Early Reading

Fiji adopts Fantastic Phonics as national reading program.

In 2015, the Fijian Ministry of Education and Fantastic Phonics team worked together to implement Fantastic Phonics as the national learn to read program for Fiji.

The decision came after extensive testing of Fantastic Phonics, and the program will be progressed to more than 100,000 children, in 750 schools, across the country's 300 islands.

Fantastic Phonics was donated to Fiji, saving the country an estimated $4million dollars cost.

The rollout of the program is in several stages, with Stage One being the training of approximately 100 key teachers who will progress the use of Fantastic Phonics in their schools and districts.

The Fantastic Phonics professional development team worked extensively with the Ministry's Curriculum Development Unit to produce materials for the training. This included printed material, books, videos, slideshows and teacher guides.

The Training
The Stage One training occurred over 6 days, in three locations; Suva, Lautoka and Labasa, with approximately 35 teachers in each workshop. Teachers traveled from nearby islands to reach the venue - some traveled up to five hours by bus and ferry to reach the training.

The workshops were rapidly paced, and began with an understanding of the origins of Phonics. We then presented research which explored the comparative performance between "sight reading" and phonics, and also reviewed independent recent empirical research into Fantastic Phonics.

The next step was a detailed review of the Fantastic Phonic scripted lesson plans, with a focus on phonological awareness, different strategies of teacher/student instruction, and decoding techniques.

Structure of Fantastic Phonics trainingfiji training fantastic phonics
Fantastic Phonics is divided into Three Series of 20 books each, with each book forming a complete education session for the children. In Series One, each book looks at specific sound-letter relationships, and includes key "sight" words to be memorised.

Research shows that the instruction of phonics must be explicit, and detailed, so that the children understand the different sound/letter relationships, and the teachers need full understanding of how Fantastic Phonics can provide the foundation of reading skills, so the students can develop their knowledge.

Towards the end of the first day, we began Series Two - which introduces long vowels and vowel diagraphs, including the the "ea" sound, the "ee" sound, the "ou" sound and the "oo" sound.

To cement the teachers understanding of the philosophy and practice of Fantastic Phonics, we divided teachers into smaller groups, where they created a lesson, based on Fantastic Phonics Scripted Lesson Plans.

Series Three introduces multi-syllable words and expands knowledge of decoding techniques for longer, more complex words with complex diagraphs and homophones, which are words with the same sound, but different spelling.

fiji training fantastic phonicsMicro-teaching
During the workshops we conducted micro-teaching sessions with the teachers, where the teachers could review their own understanding by watching other teachers create and conduct a learn to read lesson with Fantastic Phonics class.

The teachers were very pleased to have a systematic approach to learning to read - with clear explicit instructions on how to implement Fantastic Phonics reading program into their classes. Before we left Fiji, teachers from the first workshop had reported significant improvements in the students learning to read within days of implementing Fantastic Phonics in their classroom.

An email we received ... "Great Lessons! BULA! Just letting you know that I've started the lessons with my children and the response is just so overwhelming. I can't wait to see the response after the first 10 books. My colleagues share the same sentiments as I."

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