Year 1 Phonics Check: Responding to analysis findings transcript

Rebecca McEwan: 

Now that we have that understanding of the student's strengths, of the student's needs, we're ready to plan that response, because we don't assess for assessment's sake, we assess so that we can support our students to progress. 

The first thing we'll do is look back at those strengths. Where has that student shown that they're able to lift the print from the page, and what are we going to do with that information? What you can do is use the green highlighted code and word types to support that student to build fluency in their independent practice. These are the words that the student will be able to confidently decode without support, and therefore they're appropriate for those skill application tasks where they don't have the teacher guiding along on the side. 

It's interesting as well for us as teachers to know, can the student also spell these words? So, a bit of a note on spelling. Just because a student can decode a word, it doesn't necessarily mean that they can encode it or spell it. When we teach skills of spelling and reading or decoding reciprocally, they can actually complement each other and help one another in the instruction. It is best practice to be teaching spelling and decoding, or encoding and decoding, side by side in our phonics. If you're not sure if your students are able to spell those words as well as decode, that's definitely something to go back and check on, because that could be a point of instruction for your student.  

Again, thinking about supporting those early skills, before we move on to the more complex. When we talk about the example student that I worked with, that would mean that I can confidently support them with CVC words, with those CVCC words, and with the consonant digraphs that they've shown they're able to read in their independent practice, and be confident that they're not practising mistakes. I would be conscious of that ‘au’ or /a/ /u/ confusion, and I would not be giving those words for the student to be working on, or I would pre-prompt them with the information about the sounds and remind them. 

We can also look at giving this student some of the words that have more phonemes or more sounds to blend together, so up to five phonemes they've shown the ability to decode independently, with those single letter–sound correspondences. The words that have the double vowel digraphs, so the ‘oo’ and the ‘ee’, the student was able to read those correctly. They could be included as well. 

When we talk about independent practice, that can look like some word-level decoding games. It could look like the student reading decodable sentences or continuous text in a decodable published text with those types of word and code complexities. They might be working on spelling at the word level, if you've seen that they're able to do that. They could be writing sentences and continuous text using these word and code types as well.  

We actually have some more examples of skill application tasks that could fit in this independent practice in the Literacy Hub instructional model, so we'll share that in the chat for you now. That can be a bit of a reference for you. It's right at the end of that document.  

We're supporting our students to build fluency with those strengths, through their independent practice when we're not there beside them guiding them. When we're thinking about supporting growth, again, at that earliest point of need, we're looking to work on specific goals, and we're going to use systematic synthetic phonics instruction that is following explicit direct instruction principles. We will unpack that a little bit more. All of this work is going to be done with the support of the teacher, or the support of the supporting staff that can work with this student. The student has shown us they can't do this independently yet, so we need to model, we need to give guided practice, and we need to support that student with feedback as they're learning these new skills. 

Before we delve more into that approach and how we support these students on the ground, I do want to pause here, because while this student has been able to read those CVC words and the early adjacent consonant words, not every student who sits down and does the Phonics Check will have been able to. If we have students that are facing difficulties in those two early categories, CVC and simple words with adjacent consonants, that is telling us that they're facing some difficulties with those two component skills that we spoke about, so either their letter–sound correspondence knowledge or their blending ability, which is a phonological and phonemic awareness skill, phonemic awareness specifically. 

If you have a student turning up in the struggling decoders category and they're having difficulty with those early code and word types, then the advice is to do some more investigation. You need to find out which letter–sound correspondences of those single letter–sound correspondences they have and which ones are still missing, and you need to find out whether they can blend sounds to say a word. The phonological and phonemic awareness skills, do they have them orally, so that they can transfer them when they're reading words? 

We've got a couple of recommended assessments there for you if you don't have one already. These are both free and you can download them from online. The Reading Rockets letter-name and letter-sound assessment, and the Quick Phonological Awareness Screening tool They'll both go into the chat for you. If you have some students that may be in that category or you know are in that category, then you might like to download those or click onto the links and have a look yourself. 

Hopefully, when you do run the Year 1 Phonics Check with your students, you won't come across any of these big surprises. This is where the Year 1 Phonics Check is a snapshot assessment that can tell us where students are at a point in time. If you're considering your response to thinking about assessment and instruction, then using a progress monitoring tool that can help you assess your students' skills as you are teaching them new phonics code and word complexities is something that you could consider. We will talk more about some professional learning that we have on the Literacy Hub at the end of the session, and that's something that could help you build some understanding around progress monitoring as well. 

If you have those students with the phonological and phonemic awareness difficulties showing up, we do have some resources for you on the Literacy Hub. This is the phonological and phonemic awareness activity slides you can see on the screen, and we're going to share that link in the chat for you for any students who are at this point for instruction.

There is also a phonemic awareness overview on the Literacy Hub that you can look up on the website as well. That will help to build your teacher knowledge.  

Let's come back to the example student, and perhaps some of the students that you're working on at home in the session. We're looking at our earliest point of need, those specific goals, and using systematic synthetic phonics to give our students some explicit direct instruction around their needs that we've identified. 

First thing to consider when we're thinking about our student results is what your approach to teaching phonics is already. Are you seeing that green wave of simple to complex happening on your tool? Or is there a bit more of a random pattern showing up? Things to consider here are whether you're using a phonics progression, whether you're following explicit direct instruction principles, and whether you're using that systematic synthetic phonics approach.  

When you're thinking about whether a progression has been followed, that's where we should see the instruction unfolding from simple to complex code and word types, and therefore that green wave happening across our tool. If you don't have a phonics progression yet at your school or in your classroom, we do have one through the Literacy Hub that we've developed, and we will share that link in this session as well. Just hold on for that.  

The other thing to consider once you know what your students' needs are, is where are they sitting in terms of the curriculum? So, how far below, or whether they're at, the expected curriculum level, and whether that student has shown you in the classroom that they do have a lot of need for extra repetition and extra support, or whether they're generally coming along with the class and understanding most of the concepts and skills that you're teaching. 

This is where we're starting to think about whether our response is going to fall into Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 instruction. So, Tier 1 being whole class. If we have lots of students that have shown a particular need on the Year 1 Phonics Check, then we can address that through our Tier 1 whole-class instruction, where we're giving some modelling, some guided practice, and then eventually some independent time once the students have mastered that skill. 

If you have a small group of students who are presenting with a similar need, and they also present with the learning need of more guided practice and more feedback from you as a teacher, these are the students that might need more repetition or take a little longer to understand a new concept or skill. We can be looking at some small-group or Tier 2 instruction. 

If we have a student who, according to the curriculum and their Year 1 Phonics Check results, is sitting far below expected level and they're showing some learning difficulties - perhaps something that's diagnosed, perhaps something that you're noticing in the classroom - then Tier 3 instruction for this student might be the best option. This is where we're giving some one-on-one instruction, which means we can give lots more concentrated guided practice, including that really important feedback to the student as they're practising new skills.  

Do consider where on that Response to Intervention table your student would be sitting. 

Here we are at the plan for my example student. I've taken these things into consideration. I've remembered those areas of need that we've found on the tool. For my student, the main goal is going to be working on those split vowel digraphs. We'll be looking at reading and spelling at word level for the split vowel digraphs. You can see at the top of the table there that I've allocated that as explicit teaching for a Tier 2 group, because in my class, I actually have a few students that have presented with this need, and it's already been taught at whole-class level, so it's something that they've missed and they need to be caught up on. 

Column two, you can see at the top, I've marked as a review, and it's going to be at Tier 1, so whole class, because in the Year 1 Phonics Check and in class, I've noticed that I have quite a few students that are still having some difficulty differentiating that ‘a’ says /a/ and ‘u’ says /u/. We're going to put that into some review for the whole class, and I'll be monitoring how this student progresses with that, as well as how the other students in the class are progressing. Perhaps I didn't provide enough repetition in my instruction when we initially taught those sounds and letters. 

Final column, we have future learning. We're not forgetting about that ph digraph and the r-controlled vowel, the ‘ar’, that was represented for that student, but I know it's going to come in the progression and I know it's further on in the continuum, so it's not a concern for now. I'll monitor that student when we get to that point in the progression. 

For your student that you've highlighted for and you've looked at the errors for, you'll start to be able to decide what that goal is. What might be included in Tier 1 instruction or Tier 2 instruction. For those students who really need intensive support, where you might also have allied health professionals like speech pathologists supporting, then what they will need. 

Again, when we're responding, the best practice in terms of systematic synthetic phonics and our evidence-based approaches are going to come back to our progression and to using a really consistent instructional model, where we're following explicit direct instruction and we're using a systematic synthetic phonics approach.  

First, find where that need is on your progression, and hopefully your progression has some support in terms of the types of words that you can include for that instruction. Then, refer to an instructional model to help you really give consistent instruction and consistent guidance for that student. 

On the instructional model you can see on the slide, that's our Literacy Hub instructional model for phonics for reading and spelling, you can see that in the bottom section, that explicit teaching section, it works through a lot of ‘I do’ and ‘We do’. There's lots of modelling and lots of guided practice. That student, and those students, whoever's involved in this teaching, is going to be led through the letter–sound correspondence level, the word level, and the sentence level, all focused on this code that we're learning about. 

At the top of the instructional model, you can also see that review represented that I spoke about. The review again would be at letter–sound correspondence level, word level and sentence level. At this stage, the students are practising it more independently, with just a little bit of teacher feedback and support, because it's a need but it's not a pronounced need that they have. They're consolidating that knowledge. 

There's a lot that we could unpack in terms of progressions and instructional models, but what I would recommend and what I would encourage you to do is explore the resources on the Literacy Hub, because there's so much there that can support you in terms of your phonics instruction. We've got some links coming through, and they're in the handouts as well. We've got that phonics progression, and we've got an instructional model for phonics, and then also some spelling generalisations that match in with the progression that teaches teachers about teaching spelling generalisations and syllables and morphology. 

The other piece of that puzzle is that we have some professional learning, a professional learning series, about implementing a systematic synthetic phonics approach. There are seven topics in there that you can see on the screen now, and so much knowledge, resources, webinars and so on that you can access to help you to respond to your Year 1 Phonics Check results.  

A lot to cover in that session. Like I said, I hope some of you have been able to follow along and start to analyse some of your student results. Some of you will be able to go back and look at your results, look at the recording, and follow that process to find out how to support your students.