Typically there is a significant range in ability within most middle and upper primary classes. Some students will still present with junior primary levels and require targeted synthetic phonics (SSP) instruction. Other students will present with average or advanced skills and require phonic-based word study that progresses from analysing words at the individual sound (or phoneme) level to syllabic spelling with a focus on prefixes, suffixes and word knowledge as the vocabulary of the words become sophisticated. PLD Literacy are here to help you by catering for the increased range in ability, which is central to the implementation process later in the primary school years. Download the Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 Screens: https://pld-literacy.org/screening-tools/. Register for the middle and upper primary tracking sheets: https://pld-literacy.org/monitoring/ Download the 2020 Whole School Literacy Plan for Australian Primary Schools here: https://pld-literacy.org/product/pld-whole-school-literacy-strategy/.
Phonics: Researchers consistently report that synthetic phonics instruction is an important element of teaching reading and spelling. Through (synthetic) phonics instruction students learn to ‘sound-out’ words, rather than recognising whole words. Disciplined coverage of the phonic principles helps explain how many words are formed on the basis of the sounds contained within speech. The blending and segmentation of the sounds within words helps embed the phonic concepts (e.g. sh, ou or au) being instructed and leads to superior reading of regular and irregular words.
Reading: Explained simply, reading is being able to recognise (or ‘sound-out’) written words. Spelling however is the reverse. Spelling involves forming and ordering letters in order to represent the written form of words. Typically, students read more words accurately than they are able to spell. In schools it is common to find students whose reading performance is age appropriate but whose spelling performance is below average. Finding students with the opposite pattern is much rarer. For most, spelling is more challenging than reading.
Writing: Explained simply, writing is the process of arranging symbols (i.e. letters, punctuation and spacing) to communicate thoughts. Writing involves fine and gross motor skills (e.g. sitting on a chair, controlling a writing implement and letter formation) with oral language skills (e.g. formulating ideas into grammatically correct sentences and the ability to focus on one word on a time) while applying literacy skills (alphabet and phonic knowledge, and sounding-out/phonological awareness ability). When viewing a student’s written work, it is common to clearly identify if oral language skills, motor skill or literacy skills require further attention.
Sight Words: Sight Words are a special category of high frequency words which students are taught to recognise automatically. Research suggests that the instant recognition of commonly occurring words gives early readers a boost. The first 25 sight word comprise a third of published works. The first 100 comprise approximately 50% of published works. The first 300 comprise 65% of published works. Although sight words are high frequency words, many are irregular words. Students will often find it is more difficult to accurately spell the sight words within their written work, than the instant recognition.