***Where is the planning?

Occasionally teachers write to me to ask, ‘Where is the planning?‘ for the Phonics International programme and No Nonsense Phonics (Skills).

This has happened a number of times so rather than keep repeating the answer to individual teachers, I thought it would be a good idea to write a response via my blog for which I can then simply provide a link to this post.

So here goes…

1) CONTENT – for planning purposes: You see, the programmes’ actual content, and in what order to use the core resources provide the information for the plans.

As my phonics programmes are systematic, the aspect of planning which is ‘first you do this, followed by this‘ is all worked out for the teacher (tutor or parent/carer dependent on the user) in the bodies of work (the actual resources) of the programmes themselves.

The nature of my phonics programmes is that all the content is tangibly provided from code to word to sentence/text level for every child. Everyone can see and understand the content – the teacher, the teaching assistant, the intervention teacher, senior management, the children/learners, their parents and carers, Ofsted inspectors. It’s all there!

This core content is totally tangible – on paper – for every child/learner. For planning purposes, then, there is no doubt about ‘what’ is being taught and needs to be learnt – including the code introduced and the phonics sub-skills and skills practised with this content.

The programme (whichever one is used) IS the content of the plan!

That leaves pace, timing, organisation and delivery – and evaluation/reflection – to consider…

2) PACE/TIMING – for planning purposes: I do give a steer for this with my ‘two-session approach’. By this I mean that, generally speaking, to provide thorough practice (for modelling some teaching and for each child/learner to get plenty of the right kind of practice) cannot realistically be achieved in only ONE phonics session. This means it is likely to take at least TWO SESSIONS to complete a full ‘teaching and learning cycle’. These two sessions may well be over two days.

The teaching and learning cycle features a new, or focus, piece of the alphabetic code (the letter/s-sound correspondences). It takes one complete ‘teaching and learning cycle’ to introduce the featured code, to model it simply at word level (sound to print for spelling purposes, print to sound for reading purposes) and to provide ample practice for every child (with his or her own core, paper-based resources) at code, word, sentence/text level for reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary enrichment, language comprehension, and building up knowledge of spelling word banks over time.

That’s a lot of practice! This means that the ‘pace’ of covering the code in my phonics programmes may be slower than the pace recommended in some other phonics practices because I’m providing plenty of rich, FIT FOR PURPOSE content for teaching and learning purposes for every child to succeed, take ownership of the learning and be able to readily revise.

The pace and progress, however, is also dependent on how long the phonics sessions last, how efficient the teacher becomes at ‘getting on with the lesson’ and what stage the children have reached for working quickly through the content and routines. (But always allow for SUFFICIENT practice!)

In other words, how can an external person (the programme author for example) truly realistically specify the pace, timing and dates of delivery? The timing and dates for any planning is personal to the teacher, his or her class, the stage of the teaching and learning, perhaps the age of the learners, the point in the programme, identified additional needs and revision, and the additional building up knowledge of spelling word banks over time – and so on.

3) NO NONSENSE PHONICS (SKILLS) – the simplest suggestion for planning: I recommend keeping an additional Pupil Book (the same as the children are using) for the teacher’s planning record. There are nine systematic Pupil Books in the original No Nonsense Phonics Skills series – and we’ve now provided an optional Pupil Book 2+ for schools aiming to utilise their existing reading scheme home-reading books based on phases two and three of ‘Letters and Sounds’ (DfES, 2007).

Date each page according to when the children undertake the activities on that page. Then, either make notes direct on that page, as appropriate, for how the lesson went – any absentee children, note any children that need additional follow-up (and who will provide that, and whereabouts) and evaluate the lesson generally.

Alternatively, consider using post-it notes to stick onto the specific pages of the Pupil Book being used for the teacher’s plans to reflect on the lesson and any future needs for specific children and future provision.

Alternatively, note in a planning exercise book, the specific NNPS Pupil Book being used, and the date of any pages/activities undertaken, absentee children, intervention children – and so on.

The No Nonsense Phonics (Skills) body of work couldn’t be more streamlined and easy to use – it is a truly ‘pick-up-and-go’ systematic synthetic phonics programme!

It really couldn’t be easier. That is, the content of the systematic lessons plain for all to see, dates and lesson evaluations added by the teacher accordingly.

4) PHONICS INTERNATIONAL – simplest suggestions for planning: Again, this programme is based, generally-speaking, on a ‘two session approach’ for the phonics ‘teaching and learning cycle’.

The Phonics International programme, however, has an extensive body of work to cater for such a wide range of eventualities of ‘learner’ – age and needs. It is a massively flexible and content-rich body of work.

The ‘core and essential’ resources are provided in a ‘systematic’ order so that is straightforward (first you introduce this code, then this) – and the content for each lesson is plain to see as the core pupil resources should be provided on paper for the learners to use, own, share with home and keep.

The teacher needs to know and understand ‘which’ are the core and essential Phonics International resources. I describe what they are and how best to use them in this ‘How to…’ guidance document.

For planning, simply print off (or photocopy) an extra copy of the ‘core and essential’ resources selected for the children/learners concerned for the teacher’s own records and organisation.

Date the specific resources according to when they are undertaken. Again, as with the No Nonsense Phonics programme, note on the teacher’s planning copies any relevant arrangements, timing, evaluation, intervention requirements and ‘next steps’ as required.

Simple…!

NURSERY:

By the way, we cater for the children of nursery age – three to four year olds – with the ‘Teeny Reading Seeds‘ resources and the two books of the ‘Phonics and Talk Time‘ series.

Again, the resources themselves provide the content and the nursery staff can decide when and with whom to use the resources and note the dates and evaluate the provision accordingly.

See our Phonics International Preschool site here with masses of free resources!

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