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Teaching of Phonics and Early Reading Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 3rd, 2019

Today the problem of teaching early reading at school is widely discussed by scholars and teachers. The main issues which it is necessary to analyze are the questions of the concept of the Simple View of Reading and different modern approaches to teaching reading.

Teaching phonics is often considered as the most effective way to teach children to read. However, the study of the variety of approaches to the process has resulted in many discussions related to their effectiveness and rationality. That is why it is important to pay attention to the review of the most effective approaches to teaching phonics and analyze their connection with the concept of the Simple View of Reading.

Phonics can be described as the realization of definite relations between the letters of the written language and the individual sounds or phonemes of the spoken language and their interdependence. There are a lot of approaches to teaching phonics which base on the necessity to teach children to see and use the relations between letters and sounds in order to read this or that word.

The most popular approaches to the presentation of the phonics principles and instructions are synthetic phonics, analytic phonics, and analogy-based phonics. It is important to note that all these approaches use the principle of alphabet for their realizing (Lambirth & Goouch 2011). However, there are definite differences in their usage for teaching early reading.

Synthetic phonics is an approach to teaching reading with the help of which children have the opportunity to convert letters into sounds or to put the sounds together in order to form the words which are known for them. A synthetic phonics teaching programme is often used at the starting stage at school.

Thus, “children are taught a small group of letter sounds very rapidly, and are then shown how these letter sounds can be co-articulated to pronounce unfamiliar words” (Johnston & Watson 2003, p. 3). Moreover, other groups of letters are given to children later and they can “blend them in order to pronounce new words” (Johnston & Watson 2003, p. 3).

Johnston and Watson developed the series of researches in which they compared the effectiveness of such approaches as synthetic phonics, analytic phonics, and analytic phonics with the element of phonological awareness teaching (Johnston & Watson 2003).

They have concluded that in spite of the difficulties with its usage for teaching reading in English, synthetic phonics can be considered as more effective for the quick development of children’s necessary reading skills (Johnston & Watson 2005).

The effectiveness of synthetic phonics can be considered as obvious, if we examine the differences between synthetic phonics and analytic phonics.

Wyse and Goswami in their investigation have stated that synthetic phonics can be considered as more preferable approach to teaching reading in English in comparison with the other approaches because according to those evidences which were used for the development of the research synthetic phonics instructions are more effective and depend on the efficient phonic work (Wyse & Goswami 2008).

Johnston and Watson also emphasize that the analytic phonics programme which is based on several steps in teaching reading requires more resources, but it is less effective in comparison with the synthetic phonics approach (Johnston & Watson 2005).

They describe the differences as following, “in analytic phonics children analyse letters sounds after the word has been identified, whereas in synthetic phonics the pronunciation of the word is discovered through sounding and blending” (Johnston & Watson 2003, p. 3).

Furthermore, “another critical difference is that synthetic phonics teaches children to sound and blend right at the start of reading tuition, after the first few letter sounds have been taught” (Johnston & Watson 2003, p. 3).

The principles of synthetic phonics are closely connected with the idea of the Simple View of Reading. The Simple View of Reading is often described as a formula which includes the main aspects of reading that students should learn in order to become successful readers.

The main elements which the formula of the Simple View of Reading combines are the reading comprehension, the product of listening comprehension, and their decoding (Dombey n.d.).

The principles of the Simple View of Reading which depend on the idea of synthetic phonics were discussed in the work by Jim Rose.

He emphasizes the alphabetic character of the system of the English language and states that beginners in reading “must be taught how the letters of the alphabet, singly or in combination, represent the sounds of spoken language (letter-sound correspondences) and how to blend (synthesise) the sounds to read words, and break up (segment) the sounds in words to spell” (Rose 2006, p. 15).

Moreover, the necessity of the Simple View of Reading’s study in relation to the issues of synthetic phonics was discussed in the teaching strategy worked out by Department for Education and Skills in 2006. Thus, synthetic phonics “should be the prime approach used in the teaching of early reading” (DfES 2006, p. 54).

The principles of the teaching programmes developed according to the analogy-based phonics approach are not widely used today because their effectiveness is not high in comparison with the synthetic phonics approach (Fountas 1999).

White states that children are taught to use the parts of those words and lexical groups which they know in order to recognize the words with unfamiliar meanings, but similar parts (White 2005). This approach requires time for children to learn its principles.

The main approaches to teaching phonics have many differences and similarities in their principles. Synthetic phonics can be considered as the most effective one (Hinig 1996; Casey 2000). The concept of the Simple View of Reading is based on synthetic phonics and those issues connected with the synthetic phonics approach’s influence on the study of Simple View of Reading.

Mathematical Misconception That Children Have

Children can often experience a lot of difficulties connected with definite mathematical areas that they do not understand or are not aware of. Thus, many children do not understand some of the concepts that can be used at classes or various methods that they should use in order to solve this or that particular question or problem.

When we discuss the peculiarities of learning fractions we should state that children often regard this area of mathematics as very difficult because they do not see any points why they should use some procedures while solving a sum (QCA 1999a; QCA 1999b).

Possible difficulties which children can experience while working with fractions can be explained by the fact of the early introduction of the fractions’ use without taking into account that children need time to understand any type of fractions.

Giving children time to know the simple ways to come up with fractions and developing their ability to handle these types of sums in mathematics that require their definite solving in relation to fractions, teachers can ease the process of understanding the subject. Thus, it can give children some time to realize what fractions really are (Surtees & Fox 2010).

Children should understand clearly the peculiarities of the denominator and the numerator in fractions. Furthermore, it is necessary to be sure that they know the steps of solving a particular calculation instead of learning some rules that they should remember for solving these calculations.

In fact, a child “does not necessary understand the principles behind the facts” (Koshy & Murray 2011, p. 152). Children should have a good knowledge of why that particular method is used for solving these sums (Murray 2000).

Moreover, children are inclined to follow the whole rule rather than work with its steps because it is easier to remember the whole one than the order of the actions to be done to solve the mathematical calculations. They can misunderstand why it is necessary to use this rule and, therefore, apply it to any sum.

When they grasp the rule in relation to a common denominator, this will trigger them in understanding the steps that follow and involve the alteration of the fractions in order to have a regular denominator (Thompson 2009). This will give them the ability to sum up fractions according to the comparison of the sizes involved. A lot of students have believes that all the numbers and fractions are one and the same.

These students can end up not understanding the fact that states 3/16 as less than 3/4. Children can be helped in clearing their misconception with the help of the use of a visual math chalkboard. For instance, a pizza can be drawn on this chalkboard.

It is significant to draw the lines that pass through the circle in the center of this pizza dividing it into equal parts. Students should be able to tell the number of pieces they can see. It is important to mention that there is only one pizza on the chalkboard, and the slices are the parts of the pizza.

The teacher should write the whole fraction erasing the slices that remain and make sure that the students indicate the fraction of the remaining parts.

There can be many solutions that will help to overcome this type of misconception in relation to the children’s understanding of mathematics. Furthermore, the best solution is to have such class discussions frequently. The whole class should be able to participate in the discussion in order to understand what is drawn on the board by the fellow students and also by the teacher who is in charge of the discussion.

This procedure can result in discussing the solutions which are correct and those which are incorrect for everyone to see and learn from their mistakes (Murray 2000). This process can give the students time to look at some of the possible solutions that one sum can have.

It can also be appropriate when there is also small groups discussing and giving their different points of view concerning various solutions provided by the others in the group (Hansen 2011). There should be the collection of the sheets or books that the students use for their discussions in order to see and compare what they are discussing.

It is possible to use the individual work for the students which must be explained in detail in relation to the solutions given to this or that particular sum (Cockburn & Littler 2008). This will help the teacher to understand the points which a student has not understood and, as a result, has no idea of what is asked.

Hansen states that the teacher will know the possible issues to talk about and explain what should be done in order to get the correct solution to the mathematical calculations with the help of these actions (Hansen 2005).

Moreover, there should be a good foundation for the children when it comes to possible ways to help in solving the mathematical calculations and searching for the fractions that need more attention in understanding the concepts used for finding the solutions. This should also apply to the administration of the education institutions (Wolfe 2001).

Students should be provided with the best techniques when it comes to anything connected with their education since their abilities develop, and they can adapt to everything they are taught.

To be successful in their studying, children should understand what is right when it comes to education, especially in the field of mathematics because the lessons in mathematics are often considered by children as the most challengeable studies at school.

That is why it is necessary for teachers to concentrate on the peculiarities of overcoming any possible difficulties which are associated with the issues of mathematical misconceptions.

References

Casey, JM 2000, Early literacy: The empowerment of technology. Libraries Unlimited, Englewood, Colorado.

Cockburn, A & Littler, G 2008, Mathematical misconceptions. SAGE, London.

Department for Education and Skills (DfES) 2006, Primary national strategy: primary framework for literacy and mathematics. OPSI, Norwich.

Dombey, H n.d. The Simple View of Reading – Explained, <>.

Fountas, IC 1999, Voices on word matters: learning about phonics and spelling in the literacy classroom. Heinemann, Portsmouth.

Hansen, A 2011, Children’s errors in mathematics: understanding common misconceptions in primary schools. Learning Matters, Exeter.

Hinig, B 1996, Teaching our children to read: the role of skills in a comprehensive reading program. Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, California.

Johnston, R S & Watson, J E 2003, Accelerating reading and spelling with synthetic phonics: a five year follow up. Insight 4. Scottish Executive Education Department, Edinburgh.

Johnston, R S & Watson, J E 2005, A seven year study of the effects of synthetic phonics teaching on reading and spelling attainment. Insight 17. Scottish Executive Education Department, Edinburgh.

Koshy, V & Murray, J 2011, Unlocking mathematics teaching. Routledge, London.

Lambirth, A & Goouch, K 2011, Teaching early reading and phonics: creative approaches to early literacy. SAGE, Los Angeles.

Murray, J 2000, “Mental mathematics” in V Koshy, P Ernest & R Casey (eds.), Mathematics for primary teachers, Routledge, London, pp.158-171.

QCA 1999a, National numeracy strategy: teaching mental calculation strategies. QCA, London.

QCA 1999b, National numeracy strategy: teaching written calculation strategies. Guidance for Teachers at Key stages 1 and 2. QCA, London.

Rose, J 2006, Independent review of the teaching of early reading. DfES Phonics, England.

Surtees, L & Fox, S 2010, Mathematics across the curriculum: problem-solving, reasoning, and numeracy in primary schools. Continuum International Pub, London.

Thompson, I 1999,”Written methods of calculation” in I Thompson (ed.), Issues in teaching numeracy in primary schools. Open University Press, Buckingham, pp. 125-141.

White, T G 2005, ‘Effects of systematic and strategic analogy-based phonics on grade 2 students’ word reading and reading comprehension’, Reading Research Quarterly, vol. 40 no. 2, pp. 234-255.

Wolfe, P 2001, Brain matters: translating research into classroom practice. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria.

Wyse, D & Goswami, U 2008, ‘Synthetic phonics and the teaching of reading’, British Educational Research Journal, vol. 34 no. 6, pp. 691-710.

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