Weeks 13 & 14
When I strolled into Mrs As class, it was a little lively, more so than usual. Within ten minutes I gathered that the usual carousel wasn’t happening that week due to staff absences and training. Mrs A went to her chair, grabbed a wad of papers and quickly came over to run through the details.
To be honest, I stood their stunned, with my mouth open and an expression of ‘huh?’; she quickly ran through it again but what she said changed slightly so I confirmed a few bits. The children were to tell me what each sound of the letters were from the list: to read the grapheme blend of words listed for the children to tell me what word it made: and then tell them a word for them to break down in to the grapheme blend, sounding them out (am I saying that right? Grapheme blends? or is there a better way of saying it?). I double checked to see if they were supposed to see the words on the list which confused me further as, why would I need to say it if they were reading it?
My head went a bit cloudy and during the first day I was hesitant and questioning everything I was doing, I wasn’t confident with my understanding and interpretation of the rushed explanation. I took the first child into a quiet area and started on the sound of the letters listed which included l, ll, s, ss, f, ff. I read the instructions on the paper for the blends which contradicted a little my understanding of the verbal instructions I had received. I stopped after the third child and double checked some details with Mrs B who was next door (Mrs A was further away and I felt stupid asking again when she appeared to be in a rush the first time!) and she confirmed my understanding but even she looked a little hazy before giving her response.
I was hesitant with each child that day, some I read the grapheme for them to give me the word where others I allowed to read. There wasn’t a great deal of difference between the two outcomes but I wasn’t comfortable.
At the end of the day once the children had gone home or to clubs, I briefly ran through my outcomes with Mrs A. I’m not sure if she assumed from my details or if that was what I was supposed to do and had misinterpreted, but I was to carry on letting the children read as opposed to me to them!
Yes, this was the time when I should have said something about my confusion, but as I was about to, Mrs A started on something else and I was still processing the information, trying to work out if I was able to adapt for the next day and re-check the oddities that might have been spotted had I done it differently for the first set of children.
Due to the size of this task, varying reading speeds and abilities, this dragged into a second week. I checked out Mr Phonics (details below) to ensure I was learning what the children were supposed to be reading and saying correctly and practiced every day before going into school to make sure it was fresh in my mind.
During those two weeks I was able to determine which children had trouble recognising the ‘b’ and ‘d’, unable or yet to read a digraph such as ‘ff’ and most importantly their pronunciation. Most of them read with an ‘er’ on the end of their sounds – example ‘mer‘, ‘der‘, ‘ger‘, ‘per‘, ‘fer‘ etc. The amount of times I had to re-cap and reiterate the letter sounds when they were reading the grapheme/blending became frustrating. I can understand that children talk in a way that they were raised or pick-up habits from the area in which they live but they should be learning that the way they read and answer questions in school, should be the correct way. Outside of school they can read, write and talk however they want. Their ability to master this skill will hold them in good stead in later life for employment.
Is this age too young to try to instil this attitude or understanding? I think it’s definately something that should be monitored through their early years of school.