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No guessing!

Teaching guessing strategies to children who are not good at remembering written words hinders word reading development.  As David Kilpatrick says, 'Attending to the internal structure of words is the very process needed to store words for future retrieval!  For students weak in phoneme awareness, guessing becomes a compensatory strategy that inhibits the growth of sight vocabulary."

Whenever a struggling student guesses, they miss the opportunity to practise letter/sound recognition, blending and decoding. And quite simply, they miss the opportunity to learn to read the word.

However, this is not quite so important for those luck enough to learn reading easily. 

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Don't blame the teachers!

As reported, The Age, March 21, 2022, '50 per cent of participating teachers (in a study) were not offered professional development related to phonics, despite more than 80 per cent relating their desire to learn about phonics-based approaches.'

'These barriers prevented many teachers from shifting their practice to align with the research evidence. As one teacher observed: “We still use Fountas and Pinnell [a literacy company established in 1996 based on the debunked “balanced literacy” approach to learning], but it is not considered best practice for all students. I am frustrated that we … aren’t setting all children up for success.”

Dr Tina Daniel is a researcher at Deakin University who focuses on the teaching of early reading, social justice and humanitarian approaches to teaching and learning.

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