Resource Review: No Nonsense Phonics
I like anything that describes itself as ‘No Nonsense’ because it tells you that it is going to be a ‘3S’ resource: simple, straightforward and sensible.
It also tells you that there won’t be any faffing about and we can get down to business. I like that, so let’s cut to the chase.
No Nonsense Phonics is a cohesive phonics programme based on the Five Pillars of Literacy, the Simple View of Reading and a ‘two-pronged systematic and incidental phonics teaching’ approach and comes from the left hemisphere of phonics polymath Debbie Hepplewhite.
It’s a resource with considerable depth of insight and phonics perception. It is magnificently fit for purpose, provides content rich practice of the three core phonics skills and their sub-skills and maximises learning.
You might be quite happy with your phonics provision but how much of it is really helping children reach their potential?
Even though they might be fun, are the game and activities children play shallow-end and superfluous?
You might be a big fan of mini-whiteboards and sound to print carpet time but how much word and text input for reading is there?
You may have interactive whiteboard work but is it suitably fit for purpose?
The No Nonsense Box Set will help you press the pause button so you can stop and think about what you are doing.
It will help you realise that perhaps you could teach phonics differently and that what you think engages children might not actually be the case. If it does this then you might just decide to reboot.
It’s a resource that shuns games and activities as the main players in favour of worksheets and workbooks. The idea is that children and teachers need something tangible that can be seen and kept not packed away or wiped away.
What the resource sets out to do is help you provide a cast-iron and embedded teaching and learning toolkit for the letter (s) sound correspondences of the highly complex English alphabetic code.
It aims to give every child plenty of appropriate practice in blending/decoding for reading, oral segmenting and allotting graphemes for spelling and handwriting. It provides plentiful cumulative new words to blend and words to spell with accompanying vocabulary enrichment and offers each child reading texts that belong to them which can be repeated to boost fluency and confidence.
If you have a logical, step by step programme providing targeted support that can already do all this then I’d eat my hat and swallow the buckle whole.
The box set includes 54 pupil work books (6 copies of each of the 9 pupil work books), 9 teacher books, a USB stick with CPD video and extra resources such as giant, printable and projectable main Alphabetic Code Chart, a giant Alphabet Poster showing letter formation, printable and projectable Frieze Cards for all the letter/s-sound correspondences introduced systematically, plus Grouped Word Cards and cumulative Say the Sounds Posters.
There is also Entry Point Assessment material with suggestions for possible use of these resources and some video footage about the programme with Year One children in action trialling some of the resources.
At £249, this resource offers plenty of value especially when other programmes out there stretch to up to a mindblowing £12,000 which really is nonsense!
The programme is divided across 9 ‘pick up and go’ pupil work books with new graphemes introduced in each book. These carefully designed books include all the phonics knowledge and procedures needed to grasp the English Alphabetic Code.
Inside each colourful and child-friendly book you will find the Alphabetic Code – Building Up the Sounds and Graphemes chart with adult guidance, ‘Core’ Multi-skills Activities pages for every letter/s-sound correspondence and phonemic awareness, letter formation, oral segmenting, encoding and decoding are featured throughout Books 1 to 8.
Each of these books comes with a Teacher book to provide non nonsense guidance and support.
An essential component of the book is the Teaching and Learning Cycle which details a whole class interactive revisit and review, a teacher led introduction of the new focus letter sound (s) correspondence, individual pupil practice at word level, and then practice where pupil apply and extend their phonics knowledge and skills to cumulative, decodable texts.
There are suggestions for comprehension questions for all of the 109 mini-stories with questions to prompt further discussions. You will also find plenty of extra guidance throughout. One of the reassuring features of this resource is that you don’t have to differentiate 29 ways as all children access the same activity regardless of their ability and work at their own pace.
Who and what is this programme suitable for?
You could use No Nonsense Phonics for conventional teaching, targeted support for speeding up and consolidating learning, specific individual needs intervention and for teaching English as a new or additional language. They obviously need to fit into a bookbag routine to fully involve parents and carers too.
If you are looking for something to get children’s cogs whirring, something that will help them take ownership over their learning and something to apply and extend without a whiteboard in sight then a no nonsense approach is for you.
This box set will provide systematic and rigorous phonics teaching and practice ideal for targeted support and mainstream provision.
Happy, engaged and learning, that’s what we want children to be when interacting with their phonics and that’s what No Nonsense phonics gives us. Concrete, practice-rich paper based phonics is the order of the day. Don’t ditch the games though, just make them extras. This box set could change the way you do things and turn your teaching on its head.
This is a strong, functional and thorough far-reaching programme with platinum pages and gold-standard guidance; it brings phonics back from the claws of games and activities and gets it to sit down, sit up straight and hold its pencil with a tripod grip and engage with paper-based resources. It’s back to basics but with subtle sophistication lining the inside and blatant cleverness covering the outside.