me wrong we do lots of decoding words everyday

mrz Thu 20-Jun-13 19:37:20

and since it's a decoding check it could be argued I'm teaching to the test.

ClayDavis Thu 20-Jun-13 19:38:45

I'd put money on the fact that if OfSTED come calling and ask to look at the results she won't be complaining then. She'll be shouting the result from the rooftops.

FWIW, if you could get 100% of children meeting the standard just by doing a few extra non words and revising tricky graphemes the week before the test, every school would get that result. They're not. That result comes from good groundwork over a period of time.

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