This week, phonics expert Tina DiMauro and I ran a free webinar, unpacking the new NSW Phonics Scope and Sequence. Here’s a recording of the session:
We know that many of you will struggle to find the time to watch the whole thing, so here’s what we covered and what you need to know.
Tina explained that the ‘Science of Reading’ is not a program, but is the cumulation of years of research into how best to teach children to read. Australia, the UK and the USA have all come to broadly the same conclusion: that early reading should be taught with systematic, synthetic phonics. For a deep dive, read this blog post on the science of reading.
Synthetic phonics is a bit of a buzz word in Australian schools right now. These are four of the most important characteristics:
There’s lots more to learn, so take a look at our overview of synthetic phonics.
Right now it’s being trialled with Year 1 in a selected number of primary schools. We are expecting to see changes to the scope and sequence from those learnings; alterations to the groupings, the order of phonemes and what is taught in what year. What you need to know:
If you are going to follow the NSW sequence, be mindful that in Stage 1 there are lots of very infrequent spelling choices (e.g. ‘que’ as in plaque) which are rarely going to be used by children. You might want to rethink teaching these in your precious lesson time.
If you’d like to use the Phonics Hero resources to support the NSW sequence we have matched the NSW sequence against our levels for Early Stage 1 (Foundation Year) and Stage 1. We’ve highlighted in red those graphemes we don’t cover and are therefore likely to be rare. Also be aware that you are going to have to make/source the resources from scratch; the NSW sequence has no commercial resources available yet – it’s going to be quite a drain on time and energy.
It would be wiser to wait for the proverbial dust to settle and get started with synthetic phonics with a tried and tested sequence of sounds. Our resources are available in two orders of sounds: Letters and Sounds or Playing with Sounds. Letters and Sounds is a UK sequence which the NSW sequence has been based on. Choose that for now. Phonics Hero is working on getting the resources in the NSW order, but need the pilot to be concluded and the changes to permeate through to an amended sequence.
An effective synthetic phonics lesson has all the key components that are needed when teaching children to read and spell. They are:
More on what a great phonics lesson looks like.
I ran a short demo of Phonics Hero’s no-prep Phonics Lessons, showing how easy it makes teaching an effective synthetic phonics lesson. There are 3,000 words, 2,000 sentences, nonsense words and tricky words included. You can start with a 30-day trial from within your Teacher Account and it’s only AU$49.99 per teacher, per year for all three years of phonics curriculum, thereafter.
It’s so important that children transfer their skill of blending to decodable texts but this has to be done in both the phonics and the reading lesson. It’s no use sending a strong message in the phonics lesson about how to read unknown words and then encountering words that aren’t fully decodable in the reading lesson.
You should use decodable books (here’s how to use a decodable book). The headache is that schools have been supplied with decodable books that don’t match the NSW Phonics Scope and Sequence. Teachers are going to need to be creative and match them to the order they are teaching in. SPELD NSW has a useful resource to help you organise your readers.
Teachers were given the opportunity to ask questions of us, such as:
For those ready to get going with synthetic phonics, we have a special offer:
$850 – $765 – 10% off! – if you book by 8th March.
To set up your session, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org