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Phun with fonics

 
 
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 10:07 am
I had my first parent/teacher conference last week and I've been confused ever since.

First let me say that I am not making excuses - I know Mo is behind on some things but he is not stupid and he does not have ADD.

Essentially I was told that he would never learn to read without extensive intervention in learning phonics.

Say what?

I was floored. Mo can read whole words. He recognizes a LOT of words. He reads a LOT of words. He has a great vocabulary. We read and read and read and read and read.

Still, they think he's "slow" and want to put him into a special education class for "letter and sound literacy".

Okay. Do you really think it will help? Do you really think he will never learn to read without it? Really? Well, okay then, we'll give it a try.

The whole go along to get along stuff revisited.

Are phonics the be all end all of literacy?
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dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 10:39 am
take any help you are offered boom. It doesnt mean mo is any less of a person. what it does mean is that he will be better off than in a class of 25 by getting closer and more immediate attention.
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 10:47 am
all i can offer is this, my mother was a primary school teacher for 35 years, she was considered out of step and behind the times near the end of her career (1990ish) because she refused to embrace the concept of whole language, a new thinking that tried to do away with things that might stifle creativity (things like dictionaries and the use of phonics), she kept right on teaching her way, and every year always had one or two students stories highligted in a county wide literacy program, the stories were always creative and as she liked to point out spelling mistake free

somewhere there is a fine line and perfect balance between the rules and creativity, but i'm not sure what it is
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 11:01 am
I think that when I learned to read back in the '40s, phonics was part of it; of course, that was prior to all the 'whole language' change. Am I confused? He's in kindergarden, right? I don't think I read in kindergarden, but I skipped the second half year of it...

I'm trying to picture how formal the situation is. Seems to me if there is a group that gets to practice with phonics as an emphasis, that that wouldn't hurt, and could help. I dunno.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 11:01 am
I did sign Mo up for the class. They call it extended kindergarten and it last for a half hour after regular class each day. I don't want him to fall behind.

Whole language is a new term to me. Are phonics part of the whole language approach?
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 11:02 am
I have no hands on information about Mo's reading prowess. I do know that he is a kid who wants to understand the rules that control the fabric of the universe.

Look/Say, recognizing words from the shape of the word, is all very well, but Mo won't be really reading until he can sound words out.

There are kids (my older son was one) who are both vowel and consenent deaf who need extra help to decode the written alphabet.

Further, some people are Ear Minded and some people are Eye Minded. Some people like to be read to, other people snatch the instructions to read for themselves. Do you think Mo is more Ear minded or Eye Minded?

I'm very impressed that Mo's kindergarten is into early tutoring. Mo is a bright kid and a sophisticated kid, but he's not good with failure. His ego is healthy enough that in a situation where he doesn't shine, he'll blame the situation--but this is a cop out.

Give phonics a try. I've never heard of a kid who became pregnant because of phonics.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 11:17 am
Very interesting.

I know for a fact that I did not read until 1st grade but it appears things are different now. Duckie learned to read in kindergarten after starting out behind. But your school does half day kindergarten, right? I'm not sure he would have learned to read without the all-day kindergarten. Maybe extended kindergarten is just all-day kindergarten.

I do think it's important to be careful. Mo seems to me to be a finicky learner. By that I mean, he seems like someone that can get turned off of something rather easily. I can see him getting discouraged if, say, his learning style caused him to feel that he's not being understood.

I think I would ask for another consultation with the teacher and try to find out just exactly what the expectations are of a kindergartener and what skills he is expected to have by the time he enters first grade. Maybe that would help to put it in focus.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 12:06 pm
I was just saying in another thread that while I have a Master's in education, I bypassed phonics entirely because I was learning how to teach deaf kids (for whom phonics is profoundly useless). There were plenty of alternative ways I learned to teach reading -- those other ways do exist. They were a LOT more complicated, though. Teaching deaf kids how to read is the biggest bugbear in Deaf Ed, and phonics (as at least part of the picture) makes things a lot simpler, in general. (As Noddy says, there can only be so many "sight words"...)

djjd, "whole language" has a lot of different connotations now -- I think it's one of those ideas that had a lot going for it but got codifed into oblivion. (My ongoing rant about a talented teacher having some good ideas that work well and then bureaucracy trying and failing to export those ideas universally.) The good part about "whole language" is the creativity, the encouragement of invented spelling (at the beginning!), good stuff like that. (I ADORE invented spelling, I got all excited the first time sozlet did it to the point of she and E.G. shooting "what's mom on about?" looks at each other. I've been looking forward to this, educationally-speaking, for so long! I'm such a geek.) Anyway, to take that as an example, saying when a kid first writes the word "frns," "Hey, that's 'friends," isn't it! Very cool!" can really encourage the kid and get them involved and wanting to do more. If you start right out with "no no no it's spelled 'f r i e n d s'" that's just discouraging and unnecessary. The other side of it though is that after they've reached a certain level of mastery, yeah, you want to make sure they spell it right. Invented spelling shouldn't go on forever, just as an introductory/ ain't this cool kinda thing.

Anyway, to get back on topic, as I'm sure you've noticed I'm having some trouble with this "go along to get along" meme in terms of Mo & school. I worry it's the wrong emphasis, or something. There is a high likelihood that the teacher and the school know what they're doing, and with educator hat on I get defensive -- there are good reasons! Trust 'em!! With mom hat on though, I understand that we want to ensure the best -- well, everything -- for our kids, and of course educators aren't always right. I guess I see it as less "go along to get along" as "trust, but verify."

Did you get some other answers in the conference? Apples, pumpkins, that stuff? Do you have any overall impressions so far as to whether there are actual pedagogical reasons for why the school is doing what it's doing?
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 12:45 pm
Didn't Mo just start learning to read recently? I'm thinking he's doing fine for the short time he's been playing with reading... Not having years of preschool time that some others in the class would have had - that is, if they start a bit of reading prep in preschool. Again, I just don't know. I'd sort of hate for him to get into some Remedial Class Situation with any subsequent early stigma - that's why I asked about 'formality'. On the other hand, if it's not all 'the poor slow kids' thing, it could be a real help and have him in good reading shape more swiftly, which seems like a good thing.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 01:31 pm
Oh and I'd wanted to say about this:

FreeDuck wrote:
I know for a fact that I did not read until 1st grade but it appears things are different now.


They are, and I think that part is totally stupid. Kindergarten is the new first grade, preschool is the new kindergarten. Preschool is where you goof off and have fun and get used to the idea of school, and learn to read or not -- no reading instruction per se and no problem if reading doesn't happen. (Well, at our preschool -- ours is itself a hold-out, it's much more common now to have that kind of instruction in preschool). Kindergarten has &%$# standards, which include reading (we got a booklet that explained what the kids are supposed to know by the end of the year, it is helpful to know that stuff but also deeply annoying). The standards/ NCLB/ testing stuff makes me batty but I'll stifle that rant for now.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 01:36 pm
Not here to give advice, just support.

I picked up reading double plus quick. I don't remember ever "sounding something out" Once I saw a word, and knew its meaning, it was mine. Also, seeing something in context was the way to go.

I can still remember the class reading out loud and all these kids getting caught on the word "rollercoaster". For the life of me I couldn't figure out what the big deal was. I thought they had to be faking. We were reading about an amusement park, they were describing the thing....What else could it be? A banana?



The thing is, I absolutely LOATHED phonics. If they had gone by that, I would have been in the guppy reading class instead of the sharks. To this day I couldn't tell you what a short vowel as compared to a long vowel is. That and diagraming setences. crap.


Question for those who know....when kids are learning to read, are they ususally doing it just going word by word? Or do they put it in some kind of flow? Like chunks of words at a time, so you get the gist of the story and can anticipate what might be on the way? That's what I remember it being like learning, and how I see writing today.


(BTW I WAS a guppy in algebra, I would have been at least a manta ray if someone looked out of the box as far as how I could see and make sense of it....but noooooo......unsolicited tangent)
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 01:48 pm
I can only speak for duckie, but judging by the work that comes home, they do a combination of things. They are definitely strong with phonics, but they also have them "writing in journals" from very early on, which I believe encourages invented spelling. And they do sight words. Once they know a few words they immediately start reading for comprehension and context. It seems to me that all of those things are important. Invented spelling, IMO, is an indication that a child is learning phonics. It gets the inverse of sounding out a word. Now, in first grade, they have started having spelling words and spelling tests. Words are not graded for spelling unless they have had them as a spelling word. Unless they should know better, in other words.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 01:54 pm
Oh, phonics (at least as I'm talking about it) isn't remotely about identifying long a and short a or (ack) diagramming sentences. It's about "m" makes an "mm" sound.

Quote:
Question for those who know....when kids are learning to read, are they ususally doing it just going word by word? Or do they put it in some kind of flow? Like chunks of words at a time, so you get the gist of the story and can anticipate what might be on the way? That's what I remember it being like learning, and how I see writing today.


Sozlet's at the very beginning of this and again how kids are "supposed" to learn how to read is totally my educational weak spot. But with her, it's a flow and then an occasional stop to sound something out. She'll look at the picture, gallop along with rhymes especially (easy to predict), then if she comes across a word that she doesn't recognize and isn't obvious from context she'll sound it out. Like, she was reading a book that had a cat "tug" something, and she started to say "pull" (same meaning) and then frowned, looked at it again, and said "t-uhh-g... oh, 'tug.'" So a combo, I guess.

Again, I do think it's very possible to read without phonics. Just, it's SO MUCH HARDER in general without it -- in general, I'm sure there are exceptions -- and it's a nice tool to have. Without mastery of phonics (remember, just the sense of what letter or combination of letters makes what sound, nothing too fancy), there is usually a wall that's hit in terms of recognizing/ memorizing words. "Never" sounds a bit hyperbolic, and Mo's teacher probably would have been better served by being more equivocal. But I can easily see that "getting" phonics would help Mo a lot, yeah.
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 04:11 pm
I agree. My son's school used a combination of strategies...phonics, whole language, etc. so that no matter what learning style a child had, he'd grasp at least one of them.

Only the most rigorous schools here teach reading in kindergarten, though. It's called "pre-reading" here in Pre-K & K. They really get into reading, per se, in first grade. SonofEva's teachers always told us that they can prepare children for reading, but they can't force those mental connections. It's a developmental stage. 90% of children will have figured it out by the end of first grade, and the remaining 10% will be there sometime during 2nd grade. So I really don't think you have anything to worry about at this point, boomer. He'll do just fine.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 04:21 pm
I think standards have changed pretty recently -- like within the last few years -- but I'm not sure if that's nationwide or just in Ohio. I'm out the door right now, will look into it later (just curious, it's come up a few times and there are a lot of things I don't know about what's up with kindergarten standards, and I'm interested.)

I completely agree with your son's teachers' assessment, though, which is part of my objection to standards.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 04:24 pm
djjd62 wrote:
all i can offer is this, my mother was a primary school teacher for 35 years, she was considered out of step and behind the times near the end of her career (1990ish) because she refused to embrace the concept of whole language, a new thinking that tried to do away with things that might stifle creativity (things like dictionaries and the use of phonics), she kept right on teaching her way, and every year always had one or two students stories highligted in a county wide literacy program, the stories were always creative and as she liked to point out spelling mistake free

somewhere there is a fine line and perfect balance between the rules and creativity, but i'm not sure what it is


Agree. Does it sound too cynical to suggest someone is justifying a job, or some kind of grant money?
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 04:31 pm
Now this thread has been an education in itself!

I did some reading on "whole language" and the current definition seems to be kind of anti-phonics.

Like Chai, I think that is how I learned to read - not by sounding anything out. In fact, Chai's whole post could have been written by me, it really sums up my learning to read experience as well.

Interestingly enough Mo came home from school today with a homework assignment of finding "whole words" that he knows how to read. They requested labels and that sort of thing (I am SO going to have to start grocery shopping for prepared foods instead of making my own stuff). We've been going around the house looking for things that have labels that he can read. So far we have band-aid, Gatorade, zoo, pizza, milk and space needle.

Maybe I jumped the gun on thinking it was strictly phonics based.

This kindergarten stuff has me so confused.

I do have a list of what is expected and I did talk to the teacher re: Mo's purple carrots and tornados. I think the teacher and I have come to an understanding but the whole NCLB aspect just doesn't care.

I am not embarrassed or despondant over the fact that they want to put Mo in remedial reading - I'm just freaked out by the fact that they think he's "slow".
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 04:32 pm
Interesting...invented spelling...well, if you are spelling the word the way it sounds, and that's incorrect, don't you have trouble spelling it the right way later on?

I'm not the best speller (as ya'll can tell, I'm more about getting the point across)...I still have problems with words like bottom, excellence, chocolate (I'll have to do a spell check to see if I got them right....nope got chocolate wrong)...and frankly it's because those I words I have to stop at each time and "sound" it out.

soz....yeah, it is easier to figure out that m makes the mmm sound or s is sssss....there's only 26 letters, and only a few of them have more than one sound....that's where the problem vowels (long and short) came in for me.

Of course I knew the A in apple sounded different than the word in ate. I could never keep straight which was which...frustrating, since I figured I knew the word, could read it and pronounce it, why did I have to go further than that?

In that respect, I sure can feel mo's frustration.

Since different kids learn in different ways, do they start them off with this variety of methods, and see that has each child seems to pick up on one or the other, allow them to learn through that method?

That's what adults do.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 04:38 pm
Ahem.....

Show THIS to mo's teacher boom.


http://www.gardenguides.com/seedcatalog/packets/carrotpurplehaze.jpg

Tell mo that weird lady that was there when he lost his tooth sent this to him.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Oct, 2006 05:02 pm
Chai Tea wrote:
Since different kids learn in different ways, do they start them off with this variety of methods, and see that has each child seems to pick up on one or the other, allow them to learn through that method?


That's totally how I prefer to teach -- it really doesn't jibe well with standards, though (which is both why I keep nattering about how much I hate standards and why, in large part, I didn't become a K-12 teacher -- my way of teaching and standards do not co-exist very well).
0 Replies
 
 

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