Thursday, 21 February 2019

PES PD: Betsy Sewell Reading

Betsy Sewell: Reading
Betsy Sewell - Agility With Sound
We were very blessed once again as a staff to have another amazing opportunity. Betsy Sewell was asked to come in to our school and present a PD session which was extremely informative and eye-opening at some points.  Below are my notes from her session.

After 1000s of years our brains have evolved. However, most people have only had access for the last couple 100 of years. Our brains have not evolved to incorporate reading naturally. Language (all words) is based on speech. For kids who see the think, begin to adapt that part of the brain and go on to become successful readers. Kids who struggle with this often have good visual skills and they attempt to adapt this part of their brain to understand written language (using pictures as clues). These kids often look at the beginning of a word and then use a picture reference to “guess” the rest of the word.

We can teach phonics consistently but unless children understand the link to reading they don’t understand it at all. Example: Many children confuse the “u” sound for an a “ah” when writing. For the children that simply don’t understand that the letter “a” actually makes many different phonetic sounds depending where on the word it falls. Students ultimately end up learning how to get better and better at reading badly. They continually pick out the visual bits and run with it.

Keeping in mind that many Pasifika (and Maori) languages do not have many letter sounds (p and b, etc) and they also do not have ANY of our England blend sounds (fl and fr).

Phonics by itself if simply not enough. The first thing that all students need to understand that spoken word is broken into bits. Being able to know that speech is made up of a sequence of sounds put together is the first step in language development that links to later reading. Knowing that when you speak you are making individual sounds that run into each other. Only by understanding this will phonics begin to make sense. Knowing certain groups of bits allows a reader to form 100s of words.

Con fl ict ing
Con str ict ive
De str uct ive
Con d uct or
Con n ect or
N ect to rine
Con j ect ive
Act iv ate
Dis tr act able

The next challenge is using phonics applied to reading. Once students are able to make the link from phonics to reading are able to just instinctively see the link between word parts, and sounds and how to spell them.

Students must also know how to apply this way of thinking to their reading and writing. It is abundantly clear that the students who are still struggling by 6,7,8 (or older) have to be taught specific skills “HOW” to apply letter combinations, sounds and words to their reading.

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