I’m currently big on Graphic Organisers. It’s the way that graphic organisers make it easier for children to articulate their understanding that I particularly like. But also, it’s the way that a really good graphic organiser lends itself to a multitude of educational requirements. The Freyer model (sometimes called the Freyer diagram) is one such graphic organiser.
A school I work with has asked me to help them promote a love of reading that spans beyond World Book Day. Now there’s nothing wrong with World Book Day; in fact, there’s a lot that’s right about promoting books and reading. But I do understand the reason behind the school’s request. They want to think about sustainable, everyday things they can do to promote a love of reading in their school. Naturally, I’ve written on this subject before but in this article, I’ve added a few more ideas and as many links as I could think of. As the school are based in Warwickshire, I’ve made mention of organisations and initiatives in this part of England, but not exclusively so. I am of course only one of several educators who talk about developing a love of reading in school. Whilst much of what I discuss here is from my own work, I am indebted to those other reading enthusiasts for their ideas and inspiration.
If you’re looking to promote a love of reading in your school, you need to ensure that the books you have are worthwhile. When you consider that ‘UK publishers released more than 20 new titles every hour over the course of 2014,’ (The Guardian 22nd October, 2014) it can be rather daunting to start looking for books to suit the wide-tastes of all readers. This is where recommendations come into play. Your local School Library Service (SLS) should be right at the top of your list for support and guidance but there are other valuable outlets worth exploring too. I’ve listed a few below:
Coventry SLS (because I’m based in Coventry and they are in my opinion the best SLS around)
Warwickshire SLS (because Warwickshire is my neighbouring authority and they are also rather splendid and great people to work with)
The 2016 KS2 Reading SAT has long gone but the repercussions of ‘that paper’ are still being felt in Y6 classrooms across the land. There has been much written about the paper and I’m not going to add much more. What I can do though, is offer a couple of solutions.
My first solution comes in the form of the Primary English KS2 Question Prompts (see our resources page). This little booklet of reading comprehension questions is one of the most popular downloads from our resources page. It provides plentiful question stems organised by Content Domain and is an essential tool for planning high quality reading comprehension sessions. The reason I suggest this as a solution is this: I think the style of the 2016 questions was more of a concern than the challenge of the texts. This being the case, the Primary English KS2 Question Prompts have had a make-over. They now include question stems based on those found in the 2016 test. You’ll find more of ‘what impression…‘ and less of ‘what thoughts...’ than in the previous edition, which should better help you prepare your pupils for the end of Key Stage tests.
My other solution comes in the form of the Reading Detectives series from Keen Kite. As the series editor and author of the Y6 book, I can guarantee that this series offers a solution to the thorny issue of question style. When writing the Y6 book I constantly referred to the questions in the 2016 SAT and made sure mine were as similar as possible. I also endeavoured to explain how the answers had been derived and the types of skills pupils needed to apply. The Reading Detectives are an essential addition to the KS2 reading comprehension curriculum that will help you familiarise pupils with the high demand of questions in the end of Key Stage tests.Read my blog for Keen Kite here.
Please do click through to our resources page and download a copy of the Primary English KS2 Question Prompts.
Rachel Clarke, Director: Primary English Education
All content on the Primary English website is owned by Rachel Clarke and is protected by copyright.
Beautiful Book Quotes
Drawing children’s attention to beautiful books is all part of promoting a love of reading and is essential if you’re aiming to create a reading school. In this blog post we take some of those beautiful books and consider how to use some of the quotations within them to inspire children to read.
Use quotations as advertising soundbites
Consider collecting quotations that you love and display them in the classroom or library. Display the books from which the quotations come side-by-side. This way the quotations work as short adverts for the books.
Set a challenge and develop home-school links
Create a collection of great quotations by working as a staff team. You could also consider asking the children and their parents to offer their favourite book quotations. Set it as a challenge with book related prizes for the most quotations, or a particularly funny or poignant quotation.
Get visual with a rolling Powerpoint of beautiful book quotes
Create a rolling Powerpoint presentation of book quotes (or ask some children to make one). This can then be displayed in the library, as children enter the hall for assembly, or in classrooms as children arrive in the morning. You could share this one that I made if you’re able to access YouTube in your school.
Build vocabulary by collecting great words from great literature
Encourage children to collect interesting words that they find in book quotes. Provide them with notebooks to record the words they find and then ensure that they have time to use dictionaries to research the words so that they can go on to use them in their own writing.
Get grammatical by spotting grammar in practice
Look for examples of grammatical forms in different quotations. The Charlotte’s Web quotation in my video uses the perfect form. Other examples in my video make good use of question marks, inverted commas and apostrophes for contraction and possession.
Don’t forget poetry
There are many, many well-known and well-loved poetic quotes. Why not create a collection of poetic quotes to promote a love of poetry in your school?
These are just a few thoughts about how to use book quotes in your school. Let me know how you use book quotes in your school
Rachel Clarke – Director: Primary English
All content on the Primary English website is protected by copyright and owned by Rachel Clarke.
RIP Assessment Focuses. Hello content domains
In this short blog post, I introduce the updated Primary English suite of materials for reading.
From September 2015 onwards, the new national curriculum has been taught in all year groups across the primary range but it’s not just the old curriculum content that has gone. The Assessment Focuses have also been retired. Of course, this makes total sense; if you’re going to change the curriculum then the criteria for assessing it must also change. So, in this blog post we say RIP Assessment Focuses, and welcome to the world Content Domains.
KS1 Reading Content domain reference
KS2 Reading Content domain reference
draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts
give / explain the meaning of words in context
identify / explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction texts, such as characters, events, titles and information
retrieve and record information / identify key details from fiction and non-fiction
identify and explain the sequence of events in texts
summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph
make inferences from the text
make inferences from the text / explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text
predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far
predict what might happen from details stated and implied
identify / explain how information / narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole
identify / explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases
make comparisons within the text
For more information about the reading content domains click KS1 reading here and KS2 reading here.
The content domains work in much the same way as the old assessment focuses. They’re not the curriculum but the broad headings under which skills have been grouped for assessment. They were initially formulated for test developers so they could ensure their materials covered the range of the curriculum programmes of study. Just like the assessment focuses they are also useful to us as educators for assessing where gaps exist, for analysing formative and summative test data, and then for planning next steps in learning. As I said, they’re not the curriculum but knowing the content domains and how to ensure that they are all covered in teaching and learning is important.
With the autumn term drawing to a close, it seems timely to reflect on the Primary English Autumn 2014 #FocusOnReading.
The highlight of our #FocusOnReading came early in October with our reading conference led by reading expert, James Clements. This was a practical and inspirational day which left our delegates with job lists longer than their arms, but smiles on their faces brought on by looking at wonderful books and discussing ways of developing a reading culture in their schools. We highly recommend you take a look at James’ website.
You know that feeling of waiting for the bus? You wait for ages and then two arrive at the same time! Here at Primary English HQ we’ve had a similar experience with phonics training over the past few weeks. We hadn’t done any for what seemed like an age, and then in the past few weeks it’s been the most popular request coming into the Primary English office. We’re not complaining: we love phonics and recognise the significant role that good phonics teaching plays in teaching young children to read. As we’re holding our autumn term #FocusOnReading, it seems appropriate that our recent flurry of phonic activity should prompt a blog post on the subject.
At Primary English we like to deliver training that meets the needs of each of the schools with which we work. This means every training package, including our phonics training, is unique. Yet whilst different, each phonics course holds true to the principles of good phonics teaching; some of which we share here.
Teachers, you’re busy people and I hate the thought of you wasting your time but poor pronunciation of phonemes does just that. If phonemes are accompanied by the ‘uh’ schwa vowel, all too quickly b-u-t becomes a dairy-based spread rather than a useful co-ordinating conjunction. This video from the Letter and Sounds Phonics Programme is an invaluable for checking the purity of your pronunciation.
When teaching phonics your diction needs to be delightfully divine. The beginning, middle and end of every word needs to be enunciated with clarity and precision. Slurring sounds or relying on glottal stops can negatively impact on the ability of your children to hear each sound you pronounce.
So, it’s Halloween. The time of the year when it’s legitimate to knock on the doors of strangers and demand they hand over the goodies or risk a trick.It may not sound like it, but I do quite like Halloween. I like the focus on children, the fun and the inevitable hauls of sticky sweets and far-from healthy treats. I am though, no expert in ‘doing Halloween with style and panache’. I may just about scrape out a pumpkin and buy a few ‘funsize’ chocolate bars for those inevitable ‘after dark visitors’ but that is just about as far as my Halloween preparations and celebrations go. Charlotte, my fellow founder of Primary English was brilliant at making any event one to remember; and her efforts for Halloween were simply ‘spooktacular’. So, today I revisit an old blog post by Charlotte where she shared her passion for spooky books.
#FocusOnReading – No5 – Give guided reading a chance.
Recently I’ve noticed a trend. A small swell of teachers who are saying that guided reading doesn’t work and that teaching reading comprehension to whole classes is a much more effective way to teach children to read. As an advocate of guided reading, I struggle to agree with teachers who are dropping guided reading. When given the time and resources, and when taught by a skilled practitioner, I believe that guided reading is the best approach that we have of meeting the learning needs of all young readers. Today’s blog post from our Primary English Associate, Lynne Burns supports this view. Like me, Lynne is experienced enough to remember teaching reading before the widespread introduction of guided reading in the late 1990s. In this heartfelt article she pleads the case for the use of guided reading and the use of both scheme and real books as we open-up the world of reading to children.
When I first started teaching, far more years ago then I care to remember, it was before the introduction of Guided Reading. I used to teach reading by listening to each child read one to one at least twice a week, which was equivalent to spending over a day a week teaching reading. Except, of course, I wasn’t really teaching reading and I definitely wasn’t promoting a love of books. There was rarely, if ever, time to share a whole book with a child. The children usually read one or two pages to me while I corrected any decoding errors. If there was time, I might ask them a couple of questions about the part of the book they had read. The books the children read were dull, old fashioned reading scheme books; books that I would never have dreamt of reading to the whole class or using as a text in my English lessons. But this was just the way things were done and I was too inexperienced to do otherwise.