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Thoughts About Teaching Reading

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Independent Practice

Some of my holiday reading included delving further into the work of the cognitive scientists and their take on the way we read. Pretty fascinating stuff.  The obvious conclusion: no matter how much we think we have it worked out, we have still only scratched the surface of our amazing brain.I watch the language development in my 18 month old granddaughter and she blows me away with the knowledge and conceptual awareness that she is constantly acquiring. We are all teaching her things BUT t...

January 26, 2023

SharpReading and The Science of Reading

"How does SharpReading align with the Science of Reading Comprehension?"'The Science of Reading' is often used to describe the recent research in neurological and cognitive science, studies that show how the brain processes written words. Based on these findings, the models that have been created provide useful information to guide our instructional practice.Please appreciate that I am not attempting to justify SharpReading as 'Science of Reading'.  Rather this is an attempt to show how our...

September 9, 2022

We make an impact when we read

Here's a nice reminder about the impact we can have on our classrooms just by bringing our own passion and experience as readers with us into the classroom. Sue McDowall, a senior researcher at the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER), discusses her study exploring how teachers who are readers support reading for pleasure in their schools and classrooms.‘... teachers saw their identity as readers as one of the most important factors in supporting their children to become r...

July 6, 2022

The Case for Levelled Text

FAQ: 'The Science of Reading' online chatter suggests there are no longer grounds for using levelled text in guided reading lessons for students who are fluent decoders. What are your thoughts?'This argument seems to be based on the research saying that a lack of knowledge is a key contributor (maybe the key contributor) to comprehension difficulties."Using instructional time to get students to read at an instructional level (text levelled at 95% accuracy and 75% compreh...

June 13, 2022

Instructional Text - What do I look for?

FAQ: How do you find the correct level of text difficulty for comprehension instruction. It has been often said that we will get a better effect from our comprehension instruction if we use text that is difficult for the readers. That way we can stretch their understanding of challenging ideas, expose them to new vocabulary, and make them aware of complexities in language structure. This is usually achieved by a lot of scaffolding of the text through teacher led discussion. While I und...

March 8, 2022

How much cognitive energy do you have?

Here's a pet theory I have about being a learner. We all come to any learning task with a fixed amount of cognitive energy. This is determined by a range of factors; perceived importance or personal interest in the learning, previous success or failure (and of course all the basics requirements of sleep, food, general wellbeing).  For some students the amount of cognitive energy they bring is VERY small. If we, the teacher, talk for 60% of the gu...

April 8, 2021

The Importance of Feeling Successful

We all need to feel successful - "I am getting better at this...I can do it!" It's a rather obvious but sometimes forgotten idea that applies to any learning...we feel best about it when it feels like we are 'getting it'...this is something that I can do if I keep at it.  And we feel even better if it is FUN getting there! This is just harkening back to a well worn piece of learning theory - Vogotsky's Zone of Proximal Development. If the learning is too easy and there is no ...

March 22, 2021

Where does Phonics fit with SharpReading?

It is important to understand how SharpReading aligns itself with phonics instruction. It is based on what we consider to be a balanced approach to developing decoding fluency in the beginner reader. With our SharpReading Stages 1&2 course "Teaching Reading to the Beginner Reader" we  don’t claim to do it all. In fact we say that SharpReading SHOULD snuggle into a separate phonics program. We don’t particularly mind what program, just as long as there is one in place.What we do major on...

March 8, 2021

Sight Words and the Beginner Reader

Without wanting to tread on anyone's toes...here is my view (and some research to back it up). For the purpose of this discussion my definition of a sight word is one of those small words that don’t respond well to phonics rules and can be taught as a recognisable pattern without having to be decoded, thereby providing some useful building blocks for beginner readers. This can be taken further. In those early stages of reading, the reader has very little of the alphabetic code to wor...

February 22, 2021

4 Essentials for a Reading Program

Our discussions with teachers often revolve around what we think are the essentials that need to be in place for an effective school-wide reading program and how do we provide them. Here is a summary of our thoughts on the topic ... 4 essentials that we think need to be addressed.By 'Reading Program' we are not referring to a specific, commercially designed silver bullet; a one-stop-shop that will supposedly solve all your problems with a single purchase. In the context of this discussion, a rea...

September 16, 2020

We need a new approach - "52% of 15 year-olds only read if they have to!"

Christine Braid, Professional Learning and Development Facilitator in Literacy Education, Massey University, has just published a new article (21 Aug, 2020) entitled 'Young New Zealander's are turning off reading in record numbers - we need a new approach to teaching literacy.'  New data suggests that this is an urgent problem. According to a recent report from the Education Ministry’s chief education science adviser, 52% of 15-year-olds now say they read only if they ...

September 3, 2020

Tell me again...What are StoryBytes and InfoBytes?

StoryBytes and InfoBytes have been around for a few years now but I still get queries about what they are and the thinking behind the design. This all started with my own frustration as a teacher, trying to find 'effective’ fiction and non fiction material for guided reading lessons. As a teacher trainer working in a multitude of schools, I saw other teachers struggling to engage students with text that was too long or just not interesting enough. So I decided to write my o...

May 29, 2019

CREATING - Coming up with new ideas

This can be the really fun part of follow-up reading activities. A good story, that has been properly processed and understood, should have created a vivid impression on the imagination of the reader. To invite the reader to grapple further with the ideas in the text; to create new possibilities and solve existing problems in response to what they have encountered not only heightens the reading experience but initiates complex thinking activity with obvious implications for the life-long learner...

March 6, 2019

ANALYSING - Organising the Information

NARRATIVE TEXT      When the reader takes apart a story that they have read, looks at it through their own eyes and then puts it back together again, they take ownership for the information and the ideas. Examples from our resources ask the reader to GRAPH the rising and falling tension in the story or the feelings of a character, to draw a STORY MAP plotting where the action has taken place and create a STORY WEB to identify the structure of the story. ...

March 28, 2018

APPLYING - Using the information in another way

LEVEL 3 of BLOOM'S TAXONOMY     One example of a Level 3 Bloom’s Taxonomy activity is to get the student to take the information they have read in a non-fiction text and transform it or rework it in another way. Personalising facts into a story like the one above forces mental processing far beyond mere recall (Level 1) or being able to demonstrate understanding (Level 2). “The baby hoatzin chick was nervous. He didn’t know about tree snakes but he sensed danger fr...

March 13, 2018

UNDERSTANDING - Have you got it?

The second level of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Understanding) requires the reader to show that they can interpret the literal message they have read.Here are two activities that are particularly appropriate for non-fiction text.1. Draw a Picture of ...Creating a graphic representation of a concept or action in a text (a picture, diagram or map) can only be achieved if meaning has been constructed first. If that has not happened then the readers lack of understanding is exp...

March 4, 2018

REMEMBERING - What are the facts?

LEVEL 1 of BLOOM'S TAXONOMY     This is the most basic level of processing information; answering ‘right there’ literal comprehension questions, requiring the reader to remember a fact or be able to revisit the text and find it. In days gone by readers were rarely asked to venture beyond this level of challenge which developed a  ‘hunt and destroy’ mentality in the reader and the complaint that “I don’t like reading because it makes my wrist hurt” from having to...

January 23, 2018

What Should Follow-Up Reading Activities Look Like?

During my time in the classroom I have spend a huge amount of time thinking aIn the middle and upper primary school, follow-up activities are an organisational necessity if you want to be able to spend time doing the real work - guided reading with small ability groups. Here is my list of follow-up shoulds and a shouldn’t that have stuck with me over the years. Follow-up Activities...1. SHOULD be preceded by guided reading of the textAn instructional programme that requires students to read a ...

January 17, 2018

The Case against Follow-Up Reading Activities

As you probably know,  I am in fact an advocate for the use of follow-up activities in the classroom reading programme - I have spent much time and energy devising them - BUT there is a strong case put forward by teachers and educationalists which has to be recognised. Many will condemn ‘worksheets’ as busy work, and it is true that the kids can easily get the wrong message about what reading is actually about. The problem is (as always) not with the tool but with the applica...

January 10, 2018

Getting them to think WHILE they are reading

What has struck me again and again during the whirlwind of workshops in the last few months has been that no matter where we go or who the audience is, whether it be mainstream classes in NZ,  students from diverse cultures in International schools in Hong Kong, Chinese children struggling with English as a second language or aboriginal students in outback Australia, the challenge is always the same - to get them thinking AS THEY ARE READING. When this happens the lights go on, student...

December 14, 2017

Assessment - a great way to derail your Term 1 Reading Programme

One of my biggest concerns is the trend for Term 1 to become the assessment term. No one seems to have any time anymore to do any teaching because we are all gathering data. Don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer in data driven, evidence based teaching. But, I can well remember my own efforts in my Year 5 classroom trying to find time for 27 running record type assessments in the first 3 weeks, always looking to squeeze in one more assessment and putting the rest of the class on auto...

February 27, 2017 Posts 1-21 of 21 | Page
 

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