These notes were prepared following a request from a school that had booked a day's training via www.insetcourses.com.
Explain why spelling is as it is. A maxim - the language is a thousand years old, and if we were a thousand years old, we'd have some wrinkles. The biggest wrinkle is William the Conqueror's introduction of French, together with his Latin scribes. There is an excellent animation of the Norman conquest on You Tube. This is equally important for EAL.
Use Slimmed Down Spelling, and have children collect personal lists of words they have learned to spell. The personal list approach can be used to extend knowledge and use of sentence structures.
Whenever possible - and it almost always is - have the pupil find one or more words with the same structure and sound as the one they've learned. Try never to learn a word on its own - grouping irregular words is particularly effective.
When reading, don't teach a word that has been misread, but move to another with the same structure and sound, and teach that one thoroughly. Repeat with another similar word. Once you get a look telling you that the child has got this, insert the word that has been misread. The child will usually read it accurately, but go back to the other words if not.
As with music, don't expect perfect sight reading first time. Have the child work on it, and deal with any words he hesitates over using the approach in point 4. Have children perform texts and poems - Mrs Malone, by Eleanor Farjeon, makes a great duet.
Once you've taught a word or group, flash back to it from time to time. This sends electric pulses around the new connection you've made in the child's brain, and builds up the fast, accurate identification needed for fluent reading.
Reinforcement. Most people hate a test, but everyone loves a quiz. They gain an unfair advantage in the quiz by practising beforehand. Blank playing cards, available via Amazon, allow you to make lots of games for word identification. Print off some grids, as in my book Using Phonics to Teach Reading and Spelling (or make your own - they're just tables in MS Word). Enter words that have been taught on the grid - don't put words with the same structure together at this stage - and call out co-ordinates for pupils to read them. If a word is misread, try calling for another with the same structure that the child is likely to get right.
Avoid copying. The switching back and forth while copying interferes with the development of neural networks. Copying also makes it harder to see what children have and have not understood. It will not damage things children have already learned, but hinders the learning of new material.
Encourage children to have study partners, and check each other's work before handing it in. Give simple guidance on what to look for. One way to do this is to draw an outline of your hand, and put a point on each finger. Don't pair strong pupils with weak ones - at least, not always.
Have parents keep a reading notebook at home. Encourage them to use similar techniques, and use the notebook for dialogue with them.
Make reading a central part of teaching, and ensure that pupils understand the words they are reading. Take time to explain them. Non-fiction is as important as fiction for language development.
Use praise as a smart bomb rather than a blunderbuss - praise when the child gets something right, and particularly if it's something they've previously got wrong. I don't praise effort - I encourage it, but keep praise for when they get something right.
Another maxim - We use what the letters tell us, but don't believe the letters tell us everything.
A handwriting policy is an important contribution to consistency. Watch the children as they write to ensure that they follow the policy. Use French lined paper to help those with weak handwriting. I recommend a review of the school's formation of the letter f. Left handed pupils should have guidance on writing appropriate to their needs. The school has the advantage of left-handed teachers, who can help with this.
Make errors a focal point for teaching. They tell you what the child needs to work on. Errors should not be ignored in any subject, as poor sentence construction and spelling seriously harm the employment prospects of young people. They are becoming increasingly important in examinations.
Clicker 6 is a unique bridge between spoken and written language, and extremely helpful for EAL, SEN and foreign language teaching. It is essential, though, to choose your own content. A free 28 day trial is available. I have no financial connection with the publisher, www.cricksoft.com.
I start very weak readers on the Ditties from Read, Write, Inc, and do not move from a Dittie until it has been thoroughly mastered. I also have them make words using plastic letters.
I recommend having at least one assistant in each age group who specialises in providing individual help for children. My Classroom Assistant's Edufax is downloadable free from the site. The SENCO and other senior staff should provide training for the assistants.
It is better to provide support in advance, so that a child is prepared for their lesson, rather than have them struggle and try to catch up later.
Watch for signs of visual stress or discomfort, particularly under fluorescent light, and obtain a screening kit from the Institute of Optometry.