Educators from some of the island’s primary and secondary schools have been exposed to a new method of teaching reading skills.

This was the result of a three-day training workshop for Barbadian teachers held by the British company, THRASS UK.

According to Co-ordinator of the National Reading Programme, Patricia Saul, “the initiative forms part of the continuous training in reading methods being offered under the National Reading Policy”.

She explained that THRASS, which stands for Teaching Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Skills, is a phonics programme which utilises a multi-sensory approach to the teaching of word decoding skills.

“It makes use of a blend of synthetic phonics, analytical phonics and analogy-based phonics strategies. As such, it requires students to use their critical thinking skills to help them decode new words,” she pointed out.

Ms. Saul went on to explain that “the programme has a strong assessment component which allows teachers to assess discrete phonics skills and to direct instruction to remediate weaknesses”.

She also stressed that “the objective of the workshop is to expose teachers to a strategy which they can use to improve their teaching of phonics skills in a meaningful way. It, however, is not being promoted as the only way to teach decoding skills, but as a method that has been used with a great degree of success in the United Kingdom and parts of Africa,” she pointed out.

The workshop’s activities included presentations which outlined the major features of THRASS and their benefits, interactive sessions which allowed participants to interact with THRASS materials in small groups and demonstration lessons with students.

Describing the response to the workshop as “overwhelming”, Ms. Saul stated that “based on the written evaluations received, many participants thought that the programme was a useful one that could be employed in the Barbadian setting.

“Ninety-five persons received the THRASS accredited certificate, having completed two full days of training,” she revealed.

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