Break Prohibition – Welcome to my Speekeezee


This is how Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) works:

  • Fast and Furious
  • No other method
  • Do not look at pictures for clues
  • Do not guess – must sound out
  • Consistent, persistent, insistent – not a plethora of games and random strategies – that’s called mixed methods which is illegal.
  1. If it doesn’t work you just carry on until it does.
  2. If it still doesn’t work you are not doing it properly.
  3. If you think another method may work better or complement SSP you can’t. Remember no mixed methods.

Under the current prohibition any method of teaching reading which is not SSP is banned. So, I’m going underground – come to my Speakeasy where I will list some practical tips on teaching those students who just don’t seem to be progressing.

1. Taming Tricky Words Taming_Tricky_Wo_4cf04d1b6b40c_85x120

This is great and allows pupils to learn those high frequency words which are more irregular and cannot be decoded easily.   It gives them a self-esteem boost and in half a term a good bank of words allowing them to at least access some of the text based curriculum if phonics, past learning initial letter sounds is proving a challenge.

How it works

You show student a picture – example traffic lights and then read the word in a sentence.

So ‘go’ is ‘When the lights are green the cars can go’. The student learns to read words by association. IMG_0173

2. Direct Phonics

Actually this is a synthetic phonics programme but introduces a small amount of sight words with each book. It also combines phonic instruction with oral language and ensures students have opportunity for speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Book 1 – introduces letter sounds and CVC words, they blend and segment from the start. The other books (2 & 3) move through cumulatively with consolidation activities ending with polysyllabic words.  It introduces reading and writing and activities are linked to the reading materials.  Direct Phonics is very repetitive.  It’s simple to use and designed to be done in 20 minute chunks.

I particularly like this for older students who have reading difficulties.

3. Rapid Readers (RRs)

Cleverly designed to use the language students can read, then adds in some ‘tricky words’ which you go over together before they begin reading. They also have pictures and a summary at the beginning which teacher and student can go over together for a hook in.


And they experience reading fluently which feels like magic – it is a joy to see. There’s fact and fiction in each book and little exercises at the end on spelling, comprehension, phonics and a joke which I always laugh at and the older students look at me like I’m an idiot.

The books are age appropriate too which makes them ideal for secondary age. Rapid Readers and Rapid Plus also come with a CD to work with the book online (reading, recording etc) and some worksheets.

pedal_power_b rapid reader rapid reader

5. Swap cards

Again, phonic based (see, I’m not that bad) but a game (boo).

These are a staple in my kit (I even have a couple of boxes in my handbag for random opportunities to practise) –  they are loved by all my students – all ages.

There is every phonic pattern known to woman in SWAP cards.  Each player has seven cards and the winner is the one who gets rid of their cards first.  The words are colour coded so in this picture it is the ‘oo’ sound.  ‘oo’ is brown, ‘ue’ is blue and ‘ui’ is red etc.  The idea is you lay same colour cards down until you run out.  Each time you put a card down you have to say the word (important or it’s pointless).  If you run out but have a SWAP card, you can change to a different colour.


6. Minute a Day

A simple resource and good for homework.    These are phonic and sight word photocopiable sheets which encourage the student to read words or phonic patterns quickly in a minute.


7. Stiles

A nice game where you match numbers and patterns. It’s called a self-checking tray where students’ answers match a number. If they are correct students will be able to match the geometric pattern. Books come with phonic patterns, maths, comprehension – all sorts.


8. Barrington Stoke Books
Ah, these are age appropriate loveliness for older students – written with a larger font and better spacing, they sometimes do the trick to ‘get the buggers to read’ (thank you @suecowley for this phrase)


You’ve been attending my Speakeasy. Thanks for joining.


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