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debbie



Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 2444
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:31 pm    Post subject: Feedback via email and the message forum Reply with quote

It is really important that people give feedback about products - and educational programmes are no different from other products in this respect.

Quality control and evidence of 'effectiveness', where effectiveness is claimed as part of any programme's features, are essential.

Phonics International has been designed on the basis of existing international research on reading instruction and leading classroom practice and programmes in the UK. It also includes features and ideas direct from my own parenting, teaching, headteaching and teacher-training experience.

A Phonics International whole primary school study is underway, and we welcome approaches from anyone who would like to undertake an independent study of the PI programme in any context with learners of any age-range - for example, as the basis of research projects of university students.

We have set up this informal feedback forum to provide an easy way of describing users' findings. I have a number of responses since the launch of the Phonics International programme which I have received via email. I shall be adding some of these to this thread and hope that users will then update their findings and others will add to these findings over time.

One thing which has disappointed me since the launch of Phonics International is the reluctance of users (or visitors to the website) to use this message forum to write their queries and comments. I know, however, that many people read the messages.

I really hope, however, that others will make the effort to share their findings by both describing these and by providing us with actual reading and spelling results and, to this end, I shall just keep on encouraging people to join with me in posting on the message board! Smile
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debbie



Joined: 08 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Hi Debbie,

I happen to have some statistics. Every year, in........we have to do the good old Marie Clay "obs survey".


Here is what happened with my Preps (reception) from 2005 to when I
changed to Phonics halfway through 2008:remember that our students
always start from a very low base-no one can read at the beginning and
many have limited English speaking skills.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

Text: level 5+ 76% 58% 81% 78% 94%
level 8+ 69% 41% 54% 57% 76%
level 15+ 7% 16% 18% 21% 47%

Burt 20+words 46% 33% 36% 64% 88%
(this is
very significant
because it's the
only standardised
test on the
surveys)

dictation
30+/37 76% 41% 54% 85% 88%

writing
words
20+ 76% 41% 54% 64% 94%

2005 intake were a pretty good bunch, but you can't get past the Burt
score difference or the higher text level 15+, just the same.

In 2009, I was pretty much still the only person concentrating on teaching phonics explicitly and the comparisons are as follows:


my Prep grade other Prep grade my Grade 1's
GR.1L GR1 H Gr1 N(this grade had some phonics, but changed teachers)

Text level 5+ 94% 63%

level 20+ 88% 28% 66% 100%

Burt 20+ 88% 68%

40+words 67% 14% 33% 62%

In 2010, other teachers came on board, teaching phonics more
explicitly, and compared to like schools and all schools, the results
for text levels from 2008 to 2010 were:

2008, Preps our school like schools all schools
text 5+ 72% 68% 80%
Gr.1 15+ 58% 75% 84%


2010 (everyone on board)
Preps 91% 71% 80%

Gr.1 89% 78% 85%


I hope this is clear enough and I hope you find it helpful! I think it speaks volumes!


I always encourage teachers to test regularly and to look at their results year on year. This teacher is not talking about using Phonics International specifically but she is referring to the change of teaching approach to include phonics teaching for herself and, eventually, for her colleagues.

Further, the teacher included the following information:

Quote:
It should be noted that I always had a Prep/1 composite so I always got most of the grade 1 children who were low academically and those with special needs-whereas the 1/2 composites had the vast majority of the capable children who started at a higher base. So that makes the results even more impressive.


And this....!

Quote:
The tests would never pass scientific scrutiny-the books are all over the place but the Burt test is the one worth taking notice of because that is a properly standardised test not some airy fairy thing Marie Clay dreamed up in her office.


We are still needing to persuade many teachers that rigorous, systematic synthetic phonics is the best way forwards. Please send your results to me informally so that we can build a bigger and clearer picture showing that whoever the children are, they'll improve with synthetic phonics teaching. Very Happy

Please note that I had the statistics laid out in a clearer way but they defaulted to where they are now! I hope anyone who is interested can still make sense of them. Embarassed
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debbie



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Hi Debbie,

Had a wonderful lesson with a Year 4/5 class yesterday! A nine year old little friend of mine, who usually detests Literacy, looked up at the end of a quick spelling test on the Sound Activity Sheet and said with a big grin, 'that was the best spelling test - EVER!'

That's what it's all about ... and I will keep on spreading the message - seeing children light up is SO special!


Lovely to open my email this morning!

Interestingly, the spelling-with-editing routine which takes place on the folded-up part of the Sounds Book Activity Sheets is a 'supported spelling' routine - but, periodically, and as learners get used to the routines, the spellings can also be given without support to see what the learners can do independently.

Teachers also need periodic 'tests' in the sense of 'without support' for their formal, record keeping.

We find, however, that with the Sounds Book Activity Sheets routine and the way that spelling is approached through Phonics International, that learners are fearless about doing their spelling activities.

The ethos I promote, in any event, is one where the adults are very explicit that spelling in the English language IN PARTICULAR is very challenging. Even some adults need help or have to refer to the dictionary, or spellchecker, routinely.

This means that when learners do spell words incorrectly, it is not about them 'failing' as learners, but about the complex English alphabetic code (spelling system) and therefore we are careful not to make learners feel this is about an inadequacy or failure related to them personally.

In training, I actually encourage teachers to celebrate the occasional adult who DOES have difficulty with spelling accurately, and even to 'fake it' in terms of needing support with spelling as a constant.

We are raising awareness for the learners that they need to be very vigilant about 'which words are spelt which way' whilst they are reading and writing. The focus on teaching the alphabetic code for reading and for spelling will increase vigilance and observation skills for the 'code details' when reading and writing.

We need ALPHABETIC CODE CHARTS in ALL learning environments where literacy is involved.

We need ALL teachers trained in alphabetic code knowledge and how to support learners, no matter what the age of the learners, in spelling - and we need to make it very explicit that phonics for spelling and phonics for reading is not 'baby stuff', it's ADULT STUFF.

Lifelong stuff!

Don't forget that I keep adding very helpful FREE posters on the FREE RESOURCES webpage. This one is particularly helpful for supporting learners with spelling as it gives you some simple wording to help with spelling any word at any time:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Let_me_help_you_to_spell_that.pdf
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Last edited by debbie on Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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debbie



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I neglect this particular forum because I usually copy and paste emails I receive into different sections of our message forum.

However, we've just launched our new series of 8 eBooks (August 2013) and have received many emails already similar to the email below which more often than not refer to my tips/ etutorials - and now the tips I am providing for the 8 eBooks - so I thought I'd include the message below just as an example:

Quote:
Dear David,

I just wanted to tell you that your Debbie´s tips are great.
I am a teacher of English in Argentina and
I work with phonics international which is great for kids.
I love your programme!

Thanks a lot,

................................
Argentinian teacher of English
Buenos Aires.


Thank you so much, everyone, for your kind comments.

It has been really gratifying receiving so many positive comments about our email tutorials and eBook tutorials - thank you everyone who has taken the time and trouble to send your messages.

Debbie
X


[The next day...]

I notify people if I copy and paste any of their email messages, so I received this further message today and thought I would share it because it refers to the previous practice of learning to read and write 'memorizing lists of words'. Well, there are thousands and thousands of words in our language - imagine, then, if you give the learner an alphabetic code and the skills of blending for reading and oral segmenting for spelling what a precious gift they are given. They can apply these to any and all of the thousands of words!

How many children around the world, however, still receive these lists of words that they have to commit to memory word by word?

Quote:
Dear Debbie,
I am delighted that you liked my message and that it was shared!
I want you to know that before your program was implemented at school,
students used to learn to read and write memorizing lists of words!
What you created is heaven for us!
In addition, kids are able to read on their own in the lower grades of primary school,
which is a significant step for us.
Thanks a lot Debbie!

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Last edited by debbie on Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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debbie



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just received this very heartwarming message - had to share as it is so particularly heartfelt!

Quote:
Dear Madam

I have to thank you for all your support and all the informations are very useful to my class. Learning from you is a wonderful journey and my eyes is open to a new diamension. I'm expecting to hear from you at all time and your free support is the most valuable guide to me.

Thanks you

......


Please know how much all your messages are very welcome - helping to make my self-appointed role in life worthwhile - knowing that I'm not wasting my time and effort (and David's! Wink ).
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debbie



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I received permission to share this feedback via the PI message forum - and I may well use it on more than just this 'Feedback' forum as it touches upon various issues in the phonics/research/teaching/schools domain:


Quote:
Dear Debbie

Thank you for all your posts on your website. The enquiry groups which were started at our school last autumn will not produce any change in how reading is taught.

I have sent to the members of my group and the administrators all the evidence, the articles, the research but to no avail.

I read Mr Lloyd-Jones's book and it was deja vous for some of the conversations which I have been part of:

"Reading is all about comprehension. It's just about the comprehension."

"We don't want children barking at print"

"But the student reached this level on the Rigby PM running record, his reading must be OK!"

"But we do teach phonics here." (This is the biggest issue)

"But are they really understanding what they are reading?"

"Oxford books do not teach comprehension" (this was a reference to all Oxford schemes)

"We have a handful of students who just need to be drip-fed a little bit of phonics everyday"


It is very frustrating to hear an administrator say that he does not agree with asking children to read nonsense words as this is not "fair" on them, the implication being that it is bordering on abuse!

I have stated many times, the majority of students who are referred for Academic Support for literacy difficulties, the number of which is steadily increasing, are not able to decode accurately.

There are one or two where the issue is the language comprehension. I am ignored.

In the end, the focus of our group was directed into phonemic awareness, which tied in with the phonemic awareness assessments which the administration wants to be conducted on our 4-6 year olds twice a year.

I am grateful for your recent postings. I fear a huge deal is being made of in the wrong area if there is no synthetic phonics programme in place.

Thanks so much for keeping the focus - it keeps me going! I really appreciate the work you are doing.

Regards


This feedback touches upon a number of issues for which I'm developing threads on my 'research/articles' forum. These include, for example:

1) the issue about 'phonics detractors' or 'denialists' of which we see plenty (including in the school mentioned above): Mike Lloyd-Jones has written a very easy-to-read book about this issue which is a 'must read' in the teaching profession.

2) 'barking at print': the issue about 'phonics versus comprehension' which is really about teachers viewing phonics as being unimportant in 'comprehension' (or worse still, a distraction from comprehension) - with a lack of understanding and professional knowledge about the two main processes of being a 'reader' - word decoding and language comprehension. The reality, illustrated by research findings, is that the more a learner struggles to decode, the less that learner can pay attention to the meaning of the text. Good decoding underpins good comprehension of the literature - to the level of the reader's spoken language.

3) the issue of 'we do teach phonics' in schools where mere lip-service is paid to phonics teaching as a bit of an 'add on'

3) the issue of 'phonological/phonemic awareness' viewed as being a separate area for development - often as a 'pre-requisite' to phonics teaching - and/or provided as discrete activities for intervention (special needs) NOT with print: the reality is that phonemic awareness is best developed/trained AT THE SAME TIME as teaching and learning the letter/s-sound links of the alphabetic code

4) most disturbing: the issue of not being able to engage teachers and senior managers in the findings of research and leading-edge practice in the field of reading and spelling instruction. Teachers carry on with the 'same old, same old' practices and materials they have always used - with no regard to what is really possible.

This, of course, is entirely irresponsible and unaccountable behaviour - but often it is an inadvertent state of affairs where myths and old practices persist in all good faith that teachers are doing the right thing.

Such schools as this arguably need a serious wake-up call (it is children's futures at stake) - but if teachers do not want to face the reality and address their outdated 'understanding', then it is very difficult to address such circumstances. Confused

All of these serious issues above, and more, are addressed via this PI forum:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=10
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debbie



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I received another message relating to the 'research/articles' forum where I have endeavoured to build up a very important and useful body of information addressing the various issues to do with reading instruction.

Once again, I felt this was worth sharing more widely:


Quote:
Dear Debbie

I read with interest the article posted today about the role of the TA. Where I work, the TAs are all highly educated from high-ranking universities - and are women who were successful in the own careers but moved overseas because of their husband's work, had families and can't work in the field they trained in for various reasons.

It is the TAs in our school who teach phonics to the weakest students whilst the teachers have the other students sitting in circles all with the same book, going on 'picture walks', quessing words, reading 30 flashcards with the Dolch sight words.

When that group of the weakest students suddenly take off with their reading, the teachers and administrators attribute this success not to the work of the TA, who has directly taught the students the relationship between letters and sounds, but to the fact that now those students are 'developmentally ready', which they apparently weren't just a few months before.

Yes, how teachers are trained to teach reading must be changed - and why is that TAs will read the research about how to teach reading and react to it yet the qualified teachers and administrators choose not to read it/ignore it?

I could go on!

Kind regards


For anyone who is interested in this topic, this is the thread about the role of teaching assistants for special needs children in England which generated the response:

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=610


This raises the question of how up-to-date are teachers across the world where English is taught - and what prevailing 'mindsets' exist in the schools as a whole.
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debbie



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This lady from the USA went to the trouble of sending me a comment via our 'shop' which is very welcome of course.

I want to take this opportunity to make a general comment about all the people who send us similar messages - to let people know how much we really appreciate these gestures - they are never taken for granted!

Quote:
Hello... I am a reading specialist (retired) last year. This program has answered so many of my questions and addresses the difficulties I have felt personally over the last 40 years. I have trained and experienced so many programs... and now as a tutor I believe I might make a difference to a small but important group of children. I would like to purchase what is needed, and have some training. Thank you!!!


Very Happy
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debbie



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I received this lovely feedback and an invitation to visit - so I've accepted the kind offer and am off to meet this 'Inclusion Team Leader' and her fab group very shortly:


Quote:
Hi

I teach a small group of children in y5 who have difficulties in reading and spelling. I use PI materials a lot and they really like them. They all have a copy of Debbie’s Alphabetic code over view chart which they use a lot and have come to refer to it as Debbie. The reason I’m emailing is because two of my girls said today they’d like to see Debbie – the real Debbie!

So if Debbie’s ever in Thatcham (especially on a Thursday morning when I teach that group all morning) and would like a cup of tea, she’d be very welcome to come and see us and see what we do with PI and how much progress the children have made.

Many thanks for the scheme – its priceless!

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debbie



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I received this heartwarming message and asked permission to post it on the 'feedback' forum:

Quote:
Dear Debbie,

I do hope you are well. Since the course and the start of the school year in August, I have been able to use your programme fully with two year 5 students, who receive academic support. Both are girls, one is Dutch and the other Australian. Both are doing extremely well.

In particular the Australian student, as report cards are due out soon, was just given reading and spelling tests by her classroom teacher and she tested at above grade level. Now of course the admin want her to stop coming to me as there are other more needy students. This student has so often said to me "Oh, now you have explained it, I get it now". There was a definite lightbulb moment when she stopped writing words ending with ´nk´as ´ngk´. Her parents are delighted, naturally.

The Dutch girl is also doing well and is making great progress. On Thursday I dictated some sounds to her and she had to come up with all the different spelling patterns she could think of. I took a photo - I was pretty impressed.

Many thanks, as always.

Kind regards


Having asked permission to use the message above, I received this lovely follow-up message:

Quote:
Dear Debbie,

Certainly, to your request. Your programme is superb.

It is challenging to have to take children back to basics when they are 9/10 years old. They have so many bad habits and it takes effort and dedication, on the teacher`s part, to reteach them. Fortunately, these two girls I have, were very open to this type of teaching from the beginning and we fell quickly into a routine.

Both girls tell me my lesson is their favourite, apart from PE!

Best wishes


I always feel both gratified and humbled to receive such lovely messages 'out of the blue'. Thank you to anyone who thinks to send them to me - and well done to all concerned.

Very Happy
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debbie



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Received this message from a lady in Australia who is now investigating doing our 'Phonics Training Online' course:

Quote:
I am a Learning Support teacher working with Year 3, 4 and 5 students and LOVING the complete Phonics International set up. Thank you so very, very much! Debbie you are so very generous with your resources.

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