There’s been a lot of research undertaken to try and establish what the most effective method of teaching phonics is. A 7 year long study of pupils in Scotland (see http://www.hvlc.org.uk/hlp/docs/phonics_spelling/phonics.doc) came to the conclusion that a synthetic approach to teaching phonics was more effective than an analytical approach. We thought it would be a good idea to see how ICT can be used to support this method, here’s some of our ideas.
Advocates of the synthetic approach to teaching phonics say that pace is important. Pupils should be introduced to 2 or more sounds a week, meaning that they’ll have been introduced to the first 33 sounds in under one term. What’s important here is forward planning and revisiting each of the sounds. ICT can help to manage this process. In simple terms teachers could simply advertise to pupils and parents the sounds that are being introduced each week via the classes web page. Different applications can also be used to provide variety and to support learners. For example, the teacher could be recorded reading a series of words which use a specific sound. If these are then made available electronically then pupils and their parents can use them when practising at home. These can be supported by digital spelling exercises, having a word sounded out and the pupil then being asked to type in the correct spelling.
In lessons there are lots of ways that ICT can support teaching of phonics. Take flashcards as an example. It’s really easy to create digital versions of flashcards which can be added to a presentation or loaded at random. The timing of their appearance on screen is easily adapted to ensure that pace is appropriate to the learning needs of a class. This could be supplemented with virtual displays of the common sounds with pupils being encouraged to add words which use these sounds to an online word bank. This takes minimal ICT skills and can be done quickly through using sites such as Wall Wisher, or more securely in a forum on your VLE.
Word building games are fairly easy to make using ICT. Drag and Drop technology is widely available online now and these can be used to provide pupils with lots of letter strings, with the task of creating as many full words as possible from the sounds that are made available. This can be used as a whole class exercise on an Interactive Whiteboard or posted on the class webpage for use as a homework task.
Another way of using ICT to support the teaching of phonics is the use of songs to develop pupils awareness of the different sounds. There are lots of songs available online that are written for the purpose of teaching phonics, and there’s nothing to stop pupils creating their own songs or tongue twisters to demonstrate their growing awareness of different sounds.
There are plenty of other ways of using ICT to help the teaching of phonics. What top tips have you got? Have you got any examples of pupil work in this area that you’d like to share?
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