At Chelsea PS we use synthetic phonics as our the basis of our whole school instructional approach with literacy instruction.
Please read below for more information regarding this approach;
Synthetic Phonics is a part to whole approach to teaching phonics. Students are taught that sounds are represented by letters (PART) and that letter sounds can be blended together (or synthesised) to form words (WHOLE).
Synthetic Phonics differs to traditional phonics in several ways
Synthetic Phonics directly teaches students the alphabetic code. Over the early primary years, students are taught the various ways the 44 sounds which make up the English language, can be represented by letters and combinations of letters (e.g. students are initially taught that the long sound is represented by ai, then over time other representations are also taught, including ay, a_e, ey,eigh etc)
Synthetic Phonics teaches these sound letter correspondences in a systematic and ordered way, following a defined sequence.
Blending all through the Word
Synthetic Phonics focuses on sounds all through the word, rather than initially focusing on first sounds only.
Why Synthetic Phonics?
English is an alphabetic code and therefore Synthetic Phonics, with its emphasis on teaching students sound-letter correspondences, is vital for literacy instruction, however “phonics is a means to an end not an end unto itself”.
In addition the research has found these gains are maintained and in fact increase over time. The synthetic phonics approach is as effective for students at risk of literacy failure as it is for their peers and some research has suggested boys have a slight advantage over girls in spelling and reading comprehension when taught with a synthetic phonics approach.
As a result of the systematic and direct teaching of sound-letter correspondences and blending skills, a synthetic phonics approach leads to superior word reading (including irregular words) and a lower incidence of reading failure.
Early instruction in synthetic phonics provides students with the necessary skills to become fluent and competent readers and spellers at an earlier age than other approaches to teaching literacy.
As a result students can “more quickly go about the job of reading to learn” which is the ultimate goal of any literacy program.
When to Start?
Synthetic phonics can and should be introduced from the first years of formal education, usually from when the student is approximately 5 years of age.
How to teach?
Synthetic phonics needs to be taught systematically and explicitly.
The sound-letter correspondences should be introduced in a defined sequence with each step building on the previous. ‘Phonic and Sight Word Sequence’ provides content divided into different stages which can form the basis of a systematic phonics program.
Synthetic Phonics incorporates direct or explicit teacher instruction which is matched to the student’s developmental level and clearly outlines the lesson goals. Students are directly instructed on the sound letter correspondences (e.g. “CH makes a ‘ch’ sound”) and given clear, explicit models of how to complete activities using example words from their spelling level.
NOTE: Teach students to initially decode the structure of words, rather than just teaching them as sight words. This approach has benefits to long term reading accuracy and ability to read new words.