Parent Letter - Prep teachers using SSP 2014

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emma@readaustralia.com
facebook.com/speechsoundpics

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  • 1. ____________________________________________________________________ The earlier children learn to read, the earlier they can start reading to learn. Learning early also increases self-confidence, and the potential to equate reading with pleasure. Reading for pleasure increases the likelihood of children choosing to read independently. This, in turn, improves their vocabulary knowledge and comprehension. So our aim is that every child leaves Prep reading and writing with confidence, even though all will reach this destination in a different way. Their journey will centre around building their self-esteem, and developing a love of learning. Your child’s teacher has chosen to use an innovative approach based on neuroscience ~ utilising the power of brain plasticity, and not only speeding up the reading and spelling process but also working memory! The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach to the teaching of reading and spelling is based on over a decade of research relating to ‘the reading brain’. Brain imaging allows us to see the impact certain interventions have one the brain, and to discover why so many struggle with reading and spelling, including those with dyslexia. The biggest predictor of reading and spelling success or failure is ‘phonemic awareness, which is often confused with phonics. In fact, without good phonemic awareness, children will struggle to understand phonics. Around 35% of any new Prep class will have poor phonemic awareness, regardless of how intelligent they may be. Then good news is that we can identify this within the first three weeks of term 1, and by term 2 none of these children will ever know. Difficulties are avoided, through differentiated teaching and personalised learning. Each student is taught in the way that is most effective for them. Activities and readers are appealing to boys and girls, and can be accessed by parents and carers at home, for free, on tablets or computers. Writing was created to translate speech into print. We call writing ‘talking on paper’. The smaller parts of our spoken words can be represented by ‘pictures of speech sounds’, and these are created using letters, or combinations of letters. In order to find reading and spelling relatively easy, children need to learn to hear those smaller parts, to split them, know their order and ideally to also manipulate them. This is the biggest focus, when first learning to read and spell, as this ‘wires the brain’ to make sense of print, even though this stage doesn’t include print, or letters. When a student can hear that the word ‘fish’ has three speech sounds, they can figure out how to spell the word, even if they have never seen it before. They use the SSP Spelling Strategy. This strategy will enable them to spell 99% of English words, without having to memorise them.
  • 2. They can also read any word they have never seen before, in the same way! They start from the left, identifying the sound pics, and then blending them into a word. This is what you would do if you were asked to read the word ‘gallimaufry’ out loud. Without hearing the word you wouldn’t know if you were correct. Knowing ‘the code’ however, gives you the opportunity to at least attempt the word. This is what we will be teaching your child. When we break it down, there are about 47 speech sounds, and about 150 speech sound pics. These will enable your child to read and spell 99% of the English language. Far easier than trying to memorise the millions of words we use as whole words! Children only learn high frequency words as ‘sight words’ in the early stages, to give them more choices when writing, however they soon learn how to decode them, as they move through the SSP levels.
  • 3. Spelling Clouds give children instant access to every spelling choice. So when spelling the word ‘fish’ the only options are shown within these three Spelling Clouds. SpeedySSP is a daily activity that lasts up to 30 minutes, and enables children to work at their level, developing all skills and concepts essential for reading fluency. The attached sheet shows the scaffolded approach, which you can reinforce at home. Parental involvement is highly encouraged, both at home and in the classroom. There will be 4 stations (Green, Purple, Yellow and Blue) and if you could support a station on any day please do get in touch with your teacher. Children move through the stations at their own pace, during the year, with the aim of every student completing the Blue Level before they complete term 4. After station work they can read independently from the SSP Book Tier – which you can access at home. The tier is split into the 4 SSP station levels. We want you to be as excited about reading and spelling as we are! Remember, the focus is on your child’s journey, not as it compares to others. Children will learn to support each other, with a spirit of collaboration rather than competition. In order to help share information with other schools about our journey with SSP, which includes collecting data (students are assigned a number, names of students will never be shared) we ask that you indicate your permission for photographs and videos of your child to be shared, for educational training purposes. Throughout the year we may record our journey on a private facebook page, which will only be available to class parents and school staff. Only positive photos and info will ever
  • 4. be shared, in keeping with the SSP approach. If you would like a more detailed over view of the approach please do watch this message to older students, who are now using SSP to get back on track. SSP is used with struggling readers and spellers of any age. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoOJL0LiTqs If you have any questions please do contact your teacher, and I very much hope to meet you all this year when I visit the school. ‘Miss Em’ Emma Hartnell-Baker BEd Hons. MA Special Educational Needs. Creator of the Speech Sound Pics Approach (SSP)