Jigsaw Phonics Q&A with Charlotte @exploring_year1_2

Hi all, I’m Charlotte from @exploring_year1_2. I am entering my 11th year of teaching and cannot believe that I have taught nearly 300 children since I graduated!! I have always taught in Key Stage One and it is definitely the age I love the most. My school is a one and a half form entry school in West Yorkshire, I have been there for 3 years teaching in the mixedYear1/2 class (hence my instagram name) and I am also the Key Stage One phase leader. Over the past three years, we have embarked on the journey of developing continuous provision throughout year 1 and 2, it’s safe to say we will never look back. It has transformed the way we teach and our perspective of education. I love looking for new ideas, being inspired by others and their amazing classrooms as well as searching Facebook Marketplace for classroom freebies/bargains!

Thank you @jigsawphonics for asking me to take part in the Q&A, here goes…

In your opinion, how well does teacher training prepare teachers to teach phonics?

When I was training, phonics was all about Letters and Sounds. We were expected to teach phonics on placement but had no specific lessons on vocabulary, pronunciations and planning. It was more watch and learn. Since mentoring many students I have seen a shift in the way trainees are taught and are now expected to teach phonics, however I still feel more could be done as it is such an important area.

What’s an a-ha moment you’ve had teaching phonics that you would want to pass on to a new teacher?

Keep your resources consistent. Use the same resources in lessons as you have on display and make sure you keep them organised – I use the @jigsawphonics word cards every day and then put them out in provision for the children to embed their learning. By the end of the week they are all jumbled up, I take time to organise them as my future self always thanks me for it!

Does phonics rate as one of your favourite things to teach?

Yes, I love seeing the progress in phonics and seeing children grow in confidence to read and write. It is one of those lessons where you see so many lightbulb moments!

Where do you get your phonics inspiration from?

Facebook groups, Instagram and Pinterest also websites which have pre-made activities. I’m all for not reinventing the wheel.

If you could only save one of your phonics resources from a burning classroom, which one would it be?

Just one?? Yikes! It would have to be my word cards because they are used every single day. As they are stored in an easy to carry box I’d also sneakily grab my fly swatter too. It’s one of my favourite tools for teaching phonics as we play the game splat ALL the time.

What would your ideal phonics professional development training include?

For me I learn by seeing. So the perfect development training session would have to include real lessons taught by real teachers and real children. I also think that it’s so important for every teacher and support assistant to be included on the training right from Nursery to Year 6 so that there is consistency throughout the school and everyone sings from the same hymn sheet.

The phonics genie is out of the bottle to grant you three phonics wishes. What are they?

I love this question!

Dear genie, my first wish is for trigraphs such as ‘ure’ ‘air’ ‘ear’ to disappear or to only have one pronunciation.

For my second wish, I wish for the English language to be simple to learn. So often children are confused about spellings because of the million rules we have. Be gone alternative spellings!!

And for my final wish, I would love for all staff to have high quality, effective training that:

1: doesn’t cost an absolute fortune to be delivered

2: they can go back and revisit at any point!

What’s the trickiest thing about teaching phonics, and how are you managing to solve it?

For me the trickiest thing is teaching in a mixed 1/2class as I have two different objectives to teach. I split my class into year groups and teach in years. It’s tricky to fit it all in the day and make sure every child has everything they need but it seems to work for us. Next year, we are bringing in a new scheme and I will be teaching whole class which I’m really looking forward to.

What’s a favourite phonics activity you always rely on and always come back to?

I’ve already mentioned this one, my favourite activity was introduced on a training course about metacognition. We play the game SPLAT all the time in every aspect of phonics, whether we are recapping sounds, exploring tricky words or embedding our learning and practicing reading. All children are involved in the game and all children want to participate. I often find children playing the game in provision with my word cards. It’s a game that never gets old and the children love it especially when they manage to beat the teacher too.

Leave us with a thought or a quote that helps you in your educator life.

“Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses” – Charlie Mackesy

This quote to me speaks volumes as a teacher. As I’m sure many people reading this often find themselves close to that dreaded burnout by the end of a term. We work ridiculously hard because we care about our cherubs! But, it’s so important to look after yourself. After all, you are the most important resource in the classroom!

Thanks for reading. Please subscribe to our newsletter if you haven't already! Just drop your name into the box at the bottom and know that we do not share your information with anyone else! Not only will you get alerts for special offers, inside chat and new guests, you get a link that pings back giving you access to a free download bundle you can see in the picture that includes a print of Charlotte's quote, 2 phonics activity cards for inspiration at home or at school, plus a page to print of one of our activity books - designed in both print and precursive fonts. Plus all previous bundles from all our guests! How good is that?!

And check out Charlotte's Instagram account @handmadeby_miss_e for some of the most beautiful class gifts we've seen!

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