Differentiation and Systematic Synthetic Phonics

Debbie Hepplewhite recommends what she calls ‘incidental’ teaching of phonics during other aspects of literacy work. She says, here:

Teach a planned, systematic synthetic phonics programme and, in addition, adopt a rigorous approach to incidental phonics teaching – RATIONALE:
Incidental teaching is ESSENTIAL. Systematic programmes take a long time to deliver because there is a lot of alphabetic code to teach explicitly! Children cannot ‘wait’ to learn about a ‘full’ alphabetic code until it happens to occur in the planned programme. Teachers and learners need to be proactive and ambitious and teach incidentally to supplement the structured programme for reading and spelling skills!
Incidental phonics teaching should occur as the need arises naturally and where it is common sense. This may well be on a daily basis or several times a day including whenever children are asked to read aloud.
Incidental teaching should be a feature of general class teaching. It significantly increases and accelerates knowledge of the alphabetic code and personalises the teaching, addresses differentiation and provides constant revision.
This time I only have one question: to what extent does this approach match the experiences people have had of the teaching of reading via Systematic Synthetic Phonics in schools?

4 thoughts on “Differentiation and Systematic Synthetic Phonics

  1. In this piece, I describe the relationship between teaching the alphabetic code both systematically and incidentally supported by the permanently visible Alphabetic Code Chart. I consider such a chart should be central to phonics teaching from the outset and also to support spelling as learners progress from being taught to read and spell – to continuing with spelling in the wider curriculum and building up spelling word banks: http://www.phonicsinternational.com/Debbie_RRF_Two_pronged_handout.pdf

  2. Thank you – I had already bookmarked this, actually, because I found it really interesting. From comments I’ve had elsewhere about EAL issues, I also wonder whether this sort of approach would be useful in supporting children whose phonemic awareness is not based in English, or even in situations where a class contains a variety of quite different accents.

  3. It addresses every set of circumstances – and, in effect, is over and above a systematic synthetic phonics approach alone. I think it is really important, however, that the adoption of Alphabetic Code Charts becomes the normal expectation and practice. The reason I say this is just a common sense view – not a view based on research (other than positive classroom and special needs findings).

  4. SSP 2.0? 🙂

    I’m planning to experiment (unscientifically!) on my two little guinea pigs over the holidays, to see how they respond to using the chart when I’m reading with them. It seems really sensible to me to have a single focussed reference-point like this, which also demonstrates every time the simple fact of there being different ways of representing the sounds of English. Up to now I’ve done my explanations by scribbling on bits of paper, so I’m expecting this to be an improvement…

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