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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Tell me about ‘special reading’

Following on from Brian’s post on synthetic phonics, here are some words from a guest blogger:

It is great! I don’t even do it because I do my sunshine work. (I am not going to tell you my name) You spell out words and stuff and do synthesis and segmantatean.

That was written by my son. Some of it he typed himself, some of it I typed at his letter-by-letter dictation. He was taught reading at his state school by means of a scheme called Early Reading Research, which is being piloted in several schools in Essex. He says “I don’t even do it” because he has completed the scheme at the age of six years and three weeks. “Sunshine work” is presumably the next scheme on. As you can see, although not yet a giant of literature he is competent to write down in a comprehensible fashion any idea that he can express verbally. He gave up on spelling the word “synthesis”, but so might many adults.

This rather misleading BBC News 24 story discusses the scheme. The article is better than the headline; I bet you 95% of readers saw the words “real books” and either applauded or condemned without reading further. ERR has little to do with the discredited system whereby children had books thrown in their direction and were told to get on with it. Rather it consists of tightly structured sessions of about twelve minutes, three times a day, where they do “c-a-t spells cat” (synthesis) and “dog is spelt d-o-g” (segmentation). Then they finish with some exemplary reading from real books.

The scheme is popular with his classmates and with the teachers. I gather the same is true wherever it has been tried. So why isn’t it famous? Guess.

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