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This stage is regarded as a very visual, pictorial stage, where a child’s brain retains an image of a word, but doesn’t yet understand letter-sound correspondence.
In this stage, a learner may recognise a tiny number of significant words – their name, for example - from the word’s overall shape. They’re likely to confuse similar-looking words and would not be able to decode an unknown word, as they don’t yet understand letter-sound correspondence.
The main reading strategy in this stage is visual recognition of words.
This stage is where the learner is developing phonemic awareness and phonic knowledge. Students learn to apply these to decode and encode unknown words. They can be expected to read unknown words – providing they are reasonably regular – and write unknown words.
Errors are likely to be phonetically correct:
In this stage, the main strategy for reading is conscious decoding, using the main decoding areas of the brain, particularly Broca’s Area and the parietal-temporal area.
This is the final stage in reading, where a fluent reader is able to recognise words instantly. The words have been stored in the occipito-temporal area of the brain, often known as the Visual Word Form Area, and they can be retrieved instantly without conscious decoding.
When an unknown word does occasionally pop up, the reader has the phonological skills and phonic knowledge to decode it with no difficulty. The word is then stored in the Visual Word Form Area and the next time it’s seen, it will be instantly recognised.
The ‘cognitive overload’ of reading by conscious decoding means that readers:
StepsWeb includes a test which measures how many milliseconds it takes to visually recognise a known word. This test was developed in conjunction with Auckland University.
The test enables a teacher to track a learner’s progress and identify when they transition to using the Visual Word Form Area of the brain for instant visual recognition. As a guide, a fluent reader should be able to recognise words at 50-150 ms.
The test development has identified what visual recognition speeds are normal at different ages. Obviously a young learner has to go through the three phases of reading and their speed will normally develop as part of this process.
The research done also confirms that visual recognition speed can be used as a predictor of students who will have difficulty reading.
The test can be set by a teacher at any point. However, StepsWeb automatically analyses visual recognition speed as a student works on the programme and their current visual recognition speed is shown in the student profile. This feature also adjusts the speed of the Word Flash activity, which is designed to develop visual recognition speed. This means that it is not even necessary to set the formal test.
The specialist approach which can be used by non-specialists.
StepsWeb stands out because it works on many levels. Research shows the need for a structured literacy approach – particularly with struggling learners.
StepsWeb provides a structured, cumulative approach to literacy, which encompasses and develops the five key elements often referred to as the Five Big Ideas in Beginning Reading (USA National Reading Panel, 2000).
StepsWeb supports struggling learners by providing a research-based, structured approach to literacy. Ideally, this should be an approach which enables every learner to progress at his or her own speed and level...