Phonics International Forum Index Phonics International
an International Online Synthetic Phonics Programme
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Step Three - delivering a complex code very simply

Post new topic   Reply to topic    Phonics International Forum Index -> Guide to using the programme
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 2469
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:41 pm    Post subject: Step Three - delivering a complex code very simply Reply with quote

Delivering a complex code very simply:

The 'teacher' needs to stay focused on the teaching of Alphabetic Code knowledge (that is the relationship between the letter/s and sounds known as letter/s-sound correspondences or phoneme-grapheme correspondences - see The Alphabetic Code charts free in unit 1) and the three basic skills of blending all-through-the-word for reading, segmenting (splitting up the sounds) all-through-the-spoken-word (and knowing the letters or letter combinations to represent the identified sounds); and handwriting the letter shapes.

[Please note that the free Alphabetic Code Charts for the Phonics International programme and for general use for teaching, for learning, for teacher-training and for informing the general public are now all available at: ]

This is all described in detail in the free Overview and Guidance booklet available in unit 1 (and also available to download in all other units/modules).

The link below shows you what the letter/s-sound correspondences are:

Remember that slash marks /-/ around a letter or letter group denote the 'sound' or 'phoneme' represented by the letter or letters. We can refer to the smallest identifiable sounds as 'phonemes' and letters or letter groups as 'graphemes'. Say the correct 'sound' of the letter/s when you see it in slash marks; e.g. /s/ = "ssss" and not "ess".

General statements for beginner learners and younger learners might be:

"I'm going to teach you all about letters and sounds so that you can begin to learn how to read and write."

SKILL 1 - Statement about learning to read:

"Watch and listen as I change the letters in the words into sounds and notice how I can blend the sounds into spoken words. This is how we learn to read."

Now point under the letters from left to right of a simple example, either written down or made up from magnetic letters, letters on Can Do Cubes or Grapheme Tiles (supplied throughout the PI unit webpages): s - a - t "/s/ /a/ /t/, 'sat'".

[note: see

for 'Debbie Hepplewhite's synthetic phonics for Can Do Cubes - a multi-sensory 'hands-on' wooden cubes set which can complement this programme.]

SKILL 2 - Statement about learning to spell:

"I'm going to teach you about the code that adults use to change their speech (talking) into letters and words. This is how we spell."

You can use magnetic letters or Grapheme Tiles (provided throughout the units in Phonics International) or letters on Can Do Cubes - or just write down the letters from left to right as you need them. Say a simple word like 'sit' as slowly as you can: "'sit' /s/ /i/ /t/. The individual sounds (phonemes) all-through-the-spoken-word will sort of 'pop out' so that they are identifiable.

Say, "This letter shape is code for /s/, this letter is code for /i/ and this letter is code for /t/." Continue, "Now let's check that we have made the word 'sit' by saying the sounds and blending them together again. /s/ /i/ /t/, 'sit'."

SKILL 3 - Statement about learning to write letter shapes:

"I'm going to teach you how to hold your pencil well and how to write these letter shapes so that you can begin to do your own writing."

Demonstrate a good pencil-hold and use a saying (especially for beginners and younger learners) such as "Use your froggy legs (thumb and index finger of the writing hand making a pinching motion) and put the log under (middle finger supporting the pencil and creating a 'tripod' pencil hold). Even if you, yourself, do not use this grip, consider teaching it anyway. Explain that it is the best grip especially as the learner's hand (if it is a young learner) grows bigger and bigger and still has to hold the same size pencil!

Handwriting opportunities are provided throughout the programme and teachers may adapt the printed letters by adding 'joins - leaders and tails' and/or by writing a sample letter at a preferred smaller size where necessary. There are also discrete handwriting practice resources provided and charts which consist only of The Alphabet letter shapes - lower case and upper case.

[Please note that the three core skills and their sub-skills (above) are now fully described in simple posters on the 'Free Resources' page in the blue box entitled, IMPORTANT. These are very helpful posters and it is recommended that they are printed off for supporting adults' folders and/or displayed around the school or teaching area: ]

The Sounds Book activity sheets - core resource of the programme:

The most important resource to support you in teaching any age of learner are the Sounds Book activity sheets. These will provide you with information about the necessary Alphabetic Code knowledge every step of the way. The teacher does not have to know all the detailed information before starting the programme which is precisely why the details are provided in this 'ongoing' way. The Sounds Book activity sheets also enable other people than the main teacher to do some of the teaching. In a school-setting this might be teaching assistants or substitute teachers or specialist teachers or job-share teachers. In a home-setting this might be a partner or other relation who is helping or supervising the teaching and learning.

Home Tutors may even share some of the teaching with parents at home because the information for each Sounds Book activity sheet is explicit and learners themselves soon get used to the routines and need little or no prompting with how to do the activities on the sheets.

The Sounds Book activity sheets are suitable for learners of all ages including learners who need 'gaps' filled in their Alphabetic Code knowledge and rehearsal of the blending and segmenting skills. It is best to fill any gaps in code knowledge from the earliest stages of the programme and then move 'forwards' as the general vocabulary tends to increase in difficulty throughout the programme.

At any point, teachers may wish to add their own words with the same spelling patterns to widen the learner's vocabulary bank and experience as appropriate.

So, let's recap. The Phonics International programme is simply about teaching Alphabetic Code knowledge and the three skills of blending, segmenting (splitting up spoken words) and handwriting - and then applying the code knowledge and the three skills to reading and writing at text level.

Cumulative words are provided through various resources for the learners to practise their code knowledge at word level. Cumulative words are words which consist only of letter/s-sound correspondences (the alphabetic code) taught to date.

Text level resources are provided (I can read texts) to apply the blending skills beyond word level to sentence and text level.

Aim to use the Sounds Book activity sheets alternating with the corresponding 'I can read' texts once the learners are beyond just 'word level' practice.

Teachers need to focus on building up a vocabulary bank, speaking and listening skills and comprehension skills at all times.

Ultimately, raise awareness of the need to recall 'spelling word banks' where words are spelt with the same letter/s-sound correspondences. The 'I can read' texts, the Questions resource, the associated full colour pictures and the spelling word banks with black and white line pictures all help the learners to recall the spelling word banks - especially for the second half of the Phonics International programme (units 7 to 12).

The Phonics International programme teaches reading (decoding) and spelling (encoding) from the beginning until the learner/s can read and then it shifts seamlessly into a systematic spelling programme.

A piece of decodable text is provided throughout the programme for each letter/s-sound correspondence introduced and revised but once the learner can read sufficiently by blending, then a wider range of reading material needs to be provided.

Other resources in the programme are designed to support the main teaching in the Sounds Book activity sheets (such as the Picture Posters and the Mini Posters). There are also resources to enable manipulation of letter/s and sounds such as the Grapheme Cards (can also be referred to as 'tiles') and the Pairs Games. The sets of letter/s-sound correspondence Flash Cards are particularly suitable for school-settings - whole classes and group work.

Rehearsal of learning is provided through resources such as the Say the Sounds booklets and the Say the Sounds posters as well as the quick-response Flash Card sessions.

Whilst there are many resources in the Phonics International programme, there is no need for all resources to be used. The individual context and the needs of the teacher and learner should determine the use of the many resources in the programme.

Remember that users, and potential users, of the Phonics International programme can ask me for specific advice for use of the resources at any time.

Please remember that I will also happily provide advice for people even if they are not using the Phonics International programme specifically. Very Happy
Debbie Hepplewhite

Last edited by debbie on Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:38 pm; edited 6 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 2469
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Aug 29, 2009 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have now provided very simple, structured CORE TEACHER MODELLING CARDS for units 1 to 6 which are available in the Early Years Starter Package.

These cards are ideal for lesson introductions via an 'all-in-one' resource.

If teachers or parents are new to synthetic phonics teaching, they will find these modelling cards very simple to use and very helpful.

They are mentioned in the short 8 minute video clip available to view bottom left of the 'About the programme' webpage of Phonics International:

'Demonstrating the power of synthetic phonics teaching using the Phonics International Early Years Starter Package'

Here is the video clip on youtube:

Use the cards in the order they are provided so the words for blending are cumulative - and words for spelling are also provided for the 'teacher' on each card.

Use the cards for lesson introductions and then the learner can go on to do their 'rehearsal' of the new letter/s-sound correspondence in their SOUNDS BOOK (which can be of various structures - see the 30 minute presentation video in which I talk about the concept of the SOUNDS BOOK).

In the full Phonics International programme there is the core SOUNDS BOOK ACTIVITY SHEET which can be used following the CORE TEACHER MODELLING CARDS - or learners can simply build up a 'sounds book' in an exercise book using perhaps paper GRAPHEME TILES or the A5 COLOUR-IN SOUNDS BOOK resource (along with use of one of the 'word lists' resources) - or there is the EARLY YEARS STARTER ACTIVITY SHEETS resource which can be used 'in school' or sent home as an additional 'homework' sheet to revise the day's teaching and to inform parents of the new information and progress of the learner.
Debbie Hepplewhite
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 2469
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The teaching and learning is provided routinely through a 'Teaching and Learning Cycle' or 'Sequence'.

See the 'In a nutshell' 2 page leaflet about the Phonics International content and sequence:

And see this very helpful 'checklist' or 'audit' document which gives examples of the kind of resources suitable for the features of the 'Teaching and Learning Cycle':

This audit document (above) is available via the 'Free Resources' webpage of Phonics International - in the blue box labelled, 'IMPORTANT'.

The audit document illustrates both the Phonics International 'Teaching and Learning Cycle' and the Oxford Reading Tree Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters sequence.

Many primary schools use the ORT Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters programme (of which I'm the phonics consultant) in Reception and Year One and then progress on to the Phonics International programme in Year Two or Three using it as an intervention and/or spelling programme for KS 2 (juniors). This is the case both in England and internationally where English is taught as the main or additional language.
Debbie Hepplewhite
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 2469
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recommend that the 'complex' or 'extended' English alphabetic code can be taught 'incidentally' even when teachers are only at the stage of introducing the 'simple' or 'basic' code systematically for beginners.

I refer to this as the 'two-pronged systematic and incidental phonics teaching approach' and I actually consider that this is the way forwards for phonics provision.

I have written about this approach here (originally this document was produced for a workshop at the UK Reading Reform Foundation conference in 2011):

The 'two-pronged' approach is exceptionally liberating for teachers and parents and allows them to introduce, or reinforce, any part of the English alphabetic code as required - with any learner as required. Thus, this is also an important aspect of 'differentiation'.

I suggest that teachers do not dip into the main resources for the systematic programme - but just use their flip-charts or whiteboards (or blackboards) to model any blending or segmenting processes with the focus letter/s-sound correspondence.

In addition, quickly make an A4 paper poster for the main phonics display board to supplement the explanation.

I provide examples of additional posters that can be made - including for unusual letter/s-sound correspondences - on the 'Free Resources' webpage:

Note that I always place the 'sound' in its slash marks at the top left of these quickly made posters which teachers can make 'by hand'. Keep a tray of A4 paper on the teacher's desk with a pack of felt pens nearby. Wink
Debbie Hepplewhite
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Phonics International Forum Index -> Guide to using the programme All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group