Alison Clarke’s Blog: Spelfabet

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Anne Glennie
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Alison Clarke’s Blog: Spelfabet

Postby Anne Glennie » Sun May 24, 2015 12:45 pm

http://www.spelfabet.com.au/

Alison Clarke is a Speech Pathologist and is on the Learning Difficulties Australia Council. Her Spelfabet website has an excellent blog – but also lots of practical resources, including many that are free – including spelling lists, tests and helpful video clips.
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: Alison Clarke’s Blog: Spelfabet

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:25 pm

Every post that Alison makes is excellent - and she is one of those generous people that despite having some of her own resources to sell, she also provides free resources for people and promotes other people's work and programmes.

Below is yet another great post:

Attention During Learning

http://www.spelfabet.com.au/2015/06/att ... ment-26383

Please note Alison's description of the undermining effect of a method (embedded in Reading Recovery) that involves habitual guessing.

Bear in mind, also, that even in England where 'Systematic Synthetic Phonics' is statutory, the latest NFER report on the effect of the Year One Phonics Screening Check (June 2015) describes how teachers have focused on improving their phonics teaching but, at the same time, many continue with the multi-cueing reading strategies as Alison describes below:

However, when I asked him to read them in an illustrated decodable storybook recently, his reading accuracy went through the floor.

His eyes kept flicking back and forth between the pictures and the words, instead of focussing on the words, and he was clearly guessing lots of words from pictures, first letters and/or context, rather than sounding them out. For example, he read "a bunch of grubs" as "some worms".


Then I discovered he's started having a daily intervention session at school with a Reading Recovery teacher.

I simply can't compete, on one session a fortnight plus three or four fifteen-minute home practice sessions a week. Sigh.


Here is the thread I started based on the NFER report 'conclusions' and highlighting that even in England, teachers persist with multi-cueing reading strategies:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=416
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: Alison Clarke’s Blog: Spelfabet

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Wed May 25, 2016 2:50 pm

I agree with this very wise advice outlined so clearly via Alison's posting on creative writing and the worry about reinforcing wrong spelling:

http://www.spelfabet.com.au/2013/05/creative-writing/

Practicing mistakes

The other major problem with encouraging very young children to write in an open-ended, creative way, even though they can’t spell the words they want to use, is that it encourages them to practise mistakes.

Every time you write “hed” or “mowse” or “brij”, you are reinforcing and remembering versions of these words which later will need to be unlearnt.

It would be a whole lot better if these words could be learnt right first time.

Of course it’s not possible to prevent every spelling mistake, but I think adults should do their best on the prevention front, because (sorry to use a cliche, but) it’s a heck of a lot better than cure.
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: Alison Clarke’s Blog: Spelfabet

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Wed May 25, 2016 3:06 pm

And here Alison writes about 'dictation':

http://www.spelfabet.com.au/2013/02/dic ... -dictator/

Now very interestingly, and importantly, the revised national curriculum for English (in England) actually included 'dictation' in its statutory requirements!

This is what it states:

''give pupils opportunities to apply and practise their spelling'' (NC 2014 KS1)


[KS1 refers to 'Key Stage One' which is the five to seven year olds.]

Do ensure that children in KS1 routinely write simple dictated sentences that consist of words with the spellings taught so far.

I like to promote an activity which I describe as 'self-dictation'. This gives individual children complete autonomy to work at their own pace. With a piece of cumulative, decodable 'plain' text (that is, text that matches the alphabetic code taught to date - and it has no pictures), the learner at first has to read the text, then can re-read, sentence by sentence, hold each sentence in memory to write it in a lined exercise book. Thus, quicker learners can do far more than slower learners - and therefore the activity is automatically differentiated. This can be followed by the learners illustrating the text based on their comprehension of the text. Of course 'discussion' about the text can take place with the teacher and other learners as well.

Susan Godsland reminded me of Alison's great posts on creative writing and dictations above, and she also wrote this to me about Professor Diane McGuinness's work:

One more thought, dictation helps to avoid children writing & viewing illegal English spellings. Evidence is that writing/viewing illegal spellings is detrimental to learning how to spell.

'(L)ooking at mis-spelled words increases spelling errors over the short and long terms...The visual system of the brain automatically codes what it sees. It doesn't adjudicate between 'right' and 'wrong' (D.McGuinness GRB p260) (D.McGuinness ERI p117-121) Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.


My worry about the use of 'illegal spellings' in providing children with nonsense or pseudo words to practise their blending skill, is that children are invariably presented with spelling patterns that we don't normally find in English words. Common sense would suggest that this is not really a good idea as spelling accurately is such a challenging and fragile state of affairs.

I promote phonics provision which I call 'two-pronged systematic and incidental phonics teaching' precisely to avoid or diminish children being stuck on only one spelling alternative for the sounds when they write or read more widely - beyond the structured phonics lessons. This approach is supported by a permanently visible, overarching 'Alphabetic Code Chart' so that teachers can refer to 'spelling alternatives' from the outset of their planned systematic synthetic phonics programme. Otherwise, children may spend a whole year on entirely invented, or plausible, spelling and writing - with no-one drawing their attention to the need for learning about accurate spellings.

Susan also said this:

I'd also say that it's important for beginning readers to write (spell) by hand according to research and dictation (using spellings already taught) is a scaffolded approach & easier than independent writing for beginners.
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Debbie_Hepplewhite
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Re: Alison Clarke’s Blog: Spelfabet

Postby Debbie_Hepplewhite » Fri Sep 16, 2016 7:20 am

Alison Clarke's blog postings are truly invaluable, and here she generously provides the information and materials she uses in her workshops to illustrate how very challenging it is for children to be taught words as wholes - thank you Alison!

http://www.spelfabet.com.au/2016/09/try ... -149691929

Try learning a new alphabet yourself

I have a quick workshop activity which gives adults a small taste of what it’s like for children beginning to learn to use a new alphabet.

I’ve decided to make it available to my gentle blog-readers to try out with colleagues, at workshops etc., to help make the point that learning new, abstract symbols is very difficult.

You can download the worksheets for this activity here. The pictures are free-to-use ones from the internet, thanks so much to the generous photographers.

The activity takes about five minutes. There are four tasks:

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