3. Questions about the Whiteboard Active CD-ROMs
3.1: In the initial video clip 'This is...', why are words which feature the focus phoneme in the middle of the word included, rather than the start (for example, one of the words for 'm' is 'domino')?
A: This is to get children listening for the sound, which can, after all, occur at any point in a word. There are only ever one or two examples of this out of around six words, and it just gets children thinking about the structure of words as well as the sound itself. The video clip is immediately followed up with the activity 'which start sound', so we do follow the advice that children learn the beginning phoneme first, but the video prepares children for when they will be blending the phoneme in words (which they need to start doing very quickly!).
3.2: Why aren't the Magic Pencil clips 'fully cursive'?
A: The letters aren't fully cursive, as it was felt that because this is a phonics programme rather than a handwriting one, children who aren't taught the cursive method would be disadvantaged when learning phonics, which is, of course, the main focus of the programme.
However, to cater for schools teaching cursive handwriting, the letters are "pre-cursive". For that reason, it should be easy for schools teaching cursive handwriting to progress from the letters in Fun with Phonics in the handwriting sessions. They can also use the tools on the Whiteboard Active CD-ROM to do this.
3.3: Why have you included the alphabet song? Doesn't that contradict the new guidance - where we teach 44 sounds, not the alphabet?
A: The alphabet song is included to make the resource in line with Letters and Sounds. In Phase 3 of Letters and Sounds, children are required in week one to 'learn an alphabet song' in week 1, and in week 5 to 'point to the letters in the alphabet while singing the alphabet song' (p. 76 of Letters and Sounds). Children need to know their alphabet and the names of letters, as well as knowing the sounds those letters make and the way they are written. We've therefore included an alphabet song to help schools to link up letter names, sounds and the way they are written.
3.4: Why do the Pollyphonic spelling activities include words with the focus phoneme in positions other than at the beginning of a word?
A: The CD ROM offers the 'which start sound' activity, which focuses on words that begin with the focus phoneme. However, when it comes to spelling, children need to hear and identify the relevant letter, wherever it happens to occur in a word. This is why the Pollyphonic activity includes the phoneme in different positions within a word.
3.5: We have Macs at our school and Whiteboard Active is only available for PCs. Why is this?
A: The technical development of Whiteboard Active focused on the PC platform to ensure the most robust software solution. This is because there are a variety of operating systems on a Mac platform which increases the complexity of a software solution to work for all circumstances.
However, a Mac-using school can still buy our DVDs. Also, if the school has KnowledgeBox, then Whiteboard Active CD-ROMs and the E Big Books can be accessed from a Mac through KnowledgeBox.
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