About Our Courses
Overview of the four-day Sounds-Write training course
The Sounds-Write training course offers four days of intensive training in phonics teaching to teachers, teaching assistants, educational psychologists, parents and speech therapists. Each course offers:
a theoretical overview of the programme, which is soundly based on the principles underlying how children learn most effectively and explains why many of the approaches, current and past, to the teaching of reading, spelling and writing fail such a large number of our pupils
a discussion of assessment for the purpose of informing our teaching practices and enabling teaching practitioners to accurately gauge where to start pupils in the programme for intervention purposes
all the main lessons in our programme, with supervised practice on each one
an introduction to teaching through errors, with practical workshops, lesson planning and reading in text
videos of the programme being taught to a whole class, small groups and individually
a discussion of the most popular reading schemes and how the Sounds-Write teaching approach can be used to enable children to read them successfully
a guided assignment at the end of the course to help participants reflect on, organise and consolidate what has been covered in the course
A sample timetable can be found here.
Day 1 of the course introduces trainees to how exactly the sounds of the language relate to the spelling system in English. In other words, we teach alphabet code knowledge cumulatively and we teach learners how to understand it as a conceptual schema. Learners also learn about what science tells us about how learners learn most effectively and what this tells us about how to teach phonics.
Trainees are also shown how best to teach the Initial Code. The Initial Code incorporates all the one-to-one sound-spelling correspondences at CVC (mop), CVCC (lamp), CCVC (flag), CCVCC (swift) and CCCVCC (scrimp) level. We also introduce two letter spellings: <ff>, <ll>, <ss>, <zz> before moving on to teach <sh>, <ch>, <th>, <wh>, <ck> and others.
Day 2 takes up where Day 1 leaves off and takes trainees through all the lessons early years pupils need to learn and practise to become highly proficient in decoding and encoding (reading and spelling) at this level. We teach explicitly all the main sound-spelling correspondences, the three skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation – all of which are shown in the research to be essential to learning to read and spell efficiently, as well as an explicit conceptual understanding of how the alphabet code in English works.
It is also at this point that we familiarise our learners with our diagnostic tests and how to administer them.
Day 3 builds on trainees’ understanding of the code and how to teach it by demonstrating how to teach the greater complexities of the code: one sound, different spellings and one spelling, different sounds. ‘One sound, different spellings’ refers to the fact that all the sounds of English can be spelt in different ways. The flipside of this is ‘one spelling, different sounds’ and this acknowledges that many spellings can represent different sounds. On this day we also demonstrate a small group catch-up lesson and show how to teach errors correction.
Day 4 completes the course by taking trainees through lessons on how to teach polysyllabic (multisyllabic) words from the perspective of both reading and spelling. There is also a special session of spelling and on reading in text.
Some of this factual knowledge, concepts and skills sound as if they are difficult to teach. They aren’t if the teachers understand exactly how the code works and how to teach it in small, cumulative steps.
While practising all of the lessons in the Sounds-Write programme, trainees are assessed on their practice and, at the end of the course, are given the opportunity to take a guided assignment, which is designed to help them to reflect back on the course and what they’ve learnt.
On successful completion of the course, all trainees receive a Sounds-Write certificate.
Note that a few Sounds-Write courses are offered over five days rather than four. The extra day makes it possible for the guided assignment to be completed during the course rather than being completed at home, but the same material is covered in both courses.
Why does the course take four days?
We very strongly believe that all teachers involved in teaching literacy, whether at the level of teaching beginning reading or teaching older pupils as a catch-up/intervention programme require a robust, cumulative and rigorous approach. Sounds-Write provides just such a programme, and our experience has convinced us that a four-day course is what it takes to give our trainees a good understanding of what is involved at both theoretical and experiential levels.
Even when teaching practitioners who have been using approaches such as Letters and Sounds, they are often unclear about how the writing system works in relation to reading. They are also unaware of the significance and importance of the skills needed to teach reading and spelling and the extent of the practice needed by, especially, young children if they are to learn to read and write successfully.
Sounds-Write is uncomplicated by ‘phases’. After completing a Sounds-Write course, practitioners ought to be able to assess exactly what learners need and how to take them forward. It is also ideal for identifying where pupils have fallen behind and how to fill the gaps in their knowledge, understanding and skills. A well-trained teacher ought never to need summative testing procedures because they are able to assess pupils formatively.
Whether teaching whole class, in small groups, or one-to-one, Sounds-Write enables course attendees to return to teaching ready to ‘hit the ground running’.