Onset-Rime: The onset is the part of the word before the vowel; not all words have onsets. The rime is the part of the word including the vowel and what follows it.Catherine wrote:
Diane McGuinness says 'onset' and 'rime' (first letter/rest of the word) is bad, bad, bad....but I have forgotten why.
I don't recall just what Diane McGuinness said about onset-rime, but I can think of several reasons those advocating a synthetic phonics approach to beginning reading would frown on it.
1) It gives the new reader the wrong idea about what is entailed in "reading" a word. We want the child to learn to process the correspondences from left to right, "all through the word," as the UK folks say. We do not want them to think that we glance at the first letter, then the end of the word, then try putting two parts together, as the default strategy.
With "balanced literacy" children tend to look all over the place for "clues" (Fountas and Pinnell call this "word solving") -- the teacher's face, the pictures, the shape of the word, anything but the letters in sequential order
2)It suggests that rime units are "sounds" to be "learned." There are between 100 and 200 common rime units in short words that beginners can expect to see. But English has only 40-44 spoken phonemes which have about 70 common encodings in beginner vocabulary (forget about "yacht" for now). The memory load of trying to learn hundreds of "sounds" as separate entities is only exceeded by the memory load of trying to "learn" all the Dolch/high frequency words by sight alone. Many kids simply cannot do this and quickly determine that they will never be able to read. A negative mindset from the get-go is definitely a thing to avoid.
3)It trains kids into the look-at-the-first-letter-and-take-a-flying-leap strategy, which backfires once words get beyond one syllable. These kids will go on to read "disappear" as "dinosaur."
That said, once children have learned to decode sequentially, all through the word, phoneme by phoneme, there is some value in having them work with larger units (like rime units) but not in the patterned way onset-rime is usually taught. Some kids get really hung up on sound-by-sound word decoding, and don't easily move on to process larger units of words. So, recognizing that letter-groups like "og" or "ip" are usually spelled the same and sound the same can enhance their fluency.
But, instead of reading and writing onset-rimes with merely initial consonant substitution (man-can-fan), they can read and write words with the target "rime" unit in different positions: fog, soggy, toggled, dogsled, toboggan. This ensures they will continue to look at all the letters of the word, in order. Even Reading Mastery, a synthetic approach if ever there was one, introduces rhyming units and explicitly tells children that these parts that look the same usually are pronounced the same -- ime, lime, chime -- but they don't go on to hammer it as a decoding strategy to be used in lieu of all-through-the-word reading.
Research by the Clackmannanshire authors found that only children who could decode at the phoneme level could use larger units to read by analogy, which is what fluent young readers do when confronted with a new (short) word -- if they can sound out "late," they can read the name "Nate" even if they haven't seen it before. Generally, fluent readers have internalized common patterns to automaticity -- but they initially learned those patterns in a sound-by-sound, letter-by-letter way. There is research on how many times a beginner will "sound out" a word before it becomes an automatic response, but the results show extreme variability -- from 5 reps or fewer to many thousands. Most kids are in the middle, sounding out words dozens of times before recognizing them "at sight."
Some very successful remedial programs for children with reading disabilities emphasize teaching students to use analogy to read, especially for multi-syllable words. Maureen Lovett developed her PHAST program as part of the NICHD-funded reading research, and it teaches kids a self-talk strategy for decoding by analogy, but this is after they have already learned the phoneme/grapheme correspondences and how to blend them into words. She has data to show this is a very successful approach. This is also the general approach taken by the Benchmark School, a private school for kids with reading disabilities, which also has excellent evidence of success.
Both these programs however teach rime units differently than the "balanced literacy" initial substitution method, where all-through-the-word decoding is *not* emphasized.
For more information on these alternatives, you can Google Maureen Lovett and PHAST and/or Irene Gaskins and Benchmark School. The latter has written an excellent book about strategies to help struggling readers. It deals with multiple areas -- not only decoding, but organizational skills, reading comprehension, vocabulary, written expression and so forth. I give it three thumbs up.