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The digital phonics program shaping future readers


The digital phonics program shaping future readers

This is the last year of Gen-Alpha babies. Six years from now the first of the Gen-Betas will be learning to read and today’s new approach to teaching phonics will have a vital role to play, says Dame Wendy Pye, an Australian expert in educational publishing.

While teachers have long taught phonics as part of their literacy programs, educators are now recognising that an explicit, systematic and sequential phonics approach is the best way to teach children to read, write and spell.

“It’s a crucial shift in mindset as schools scramble to lift falling literacy rates, all the while preparing for a new generation of fledgling readers growing up in an artificially intelligent world,” Dame Wendy said. “The latest research has shown how we can elevate the teaching of phonics to achieve far better literacy results.”

Dame Wendy is the driving force behind the nation’s iconic Sunshine Books Publishing company and Sunshine Multimedia (Aust) Pty Ltd, whose captivating classroom texts have helped millions of children around the world learn to read.

“By continuing to look to the evidence provided by the science of reading, and using it to inform teaching practice, we can ensure that all children become successful readers, both now and in the future,” Dame Wendy said.

The NSW Department of Education has already recognised the benefits of Dame Wendy’s expertise when it comes to teaching phonics in schools. It has included the new Sunshine Online digital program in its Online Learning Tools Marketplace. The Marketplace provides quality online learning to all NSW public schools.

The Sunshine Online digital program includes a new library of 180 decodable texts that reflect the current thinking in phonics teaching.

Designed to complement a synthetic phonics approach to learning, the texts are all fully decodable, meaning that the reader has been taught the letter-sound correspondences they need to read (decode) the text. The program uses the latest technology to provide ample opportunity for students to have fun practicing their skills at sound, word and text level.

“Beginner readers need to be explicitly taught the 44 speech sounds of English, known as phonemes, and the letters that represent these sounds, known as graphemes,” Dame Wendy said.

“Making texts decodable and supporting them with interactive learning opportunities means we can elevate the teaching of phonics. It’s how we now know children best learn to read.”

The original version of this article was published by Sunshine Books and has been republished with permission.

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