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Using the resources in a 'layered' way

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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 7:05 pm    Post subject: Using the resources in a 'layered' way Reply with quote

I thought I might describe the progress in the Reception class (four to five year olds - although the children are now all five) where I work one day a week in a 'job share' in a primary school.

At this stage in the academic year, we have completed the introduction of letter/s-sound correspondences for the Phonics International version of a 'simple code' - that is, from unit 1 to the end of unit 5.

We are not continuing with unit 6 as we are currently revising and consolidating the letter/s-sound correspondences introduced to date and we are focusing on an increase in 'sentence level' work.

We do refer to split digraph words through our incidental teaching but we are not progressing onto unit 6 at this stage because of the age of the children and the need to consolidate teaching to date at an age-appropriate level.

We constantly return to some of the earlier units using or, in some cases, re-using various resources.

Today, for example, we made every child a booklet from the I can read texts at the beginning of the strand in unit 2. We added a blank page in a pale colour as the 'front cover' of the 'mystery story'. The children were told that they were going to read a page (or more) so that they could discover what the text said to enable them to illustrate either the page they had read or the booklet itself. All the children loved this activity and they drew some very detailed and thoughtful pictures stimulated by the text they read.

This is the range of ability in our Reception class:

Three children were able to read their booklets of about seven pages right through from beginning to end fluently. They understood what they read and were then able to illustrate their 'mystery story' front cover once they had read the text.

Four children were able to sound out and blend most of the words on the first page of text but needed some encouragement and some occasional help. This was not fluent and the children still needed to sound out to blend most words.

Seven children were able to blend nearly all the words from the first page and six of the seven children were able to understand what they had read easily. These children illustrated the blank page on the left of the page they read today.

Out of the whole Reception group, only one child had any letter knowledge at the beginning of the school year. Nearly two and a half terms later, every child can now sound out and blend words which consist of Alphabetic Code knowledge that they have been taught (that is, units 1 to 5). More than half the children can blend words which are longer than three sounds - and three children can read fluently any words they encounter of child-appropriate vocabulary.

All the children can recognise and point to the correct grapheme of all or most of The Alphabetic Code that they have been taught (the graphemes of unit 1 to unit 5). Most of the children can handwrite most of the letter shapes of the Alphabet in lower case.

All the children can orally segment simple words and then go on to spell them - and in many cases they can write the correct letters.

All the children (except one) will at least have a go at writing a simple sentence for their 'news'. Two children can write quickly, effectively and with very good spelling anything they wish to write. This might be three or four sentences for their news. Even the slowest-to-learn children are attempting to write a simple sentence apart from one child who can, nevertheless, write simple words with single letters correctly or nearly correctly on seeing a simple picture (that is, sees a tap, writes 'tap').

All the children know how to hold their pencils with the tripod grip ("froggy legs with the log under...") but several of the children revert to poor pencil holds through habit and over-confidence in their pencil skills. As I have mentioned recently, it is the less mature children who take more care and who hold their pencils properly and consistently!

The next steps:

We shall continue to use resources right back from the beginning of the PI programme (from unit 1). We shall use the My Word word lists for blending practice with the weakest children - but also use the Proforma (three columns and lines) for both handwriting practice and spelling practice of the words in the My Words lists. All the children will benefit from more handwriting practice including some simple copy-writing.

We shall continue to use the I can read texts in a differentiated way with all the Reception children. Some children will be able to read the texts independently whilst some children will only be able to read some of the words with supervision and encouragement.

Some children will be able to spell words with dictations of a sentence or two.

The most able children will be able to write their own sentences to 'add' to the storylines of the I can read texts along the lines of, "What do you think could happen next?"

The point of this posting is to show how we are using the resources from SEVERAL of the units 1 to 5 as appropriate to the children. This is 'layering' the teaching and learning activities.

The same resources can be used with all the children but with different activities and expectations.

We shall keep consolidating the children's Alphabetic Code knowledge and their three skills of blending, segmenting and handwriting at word, sentence and text level right up until they finish their school year.

We shall continue to identify which individuals have which gaps in their Alphabetic Code knowledge taught to date - and then plan activities on a one to one or one to two basis to bring all the children up to speed.

We shall continue to sing The Alphabet Song using letter names to familiarise the children with letter names through Alphabet work - but not through reading and spelling activities.

We shall continue to familiarise the children with the capital (or upper case) letters and when/why we use capital letters. Using the Pairs Game strand will reinforce that both capital and lower case letters represent the SAME sounds. We shall increase the rehearsal of writing capital letters on writing lines.

We shall use the Origami Books that we have not yet used (units 3 and 4) - and we shall continue to use the Letters, Sounds and Pictures Matching Game which has been very successful even with the least mature children in the class.

All the children take home cumulative decodable reading books from several commercial schemes as they can all blend. They also take home a 'choosing book' from the class library (story books and information books) to share with parents.
Debbie Hepplewhite
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:24 pm    Post subject: Please can I be in your class next year?! Reply with quote

Hmm, have gone all dreamy reading this. It sounds like my idea of Utopia! Cool Hope that I can do something half as good as this in September. Rolling Eyes
Keep on keeping the dream alive Cool !

Last edited by pdwroe on Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


I have made suggestions about teachers and parents using the new Early Years Starter Package resources in a 'layered' way.

The Early Years Starter Package introduces the same letter/s-sound correspondences of units 1 to 6 of the full Phonics International programme (with the same mnemonic pictures).

Teachers and parents using the resources of the Early Years Starter Package could start with these as a 'pre-entry' option to the full PI programme.

At some point (for example, half way through unit 2 described as '2a' in the Early Years Starter Package), the Sounds Book Activity Book strand can be introduced starting from the beginning. This, in effect, is revision for the teaching and learning.

Meanwhile, the pace of introducing further new letter/s-sound correspondences can be reduced - still using the Early Years Starter Package Activity Sheets.

'Layering' simply means revising old learning whilst pressing ahead with new learning.

This provides a safety net for revision and consolidation so that some children don't get left behind in the early stages of being taught how to read, spell and write.
Debbie Hepplewhite
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Number 9 of the free Email Tutorials is focused on describing the need for 'layering' and 'incidental teaching'. Wink
Debbie Hepplewhite
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