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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an invaluable resource for all teachers., 22 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Sound Practice: Phonological Awareness in the Classroom (Resource Materials for Teachers) (Paperback)
This book aims to provide teachers with a sound understanding of the importance of phonological awareness to successful literacy. It explores practical ways in which phonological skills can be developed; suggests ways in which children with weaknesses in this area can be helped; links phonological skills to reading and writing programmes, and finally offers concrete examples of ways children with persistent weaknesses in literacy can be supported in main-stream education.
The authors of this study are highly credible. Their background consists of teaching pupils with SLD, teacher training, speech therapy and research. They thus combine extensive practical experience with in-depth theoretical knowledge. Their credibility is further enhanced by the fact that teachers were involved in the research project from which this book developed.
Just as the authors' own experiences combine practice with research, the book itself offers a useful balance between theory and practice. In their introduction they refer to the considerable body of research which proves the link between early systematic promotion of phonological awareness and greater success when learning to read and write. But they also remark on the fact that these findings are not being applied to the classroom. They identify a lack of "usable techniques which can be applied effectively in the 'real world' of the classroom" (p.viii). The book therefore aims to fill the gap, by not only providing teachers with a theoretical understanding of the part phonological skills play in learning to read and write, but also by providing teachers with 'usable techniques', whereby they can easily integrate phonological activities into their teaching programmes.
The book is highly readable and accessible. The chapters follow a thematic progression, which is made even clearer for the reader by the inclusion of introductions and summaries at the beginnings and ends of chapters.
Chapter one begins with a series of questions concerning phonological awareness and examines its links with spoken language, before outlining the role it plays in written language use. It thus provides a framework for the rest of the book, which is at once stimulating and informative.
Chapter two examines the importance of rhyme awareness as a pre-reading skill. Prior to this it addresses the need to improve children's general listening skills, and then considers how to incorporate phonological awareness training in the nursery/classroom, in many different contexts and using different media. Opportunities for involving parents in the development of this skill are also offered. This chapter contains lots of practical suggestions and model photocopiable resources, which can be used or adapted by teachers.
Having examined the promotion and development of phonological awareness amongst children in general, chapter three addresses those children with poor rhyming skills. It offers ways of identifying such children and strategies for remedial action. It makes use of mini case studies, which are a particularly effective way of engaging the target audience. Whilst reading the case studies, the reader finds herself making judgements on the child's situation and performance, which she cam then compare with the authors' interpretation.
Chapter four explores the strategies needed to attain independent literacy and the role phonological awareness plays in this process through the linkage between sound patterns and spelling patterns. Again, complex ideas are made wholly accessible by building on the knowledge gained from the previous chapters and by engaging the reader by means of examples and questions. As elsewhere in the book, key ideas are summed up in boxes in the body of the text.
In the same way that chapter three addressed children with poor rhyming skills, chapter five focuses on those children whose written language is a cause for concern during the first three years of schooling. In particular, it concentrates on those difficulties whose origins lie in the phonological domain. It explores the range of difficulties relating to poor phonological awareness, and how to take remedial action.
The last chapter recognises that certain children fail to acquire fluent written language skills, despite early intervention in terms of phonological training, and offers extremely useful and highly applicable strategies for helping such children access the wider curriculum. It covers the areas of reading, spelling, note-taking and subject vocabulary skills.
This book should be on every teacher's reading list, as it not only provides a thorough working knowledge of phonological awareness but links it to practical outcomes. It is highly readable. Theory is made accessible via abundant examples. The reader's interest is engaged via questions and case-studies. This is further helped by the lay-out of the book: A-4 pages are organised in such a way that key concepts and questions are either highlighted in the margins parallel to the main text or in bullet points or boxes in the body of the text. Furthermore, specialist terminology is explained, not only in the text itself, but also in a glossary at the back of the book for easy reference. In addition, the book is equipped with an index, which is a useful aid for those readers who wish to look up a particular point, and a bibliography for those who wish to pursue any aspects of this study further.
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