Year 1 Phonics Check: Responding to group analysis findings transcript

Kerrie Shanahan:

Once you have that deeper understanding of your group's strengths and needs, you are ready to plan your response. 

Firstly, we'll look back at the strengths that I identified in my example class, and these are the things that we want to support growth.  

The word categories identified as strengths for your class, they're the kinds of words you can now use in your independent application tasks and partner tasks. These application tasks will help your students to build their fluency. Fluency development can be supported by having students read texts that contain words from the categories that you know are their strengths. As their fluency develops by reading these words, students will be able to focus more on comprehension. 

Now let's think about supporting growth in our areas of need. The place to begin is at the group's earliest point of need.  

For my example group, this was at that vowel digraphs category, and this is where you'd begin explicit whole-class teaching. You can also check your notes to look for any specific needs. For example, you might find that there's some smaller corrections of already taught content that may be more appropriate for review rather than a whole round of renewed explicit teaching. For example, it might be that students need practice blending adjacent consonants in their daily review, if you identified that there were some students that had difficulty blending that /s/-/t/-/r/ in that word ‘stribe’. 

Once you've identified what content to teach, we can now look at how this can be done using an evidence-based approach to instruction. The most effective and inclusive approach to decoding instruction is through explicit instruction in line with a systematic synthetic phonics approach. This means it's teacher-directed, highly interactive lessons that are focused specifically on the code or skill that your class has shown a learning need for. We have a big focus on the ‘I do’ and ‘We do’, and that's through modelled and guided practice. 

The ‘You do’ component includes practice through independent activities, and this happens once the students have shown they are able to apply the skill independently. In a moment, we will share some more professional learning resources that support you in doing that.  

In my example group, we saw that the group reached mastery of the simple word categories. But what would you do if this is not the case for your group? If your group did not show mastery in CVC or early adjacent consonant categories, those first two steps on the continuum, it may require further investigation. 

Thinking back to the two areas needed for decoding, the letter–sound knowledge and blending skill, they are the areas that you may need to assess your students on. You may need to assess the students’ letter–sound correspondence knowledge and their phonological awareness. You can then use these results to pinpoint where the students are at and then fine-tune the focus of your instruction. Some assessments you can use for this are the Reading Rockets assessment and the Quick Phonological Awareness Screening, known as QPAS. 

If you've got individual students who are not mastering those early word categories, then you can also use those assessments to investigate their needs further. 

If a group is at the halfway point of Year 1 and they haven't reached group mastery in the simple word categories, it may come as a surprise to the teacher. You might be wondering how you can ensure that you don't receive any big surprises like this in your Phonics Check results. One way is to use a progress monitoring tool. Progress monitoring allows you to see where students are at with their decoding at any point in time. If you'd like to find out more about progress monitoring, we'll put the link to our free PL in the chat now. 

In that you'll also find a progress monitoring tool, and that can be used with either the Literacy Hub's Phonics progression, or there's a template there so you can create your own. 

If your group, or individuals in your group, are having difficulty with developing phonological and phonemic awareness, we've got some helpful resources for that. We've got some great ready-to-use slide decks, and there's a phonemic awareness overview document, and that's got great information for teachers. 

If your group did not show mastery in those CVC or the early adjacent consonant categories, it's important to consider your approach to phonics instruction. You can reflect on whether you are following a progression using explicit instruction or teaching to mastery. 

Let's just recap. Thinking back to any group with an identified area of need, such as my example group needing vowel digraphs, your next step would be to begin by finding this earliest point of need on your progression and working from there. You'd also make sure that you're following an explicit instruction model for systematic synthetic phonics. Our Literacy Hub instructional model incorporates both reading and spelling at the letter–sound correspondence level, word level and sentence level. That's a great starting point. 

Finally, ensure that you incorporate structured reviews into your program. That's because it helps your students to cement the knowledge that they've learned into their long-term memories, and it gives them the opportunity to retrieve that information. If you'd like to find out more about daily review lessons, you can have a look at our free PL on explicit instruction for phonics.  

Another way to respond to your group's areas of need is to look at teaching relevant and helpful spelling generalisations. In my example class, vowel digraphs, which are notoriously tricky to master, they're going to be my next area for instruction. When I teach these digraphs, I'll incorporate the teaching of spelling generalisations. For example, when you focus on the long /ā/ vowel sound, you can also explicitly teach students that long /ā/ is often represented by /ai/ at the beginning or in the middle of words or syllables such as ‘snail’ or ‘rainbow’. Long /ā/ is often represented by /ay/ at the end of a word or syllable, such as the words ‘day’ or ‘play’. 

Teaching spelling generalisations as part of your phonics instruction really supports students to read and spell accurately and efficiently. We do have a detailed spelling generalisations chart, and it matches the Literacy Hub's Phonics progression. You can also visit the Literacy Hub for our new professional learning on spelling generalisations. 

The Literacy Hub is your go-to place for responding to your group's Year 1 Phonics Check needs.  

We've got lots of professional learning and resources to support you. Here are some links to our phonics progression, our instructional model, our decodable words and sentences, our spelling generalisations and to our professional learning pages.