Code Mapping® for Publishers
According to 2019 National Curriculum Assessment data just over 1 in 4 (27%) of 10- to 11-year-olds did not meet the expected standard in reading in the 2018 to 2019 school year (DofE 2019). Around 3 billion people around the world struggle with basic level reading and writing and illiteracy is considered ‘a global tragedy’ (World Literacy Foundation)
Writing is a recent cultural invention; a code for spoken language in which the smallest sound units are represented on paper by 26 letters of the alphabet, used in probably between 300 and 400 graphophonemic combinations (Gough & Hillinger, 1980). There is a high degree of inconsistency in the relationship between speech and spelling (for discussion, see Share, 2008) and many of the most commonly used words include phoneme-grapheme mappings not taught through explicit phonics instruction. This might account for the persistence in schools of teaching certain ‘high frequency words’ as whole words, by rote learning.
Teaching children to memorise words can provide a student access to connected text in advance of learning the phonics principles otherwise necessary for decoding them. However most words become authentic ‘sight words’ when a reader is able to efficiently process the phoneme to grapheme correspondences of the printed forms (Ehri, 2014).
Why do these ‘high frequency’ words matter?
The importance of these words cannot be understated; research undertaken by Edward Fry demonstrated that the first 25 words make up about a third of all printed material, the first 100 make up about half of all written material, and the first 300 make up at least 65 percent of all written material (Fry, Kress, & Fountoukidis, 2000) Fry's Instant Words are commonly used words in English ranked in order of frequency. The original 1000 words (Fry, 1957) was condensed to a list of 300 words (Fry, 1980) and reintroduced as a modified list of 1000 words (Fry, 2000). It would be difficult for children to read and write many sentences in the early stages of schooling without using at least a few of those words. These words are described as separate to words that children will decode using phonics.
The self-teaching hypothesis, proposed by David Share, is the idea that once learners have established their knowledge of grapheme-phoneme correspondences and the essential process of segmenting and blending, they begin to apply this knowledge to new and novel words. In the initial stages of orthographic learning, children may be instructed on the correct pronunciation of simple high-use words. As learning continues, children learn new orthographic forms too rapidly for direct item-by-item instruction to be plausible as the main driver of learning. While Share indicated that initially perhaps the first 100 high-frequency words (many of which are highly irregular, e.g., OF, WAS) might be taught via direct instruction, it seems evident that the bulk of printed words are not explicitly taught.
Share proposed that even in words with irregular graphemes, there will be some that the learners know, and they can use context.
Although there may be an acceptance within the scientific community that orthographic mapping is ‘the most current theory of how children form sight word representations’ (Torgesen 2004b, p36) the way in which this is achieved, both from an instructional perspective as well as a learning perspective, remains unclear.
When students look at the spelling, pronounce the word, distinguish separate phonemes in the pronunciation, and are shown how the graphemes match up to phonemes in that word, it is assumed that the connection forming process will take place. According to the theory relating to orthographic mapping reading the word a few times secures its connections in memory.
The mapping of words using our 'Code Mapping' software is presented as an easier route to Orthographic Mapping than systematic phonics and the teaching of high-frequency words alone.
For publishers selling 'levelled readers' this system bridges the gap between what they are presenting (a focus on vocabulary knowledge and comprehension) and the focus of 'decodable readers' in which the focus is primarily on phonics, and decoding fluency.
The Reading Hut will of course be Code Mapping a range of different texts, and creating new resources, using the EdCode software!
We Code Map® anything that is of interest to learners!
Learners are often far more engaged when the words to be explored, eg high-frequency words are displayed within popular tracks, or much loved stories and poems.