Changing My Mind

This article may remind many teachers of the journey they have made from a progressive, ideological approach to teaching reading (that did not equip them for the classroom) to realising that synthetic phonics is based on research and really works for the vast majority of children. It reminded me.

John Kenny Education Blog

Looking back on my initial teacher education, there is no doubt it was of the progressive kind. The driving force behind the course was that a fresh approach to education was needed. This was not made explicit, of course, but the course materials dripped of progressive ideology. Here are some examples:

  • Kevin Robinson’s viral video How Schools Kill Creativity featured on the professional practice unit reading list
  • My science unit promoted learning through discovery using the 5E method, which has found popularity in the Primary Connections series
  • My English unit for early reading stressed the need for teaching through genuine literary experiences, which is in opposition to research on synthetic phonics.
  • Learning styles were a key feature in the text assigned to me for Creative Arts.
  • Game theory was the approach promoted in maths for teaching K-2

The truth is, I bought deeply into this ideology. Almost all educators say they…

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Welsh Lessons 3: Endemic systematic failure.

Problems with the teaching of reading and reading intervention in Wales – a systematic failure that is avoidable.


I began the first of this series of posts including some information about the scale of the reading problem I faced as a Literacy Coordinator in charge of reading intervention according to the standardised Suffolk reading test scores we collected on pupils on entry. Here is that information again.

It is always important to see these sorts of figures in relation to cohort size.

Y7        87/262 pupils (33%) below 9 years 6 months 108/262 pupils (41%) below 10

Y8        54/262 pupils (21%) below9 years 6 months 66/262 pupils (25%) below 10

Y9        47/214 pupils (22%) below 9 years 6 months 65/214 pupils (30%) below 10

Y10      64/270 pupils (24%) below 9 years 6 months 72/270 pupils (27%) below 10

Y11      63/274 pupils (23%) below 9 years 6 months 68/270 pupils (25%) below 10

Now you can see for Y8-11 on entry around 22% had a reading…

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PISA results are in…

I have made a few predictions about PISA both on this blog and on Twitter. I predicted an entrenchment of East Asian countries at the top of the table, a decline for Finland and perhaps a decline f…

Source: PISA results are in…

A Word on Curriculum

I teach English Language Arts in Alberta, Canada at the high school level. The program of study, at this stage, is largely geared towards literary interpretation and analysis, represented through t…

Source: A Word on Curriculum

How the Phonics Check can help teachers and Australia should adopt it

Here is a fantastic blog by Spelfabet on how the Phonics Check makes teachers’ lives easier and why Australia should adopt it.

Thanks Spelfabet!

One Word at a Time – Teaching Vocabulary – The Confident Teacher

This blog is a copy of my recent Teach Secondary article (click on the link HERE to subscribe) on the importance of vocabulary, with some handy teaching and learning strategies. … The post On…

Source: One Word at a Time – Teaching Vocabulary – The Confident Teacher

Reading fluency and the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’

Is reading fluency important for academic success? I’d imagine everyone reading this would agree it was very important – crucial in fact. This description from Quirky Teacher of many children’s rea…

Source: Reading fluency and the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’

Should we teach tricky words as ‘sight words’?

The new year has started and children are sent home to learn to read and spell tricky words by sight, that is by the shape of the word.  Does this make sense if they are learning to read with Synthetic Phonics?

Read this thoughtful post on the Phonics Blog.


The problem with multi-cueing

Thanks Spelfabet for this great post about how bad reading habits are formed when we teach children to multi-cue and why teachers hold on to the belief that it works – despite the evidence that shows it doesn’t.



When is a good time to start using letter names?

All too often children are taught letter names and letter sounds at the same time.  For some children this causes confusion as most letter names do not help to identify the sound the letters spell.

Here is an article by John Walker of Sounds Write explaining when it is helpful to start to use letter names.