Scottish senco produces perceptual learning video.

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Scottish senco produces perceptual learning video.

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    This Scottish Senco works only with Year 7 and only in the school library!  Their video is well worth watching. The link is  

    The link is      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY2TZFDgHC0Comment is appreciated."In Perceptual Learning nothing is formally ‘taught’ so there is nothing to be ‘remembered’ therefore nothing to forget."   (Dr Phil Kellman Professor of Cognitive Psychology UCLA). 
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    eddiecarron
    This Scottish Senco works only with Year 7 and only in the school library!

    Or, more precisely, S1.

    Let me play devil's advocate for a moment and examine some of the issues raised.

    If the accelerated reading programme is so simple, and successful, why would an education authority wait until S1 to introduce it?

    The school tested all the pupils in S1 and found that 30-40% were reading well below their chronological age. Why did they need to test them to find this out?

    The pupils have already been in primary education for 7 years. Does the secondary school not communicate with its associated primary schools prior to transfer to establish if there are specific literacy issues?

    According to the secondary school, the pupils transferring from primary had all the basic pre-requisites for reading, such as phonics and word recognition, but for some reason they were performing at a much lower age level and were unable to do the work the secondary school wanted to give them.

    The suggestion is made that the literacy skills deficit may be the result of a lack of reading, or exposure to reading, at home or in the primary school and their reading skills have got 'rather rusty'.

    So all that's required, apparently, is the educational equivalent of a quick spray of WD40 to make up for the inadequacies of primary education and the home. I seem to have been listening to that sort of argument for almost 40 years.

    The solution, apparently, is to take the identified pupils out of class for one unit every day to work in the school library, with support from S6 buddies, where the key to improvement is practice, word recognition and being able to have instant adult feedback.

    Presumably, they didn't get any of that when they were at primary school working with skilled teachers all day, every day, for seven years. The 'Perceptual Learning Course' involves 'lots of meaningful experiences of listening, reading and writing correctly'.

    Now, why didn't I think of that? If only I hadn't given my pupils meaningless experiences of listening, reading and writing correctly, they would all have had age-appropriate literacy skills regardless of ability.

    Why do I suspect that the percentage of S1 pupils withdrawn every day is not actually the 30-40% identified as reading well below their chronological age or the PTs of the other subjects would be complaining and the library would be bursting at the seams.

    The aim of the accelerated reading programme is, apparently, to bring the pupils up to their chronological reading age and a special ceremony is held for them to 'graduate' back into mainstream classes. A number of pupils will have to stay in the programme until the end of S1 but these tend to be pupils with a diagnosis of dyslexia.

    Now I may sound like an old cynic, but we've had accelerated reading programmes in primary schools for years, along with a variety of other programmes to improve literacy.

    Of course, if you put in additional staffing and resources, and involve parents who otherwise may rarely read to, or with, their children you can help overcome some of the literacy difficulties that teachers have to deal with on a daily basis.

    However, I would suggest there is no 'magic bullet' that can be introduced at S1, or at any other time during primary or secondary education, that will resolve all literacy issues and have everyone reading at their chronological age. If there was, there wouldn't be any need for 'The Sun' and 'The Daily Star'.

    Finally, it doesn't surprise me that HM Inspectors recommend the programme. There was a time when they acknowledged 'age, aptitude and ability' in pupils but that was quietly dropped from their documents during the 1980s so that any failure by pupils to progress could be blamed on schools and teachers.

    At a time when Learning Support is being cut back in primary schools and, in some cases, removed altogether, I think we should be cautious about accepting, at face value, that a secondary school can reverse a decline in literacy standards, and have almost all pupils reading, writing and spelling in line with their chronological age, by simply introducing a short-term, withdrawal programme at S1.

    However, others may disagree.

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    As with most programmes, I expect this one works. It is not something special about that particular programme which causes it to work but that these children get extra attention and intervention.

    I have a number of children in my class who I think might be dyslexic and others who are clearly reading below their age. If I could give them extra time with an adult then I'm sure they would come on. But as it is we're understaffed and learning support teachers are used to cover classes as we can't get supply teachers. The time they do have is taken up with pupils with behaviour difficulties. Two of my children have been on a list to be tested for dyslexia all year. I try to give them as much extra input as I can with myself or my PSA (who is trained in a couple of interventions) but the class is so full of pupils who need attention that the priority goes to those who will disrupt a lesson.

    So yes, it works, but so would giving them time out with an adult in primary.
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    You play the devil's advocate very well and to your credit, confront some valid points which I will try to address individually. I wish you had posted your legitimate comments on the Youtube site so that more teachers across he UK could have enjoyed them.

     1.Q If the accelerated reading programme is so simple, and successful, why would an education authority wait until S1 to introduce it?

     1A They'rs not waiting. This school is providing consultative support for a Highland Area research project involving a group of primary schools to test the hypothesie that earlier intervention would prevent the litskills deficits from developing in the first instance.  These schools will have been using this approach for one term by the end of Feb and will provide the first reports directly to this forum. Teh end reports will be produced at the end of the academic year.

     2.Q The school tested all the pupils in S1 and found that 30-40% were reading well below their chronological age. Why did they need to test them to find this out?

    2a I asssume they wanted a professional basis for their actions. I would certainly have chosen the children on a similar basis.

    3.Q The pupils have already been in primary education for 7 years. Does the secondary school not communicate with its associated primary schools prior to transfer to establish if there are specific literacy issues?

     3A That is for them to answer but the PT says that this mirrors the national picture in many respects and he is the PT for learning support, not the local authority adviser with direct inlfuence over the feeder schools.

    4Q. According to the secondary school, the pupils transferring from primary had all the basic pre-requisites for reading, such as phonics and word recognition, but for some reason they were performing at a much lower age level and were unable to do the work the secondary school wanted to give them.  The suggestion is made that the literacy skills deficit may be the result of a lack of reading, or exposure to reading, at home or in the primary school and their reading skills have got 'rather rusty'.

     4A I think the PT would not claim to know all the answers and was speculating at this point.

    5 Q. So all that's required, apparently, is the educational equivalent of a quick spray of WD40 to make up for the inadequacies of primary education and the home. I seem to have been listening to that sort of argument for almost 40 years.

    The solution, apparently, is to take the identified pupils out of class for one unit every day to work in the school library, with support from S6 buddies, where the key to improvement is practice, word recognition and being able to have instant adult feedback.

    5A  I think that's uinfair. I am the supplier of the tools which on their own are worth little. The skill is in how the tools are used. This PT secured the co-operation of all his teaching colleagues (no mean feat) and placed great importance on using the library rather than a 'special needs' room. These decisions were critical in the success of his operation. I have seen the four years data he has collected and know that many children who would in other situations have left school unable to read and write confidently, will now not do so.  

    6 Q  The 'Perceptual Learning Course' involves 'lots of meaningful experiences of listening, reading and writing correctly'.Now, why didn't I think of that? 

    6A  Only you can answer that! Perhaps you have not had forty years teaching experience. Perhaps you have had one years experience, repeated forty times. The reality is that these children learned to read and write confidently when that in many other schools, is not the case.

    7Q  Why do I suspect that the percentage of S1 pupils withdrawn every day is not actually the 30-40% identified as reading well below their chronological age or the PTs of the other subjects would be complaining and the library would be bursting at the seams.

    7A  I could not find where the PT made such a claim. He did say that they selected those with a 2 year plus deficit.

    8Q  The aim of the accelerated reading programme is, apparently, to bring the pupils up to their chronological reading age and a special ceremony is held for them to 'graduate' back into mainstream classes. A number of pupils will have to stay in the programme until the end of S1 but these tend to be pupils with a diagnosis of dyslexia.

    8A I doubt that very much - my impression was (I haev bnever visited the school) that those with more persistant problems tended to be those with more general learnign difficulies. His data specifically shows diagnosed dyslexics and these were a minority, in linewith their distribution in the population generally

     

    9Q  Of course, if you put in additional staffing and resources, and involve parents who otherwise may rarely read to, or with, their children you can help overcome some of the literacy difficulties that teachers have to deal with on a daily basis.

    9A I deal with projects in a large number of schools all over the UK - I am a retired head teacher. In no cases do i know of 'extra staff' being involved. The current trend is in the other direction.

     10 Q However, I would suggest there is no 'magic bullet' that can be introduced at S1, or at any other time during primary or secondary education, that will resolve all literacy issues and have everyone reading at their chronological age. If there was, there wouldn't be any need for 'The Sun' and 'The Daily Star'.

    10 A  This PT is not suggesting that there is a magic bullet response to illiteracy however, I do make such a claim. If you will email me at eddiecarron@btconnect.com i will send you and any other practicing teacher a free trial copy of the same resources this school is using and you can make your own judgement. I would require only that you post your reactions on this or any other teacher website rather than to me personally.

     

    11Q At a time when Learning Support is being cut back in primary schools and, in some cases, removed altogether, I think we should be cautious about accepting, at face value, that a secondary school can reverse a decline in literacy standards, and have almost all pupils reading, writing and spelling in line with their chronological age, by simply introducing a short-term, withdrawal programme at S1

    I agree with this and I'm sure this PT would do so too. i suggest that the appropriate time to intevene with a perceptual learning approach is when it becomes apparent that a child is not responding well to an exclusively phonics approach.

    I hope you will take advantage of my offer of a free trial copy of the same resource package with this excellent school is using.

     

    Eddie Carron

     

     

     

     

     

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    You write 'As with most programmes, I expect this one works. It is not something special about that particular programme which causes it to work but that these children get extra attention and intervention.

     

    I have a number of children in my class who I think might be dyslexic and others who are clearly reading below their age. If I could give them extra time with an adult then I'm sure they would come on. But as it is we're understaffed and learning support teachers are used to cover classes as we can't get supply teachers. The time they do have is taken up with pupils with behaviour difficulties. Two of my children have been on a list to be tested for dyslexia all year. I try to give them as much extra input as I can with myself or my PSA (who is trained in a couple of interventions) but the class is so full of pupils who need attention that the priority goes to those who will disrupt a lesson.

     

    So yes, it works, but so would giving them time out with an adult in primary.'The main feature of this approach is that the childrne work on thier own at a computer for about 15 mins WITHOUT DIRECT ADULT SUPERVISION OR INTERVENTION. This is critical. the children read their computer prepared texts of dictation exercises to a teacher or TA. The approach is not labour intensive. What is 'special' about it is the fact that it involves no phonics teaching whatsoever and can be managed by any competent TA or librarian in a class which has perhaps 3 or 4 target children.The offer a free copy of the resources is open to you as it is to any teacher anywher in the world.You must know that Rosetta Stone is the most successful language teaching organisation in the world and that it uses perceptual learning.Eddie Carron
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    I think its worth mentioning that I have produced the Perceptual Learning approach as a counter to the exclusive phonics approaches which are flooding the Educational market and which have made not had any significant impact on literacy standards. I believe that a significant proportion of children, possibly as much as 20% respond much more productively to non-ritual teaching which is of course the essential factor in Perceptual Learning. We all learned our first language without having to complete a Jolly Speaking course viz without a single ritual speaking lesson!  An essential feature of perceptual learning that knowldege is acquired perceptually ie without conscious learning effort.

    I think when the day comes that a teacher accepts that many children will never learn to read and write confidently, that teacher should be seeking alternative employment

    There really are alternatives which work and we should never lose sight of that fact.

    Eddie Carron.

     

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    Education in the UK is one of the most costly in the world. The fact that so many children leave school unable to read and write confidently means only that teachers are not being given the right tools to do their job.  In particular they do not have the tools to meet the needs of the minority of children who do not respond well to a ritual ‘teaching’ approach. I am proposing merely that a perceptual approach which involves no ritual ‘teaching’ may be more productive and my research supports this proposal.

    The dozen or so primary schools taking part in the Highland Council initiative have received only a different set of tools - they have not been given extra staffing. If the target skills are indeed boosted it will have been achieved only by the use of different tools.

    When this project is complete, the outcomes from these schools will not be spun into a carefully contrived report. The schools involved will report transparently and directly on this forum which will give others the opportunity to put questions to them directly.

    Any school which wants a free copy of the identical resources used by these schools need only email me their school address.

     

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    Eddie, thank you for your detailed reply and for clarifying that you have produced the Perceptual Learning approach as a counter to what you believe are the exclusive phonics approaches flooding the educational market.

    I note that you not believe these exclusive phonics approaches have had any significant impact on literacy standards and that a significant proportion of children, possibly as high as 20%, respond much more productively to 'non-ritual' teaching which is an essential factor in Perceptual Learning.

    I remember many similar arguments being put forward during the 1970s and 80s when phonics based approaches to reading were giving way to whole word, 'look-and-say' methods and graded reading schemes were being replaced with 'real books'.

    At the heart of the new holistic approach to reading was the idea that it was artificial, and counter-productive, to break words down into their phonic building blocks or to use 'pretend' and 'boring' graded reading schemes. If you just gave children lots of different and exciting real books to read and did away with the 'ritualistic' teaching routines, they would all learn to read much more naturally and with little conscious effort.

    Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out like that. Whilst able children were able to make good progress, pupils of average ability tended to struggle with the lack of structure and those with significant learning difficulties made little progress. In practice, schools that retained a balanced approach to reading, using the best aspects of phonics, graded reading schemes and real books tended to have the best success. The re-emergence of phonics approaches under the name 'Synthetic Phonics' was simply a response to educational findings from the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

    However, as you point out, no single approach will suit every child at every stage in their education.

    From the video, the reference to 30-40% of pupils comes at approximately 1:36

    "And we found that, year on year, the number of pupils coming into the school, into S1, their level of reading was getting less and less and, of course, that mirrors the national picture that we find especially amongst boys, but we were finding that we were having 30-40% of pupils that were really reading well below their chronological age, so the idea was that we tested all the pupils in S1 and any pupil that had a reading age really of 2 plus years below their actual age, we got them together for what we call the accelerated reading programme."

    Now apart from the obvious issue that using standardised reading tests, even under ideal conditions with individual pupils, can sometimes give inconsistent results, I was initially surprised at that 30-40% figure. If, however, the percentage of pupils withdrawn for the programme is actually much lower, then what happens to the others? Would it not be easier just to teach them in a class of similar ability using either traditional approaches or the accelerated reading programme?

    Finally, on the issue that we all learn our first language without having a single 'ritual' speaking lesson, it's true that children learn to speak by mimicking the sounds they hear and associating them with meaning. They don't, however, all acquire language equally well and that, I would suggest, is partly due to social interaction and the quality of informal teaching by parents.

    Also, mimicking vocal sounds and associating them with meaning is not really the same as decoding written symbols and associating them with meaning. Reading requires the child to grasp the connection between the silent written symbol, or whole word pattern, and the sound it makes and to then relate it to a particular spoken meaning. It's asking a lot to expect a child to do that without breaking the process down for them in a structured way.

    However, good luck with your Perceptual Learning Programme. I will follow the results with interest.

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    when phonics based approaches to reading were giving way to whole word, 'look-and-say' methods and graded reading schemes were being replaced with 'real books'.

    I too remember the Peter and Jane books and the now much derided 'look-say' era. What is not generally realised is the even in the 'look-say' era, the percentage of pupils leaving school unable to read and write confidently was not significantly different from the prior or current statistic. More interestingly, at the outbreak of WW2 when every able-bodied man was conscripted into the armed forces, generals discovered to their horror, that one man in five could not read the instructions on the highly dangerous munitions they were given to play witih.. Plus ca change!

    The re-emergence of phonics approaches under the name 'Synthetic Phonics' was simply a response to educational findings from the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

    Sythetic Phonics as I'm sure you know, was primarily the product of some excellent work in Clackmannashire. Sadly in English, those who belatedly climbed on the synthetic phonics bandwagon have turned the teaching of reading into a political soap-opera from which the pioneers of SP have rightly distanced themselves. The idiot Gove has decreed the complete answer to illiteracy is phonics, phonics and more phonics and when that fails, even more phonics.

    From the video, the reference to 30-40% of pupils comes at approximately 1:36

    I too was a little suprised at this figure but it does reflect the fact that literacy standards in the UK are not as good as they should be. I believe that the reason for this is very simple - primary teachers simply have not been given the tools to the job of delivering literacy skills to those who it is clearly demonstrated,.have not responded well to ritual teaching strategy.

    Perceptual Learning has the advantage that it involves no ritual teaching those pursuing a PL course are not required to make any conscious learning effort.

    Finally, on the issue that we all learn our first language without having a single 'ritual' speaking

    I believe that the vast majority of the knowledge we have acquired in our lifetimes is not a consequence of ritual teaching but of perceptual learning. I am disappointed that you have not opted to take up my offer of a copy of the same PL resources that are used in the video. They can be used with the very poorest readers from age 6 to age 14 and they work like magic.

     Although I work in England, I am a native Scot, educated initially in a small town called Barrhead (pronounced Borrheed).   My wife who did all the 10,000 recordings for the suite is a Dundee graduate. I am disppointed that not one school in Scotland has thus far taken up this offer of a free copy of the resources to try with the poorest readers - apart from the dozen of so primaries in Highland Area who are taking part in their literacy intitiative.

    There is still plenty of time so please email me at eddiecarron@btconnect.com and ask for a copy of the resources. I can asssure you, you will not be disappointed.

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