By Debbie Hepplewhite:

Teaching the English alphabetic code (the letter/s-sound correspondences) and the requisite three core phonics skills and their sub-skills for reading and spelling is based on a routine ‘phonics teaching and learning cycle‘ when it is taught SYSTEMATICALLY – whether for mainstream provision or intervention (special needs).

One of the features of the systematic phonics provision that I promote, and have made central in my various phonics programmes (Phonics InternationalNo Nonsense Phonics and Floppy’s Phonics published by Oxford University Press), is that every learner’s core resources should be printed on paper and ‘belong’ to each learner for use in both the school and in the home. 

For Phonics International, the core paper-based resources (Sounds Book Activity Sheets and a choice of cumulative sentences and texts) are printable as the Phonics International body of work is provided as pdfs online. These core resources are dated and collected in each learner’s phonics folder (along with essential, supporting resources such as a mini Alphabetic Code Chart and Alphabet). Guidance for the best use of the phonics folder going back and forth to the home is provided. As a minimum, the school is discharging its duty to inform ‘home’ about the content covered in school and an indication of the learner’s progress. As an aspiration, adults in the home can take an interest in the content and progress, and there may be some repetition and revision in the home. 

A typical phonics ‘teaching and learning cycle’ (lesson) begins with ‘revisit and review’ – highlighting the importance of revision which might be described in various ways such as over-learning, embedding previous learning, refreshing past learning, inter-leaving activities of cumulative code, words, and texts.

When each learner has his or her own phonics folder of previous content on paper, it’s incredibly simple for masses of content-rich revision to take place – simply TURN BACK to that previous content. The teacher may guide learners as to ‘which’ content to turn back to in class, and every learner can work at his or her own speed to repeat ‘saying the sounds’ for code level content, ‘reading the words’ for word level content, and ‘reading the sentences/texts’ for text level content. 

This provides the kind of repetition which helps to build confidence and fluency. It’s also very rewarding for learners as they can see for themselves that words, sentences and texts they may have struggled with before are now so much easier to read. In addition, the learners will invariably have learnt new vocabulary, and developed their language comprehension from the cumulative word banks and texts.

Another feature of all my phonics programmes is ‘building up knowledge of spelling word banks‘ – that is, words spelt with the same letter/s-sound correspondences. This is an ongoing necessity to create better spelling capacity over time. Revision activities with printed content also help to embed this growing knowledge of words spelt the same way.

The Floppy’s Phonics programme includes photocopiable core and essential cumulative resources at code, word and text level via the two Teaching Handbooks. Guidance for teachers describes how these core paper resources are collected in learners’ phonics folders – similar to the Phonics International programme. Oxford University Press has now produced ready-made ‘Activity Books‘ if schools choose to use these instead. They provide the same core content as the photocopiable content in the two Teaching Handbooks. 

Finally, the No Nonsense Phonics programme is purposely designed as a ‘pick up and go’ hard copy series (with additional resources provided that are printable and/or projectable). The core No Nonsense Phonics Skills Pupil Books couldn’t be easier or more pleasant to use (originally a series of 9 Pupil Books but we have now developed two additional ‘optional’ Pupil Books 2+ and 5+). For ‘revisit and review’, simply TURN BACK to previous content including any previously completed books if necessary. The Pupil Books include everything that is needed for quality, content-rich, systematic phonics provision at code, word and text level – and they include alphabet work and spelling word bank activities too. 

All the systematic synthetic phonics programmes above provide everything that is needed for teaching and learning and very easy use for ALL stakeholders, young and old! They are all designed with ‘core and essential’ cumulative resources to be paper-based for every learner. Phonics International can be used for any age as required. 

And all these programmes are underpinned by the ‘Two-pronged systematic AND incidental phonics teaching and learning‘ as the formalised approach supported by ever-present, overview Alphabetic Code Charts. 

All the sites above provide ‘Free Resources’ and ‘Free CPD Resources’ so do investigate. 

If you have any questions about any of these programmes, please email me at .

***Easy-peasy phonics revision – just TURN BACK to previous code, words, texts on paper belonging to each learner – SO SIMPLE!

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