The Reading Whisperer - The Reading Hut Director - ICRWY Project

Why secure the publishing rights to this iconic series from Sheila McCullagh?

 

The Reading Hut has started to publish the first 16 Introductory Books (with new ISBNs) and children will be able to read ALL books using the SSP I Can Read (Without You) ICRWY app. Students learning to read and spell with The Reading Hut will use the lessons and Ebooks. We are also 'Code Mapping®' the books so that there is a focus on the phoneme to grapheme mapping. They are used as 'transition readers' within our I Can Read Without You (ICRWY) Project, at the time when learners are able to understand the mapping. They bridge the gap between 'Code Level' (decodable texts aligned with systematic phonics instruction) and 'Authentic Texts' (books solely written for enjoyment and engagement, usually age-appropriate series / chapter books)
Data from SSP teachers clearly show when it is time to introduce these 'transition readers'. They are used alongside SSP (phonic) Code Level readers and facilitate earlier understanding of the mapping not covered within commercial synthetic phonics programs eg the schwa, and 'exception' graphemes eg that 8 or so phonemes that map with the letter a.

Speech Sound Pictographs are used to ensure that the mapping is precise, even if then 'translated' for accents. This is the same concept that underlies the IPA- those learning to speak English can transcribe words into phonetic symbols- each representing an English speech sound. They blend the sounds to produce the word. If the person transcribing the word can already speak English, they might then 'translate' that into their accent. We do this when reading - we take the way everyone 'talks on paper' in English (the written 'alphabetic' code - the foundation for orthographic mapping) and pronounce those words aloud in our accent/ dialect. Because of the huge number of letter-sound relationships (probably 400+) AND the different sounds used to produce the same words (because of accents etc) it is vital that the way children LEARN is as easy as possible, for each student.
The Science of Reading is, generally speaking, a body of research that outlines what skilled readers DO, but is far less clear with regards to HOW they get to that point! Reading and spelling are also often treated as if separate from one another, however, and many teachers - even after undertaking a 4-year degree - do not understand the power of 'encoding' and correlation with decoding, or why phonemic awareness is key, with regards to reading and spelling success. Many teachers are themselves, unsure of how words are segmented into phonemes and graphemes.        

Our very early texts, including the 1,2,3 and Away! Pre-Readers, are 'Monster Mapped®' which means integrating and embedding Speech Sound Pictographs, so that children understand not only where words segment ('Sound Pics®' - the graphemes) but also how to pronounce those graphemes. They act like child-friendly phonetic symbols (IPA) and do not link with one spelling choice, they only represent the speech sound. This is because letters do not 'make sounds', they represent sounds, but this depends on the word. They offer a DIRECT link to the sound, unlike traditional 'embedded mnemonics' reducing cognitive load. This differs to 'picture' embedded mnemonics; in this technique, as seen in programs such as Letterlland, the letter is embedded in a mnemonic picture. The picture has the same initial letter and sound as the embedded letter (e.g., the letter, s, is embedded in a picture of a snake). With speech sound embedded mnemonics the character offers a direct link, an alternative to using a phonetic symbol.
Letters are generally shown within words, not as isolated letters. However, if isolated, the letter will be used to show which speech sounds it can represent. Although learners will understand that the letter s can represent the speech sound /s/ as within Letterland, they quickly understand the speech sound mapping when it does not represent this sound.

All 300+ letter-sound relationships can be explored using the Speech Sound clouds, for example as seen embedded within graphemes on cards in the Spelling Code in a Box 

The Reading Hut - Village With Three Corners! Meet the Story People.

Showing which letters (graphemes) represent each speech sound...

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...showing which speech sound the letters (graphemes) represent.

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The lack of attention to orthographic mapping skills was one of the reasons why the Village With Three Corners and Griffin Pirate books were removed from UK schools and replaced by 'phonics books'. Because of the instructional methods at the time children were faced with words they could not 'decode' and often had to memorise or guess. They were taught to use the 'Three Cueing' System'. Removing the books was not necessary, however! - we now know that they simply needed to be used at a different stage of the 'learning to read' development continuum, and ideally also 'Code Mapped®'. This is at the heart of the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach, which has always offered training, resources, and activities that are well ahead of what is offered within commercial programs - not only WHAT is taught, but HOW.
Groundbreaking software from EdCode Ltd now enable us to 'Code Map' ANY texts, to visually display the phoneme to grapheme mapping in line with a universally acceptable way to segment English words. 
This 'Code Mapping' application can be used to ensure that attention to paid to the phoneme to grapheme mapping. Training is offered to anyone wanting to be able to 'speak in speech sounds' - as seen in the ICRWY 'transition reader' video lessons. Learn how to 'read' the orthographically mapped text transcribed by the Code Mapping software! This is a great way to fill the gaps missed by synthetic phonics programs, and improve literacy levels at all grades. After 10 years of synthetic phonics in the UK 27% of children are moving into high school unable to read to the expected level, and only 27% met the higher standard. According to the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) 'Research from leading academics over the last 35 years provides evidence that up to 25 % of children including many dyslexic children, cannot learn to read when SSP is the only way that they are taught.'

Children with dyslexia who are taught by Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach teachers are identified far earlier, eg through the use of phonemic awareness checks, and specific additional work undertaken within Key Stage One - not only is the UK Phonics Screener Check too late, it fails to separate phonemic awareness from phonics, and only tests the 100 or so graphemes explicitly taught. In order to decode with fluency and comprehension, the whole code must be explored, systematically. This is what you will see if following Phases 1,2 and 3 in the SSP I Can Read Without You (ICRWY) Project - now accessible to all within the app. 
Something called The Dyslexia Dive can be used in the first 3 weeks of reception, to identify 'at risk' students, and action taken - SSP teachers are taking no chances. Schools using my 'Speech Sound Pics' approach are passionate about taking a very early intervention approach, so that no child struggles to read and spell, or feels in any way inadequate. The instruction 'fits' the child, the child is not expected to learn in the same way and at the same pace as every child in the class. It is fully differentiated. Children are able to reach the 'self-teaching' phase before the end of Year 1, which is reflected in the books they are able to decode with fluency and comprehension. SSP teachers find that over 80% are able to pass the UK Phonics Screener Check at the end of Reception - demonstrating the impact of differentiated instruction that includes explicit and implicit learning. The 300 - 400 letter-sound relationships are explored within Key Stage One, with children 'reading to learn' before the end of Year 1. We are determined to ensure that the highest number of children are reading independently, for pleasure, BEFORE grade 2. In my opinion, this is not possible if synthetic phonics is the only approach being used - and this belief seems to be supported by the data.         

I have been collecting data from Australian teachers using the Speech Sound Pics Approach (ironically the SSP program that is not a systematic synthetic phonics program) for over 7 years, with results demonstrating the effectiveness. Our techniques and resources extend the learning that takes place within synthetic Phonics' programs and fill the gaps.

The Reading Hut is so proud to be able to include the One, Two, Three, and Away! Series within the SSP I Can Read Without You early years project, and move children more easily from advanced phonemic awareness and decoding skills of high-frequency graphemes (as seen in the Letters and Sounds program and Phonics Screener Check) into the phase of reading with fluency, vocabulary knowledge, and comprehension, and with advanced spelling skills. 

Some of the most popular resources, used within thousands of Aussie schools, can be seen here.  

If you have questions or would just like to connect, please get in touch!

Miss Emma
Emma Hartnell-Baker
BEd Hons. MA SEN. (Dyslexia focus)
Doctoral Student, University of Reading 
Creator of The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach - See SSP School Site
I Can Read Without You (ICRWY) Project Developer 
Director, The Reading Hut Ltd

Transition Readers - Village With Three Corners
ICRWY - I Can Read Without You - One, Two, Three and Away!
ICRWY - I Can Read Without You - One, Two, Three and Away!

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ICRWY - I Can Read Without You - One, Two, Three and Away! Code Mapped
Code Mapping Dyslexia - I Can Read Without You (ICRWY)
Speech Sound Monsters - Speech Sound Pictographs
Speech Sound Monsters - Speech Sound Pictographs
Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach - Speech Sound Pictographs