Making Reading Cool……

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Be awesome! Be a book nut!”
~Dr. Seuss~

One of the things I began thinking even more about yesterday was ‘reading’ in our school. As heads, we began talking about our school timetables and what the organisation of the week looked like.

My thoughts about the week are changing and the timetable will look different next September. Some more non-negotiables for me are daily reading/sharing texts, daily additional mental math sessions, phonics daily in EYFS and Key Stage 1 and handwriting practice a few times a week if not every day. There has been discussion over moving collective worship to the afternoons but now that too has become a non-negotiable, collective worship is central to our ethos as a Church school, thus we will have it every morning. Afternoons have too many ‘different’ things happening such as sporting events, interventions or ‘council’ meetings, which means ensuring all pupils are attending all the time becomes much more difficult.

Reading in school, though, has become something that I have quickly realised needs to be widely promoted both with the pupils and the parents. I have some teachers who do guided reading most days of the week, while others do it on one day where every child is heard by the teacher. I suppose both ways have their merit but the more I have been pondering this the more I am coming to realise that if children are not in the habit of opening a book every day then it is actually lessening its importance.

If we want children to think of certain subjects or routines as highly important in their development then they should be doing it regularly, not just in a one off session.

When done correctly, guided reading can be highly effective. When I was teaching both years 5 and 6, I always planned out my weekly guided reading sessions so that each group was doing work specifically focused on a specific aspect of reading (inference/deduction activities, etc), grammar or sentence and word level activities. As guided reading was first thing in the morning I had lots of parent volunteers to help. However, what was key to this was that the parents had training sessions BEFORE they were allowed to come in and help. This training consisted of taking parents through Oxford Reading Tree type reading schemes as well as looking at longer texts. Parents were then given example questions related to different assessment focuses (AFs) so they could ask relevant questions based on the area that the teacher wanted to look at that day or week. Further training was on the use if Higher Order Questioning stems and how to use these to get children to really think about and analyse what they are reading. This training not only helped volunteers at school but also gave parents more understanding of how to improve their reading sessions at home.

So, this is an action for me to begin putting into place at school quite quickly. Reading needs to be promoted and the children need to hold reading in much higher regard than they do now.

Starting this Friday, to celebrate World Book Day, we are having the children dress up as their favourite book characters and to bring the book with them so that the can talk about their characters in class. Also, in the morning we have invited parents into school to read with their children in our hall. We will be having bacon rolls and all to entice then in! I am also hoping that some of the Reading Rockets basketball team will be able to come in and read with the kids as well.

Reading needs to be an activity that children enjoy doing and even more is an activity that they see happening around them being done by lots of different people…….so when reading is not a ‘chore’ at bedtime but a treat and when sporting personalities are seen to read it becomes pretty ‘cool.’ It is about thinking of how to make it exciting and not just a task to keep the class quiet while the register is being taken…..

How is reading organised in your school?

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