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Theoretical underpinning of the Time2Read methodology

Following is a small part of the intense research that underpins the Time2Read methodology.

READING AND SPELLING FAILURE CAN BE PREVENTED: Leading reading scientists believe that with appropriate, research-based instruction, most children – an estimated 95% – can be taught to read and spell well. Thus reading and spelling failure or difficulty in a great number of children is unnecessary and can be prevented. Such levels of reading and spelling achievement are also reflected in the aims of the National Reading Strategy (NRS) (2008), emphasizing the goal that every South African learner will be a fluent reader/speller who reads/spells for the purpose of learning as well as for enjoyment and enrichment.

The Keyword

METHODS OF INSTRUCTION – THE KEY WORD: To close the gap between expected levels of reading achievement and present levels of reading achievements, international reading scientists identify two aspects critical to reading reform: method of instruction as well as teacher training. Effective instruction right from the beginning is very important – poor instruction in the first grade can have long-lasting effects: a learner struggling in first grade will most likely continue to underperform right through his/her school career. Especially children at risk need to be taught with great care if we aim to prevent reading/spelling failure.

 

TEACHER TRAINING: According to the National Reading Strategy (2008), many teachers in South Africa have a poorly developed understanding of teaching basic reading and writing skills and have not been explicitly trained to cope with the demands involved with teaching reading and spelling. President Jacob Zuma (Beeld 8 Aug 2009) raised the concern that a large number of classrooms are filled with unqualified teachers. What also concerned him in this article is that ‘poor’ children are not receiving quality education. Although the handbook, ‘Teaching reading in the early grades’ (2007) developed by the Education Department has some useful information, it does not contain the latest findings of international reading science which are crucial in reading instruction, aimed at reading success for all learners as well as the prevention of reading failure. Therefore, at the core of the challenges in preventing reading failure are teacher training and methods of instruction. To realize the aim of the Manifesto (1999) and NRS (2008) that all children in South Africa will read at a level of understanding and enjoyment, teacher training and methods of instruction should be the main focus for bringing about effective change. Hence, teachers will need the best support in order to teach their children effective reading and spelling skills.

The English Writing System

BREAKING THE CODE OF THE ENGLISH WRITING SYSTEM: Critical detail of learning to read and spell depends on the teacher having a clear understanding of the writing system he/she teaches. Reading written language requires children to consciously think of the sounds present in different words (eg, the word ‘cat’ is made up of 3 different sounds, ‘c’ – ‘a -’ and ‘t’), these sounds being represented by different symbols/letters in print. It also requires children to manipulate the individual sounds in words. Because reading is not a natural skill but an acquired skill, deciphering this human invented writing system demands expertise and will have to be a fundamental component of reading instruction.
For this reason a writing system forms an integral part of all reading instruction. The English language is based on an alphabetic writing system. McGuiness (2004) defines a writing system as a “code in which specific elements of a language are mapped systematically to graphic signs or symbols”. Because people are not naturally aware of the sounds in a language, children who will be using an alphabetical writing system need to be explicitly trained to listen at the sound level of speech. Structured lessons systematically need to lead the developing brain of the reader to facilitate links between the sounds of the language and its symbols. Sound awareness is an important link in breaking the code of our alphabetic writing system. Training sound awareness before and during beginner reading produces significant advantages in reading achievement, influencing reading comprehension and predicting later reading achievement.
A specific challenge with the English writing system is the fact that it has developed over a long period of time, being influenced by writing systems of non-English speaking countries. Reading instruction must therefore ensure that the nature and logic of the writing system is made transparent to the learner and that the elements of the writing system are mastered. Children can’t simply be taught to memorize words because languages simply have too many words and a reading method that is based on partial or total memorization of sight words is presently resulting in failure for many children.

 

Reading and spelling needs to be taught in tandem. Doing this, is very significant, because it is one of the most effective ways of breaking the code in a systematic and explicit way. Reading and spelling are reversible processes, and when taught like this, the reversibility becomes obvious to the learner, making the code logic and using the brains innate ability to recognize and organize recurring patterns. What we call ‘spelling’ (encoding) is the fundamental or basic operation, the process of turning sounds into symbols. What we call ‘reading’ involves decoding those symbols back into sounds to recover the words. Unfortunately, spelling and reading are often taught interdependent, using different forms of instruction, on different days and even using different words.

The Reading Brain

THE READING BRAIN: The reading and spelling system in the brain (based on a writing system) must be developed through effective instruction. The advent of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) has enabled neuroscientists to look into the brain while carrying out complex cognitive activities. Studies done by neuroscientist and professor of pediatrics, Sally Shaywitz and her colleagues, have shed new light on the development of reading. By contrasting the brain scans of normal and dyslexic readers, the neural pathways for reading have been identified. Neuroscientists believe that these findings provide important guidelines for all people involved in teaching reading and spelling.
A very promising aspect of the work of Shaywitz, is that they concluded, that with proper instruction the brain is able to activate the automatic reading area where words are read automatically. The intervention needed for rewiring, is the same kind of instruction needed by normally developing children to break the code. This discovery is amazing, as it proves that the methods of instruction suggested by reading scientists who promote teaching the reversible code of a writing systems – breaking the code in a systematic and explicit way, will not only work for normally developing children but also for children at risk for future reading failure.

Conclusion

CONCLUSION: If research supports the fact that 95% of all children can be taught to read well, we cannot settle for anything less. Reading fluently and with comprehension should be an ethical and professional imperative. If scientific research has come up with specific methods, activities or skills that are essential to reading success, these need to be included into all forms of reading instruction, to ensure that no child will be left behind, caught up in the unnecessary frustration that accompanies a child for 12 years (excluding occupational limitations) of his/her school career. Accepting accountability is a challenge every reading teacher should commit to.

Planning Tools

At Time2Read, all learning happens systematically. This means that initially, in Level 1, a strong foundation is laid for future learning – after which each new level and sub-level introduces new learning, one step at a time. Hence, a 160 week – or 4 year – reading and spelling plan has been developed to ensure that

  • All important skills of reading and spelling have been developed during the Junior Primary Phase.
  • Perfect synergy amongst the different grades is maintained.
  • No duplication of learning takes place.
  • No learning is left out.
  • No learning is assumed by a teacher.
  • Inflectional suffixes are covered explicitly in the Junior Primary Phase.
  • Teachers can start the year at the point where the previous grade has ended, rather than starting the year based on regular routine.
Year Plan GRADE R

At Time2Read, AUDITORY ALWAYS precedes visual, and grade R is no different.

In GRADE R, we start the year by focusing on developing PHONEMIC AWARENESS SKILLS for a whole term. Children learn to BLEND and SEGMENT short words without any letters. We aim to help our youngsters UNDERSTAND what sounds are: little parts of words. These ‘little parts of words’ can also be blended to make words. Children are also required to delete/add a word/syllable from a compound or multi/syllable word.

Only AFTER mastering the concept of SOUNDS, are children introduced to letters, the visual counter part of sounds. Now, they are able to link abstract letters to something they already know, sounds. In grade R, we learn all 26 alphabet sound/symbols.

Skills covered:

  • CODING – the ability to hear every sound in a word and represent each sound with a sound dot.
  • ENCODING – the ability to represent each sound with its correct letter.
  • DECODING – the ability to identify each letter with its correct sound and blend the individual sounds into small, meaningful words. At this stage of learning, children are required to BLEND short words sound by sound, and not yet read them.
Year Plan GRADE 1

In GRADE 1, we revise the learning of grade R during term 1. We do this to ensure

  • Transitioning from blending C-V-C words (pre-reading), to reading short words containing alphabet sound/symbols, fluently.
  • New learners catch-up and learn the foundational skills of reading and spelling.

Sound/symbol mapping: Children learn to map English sounds in the following ways

  • 1 spoken sound can be mapped with more than 1 letter (eg, sh, ai, ea, igh, or, ow).
  • 1 spoken sound can be mapped by 2 letters which are split (eg, a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e and u-e).
  • 1 spoken sound can be mapped using different symbols (eg, the long ‘a’ can be spelled as ai, ay, a-e).
  • 1 written symbol can represent different spoken sounds (eg, the symbol ‘ea’ represents different sounds in the following words: sea, head, break).

Skills: Children master the following skills in grade 1:

  • CODING – the ability to understand the sounds you hear.
  • ENCODING – the ability to segment short words into their individual sounds and represent each sound with the correct spelling pattern.
  • DECODING – the ability to identify learnt spelling patterns and blend these sounds into words.
  • SOUND MANIPULATION – children change sounds in words using all digraphs taught. Adding and deleting a sound from C-V-C words, is mastered on an auditory level.
  • FORMAL SPELLING TESTS – require the application of spelling patterns learnt for reading in grade R.
Year Plan GRADE 2

The GRADE 2 YEAR PLAN covers the following learning:

  • Mastering READING multi-syllable words containing the most common-vowel spellings covered in grade 1.
  • Formal spelling tests focus on developing an understanding of the structure of short, root words containing the common vowels spellings covered for reading in grade 1
  • An introduction to rare spelling patterns of high frequency words. Although the majority of these words are covered for reading, some words containing rare spelling patters can be added to the weekly spelling lists, as the sound/symbols are covered.
  • An introduction to inflectional suffixes. Children learn all aspects of grammar through discovery.
Year Plan GRADE 3

The following learning is covered in the GRADE 3 YEAR PLAN:

  • A greater focus on reading multi-syllable words.
  • Consolidation of the common spellings for short, long and extra vowels in short and multi-syllable words.
  • Consolidation of rare spelling patterns of high frequency words for both reading and spelling.
  • Inflectional suffixes –
  1. Forming plurals,
  2. Tenses,
  3. Degrees of Comparison.

Time2Read Sound Table

The T2R sound wall aims to act as an anchor chart which learners reference during their reading and spelling journey. At T2R we believe that the classroom environment can serve as a strong tool for learners to move from dependence (all responsibility on the teacher) to independence (all responsibility on the child). The sound wall hence serves as a ‘go-between’ or ‘middleman’, displaying the sound/symbol learning in a clear and child friendly manner which is easy to reference for all learners.

The T2R sound wall is different to a finished, bought sound wall – it is developed with the children. It is structured and groups all learning into logical categories. The vowel sounds of English are categorized as follows

  • Short vowels, colour coded
  • Long vowels, colour coded
  • Extra vowels, colour coded

Vowel Spellings are further grouped according to their position in English words

  • beginning or middle,
  • end of word, and
  • end of syllable.

The Sound Table should start as an empty skeleton and only display symbols as they are taught, hence all symbols displayed on the table are understood by each learner. Therefore, the Sound Table is developed WITH the learners, the teacher may act as a scribe, but the class brainstorms together. Should children struggle to recall a symbol, they know how to reference the table and therefore only need teacher assistance in rare cases.

Workbooks

Time2Read has developed workbooks to practise and consolidate reading and writing skills on paper. These workbooks are very unique as they systematically help children learn and understand symbol knowledge before being exposed to this knowledge in readers.

Workbook Grade R

 

In Grade R, most activities are done using manipulatives, which can be found in the Teacher Guide. The workbook is then used to apply these essential skills and consolidate all learning.

Part 1 addresses the following skills:

  • 26-symbols of the alphabet: Assigning phonetic sound to symbol (as opposed to their letter name, i.e. ‘ay, bee, cee, dee’). Please see the next page for the suggested order and time allocation.
  • Word building: Identifying the sounds within the words and then mapping them with their symbol.
  • Letter formation: Providing a recommended roadmap to correct letter formation, as outlined below:

– Forming the individual letters using the LEFT hand (see worksheets).

– Speaking the sounds out loud while tracing the letters with their finger (see worksheets).

– Writing between the provided lines with their finger.

– Using many different mediums, like: sand, shaving cream, tiles,on their friends’ backs etc.

  • Pre-reading is nurtured through the skill of blending. Children should say the letters and then blend them into words. Should your child struggle with this activity, the following is recommended:

– NEVER show irritation – some children just need more time than others to master the skill of blending.
– After your child reads the sounds, quickly repeat these sounds back to your child. After about 2/3 weeks your child will be able to blend independently.
– Say the sounds in a slurred way – this will enable him/her to identify the word with greater ease.
– While traveling in the car, practise verbal blending. Be sure to congratulate your child for every correct response.

Part 2 focuses on developing sound/symbol recognition within word families. This results in greater fluency and confidence for:

  • sound/symbol association
  • word building
  • blending.
Workbook Grade 1

In Grade 1, term 1, we revise the symbols learnt in grade R to:

  • enable new learners to develop word building and pre-reading skills,
  • transition from blending to reading.

From term 2, the TIME2READ WORKBOOK teaches children to systematically and explicitly become confident to:

  • read & spell the common consonant digraphs,
  • READ the most common vowel digraphs found in many Grade 1 readers BEFORE engaging with these readers. Once children can confidently READ these vowel spellings, reading/decoding Grade 1 readers will be rewarding and easy.

WORD BUILDING

Word building is an essential skill that requires daily practice. The more our children build words, the better readers they become!

In grade 1, children are not required to learn the most common vowel spellings for spelling tests. These vowel digraphs will be revised again in grade 2 when formal spelling of these digraphs is required.

Fluency reading the most common vowel spellings will depend on:

  • daily flashing of all new symbols,
  • daily word building – words, containing new symbols as well as prior learning,
  • explicit teaching of symbols – where and when they occur in words,
  • sound manipulation – the more the better,
  • rereading text.

This workbook does not teach children to ‘look and say’ – in other words, to read and spell words by sight. Our methodology focuses on forging understanding between symbols and their corresponding sounds. In this way learners gain the skills they’ll need to master more complex spelling and reading as they progress through the various stages of their learning.

Workbook Grade 2

The Jones family is off on yet another adventure! This time it’s on safari! Come see the wild and wonderful animals that Meg and her family discover, as they explore the bush under African skies.

Unlike the more traditional approach which breaks the various parts of language into separate subjects, the grade 2 T2R workbook uses an integrative language approach. Language instruction is rather presented holistically and interdependently. This means that children can start to master more than one skill at a time (i.e. grammar and comprehension), which saves our teachers time and helps deepen a more intuitive understanding of the English language.

PHONICS

Phonics skills are developed through :

  • word building,
  • reading a word list: the list consists of a variety of grade-appropriate words containing the spelling choice of the week. These include common and rare spellings in short and multi-syllable words. All multi-syllable words are syllabified.*

*research finds that the sound centre in the brain processes multi-syllable words in syllables rather than as whole words. Therefore a syllabilified approach to reading instruction is recommended.

COMPREHENSION

With every sound that the children are learning, a comprehension is included. Its style and structure are written according to what the children have previously learnt in creative writing. This gives children the opportunity to consolidate word identification in connected text as well as to practice new vocabulary. After reading, children are required to answer some basic questions as well as questions that will nurture higher order thinking.

CREATIVE WRITING

A variety of writing structures are introduced. The following strategy is used to help children move from dependent to independent writing systematically:

  • WHOLE CLASS writing – the teacher takes the leading role to model the writing process. Children contribute their ideas during brain storming.
  • SMALL GROUP writing – children are divided into small groups to collaborate towards writing. The teacher is present to facilitate wherever necessary.
  • INDIVIDUAL – finally all responsibility is on the individual child to write independently. This piece of writing can be used for assessment.

After reading the ‘model text’ written in a certain writing structure, children discover and learn the attributes of that writing structure by completing a graphic organiser. Then children use the same graphic organiser to plan their writing. They use their planning to draft their text. Once edited, they are ready publish and illustrate.

GRAMMAR

Teaching and learning grammar during the junior primary years can be frustrating for teachers and confusing for children. For this reason, T2R uses the method of discovery for learning. Rather than telling children what they need to learning, the children tell the teachers what they observe and discover. Hence, the learning phase happens through manipulatives which are provided in the Teacher Guide. The T2R workbook acts as a consolidation tool. Vocabulary from the word list and comprehension is used for teaching parts of speech.

Workbook Grade 3

Just in case you thought their last adventure was too small, just wait til you hear where the Jones family is going this time: Destination Everywhere! Come join Meg and her family as they travel the world and explore the rich cultures and history of people and places. It’s the trip of a lifetime, which you won’t want to miss.

Unlike the more traditional approach which breaks the various parts of language into separate subjects, the grade 2 T2R workbook uses an integrative language approach. Language instruction is rather presented holistically and interdependently. This means that children can start to master more than one skill at a time (i.e. grammar and comprehension), which saves our teachers time and helps deepen a more intuitive understanding of the English language.

PHONICS

Phonics skills are developed through :

  • word building,
  • reading a word list: the list consists of a variety of grade-appropriate words containing the spelling choice of the week. These include common and rare spellings in short and multi-syllable words. All multi-syllable words are syllabified.*

*research finds that the sound centre in the brain processes multi-syllable words in syllables rather than as whole words. Therefore a syllabilified approach to reading instruction is recommended.

COMPREHENSION

With every sound that the children are learning, a comprehension is included. Its style and structure are written according to what the children have previously learnt in creative writing. This gives children the opportunity to consolidate word identification in connected text as well as to practice new vocabulary. After reading, children are required to answer some basic questions as well as questions that will nurture higher order thinking.

CREATIVE WRITING

A variety of writing structures are introduced. The following strategy is used to help children move from dependent to independent writing systematically:

  • WHOLE CLASS writing – the teacher takes the leading role to model the writing process. Children contribute their ideas during brain storming.
  • SMALL GROUP writing – children are divided into small groups to collaborate towards writing. The teacher is present to facilitate wherever necessary.
  • INDIVIDUAL – finally all responsibility is on the individual child to write independently. This piece of writing can be used for assessment.

After reading the ‘model text’ written in a certain writing structure, children discover and learn the attributes of that writing structure by completing a graphic organiser. Then children use the same graphic organiser to plan their writing. They use their planning to draft their text. Once edited, they are ready publish and illustrate.

GRAMMAR

Teaching and learning grammar during the junior primary years can be frustrating for teachers and confusing for children. For this reason, T2R uses the method of discovery for learning. Rather than telling children what they need to learning, the children tell the teachers what they observe and discover. Hence, the learning phase happens through manipulatives which are provided in the Teacher Guide. The T2R workbook acts as a consolidation tool. Vocabulary from the word list and comprehension is used for teaching parts of speech.

Readers

What makes Time2Read readers unique?

Time2Read readers are completely systematic and follow the same order of teaching sound/symbols as the T2R workbook,  App, additional resources and fluency videos. Children are at no time required to decode words containing sound/symbols not explicitly taught and mastered. Children are never required to memorize or guess a word. Hence, from their first encounter with a reader, children experience success as they understand every symbol on the page.

Readers Grade 1 Level 0

Level 1 readers only contain alphabet sound/symbols and hence are perfectly decodable. There are 20 readers available.

LevelFoundation CodeTitle  of reader
Level 0.1c – a – t – m – o – pLet’s Read
Level 0.2+ n – eLet’s Read
Level 0.3+ s – iIn
Let’s Read
Level 0.4+ b – d – rAnd
Let’s Read
Level 0.5+ f – uLet’s Read
Let’s Read
Level 0.6+ g – hBig
Mom and Dad
Level 0.7+ l – jOn a log
I can
Level 0.8+ w – vWet
Get it!
Level 0.9+ k – xFox
Ted
Level 0.10+ y – zFix it!
Liz and Zig
Level 0.11+ quGet in!
Quick!

Readers Grade 1 Level 1

LevelSymbolTitle of reader
Level 1.1shA big ship
chIn a shop
thThe camp
ngSand
Level 1.2ooLook!
aiLunch!
Level 1.3owIn town
ouOut!
Pet mouse
Level 1.4aiMail
ayLet’s play!
a-eBake a cake
eyThey!
Level 1.5arA day in the park
orSports day
-vePets
-reIn here?
Level 1.6eaAt the sea
eeOne, two, three
eI live here
The dream
Level 1.7-llFor you!
Will you please?
-leIn the jungle
-yFunny!
Level 1.8u spelled oMonday
-nkThank you!
wh-Tell me please!
o spelled aI can
Level 1.9i-eI like to ride
Smile
yWhy?
Level 1.10o-ePuppy
oaLet’s go!
owMe
Yellow
Level 1.11u-eIn June
ewCute
ueBlue
Level 1.12oyBoys
oiPoison
A trip to the farm
Level 1.13erMy family
irBirds
urLast week
(w)orWorms