Teaching Ideas

THRASS Phonemic Awareness Method

Submitted by Admin (11-10-2012)

Hi Everyone,

I am interested in receiving some feedback on the THRASS / phonemic awareness method of teaching phonics and reading.

Do you use this method in your school / classroom, and how do you find it effective?

It would be great to hear some pros and cons on this method. Please leave comments by clicking the comments button below.

Look forward to hearing from you all,
Thanks very much

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What others are saying...


There are about 11 or 12 spelling choices for the speech sound sssss, so look at the THRASS resource chart. Not all there. It has left my child bored, and being told to learn the charts which still don't help him to spell the words he wants to spell, and is always being told its a catchall. A thumbs down for me too.


I am not a teacher but with degrees in science, medicine arts and a parent of an 8 year old, here goes.

My child was in the top 3 in her year (Year 3) in spelling as well as maths reading until THRASS was introduced. Now she has gone backwards a little and complains that it confuses her. Whatever innate strategies she was successfully using in spelling, and the neural pathways she had laid down, are being confused by being forced to learn the THRASS way.

I looked for any research - unfortunately all I can find is descriptive research pertaining to children with learning difficulties. My problem with the educational community is that there is a paucity of high quality analytic research. It is a logical fallacy to expect to apply the same strategy to children with reading difficulties and good readers and expect it to benefit both subgroups. I would implore some teachers out there to start doing pre and post intervention studies amongst all their students rather than just repeat the THRASS phonemic mantra.

D'jay-Sarimana (02-01-2013)

I am an ESL teacher. Thrass is a fantastic program and the more I use it in my ESL teaching the more I love it! One of the hardest tasks in teaching English is getting to know the sound system, 44 units and then the orthography, the spelling choices. I have to teach SAE, Standard Australian English, based on this, the Thrass chart is fantastic.

If I pronounce a word slightly different because of my background, I say to my students that I say this word in this box and then point out in the dictionary the correct articulation, and explain that in SAE you say it in this box. We will note that the spelling of the word does not change only the box ( pronunciation) will.

My first Thrass course turned my teaching world upside down. This change made my ESL teaching take a very positive turn in the teaching of reading and writing in English. My students noted from the start that English was not a one letter for each sound correspondence, eg 26 letters = 26 sounds, but, in stark contrast English has 26 letters and those letters are used singularly or in combinations to represent the 44 sounds of spoken English. The Thrass chart was like the key to understanding both written and spoken English and it's complexities.

Singularly the biggest change was my students looking for digraphs and trigraphs and not trying to give each letter in a word a sound. This radically changed their spoken English development with word pronunciation. Looking for digraphs and trigraphs in reading speeds up the process and eliminates the frustrations caused by letter to sound processes.

Two very common words for children now are phone and photo...they see these all the time. Instead of laboriously going through 'p' is p as in panda and 'h' is h as in hand, and the frustration this causes, we can identify the digraph 'ph' as making 'f' as in dolphin right from the start.
My students love it! The charts are fantastic. An outstanding teaching program for me.

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

I would like to know how a parent (who has english as a second language) of a kid (also has english as a second language) in prep who is struggling with reading, can help at home. The school uses THRASS and I think it is working for most kids so it is not about the teacher not knowing how to use the chart or anything, maybe it could have something to do with the other language?! How can I help her. She knows the letters and the phonemes but can't put them together to "make" a word.

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

THRASS put order and logic into my teaching of phonics. I have found after 10 years of using THRASS it has not diminished my enthusiasm or the positive achievement of pupils.

We have extended the use in grades K-2 specifically with all teachers attending at least 3 days of instruction. (triple stream classes)

Written work demonstrates very commendable spelling approximations.

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

I'd love to do THRASS PD (so I can use it to teach my daughters), but I'm just a casual teacher and it's so expensive! From what I have seen of it, it makes more sense than many other phonics programs.

Valma Adams (01-01-2012)

I have used Jolly Phonics since 2002. I have tried many other programmes.. without much success. I have found the Jolly Phonics programme to be ideally suited to my learners who have English as a second or third language. They enjoy the multi-sensory process of the programme. I am using it with my five-year old. During my visit to London last week, I phoned home.. My daughter sound-read the flyer at the back of a video to me! The results have been outstanding! My Isi-Xhosa and Afrikaans speaking learners enjoy the programme. We have now moved onto the Jolly Grammar Books and this term I will be introducing them to the Jolly Music programme.

Sari @ Liverpool NSW (01-01-2012)

I have now done two, Thrass 2 day courses, and my literacy teaching skills have sky rocketed. The most valuable teaching strategy I learned the second time around was that many teachers expect that the children will be able to choose the correct choice from the box on the chart. Now that I use the charts 'correctly', that is use the Thrass charts as my teaching tool and my reference tool, I cannot believe how my class has moved ahead in leaps and bounds.

Thrass is a teachers resource, and when I used the program as such and really got to know the chart myself the dynamics in literacy teaching changed in my classroom. My teaching partner, (who attended the second course with me,) and I are continually discussing the change in our students. But getting to know the chart is the most important part of THRASS. As our trainer said that is why many teachers do not use Thrass to its full potential.

As one other teacher on the forum said, using the chart for grammar is fantastic and really consolidates the children's understanding of parts of speech.

UNFORTUNATELY, and for the frustrated parent, when teachers just put up the charts, don't actually teach from them and then expect the children to 'choose the correct spelling', then Thrass cannot work -it is just a chart.

To quote our THRASS trainer, "if the children knew which was the correct choice they would not need the chart or us as teachers". Something I continually remind myself of.

Thank you to both my THRASS trainers, the courses were FANTASTIC!
Sari, Liverpool, NSW

Dyan (01-01-2012)

To Anonymous of 15 Feb 11: Your comments and suggestion make a lot of sense. I am rummaging through my draw now for a marking pen to make said amendments to the THRASS Chart! Thank you for taking the time to respond to my query. :-D

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

If you break the word 'course' into its phonemes (sounds) you will get c/our/se/ (i.e. 3 sounds). The 'or' sound that you hear in the middle of course is spelt with the trigraph our.

This is not a common spelling choice for the sound 'or' but, it is the spelling choice in this word.

On the THRASS chart the spelling choices (or graphemes) for the 'or' sound are /or/ as in fork, /a/ as in ball, /au/ as in sauce, /aw/ as in saw and /oor/ as in door. You can write with a whiteboard or permanent marker on your child's THRASS chart to include /our/ as in course.

Children readily accept quicker than adults that 'these three letters are making one sound'. It is difficult for the children to decide what choices to make, but as said previously - this needs to be explicitly taught.

Tell your child that /our/ is making the 'or' sound in this particular word.

Not sure if this will help, but I hope you get something out of it :)

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

I have used Thrass in my classroom for a number of years now. I have found it to be a brilliant tool. I would like to respond firstly to the comment made on Nov 29, 2010 Re: Thrass and Year Four/Stage 2. I am sorry to hear your son is struggling.

Having used Thrass among many other spelling tools and programs over the years, I can honestly say that Thrass has not let your son down but how it was taught. I have had students come to me with their parents saying exactly the same thing.

However, it, like everything else, MUST be taught explicitly and with various learning styles in mind. It will not work any other way. It is frustrating as a parent though when it is your child involved.

In response to Thrass vs Spalding. I have a friend who worked at a school that used Spalding and we have had many discussions about the differences between the two. What I have learnt is: They are very similar but Spalding has a set structure that it likes you to follow. The phonemes are mostly the same but Spalding does not acknowledge the 'schwa' sound like Thrass does. It also teaches the rules of spelling and how to use them where Thrass does not.

What Thrass does instead is teach about spelling patterns as every rule has an exception. I have found that they are both excellent tools but you will find many fans of one disliking the other. I think they are both great if done well. Like anything, all content must be taught explicitly instead of trying to get students to guess what we want them to know!

I am not sure which one would be better in rural Africa. Thrass offers visual cues with the pictures on the chart. Some you will need to explain as they may be foreign to the children but I find I need to do that even here in Australia.

Teach them about it and they will know!
I hope this helps somewhat. :-)

Anonymous (01-01-2012)


I'm working in rural Africa, and we are beginning a nursery school (kindergarten) and currently investigating some different reading/writing/spelling programmes. Can anyone tell me how THRASS compares to say SPA (Spalding)? We are looking for something that is not too heavily western-contextualized.

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

My son's school has been teaching Thrass for seven years and he is really struggling with spelling and reading. Great at maths and very smart with every thing else, always asks smart probing questions about lots of subjects. Thrass has failed him. HE is a shocking speller and struggles with reading. He is frustrated with his own learning. Came home from a spelling test recently crying, saying he did badly. We even have been having outside help. Thrass is one tool for some students, not all.

Dyan (01-01-2012)

Hi everyone. My five year old son was reading a scholastic book to me today, and got stuck on a word - racecourse.

He immediately said "This is a compound word" and then read the word "race" with no problems. He was unsure of the second word, though, and grabbed both his "Beyond Letterland" book and his THRASS chart to look for the sound combinations for UR.

Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, he could not work out how to pronounce the word "COURSE" correctly, pronouncing it as "CURSE" instead.

Correcting him prompted the inevitable question "but WHY Mummy?" And you know what? I couldn't answer him.

So, I was hoping that someone here could help me explain to my son why the word COURSE is pronounced the way it is? I would hate to have to tell him that it is a dreaded "sight" word!

Many thanks,


Anonymous (01-01-2012)

Honestly speaking, I think THRASS, is very good and helps assist both the learners and the teacher in teaching and learning about grapheme and phoneme awareness. Not only that but also things that are not being taught everyday at school THRASS gets to cover all those, but I still think for Grade 5 & 6 it's not such a good idea to use THRASS because here, the learners have covered most of the work and the level of thrass is not meeting their own, and then they start to see THRASS as a waste if time.

Thanks for bringing THRASS to South Africa though especially here at Eastern Cape. We're loving it in East London as a whole.

THRASS fan (01-01-2012)

I have become a THRASS fan. But I would like to find out if anybody has come up with interesting games that they could share with me and other teachers. I am in need of good and fun activities that I can use in the classroom.

Henry01 (01-01-2012)

My children have both been taught the THRASS system at various times. Their school has not adopted a 'whole school' approach, because only 2 teachers at the school use THRASS, so my sons (who are now in Years 3 and 4) have been taught it for only one year so far (Years 3 and 2 respectively). I noticed that their spelling ability went backwards after learning the THRASS system and that while the system did increase their phonemic awareness by teaching them the variety of different letter combinations available, it didn't help them to select the correct one.

I think it would be a worthwhile system when introduced to children as they first start school, rather than years later, because by Years 2 or 3 children have already learnt other spelling strategies.

Claudia (01-01-2012)

My children and I (2years now) also love working with Thrass. We have been using the Thrass charts at our school to teach basic grammar. We were told at the two day course (which was fantastic) the benefits of learners working from the 'known to the unknown'. That is woking with familiar words to cement understanding.

As we work around the chart identifying words as nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns etc the children get a real buzz at seeing the words come 'alive' and realising that English words can be used in different ways. We write the words in sentences/stories and this consolidates learning. I have been using these activities as homework activities and the parents enjoy them as much as the children! They say it makes more sense to them.

One of my children discovered to his delight that all the words in the 'w' box (water, wheel, quilt)could be verbs and could explain them in a sentence to me.

We are starting on singular and plurals and collective nouns this term...not bad for 7-8 year olds. Term 3 we are concentrating on tenses and the associated spelling.

Claudia Qld

Anna Bos (01-01-2012)

I have recently completed the 2 Day THRASS course and I am now implementing THRASS with my PREP and year 1 ESL students. I can see it has a lot of potential, but also there is a lot of language to be taught before it can be used with ESL students.
I am also combining Cued Articulation with my Thrass teaching.

I would also love to hear from any other teachers using THRASS with ESL students my email address is bos.anna.a(at)edumail.vic.gov.au

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

Hi this week I attended a THRASS PD the 2 day course, which was fantastic. The presenter explained every part of the thrass in detail.

Yes I do have my doubts but this was my second time around doing this course. I learned a whole lot more and we were told we could use the rap. It was FANTASTIC. I hope I will be good at it.

Sue (01-01-2012)

I have used THRASS tools (it is not a programme) successfully with students on the Autism spectrum.

As a support teacher, I work in small groups, and the knowledge taught in my class supports and is supported in the mainstream classroom. This is absolutely essential! I have also used THRASS in my mainstream classes which had students with disabilities (including ASD)

For younger students with Autism (K - 2), I work continually on alphabet knowledge, phonemic awareness and vocabulary (using the pictures as a source), as well as oral comprehension. I teach the alphabet and associated handwriting.

It is the phonemic awareness that is most difficult. I begin with one, two and three phoneme words, blending and segmenting (lots of modelling!!!!!!). The students I have taught with Aspergers have developed phonemic awareness earlier than those I have taught with Autism.

For them I seem to spend more time on comprehension and vocabulary. Once students can demonstrate alphabet knowledge and phonemic awareness, then I begin on phoneme boxes and graphemes.

As for helping your little boy at home, I suggest you focus on the alphabet (letter names)and pictures on the yellow picture chart- where they are on the chart, what they are, developing oral stories to improve vocabulary.

You may like to say the phonemes for simpler words and have him repeat back with you. Don't get caught up with phoneme boxes and graphemes at this point. He needs to develop the prior skills before attempting this.

It is importnat that you continue to read to him, have lots of incidental talk about the pictures (develops oral comprehension - ask literal as well as why, how questions to develop inferential comprehension), maybe point out a word that is on the chart that you find in the story.

Most importantly, maintain positive contact with your son's teacher. As you know, your son will be very tired at the end of the school day (children with learning difficulties brain's work far harder than those children who do not have a difficulty). He will need time to relax and rest - maybe with his obsession interest.

Make sure you discuss with his teacher that any homework be modified to account for his needs. He will also need water available to keep his brain hydrated, as well as regular rest breaks in class.

I hope all goes well. I'm happy to chat if you wish. Let me know

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

Would like to know results for children who are aspergers as my son has aspergers and they will be starting the thrass programme this year 2010 year 1 for him.

He already struggles with learning everything, we try to support everything he is doing at school at home it's already a nightmare trying to cover everything with social stories, speech, OT numeracy learning sounds and poor health on top of everything - moderate hearing loss in left ear needs to use hearing aid and FM at school I have started with the thrass programme at home to help with the beginning of the school year, it has been a real struggle.


Anonymous (01-01-2012)

I have been on the 2 day PD for THRASS. I currently use Jolly Phonics with great success. Over 90% of my students are ESL (some with no English at all) and JP caters to different learning styles. Some of these children cannot hear words in English let alone phonemes, have you ever tried to listen to Russian and pick out a word in a sentence?

While I can see the benefits of THRASS and understand the logic, if I implement it in my class I would be the only one in the school (with a very relutant teacher who doesn't want to learn new things or change her ways in the year above me).

On the THRASS course we were told to teach the alphabet first, and then ....(they didn't tell us what comes next). In what sequence do you teach THRASS?
We were also told not to sing the alphabet song, can you explain this please? And not to use the rap CD as it is very confusing - now that was understandable.

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

Can I use thrass just in my class? or is it essential that it is a whole school approach?

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

Hi Sue

There is a comprehension component to this program and it covers all requirements of the syllabus. This program is also based on scientific research and has been proven in primary and secondary schools as well as adult learning centres. It is also being used overseas for TESL, once again with great results. I have gone back and read quite a few of your postings and can tell that you are a very knowledgeable and experienced teacher. I would be willing to bet that not all teachers would gain the same results as you do with Thrass, just due to fact that they would not teach in the same way. Many teachers believe that it is sufficient to teach sight words simply by sight. They do not see the need for children to be able to decode the word, they do not see that encouraging children to do this will allow them to decode unfamiliar words. I have discovered in my class that children are able to read sight words but cannot spell them. I have been working with the children in this area with great results, there has been notable improvement in their spelling and as I put great emphasis on correct pencil grip and letter formation, the results in this area are substantial. Once again, not taking anything away from Thrass, I believe the methodology of both programs are very similar. I just believe that not all teachers would execute the program properly. This is where I see The Soundway as potentially having a higher success rate. During my four years of uni I was not taught half the things I have learned using this program, I feel my knowledge of the English language has improved dramatically. I will let you know how it all goes:)

Sue (01-01-2012)

Hi Anon
I am not opposed to any programme that is based in sound research and evidence, with solid evidence of success, based on science.
My concern, is that the way you suggested teaching this was to give the control to someone outside of the classroom, which I do not agree with, in any circumstance.
I use THRASS. It is successful because it is not a programme, but a tool for teachers to use to meet the needs of their individual students. My programme changes in accordance to need. I don't rewind the DVD. I do the work, planning, assessing, evaluating, teaching. I look at student skills, oral language, vocabulary, spelling, decoding and comprehension skills.
If the soundway programme assisted your child, that is great. I hope the strategies and skills she has learned are sustained as she moves through her education journey. May I suggest you have a look at THRASS, do some PD and then decide which method suits the needs of your students. Go to the THRASS site and read the research.
What is the comprehension, vocabulary component of soundway? These are unconstrained skills that must be developed and taught.
I wish you luck in your teaching journey and every success in what you do with your students.

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

Hi Sue

I am more frightened by what I see in todays classrooms - students heading into secondary school with limited reading/spelling ability. My daughter was one of those children. I firmly believe that if I did not intervene with this scary program that she would still be struggling. This program does not totally relieve the classroom teacher of their responsibility, nothing is that simple. The program provides a firm foundation on which teachers and students can build upon. The reason this program is so effective is that the DVD teacher teaches the 45 sounds of the english language in a sequential manner and yes it does pay alot of attention to syllables and the rules of the English language. Recent studies have shown that some classroom teachers actually have problems in addressing these areas. I will let you know how the program fares during our trial and if it achieves the results I believe it will. As the facilitator of the program you are able to monitor the progress of the students in real time and correct any misconceptions on the spot. You are also able to revisit lessons that may have highlighted problems for individuals or the whole class. If the program gained great results would you still be opposed to it?

Sue (01-01-2012)

If the DVD presenter is the facilitator, how are individual needs of students met using this method? What about teacher's using knowledge of their students to design programmes that teach what students need to learn? What about the syllabus? How does this meet the requirements for your programming? I have concerns about the teacher being replaced by a TV when teaching critical skills in literacy.
Teachers need to teach, that is what we are employed to do. The success of any class activity is dependent on how well the teacher engages the students, presents information in a meaningful way and meets student need. Good teachers take into account what knowledge and experiences a student brings to school - how can a DVD do this? Sorry, but this programme, presented the way you say, frightens the daylights out of me - I would never give responsiblity to an unknown DVD presenter to teach my students.

Anonymous (01-01-2012)

Hi all, another terrific program available on the market is The Soundway, developed by Craig Henderson. I used this program at home with my own daughter with great results, then had the opportunity to present the program at a high school, once again with great results. After this I decided to become a teacher. I completed a four year degree in Primary teaching. I have been given permission to run this program at the school I am currently employed at - can't wait to see what happens. I have looked at the Thrass program and the one noticeable difference is the delivery. The Soundway presents via dvd. The teacher becomes the facilitator, Craig Henderson is the teacher. Obviously the success of Thrass will be determined by the teacher presenting the program.


Jen - Student Teacher and Mum! (01-01-2012)

Hi Donna

In Term 4 this year, my children (who are currently in Term 2 of Transition) will (and my nephews already do) use THRASS at their school.

I just finished a Practicum for Uni in a Year 6 class at another school where they use THRASS. There were students in the class that had been at the School since Transition... and it was amazing! THRASS was a part of everything they were forever picking up different words throughout the day and making note of the phonemes etc (and GCA's?).

I had done a Practicum the year before in a Year 5 class. The difference in ability to read and spell between the classes was incredible. The Year 5 class that did not use THRASS (in fact there was no phoneme work at all) averaged 3/10 on their spelling tests every week. And there was... maybe... 3 or 4 really good readers in the class. Contrast that with Year 6 using THRASS. They averaged 9/10 on ALL spelling tests. They could ALL read well - I would say they were all average-above average readers.

I can't wait until my children start (they will start in Term 4 this year in preparation for Kindergarten next year). It is a fantastic method - that REALLY works!

Jen :)

Lee-Ann (Namibia) (01-01-2012)

we have had good fun using the questions from the THRASS uk internet sight. I have copied it here for you http://www.thrass.co.uk/SAL_QA.htm

Our children like making up their own questions and words aswell.


mikayla (01-01-2012)

i think thrass is a very good thing for kids

Becky M (01-01-2012)

We had a poll and the top six are:

10 Bruce the Mouse
27 Disco hair
02 Rock and roll jive
45 THRASS Sing-A-Long Song
04 My dog Spot
29 Get outta bed

The children said to say that they like the words and music but LOVE doing their own actions!

Peter R (01-01-2012)

Becky, Which is your classes favourite song. Mine love A GREAT BIG GORILLA and they go mad with banana bits! A close second is SAW YOU IN THE SUN - as they love the hard rock guitars!!!
They are not quite so keen on the jazz and blues numbers e.g my coin

Becky M (01-01-2012)

I can recommend the Sing-a-long dvd, too. It is great fun and there is so much to see and do! Looks good on the interactive board.

Pete R (01-01-2012)

The THRASS Sing-A-Long resources are amazing and my class love singing with the Interactive Book and the new DVD. I strongly recommend them to any primary school class teacher. I even showed by class the video from www.thrass.co.uk/wps08.htm and they loved it. It certainly makes you feel good to see so many children enjoying themselves!

Keryne (01-01-2012)

I think THRASS is a very sensible way to teach phonics and spelling and agree with all the positive comments about it. My question is exactly how do you teach it. How do other teachers run their daily lessons? I have tried a variety of methods but I'm still not happy with the daily format. Any suggestions?

Sharon (01-01-2012)

Just wanted to give THRASS a THUMBS UP - my 9-year-old did two years of THRASS before moving provinces (South Africa)and now attends a school that still uses PHONICS - his writing, spelling and reading are all FAR SUPERIOR to his peers - so much so that I have opted to teach my younger child (age 6) THRASS at home as KNOW IT WORKS - hoping to introduce THRASS to our school soon.

Sue (01-01-2012)

Hi Jo, I had a look at the THRASS site but couldn't find the singalong. Where should I look?

Jo (01-01-2012)

Hi I have been using THRASS with a small group of deaf and hearing impaired children. I love it - the children have made significant progress in both reading and writing as THRASS embeds both phoneme and grapheme connections. This then frees the children to write and spell effectively.

If you haven't had any THRASS training then do so at your earliest opportunity.

You can see me singing THRASS songs with my children at the Singlong section of the THRASS website

Narelle (01-01-2012)

Hi Everyone,

THRASS is amazing!!!!!!

I'm a prep teacher and I implement THRASS from the very start of the school year. I would never confuse my students by using jolly phonics, initially. For instance, if you teach that c makes a k sound at the start of the year then it is hard for children to recognise that it can also make other sounds such as the s sound (as in city) later on. And if they can, why not teach them how our language is from the start? Children as young as five are like sponges and absorb anything you teach them. We underestimate their capabilities!!!

Its the results that I see in my classroom that drives me to continue using THRASS. The children also love THRASS. It has to be seen to be believed!!! Who would of thought that in Term 2 of Prep, children are asking everyday to write two pages and actually do so successfully!!!!!

Please feel free to comment or ask any questions regarding THRASS.

Sue (01-01-2012)

THRASS is research based - so important. I have used THRASS as a tool for teaching reading, spelling and handwriting since 2004. However, the methodology and theory behind it has been something I used for 20 years as part of my teaching K - 6. It always made sense.

I began using THRASS resources with Kinder when I went to a new school where it was used and their progress was amazing. It gives children the big picture of our language and how it works and allows them to develop skills systematically. I have used it also with year 2 when I was a classroom teacher. In my current school we use it Transition to year 6 and I also use it with my yr 7 and 8 students. ( I am now learning support co-ordinator). Our yr 5 and 6 students love it too. It supports the spelling programme I have written for the school.

It is so important to get away from one letter one sound method to decode and spell. Our language has 44 phonemes but only 26 letters. Children have to be taught the phonemes and their associated graphemes from the start. They also need to know the alphabet very early in the K year (by end term 1). Not impossible, our Kinders know their alphabet already!!!

I am not a fan of Jolly Phonics as students seem to waste time (focus) on learning hand signals rather than learning the concepts, also, they go with tricky sight words rather than teaching the phoneme/grapheme relationship so they can read any word - that's my opinion and some may differ.

Some use J Ph in Kinder then move to THRASS. Sorry, but that does not make sense. Students are capable of learning the skills and concepts from an early age, so they don't need to have information dumbed down and made cute. Wastes learning time and often things need to be retaught and bad habits broken the following year.

I have conducted across school research in spelling and THRASS based spelling tasks - there are so many and I don't have room here - it has made a significant difference to student progress (using SA spelling as pre/post test) over a number of years. This has impacted on reading skills also, with oral fluency gains seen in those students with combined spelling and oral reading fluency difficulties.

The handwriting section is great. So important to get letter formation and pencil grip correct from the start.

As for phonemic awareness, the resources available are great for PA tasks. This is a daily part of every lesson I teach.

Don't forget good, systematic, explicit teaching!
For interest, in the latest Special Education Perspectives, there is a literature review by Peter Westwood reviewing issues in spelling instruction 1995 - 2007. THRASS is the only programme ( for lack of a better word because it is not a programme) that gets a mention.

My advice to you is to do the two day course and see for yourself. It is the best PD you will do.

Paul ... year 2 teacher (01-01-2012)

Phonemic awareness is a huge topic and where does one start?
Rather than get into teacher talk, I'll put in 2c worth on behalf of my year 2 kids :)
We begin the year using Jolly Phonics because
- it reinforces and consolidates basic letter / sound relationships through use of complementing hand movements.
- it gives opportunity for those who have knowledge gaps to catch up
- it helps make handwriting automatic (redundant)
- it is fun and lots of English games are innate with this strategy

In term two, we begin using THRASS because the children are desperate for an organised framework that supports new territory. I find that they are moving fast i.e.
- confronted with increased spelling choices
- fluency in reading and comprehension is ramping up
- vocabulary bank is expanding
- their thinking has moved away from what sound does this letter / letter group make to tell me the word teacher, and then I'll tell you what sound the phoneme makes
- and we have fun with English still :)
- we still use Jolly Phonics but only in so far as the grammar program because it has complementary hand movements and colour coding for nouns, pronouns, verbs, etc

The above is brief and just a snapshot of what I am doing at this point in time.
I find that I continually change my teaching style due to the needs of students; departmental professional development; interaction with peer professionals; parental support; and how many biscuits I have left in my barrel(energy).
cya Paul


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  • Workbook Organisation

    Submitted by Michelle

    In my room the different workbooks have different coloured tape on the spine.

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  • Assembly Ideas Question

    Submitted by Jennifer

    Does anyone have any good assembly ideas for 5 year old children?

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  • Combined Kindy/Pre-Primary Class

    Submitted by Tammy

    Hi EveryonernNext year I will be teaching a mixed Kindergarten and Pre-Primary class.rnI would love to hear from other ECE teachers who have a mixed class and what your daily schedule looks like. Thank you.

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New Comments

  • Whats the difference with dolch and oxford sight words??

    By Amanda

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  • Thanks for this game im presently researching the web for lots of ideas for next term as we are doing under the sea, and lighthouses. My husband is a light house keeper/guide at the tallest lighthouse in Australia (Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta SW WA) and ive been dying to do this theme in Preprimary for 2 years now so come on the littlest Lighthouse keeper series its going to be so much fun!!

    By Amanda

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  • Well, just had one of those 'DUH' moments and wondering why I never thought of that before!! Great, practical tip for avoiding tearing out the hair!

    By Jeanette

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