Phonics guidance. for the teaching of phonics to deaf children. Ewing Foundation

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1 Phonics guidance for the teaching of phonics to deaf children Ewing Foundation 1

2 Our vision is of a world without barriers for every deaf child.

3 Contents Part A Introduction 4 What you, as a teacher, need to know about childhood deafness 6 What you need to know about the deaf child in your class 8 Ensuring the teaching areas are conducive to learning 10 Techniques to aid the deaf child s learning 12 General principles for teaching phonics to deaf children 18 (including assessment and monitoring) Part B Using published phonics schemes with the deaf child in your class 22 The deaf child and phonological awareness 25 Step 1 Phonological awareness 27 Element 1a Sound awareness and discrimination Using the environment 27 Element 1b Sound awareness and discrimination Musical instruments 32 Element 1c Sound awareness and discrimination Body percussion 36 Element 1d Rhythm and rhyme 39 Element 1e Alliteration 43 Element 1f Voice sounds 48 Element 1g Oral blending and segmenting 51 Step 2 Single letters and their sounds 54 Step 3 Adjacent consonants (consonant blends) 58 Step 4 Two-letter and three-letter grapheme-phoneme correspondences 59 (consonant digraphs and vowel digraphs) Step 5 Split digraphs and alternative pronunciation for graphemes 62 Note on teaching high frequency and common/key words 64 Next steps 65 Appendices and resources Appendix A Understanding audiograms 66 Appendix B Visual phonics systems 69 Appendix C Baseline information recording form 71 Useful resources for phonics and literacy guidance 74 3

4 Part A Introduction Within this guidance document, the word deaf is used to refer to all levels of hearing loss, which could be mild, moderate or profound (see page 8) and refers to children who communicate orally and/or through sign language. It also includes children who have a hearing loss in one ear. Phonics is recognised as a key tool in the acquisition of literacy skills for all children and should be made accessible to deaf children. Phonics is best described as the relationship between written letters and their spoken sounds. The reader is required to recognise a letter or group of letters within a word, identify the sound for that letter or group of letters and then blend those sounds into the word. It provides a very valuable tool for decoding texts, especially in the early stages of learning to read. For deaf children: the acquisition of phonics skills is only one key skill in the development of literacy having ongoing opportunities to develop language skills and to read texts is vital for deaf children as they may have fewer opportunities than other children to learn incidentally well-considered, language-rich environments should help ensure they do not end up with poor language skills. 4

5 It is your responsibility as classroom teacher to ensure that deaf pupils have the same access to education as other children. A Teacher of the Deaf will always be able to provide you with advice on the individual needs of the deaf child in your class. The Teacher of the Deaf can also provide information about how you can help your deaf pupil to learn across all the curricular areas. Every Teacher of the Deaf has undertaken specific training in order to work with deaf children and young people. Good language skills predict subsequent attainments in literacy for all children including deaf children, and the acquisition of good literacy skills is necessary to support learning across the curriculum. The Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) means that almost 50% of all deaf children will be identified in the first few weeks of life. Recent developments in hearing technologies are providing exciting opportunities for subsequent interventions. These two developments should lead to improved language development in the early years and so have a positive impact on the learning of deaf children. There are three basic requirements involved in developing an inclusive curriculum which will provide all children, including deaf children, with relevant and challenging learning. They are described in terms of the actions a school and its teachers must take to: set suitable learning challenges respond to pupils diverse learning needs overcome potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups of pupils. 1 The types of changes that you may have to make to any phonics programme to use it with a deaf child in your class are described and demonstrated in Part B of this publication. The guidance that follows is intended to help you to respond to the needs of any deaf child you may teach. Resources referred to in the text are listed at the end of the book. 1 The National Curriculum Statutory Inclusion Statement, DfEE,

6 What you, as a mainstream teacher, need to know about childhood deafness The majority of deaf children (around 84%) 2 are educated in mainstream settings. Identification of deafness in the first few months of life through the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme and followed by appropriate, timely, evidence-based interventions should: > provide the optimum opportunities for the development of good levels of communication and language in deaf children > enable the early identification of any additional learning needs, e.g. auditory or language processing disorders. New hearing technologies (such as hearing aids, radio aids and cochlear implants) allow the majority of deaf children to perceive the full range of speech sounds although not as clearly or as easily as hearing children. Being able to perceive a sound is not the same as being able to hear and understand it. Although hearing aids do not restore typical/normal hearing levels, they may well provide access to all speech frequencies in a good acoustic environment. Any child who has had a hearing loss from birth or for a significant part of their life will have had a different experience of the world from their peers, even if they had their hearing loss identified early and are making good progress. The listening environment No hearing technology replaces normal hearing. Therefore, if a deaf child is to be included effectively in your classroom you will be required to consider their individual learning needs in relation to the teaching areas (See NDCS s Here to Learn DVD). All noise, including background noise, is amplified by hearing aids, making communication difficult in noisy environments. The listening environment in many classrooms may make it difficult for deaf children to make best use of their hearing technology. (You will find a link to a simulation of a deaf child s listening experience in a noisy classroom at Teaching deaf children Most deaf children have the potential for better levels of spoken language than ever before, and expectations for them should be as high as those for other children of similar ability. Low expectations often lead to low achievement. Many deaf children will benefit from the use of a range of teaching and learning strategies; visual support can be particularly useful. Teaching phonics skills will require individual differentiation for each deaf child and is the focus of this guidance. 2 NDCS Education Survey,

7 80% of children will have had at least one episode of glue ear by the age of 10 years. 3 This means that they are temporarily deaf. Any type of hearing loss may impact adversely on communication development and so slow children s progress. Glue ear will certainly have an impact on the child s ability to access phonemes within speech and so will affect their progress in acquiring phonics skills. Around 40% of deaf children have additional needs as well as their deafness which need to be taken into consideration. Deafness can impact on listening skills language development working memory processing time social skills learning style attention and concentration literacy skills auditory memory incidental learning self-esteem stamina (have to work hard to hear) It is important that you develop appropriate strategies to minimise the possible impact of these difficulties on the deaf child in your class and this document will help you to do so with reference to the teaching of phonics. Deaf children may use a variety of hearing technologies including: digital hearing aids cochlear implants bone anchored hearing aids personal FM systems soundfield systems other technologies (See NDCS publication Deaf Friendly Teaching for a description of these systems and technologies) Deaf children may use a variety of communication modes including: Spoken English (or other languages) Sign Supported English British Sign Language (BSL) A Teacher of the Deaf will be able to explain what this means for the individual child. 3 Surgical Management of Otitis Media with Effusion in Children, Clinical Guideline, National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence,

8 What you need to know about the deaf child in your class Is the child s hearing loss: mild/moderate/severe/profound* fluctuating or permanent affecting one or both ears? Mild: 20 40dB Would hear a baby crying or music from a stereo but may be unable to hear whispered conversation. Moderate: 41 70dB Would hear a dog barking or telephone ringing but may be unable to hear a baby crying. Severe: 71 95dB Would be able to hear a chainsaw or drums being played but may be unable to hear a piano or a dog barking. Profound: >95dB Would be able to hear an articulated lorry or aeroplane noise but not hear a telephone ringing. Unilateral deafness There may be little or no hearing in one ear, but ordinary levels of hearing in the other. Glue ear (Otitis media with effusion) This leads to fluctuating levels of hearing and can cause periods of deafness. Figure 1 Audiogram The different degrees of deafness are represented diagrammatically on the audiogram above. If a line is drawn horizontally from 20dB, normal/typical hearing would be represented by the area above the line. *These categories, described in detail below, come from the British Society of Audiology,

9 You will also need to find out about your deaf pupil s: hearing technology the type they use how much they can hear with and without it how their technology works and what to do when it stops working how to use the technology most effectively, as well as understanding its limitations. (You will find further information in the Useful Resources section at the end of this book.) listening skills an understanding of the current level of their listening skills how to promote and develop their listening skills. language and communication skills how to communicate effectively in class their developmental level how to ensure their communication and language development. learning style how best to support their preferred learning style and individual learning needs. See Appendix C for an example form that can be used for recording the above information. When you have gathered all the above information, you will be in a position to plan the phonics programme for the deaf child in your class. 9

10 Ensuring the teaching areas are conducive to learning A good listening environment is essential for all learning, but particularly so for the teaching of phonics to deaf children. You will need to: reduce background noise from inside and outside the classroom reduce echo/reverberation (see NDCS s Here to Learn DVD) manage the physical position of yourself and the child e.g. make sure the deaf child can see your face clearly (see NDCS publication Deaf Friendly Teaching) make sure there is good lighting provide a range of visual resources. From the teaching point of view, you will need to: manage general talk to minimise noise levels within the class manage visual distraction in the classroom carefully consider your teaching style. You will find further information in the Useful Resources section at the end of this book, particularly Deaf Friendly Teaching (NDCS); the Sounding Board and Ewing Foundation websites and information about Building Bulletin 93 (BB93). The deaf child in your class will only have the potential to hear the sounds being taught if you ensure their equipment is: working properly and is checked at least daily (ideally before a phonics teaching session) on the correct settings and levels, where appropriate for their hearing loss. All hearing technology comes with instructions for checking to ensure the equipment is working properly. It is good practice to keep this information updated and in an accessible place. The following case study gives an example of a first aid kit for hearing aid users. Bone anchored hearing aid users would require a similar kit. If the deaf child in your class has a cochlear implant you could set one up by referring to earfoundation.org.uk. 10

11 Case Study Rushy Meadow Primary School Hearing Impairment Resource Unit Hearing aid and radio aid first aid box Background: The hearing impaired pupils are fully included in their mainstream classes. Trained special educational needs (SEN) teaching assistants check the pupils hearing aids and radio aids every morning. Mainstream staff have been trained to link up the younger pupils radio aids to their hearing aids in the absence of the SEN teaching assistants. Each class with a hearing impaired pupil is issued with a first aid box, containing: puffer (to dry condensation in the tubing) pack of spare hearing aid batteries rechargeable battery for radio aid/transmitter stetoclip (for listening checks) spare leads and shoes antiseptic spray. 11

12 Techniques to aid the deaf child s learning Even when technology and acoustics are at optimum levels, the deaf child who is learning phonics may face particular challenges related to the nature of speech and speech sounds. Vowels are low frequency sounds and give power to speech. Consonants are high frequency sounds and give clarity to speech. In most classrooms sounds reverberate due to high ceilings, large uncovered walls and glass windows. Reverberation occurs when the sound from the source has stopped but reflections from the sound continues in the room. Most reverberating speech noise will be low frequency sounds which are mainly vowel based. The vowel sounds may mask the consonant sounds, making it difficult for some deaf children to understand speech and to understand all the sounds within words. To illustrate this, the vowels and consonants have been placed on an audiogram below (Figure 2). Normal/typical hearing would fall above a horizontal line drawn across the 20dB point on the chart (a fuller explanation is given in Appendix A). Figure 2 Letter/speech sounds on an audiogram 12

13 It is important that the deaf child in your class learns to detect and discriminate sounds before they map the phoneme to the letter. Speech-reading or lipreading Lipreading patterns cannot provide any deaf person with a reliable and easily learned supplementary system for decoding every letter, phoneme or word that is spoken. However, speech-reading, also known as lipreading, is an important skill for many deaf children and can often be a useful support for the development of phonics skills. To enable the deaf child to gain maximum benefit from this: ensure they are sitting near to and facing you ensure you do not have your back to a window as this puts your face into a shadow and makes lipreading difficult speak clearly and at or near your usual pace, as speaking too slowly or over exaggerating your mouth patterns can also make it harder for a deaf child to understand what is being said. Some of the limits of speech-reading: some sounds look very similar on your lips such as p/b/m or f/v words that sound different can look the same on your lips such as pan/man; cap/cab; fan/van some sounds have no clearly distinguishable lip pattern as they are produced by movements in the throat or mouth such as t/d/n/k/g only approximately 30% of words in running speech are thought to be accessible through speech-reading. When new letters are being introduced, you could find it helpful to provide opportunities for the deaf child (and many of the other children) to physically manipulate letters using magnetic boards and letters; letter fans; interactive whiteboards; phoneme frames or other visual supports which allow the deaf child to see the letter shape or grapheme at the same time as listening to the sound. You will find that very clear visual and or kinaesthetic formats for writing or, alternatively, putting CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words into phoneme frames will provide you with a method for reinforcing segmenting and blending skills. The deaf child may well need additional exposure to, and practice in, these activities. When children work in pairs or follow a general group or class discussion, careful consideration should be given to the following: the peer with whom the deaf child will work the location in terms of acoustic suitability the need, or not, for adult support. Even at a very young age, the peers of the deaf child may benefit from some basic awareness training in how best to communicate with a deaf child. This awareness training is contained in NDCS training materials (see Useful Resources at the end of this book) and is most effectively delivered by Teachers of the Deaf as they have wideranging knowledge on the subject, as well as access to appropriate resources such as hearing aids for demonstration purposes. 13

14 Visual cueing systems What is a visual cueing system? As the sound is said, a particular hand shape or movement accompanies the sound. The combination of hearing the sound and seeing the hand shape, the hand position and lip shape clarifies the sound being taught and also in some cases, the link between the sound and its letter (grapheme). All 44 sounds (phonemes) of English can be clarified or reinforced in this way. Deaf people see the sound and so are helped to discriminate between sounds. It is a means to an end, i.e. to provide deaf children with an access to phonological information that is important for the development of English and has been shown to be important for the development of reading in all children. It can be used alongside any other method of communication for deaf children, both signed and aural. There are several different visual cueing systems in use. The most common are: > Cued Articulation (used by speech and language therapists) > Cued Speech TM (although its main aim is to give access to spoken language, it can also have this discrete use). The purpose of these systems is to clarify the sounds of English that cannot be discriminated easily by lip patterns and/or by their actual sounds. Some of the phonics programmes designed for use in the mainstream setting introduce discrete actions for each sound to provide kinaesthetic support for learning letter-sound correspondence (e.g. Jolly Phonics). There are also specific programmes to support this for deaf children who may not hear or discriminate all the sounds of English clearly, for example, > Visual Phonics by Hand TM 14 (See Appendix B for more detailed information about these programmes)

15 Considerations If a visual cueing system seems a possibility for the deaf child in your class, consider the following: for all children, the use of a multisensory approach to teaching letter sounds is recommended so that children learn variously from simultaneous visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities 4 you and your school may already be using with all your children commerciallyavailable schemes that use particular hand movements (gestures) for specific sounds. If this is the case, consider whether or not this scheme meets the needs of the deaf child in your class in the same way as with any other potential teaching strategy there are also several specific visual cueing systems for deaf people that may already be known to, or that might be considered for use with, the deaf child in your class (listed above). Always check to find out if one system is known already, as it makes sense to build on this you can use a visual cueing system for the letters that are being confused or to supplement the teaching of all letters. It is always best to discuss the possible use of any such systems with your Teacher of the Deaf and the deaf child s parents before you start using them. Ensure that all members of staff using manual support systems to support the teaching of phonics are confident and trained in the use of the system to ensure the deaf child in your class receives the best possible chance of success. Be aware Whichever visual support a hearing or deaf child uses, it is important to remember that it is a support and you will need to ensure that the child is indeed linking letters to sounds. For some children there may be a danger that the action/hand cue is being used as a substitute for listening. Supporting deaf children as they learn phonics Each deaf child has individual needs. As with all interventions to support inclusion, you will find that a graduated response to supporting the needs of deaf children is appropriate when applied to any phonics programme. Therefore, to be effectively included, the deaf child in your class may require: relatively minimal adjustments to the published programme that has been chosen by the school more differentiated support to acquire listening or language skills; consequently more modifications to published programmes would be necessary significantly differentiated or totally different approaches to the acquisition of literacy and communication skills (should only be required for a very small number of deaf children). You will need to know the level of language development of the deaf child in your class as some deaf children may have age-appropriate language skills, while others will have significantly delayed language skills and this will have a significant effect on their phonological development. 4 Revised Criteria for Evaluating an Effective, Systematic Synthetic Phonics scheme, DfE, November

16 You will possibly find that the deaf child in your class will need more direct teaching opportunities than other children to establish each new phonic sound as it is absolutely necessary to achieve mastery (know the sound attributed to the letter or letters) in each new sound if the child is going to apply this new knowledge effectively to decoding tasks. The deaf child in your class may need to progress at a slower pace (especially in the initial stages) than other children. You may need to give the deaf child in your class a longer time to respond to phonic decoding tasks as all children must learn to: recognise the letter/s (grapheme) and its sound (phoneme) identify the sounds in the word in the order in which they occur hold the sounds in their memory blend these sounds together in order to decode the word accurately. These four distinct steps put a heavy load on the auditory memory, which is often less well developed in deaf children. This explains why the deaf child in your class may require, and should be given, a longer processing time than other children. 16

17 Introducing nonsense words All children, including deaf children, are learning phonics as a means to an end, i.e. to gain independence and automaticity in word recognition so that they can read for understanding. It can be helpful to check whether or not the child is using phonics knowledge or word recognition skills. To be absolutely sure of the former, non-words (also known as nonsense or pseudo words) are often used as it is believed they provide the most convincing evidence for assessing phonics processing skills as the words used will not be known or instantly recognised by any child. Many Teachers of the Deaf have avoided using pseudo words with deaf children as the whole focus of their teaching has been on reading for meaning. Others have included non-words in their teaching introducing them as silly / funny words or making up new words. It is now advised that all deaf children learning phonics should be given opportunities to make and read non-words as part of their normal classroom activities. (This is especially advisable in England as all Year 1 children, with effect from 2012, will take part in a National Phonics Screening Check, which will contain non-words.) In preparation for such activities, it will be very important to ensure that the child understands that these are nonsense words and that they are being used to help them to practise their phonics decoding skills. It is important that deaf children experience as much success as possible in the beginning stages of learning phonics knowledge. The first sounds taught should be those that can be most easily discriminated by the deaf child. This could mean that you will have to consider deviating from the order presented in your general classroom phonics programme. Your Teacher of the Deaf will be able to advise on the best order of presentation for a particular deaf child in your class. As with all children, you must ensure that the deaf child in your class has daily opportunities to apply the phonics information they are learning in appropriate texts that they can enjoy, understand and read. Your deaf pupil may have additional needs. For example, dyslexia, issues with vision or specific language impairment. The SERSEN Mapping the Way document could be helpful (see the Useful Resources section at the end of this book). If, during routine monitoring, you feel that a child is not progressing, it is vital that your concerns are discussed with your Teacher of the Deaf or other relevant professionals (such as a speech and language therapist), as well as the child s parents, to ensure that more effective approaches can be considered and any additional needs the child may have are identified. 17

18 General principles for teaching phonics to deaf children The phonics programme you use should: 5 present high quality systematic synthetic phonics work enable children to start learning phonics knowledge and skills using a systematic, synthetic programme by the age of five 6 provide for the teaching of discrete, daily phonics sessions progressing from the simple to more complex phonics knowledge and skills provide progress checks use a multisensory approach to teaching phonics so that children learn from simultaneous visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities demonstrate that phonemes are blended in order, from left to right demonstrate that words are segmented into their constituent phonemes for spelling and ensure that children can hear and identify sounds in words in the order in which they occur ensure that children apply phonics knowledge and skills as a main approach to reading and spelling, even if a word is not phonically regular ensure the learning of high frequency words that are not phonically regular ensure that children, as they move through the phonics programme, have practice in reading texts that allow them to practice their phonics decoding skills and which are readily understood by them. You need to use your professional judgement, in conjunction with the Teacher of the Deaf when necessary, to ensure: the deaf child in your class has established an appropriate level of phonological awareness before starting on the learning of letter sounds. This means considering their ability to tune in to general and environmental sounds; identifying rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, intonation, voice sounds, oral blending and segmenting, as well as syllabification and not only their ability with regard to individual letter sounds careful and appropriate monitoring (see below) to establish whether they are ready to move on to the next learning objective of the programme any necessary modifications are made to the phonics programme being used. The number of changes required will be dependent on the content of the programme; the individual needs of the deaf child; and the speed of their successful progress on the programme These characteristics are taken from the Revised Core Criteria (DfE, 2010) which provide clearly defined key features of an effective systematic synthetic phonics programme ( and are relevant for deaf children, wherever they are being taught in the UK 6 A few deaf children, especially those using BSL, may not be sufficiently fluent in English at this age to start learning phonics and so it will be important to agree the starting point with your Teacher of the Deaf

19 Assessment and monitoring of phonics knowledge If learning is to be successful it must be preceded by careful assessment to ensure that the targets and activities for the deaf child in your class are at the right level to ensure optimum progress. Any published phonics scheme used in a school should have integrated assessment activities as this is one of the requirements within the Revised Criteria Document (DfE, 2010). As with all children, it will be important for you as the class teacher to use these assessment activities with the deaf child in your class as prescribed in the manual accompanying the programme. This should indicate whether or not the child has mastered the particular sound/s being taught. It is recommended to include non-words/nonsense/pseudo words in any assessment of phonics knowledge. It is equally important to observe whether or not the deaf child is applying the phonics knowledge that has been taught in their normal reading of texts. On occasion, some deaf children may require additional and/or more specialised assessments to identify the next step to progress their learning. The child s Teacher of the Deaf would be able to advise on this. Having carried out any assessment of phonics knowledge, it will always be important to differentiate between those deaf children who are developing their phonics knowledge, albeit more slowly than their other children, and those few deaf children who may need a different emphasis in the short term. Always work closely with your child s Teacher of the Deaf to ensure that the assessments are appropriate and that the interpretation of the results is accurate so that it leads to effective planning and ultimately successful outcomes for the deaf child in your class. 19

20 Please note that you should avoid carrying out any assessment activities if there have been any recent changes to the deaf child s technology, e.g. new hearing aids, programming of a cochlear implant, as the child will take time to adjust to a new auditory input. The child s parents and/or your Teacher of the Deaf will be able to advise on this. Working with teaching assistants and other adults If the teaching of phonics activities requires help from a teaching assistant or an additional adult, make sure: they have had at least basic training in working with a deaf child and, preferably, in the teaching of phonics to a deaf child they have read the relevant sections of this guidance document that they are working in a suitable acoustic environment to provide them with detailed information on the task and the expected outcomes whenever possible, to provide them with a mixed group of children (hearing and non hearing) to encourage peer learning. Working with parents Parents are often keen to support their children in the acquisition of phonics skills and are usually in an excellent position to do so. This additional support will be far more effective if you ensure: parents understand the role of phonics in learning to read parents are informed about the progress of their child in acquiring phonics skills and how this compares to age-related expectations parents understand any particular challenges in phonics for their own child and consequently the importance of additional practice (i.e. they understand it is additional practice and that they are not expected to be teachers) any practice is linked to the particular phonics work that is being taught in school new activities are demonstrated to parents parents feel they can undertake these activities with their children in a relaxed and fun way. You may find it helpful to share this guidance, or relevant parts of it, with the parent/ carer of the deaf child in your class so that, under your direction, they can use some of the knowledge and activities to help their child become competent in the particular aspect of phonics that is being taught. 20

21 A summary of the critical factors in the learning environment The following is a useful, quick reference and summary of the critical factors in the learning environment that teachers should use as their guide. It was first published in the BATOD Magazine 7 (September 2006). High expectations and challenging but realistic targets. Effective, consistent amplification and good listening conditions (BB93), ensuring optimum use of residual hearing. Proactive development of listening skills. Careful assessment of the pupil s level of phonological awareness and production. A clear understanding of the different approaches to the development of phonics skills and an ability to choose between them on the basis of pupil need. As Rose (2006) 8 states: Leading edge practice bears no resemblance to a one size fits all model of teaching and learning. Planning that takes account of the pupil s phonological development and language development. Thorough review of actual learning and evaluation of the suitability of intervention programmes (in the broadest sense). Activities that engage and sustain interest, using other senses appropriately to reinforce listening and phonics skills. An attitude that sees pupils as active learners rather than passive recipients of knowledge. Integration of listening and phonics skills learned in intervention programmes into mainstream learning. Adults who provide knowledgeable, sensitive support. 7 Flippin Phonics Principles and Practice with Profoundly Deaf Pupils Cope, T. in BATOD Magazine (September 2006) 8 Rose, J. (2006) Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading (DFES) 21

22 Part B Using any published phonics programme with the deaf child in your class If you have not read the general information in Part A of this document you are strongly recommended to do so before looking at the more specific guidance contained in Part B. This guidance aims to achieve the maximum amount of progress for the deaf child with the minimum amount of change to the published programmes being used in your school. The amount of change will, of course, be determined largely by the progress of the deaf child but we are advocating a graduated response according to need. There are many published programmes available for the teaching of phonics. If you are in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales you will probably be using one that has been recommended locally/nationally or selected by your school. In England you will be using one that has been evaluated according to the Revised Criteria (DfE, 2010) and is listed as accredited on the Department for Education s (DfE) website: All phonics programmes ultimately cover the same sounds, but the order in which the sounds are introduced can vary from programme to programme. We have used generic descriptive terms at the top of each new step section so that the information and the advice given in that section will still be valuable in supporting you to differentiate activities to meet the needs of deaf children, no matter which programme you are following. 22

23 How to find your way around this part of the document After the general overview, there is a short section on some of the general principles and strategies you can follow. There are then five main steps. Each one deals with a different step in the acquisition of phonics knowledge: phonological awareness; basic grapheme-phoneme correspondence; adjacent consonants; consonant digraphs and vowel digraphs; and split digraphs. Step 1 Phonological awareness is an important and prerequisite step in the acquisition of phonics knowledge, especially so for the deaf child. Many of the published phonics programmes assume this knowledge is already well established on entry to school and so start with letters and their sounds. This guidance document, however, starts with phonological awareness and explores seven of its main elements in relation to deaf children. The structure described below is used for each of the 7 elements in Step 1 and for Steps 2 5 which follow. Why this element is included General points to consider in relation to the deaf child Helping deaf children access the activities Before reading the information in this guidance document, it is advisable to look at the relevant section within the published scheme you are using and Part A of this guidance document which gives vital background information for fully applying any published phonics programme. General overview on using published phonics programmes with a deaf child Virtually any published phonics scheme can be an effective resource for you to use with the deaf child in your class, but you must be prepared to use the programme flexibly to meet their individual needs. The learning objectives are one of the most important elements within any programme and the suggested activities are there to aid the acquisition of these objectives. As a teacher you need to be alert to situations where the suggested activities may be inappropriate or too challenging for deaf children, but the actual learning objective is not, if practised in a different way. The information in the manual of any published scheme will be, for the most part, relevant to the deaf child and you should always read it. 23

24 Deaf children and spoken language It is generally accepted that most children understand a vast amount of spoken language before they start learning to read. However, the receptive and expressive language of the deaf child in your class may not be at age appropriate levels. This does not mean that they will not benefit from a high quality phonics programme. However, the content and pace of this programme will need to be monitored and should be discussed with the Teacher of the Deaf and/or the speech and language therapist who has undergone further training to work with deaf children. It is also most likely that you will need to provide ongoing additional effective listening and language opportunities for any deaf child you are teaching. As you would with a hearing child, use the assessments in your published scheme to determine their starting point and to monitor progress. Your Teacher of the Deaf will also be able to provide additional specialist information. All phonics programmes are incremental and so the successful mastery of one element will largely determine the pace of the deaf child s progress through the programme. The suggested pace for the published programme is only a guide for all children, including deaf children. At some points in the programme (especially in the early stages), it is important that you exercise your professional judgement and do not regard the boundaries between the sequential phonics steps as absolutely fixed. This is vital for working with deaf children as some, for example, may need to continue with rhyme work from Step 1 (phonological awareness) while starting on Step 2 (basic grapheme-phoneme correspondence). You should be guided by your Teacher of the Deaf on this aspect. Wherever possible, you should encourage parents to work with you throughout all aspects of literacy learning, as this will help give your deaf pupil additional and much needed practice. When you involve additional adults (including parents and carers), you must ensure they are fully briefed about the task and the particular learning needs of the deaf child. Enjoying and sharing books Although the emphasis in this guidance document is on the development of phonics skills, you should continue to provide the deaf child with opportunities for enjoying and sharing books. Experience shows that children benefit hugely by exposure to books from an early age. Right from the start, lots of opportunities should be provided for children to engage with books that fire their imagination and interest. They should be encouraged to choose and peruse books freely, as well as sharing them when read by an adult. Enjoying and sharing books leads to children seeing them as a source of pleasure and interest and motivates them to value reading Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics. Primary National Strategy, DES, 2007

25 The deaf child and phonological awareness Phonological awareness enhances the development of good listening skills and includes not only an understanding of letter sounds and phonemes but also an understanding of features of language such as alliteration, rhythm, rhyme, intonation and syllables. Phonological awareness is absolutely essential for the development of phonics skills. It is of great importance for all children, with many becoming competent in this area through the activities of their Early Years education. However, a significant number of the others may still, on entry to school, require a more explicit approach through direct teaching. The deaf child in your class may well be in the latter group, but your Teacher of the Deaf will be able to provide you with the necessary information. Many published phonics programmes (Letters and Sounds being one of the exceptions) assume mastery of phonological awareness and so immediately start with Step 2 (grapheme-phoneme correspondence). If your chosen programme does not include introductory phonological awareness activities and if your school does not use a published phonological awareness programme as a precursor to the phonics programme, you should assess the deaf child s competence in the various elements of phonological awareness outlined in this section and be prepared to provide a programme on any elements within this step that have not been mastered. Such a programme should, in most cases, be completed before progressing to the next step of grapheme-phoneme correspondence. Some appropriate activities are indicated in this guidance, while advice on other appropriate resources should be obtained from your Teacher of the Deaf. Phonological awareness provides the foundation for all other phases Whether you are providing a phonological awareness programme for the whole class, a small group or a specific programme for the deaf child in your class, you will have to monitor carefully the progress of your deaf child to decide whether or not they need to spend more time on specific elements. They may need to either: remain on this particular step for longer than the majority of other children; or move on to the next step while continuing with specific elements of phonological awareness. You may need to spend more time with the deaf child, demonstrating and reinforcing the basic concept of each of the elements by using structured, repetitive or closed activities. This is to ensure that the child has grasped the concept before making activities more open, wide ranging and challenging. For example: when working on the concept of rhyme, you may need to ensure that the deaf child spends more time listening to lots of nursery rhymes before they are asked to generate rhyming words before playing a game to identify rhyme and before opening the activity out to the use of several words and greater variety, you may need to > demonstrate the concept again by asking the child to listen to a number of sounds and listen for one that is the same or different (this may require visual support) > use two words only and demonstrate several times that they do or do not rhyme. similarly, you will need to help the child listen to and identify sounds in words before they will be able to segment and blend words. 25

26 generally, all children develop phonological awareness in a set sequence, i.e. from identifying large units of sound (whole words) to rhyme and finally to the smallest unit of sound (individual phonemes). You may occasionally find it helpful to the deaf child to consider reordering one or more of the different elements within phonological awareness in your published scheme. This has to be done with some care and you should take advice from your Teacher of the Deaf. As an example, within the elements outlined in this guidance, you could: > teach Element 1f Voice sounds (but exclude any activities relating to individual sounds) before Element 1d Rhythm and rhyme. consider reordering the activities within an element. For example: > complete the talking about sounds activities before the tuning into sounds > generalise sounds first as a principle. You should remember that deaf children may also: need more time to experience and process sounds be at a different stage of sound awareness than the rest of the class find it more difficult to listen in a large group at least initially, find it difficult to incorporate listening into more complex games. When delivering the phonics and spoken activities take care not to speak too loudly or over-articulate the sounds as this can lead to distortion of the sound for a deaf child. Remember to provide activities that will continue to develop their ability to listen and discriminate all sounds, both speech and environmental. Phonological awareness training recognises the importance of developing speaking and listening skills and these skills are particularly crucial for deaf children. The effect of a hearing loss Even a mild fluctuating hearing loss can hinder normal communication development, slow children s progress and lead to feelings of failure and social isolation. This hearing loss may be undetected but may be treatable and so you need to raise any concerns you have about the hearing of any child in your class with the parents and then with appropriate professionals. The five listening checks You will be asking children to listen out for specific, short sounds that could very easily be missed by several children in your class, especially the deaf child, and so you need to complete the following five checks to ensure optimal amplification, listening and attending conditions. Check that: all equipment is working optimally, e.g. hearing aids, cochlear implants, radio aid background noise is at a minimum, e.g. noisy corridors, computers all the children are quiet, calm and ready to listen the deaf child is looking at you no noises you intend to use will be uncomfortable or inappropriate for the deaf child. 26

27 Step 1 Phonological awareness Element 1a Sound awareness and discrimination Using the environment If you are using a published programme for this element, you will find it helpful to read again, with your deaf child in mind, the section in its manual that refers to general sound awareness and discrimination. Why this element is included Before children can develop phonological awareness, they need to become aware of environmental sounds and be able to: detect them discriminate between different sounds attribute sounds to their sources and be able to give them meaning recall sounds so that they can identify them readily describe sounds and the differences between sounds, e.g. loud/quiet, barking, singing, etc. associate sounds with appropriate responses e.g. open the door if the doorbell rings; stop when the playground whistle blows and take up a place in the class line. While most children will have learned to identify, name and describe many sounds and to respond appropriately before they start formal education, deaf children may not have had sufficient experience of listening to sounds to be at this stage. Even for hearing children there is much benefit in learning to develop attention to a wide variety of sounds and some phonics schemes may begin (although many may not) with activities to draw children s attention to the range of sounds in the environment and use them in their games. Many deaf children will certainly benefit from these activities and, indeed, may require a direct focus on them. Importantly, some deaf children may need to continue with them for much longer than other children. Below are some of the points that you will need to consider when planning for the deaf child in your class. It will help if you discuss your planning with your Teacher of the Deaf. General points to consider Any activities used should be fun and enjoyed by all the children in your class, as this will increase their learning. It is important to consider the following points in order to minimise the possibility of causing any stress to the deaf child in your class. You will have to ensure that the sounds used for the discrimination and listening activities, especially when outside, are accessible to the deaf child and so you will need to consider whether or not they are: loud enough, particularly if the sound source is at a distance, e.g. during a Listening Walk * meaningful, i.e. the deaf child can identify the sound as well as simply hear it too loud, e.g. if a class of children are shouting loudly in a game such as Teddy Lost in the Jungle. This could be uncomfortably loud for the deaf child, as could the sounds made when different environmental objects are struck by a drumstick (Outdoor Drums*). Sounds can also be distorted when they are compressed by a hearing aid 27

28 sufficiently different from one another. The length of time the deaf child has had amplification will affect their discrimination skills and so, e.g. in Mrs Browning has a Box* you may need to begin with two sounds that are very different and progress gradually to more sounds that require more discrimination. Be aware that Socks and Shakers* may not offer sufficient contrast to allow discrimination. You will also have to consider the complexity of the games as: even walking and listening at the same time can be difficult for a deaf child, e.g. during a Listening Walk*, the deaf child may need to stop to listen some concepts are harder for some deaf children, such as sounds being made louder/ softer depending on the proximity of the hidden object, as in Hot and Cold* language and auditory processing time may take longer in a deaf child, making activities such as Enlivening Stories* much harder for the deaf child in a large group. Activities and games dependent on auditory memory, e.g. The Listening Moment*, could be challenging for the deaf child and so require close monitoring. The language development of deaf children may be delayed and so games such as Describe and Find It could be challenging. The deaf child may need considerable pretutoring in order to learn the necessary vocabulary. However, a balance must be made between learning particular words for specific games and the broader encouragement of all aspects of language development including grammar and semantics as well as individual words. If commercially produced materials are being used that produce various sounds, e.g. Sound Lotto*, they must be of good acoustic quality and, where possible, delivered straight to the hearing technology the deaf child is using. Your Teacher of the Deaf will be able to advise. All of the above will vary according to the deaf child s individual range of hearing and their individual ability to use this hearing. You may need to provide a significant amount of adult support for the deaf child in your class to ensure successful learning outcomes. The adult should provide: > a clear explanation of the task required > sensitive modelling to demonstrate what is needed > discussion to provide the required vocabulary > appropriate feedback on the pupil s contributions to enable learning > participation in, rather than just supervising, the games and activities. It might also be necessary to provide individual or small group work (both listening and language activities), carefully targeted at the needs of your deaf pupil. You should arrange for some of this work to take place in good acoustic conditions without distraction. You may find that supporting activities with visual resources can be beneficial, for example using pictures or real objects to illustrate new words or sounds used. You must monitor the deaf child s ability to access all these activities and to ensure that they are not becoming distressed due to the inability to hear some of the sounds. 28

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