The important issue in this section of the course is to examine the idea that Independent Reading is supported by other literacy experiences, particularly experiences that involve some kind of teaching. To be the most effective teachers of reading all primary and secondary teachers need to know what should be taught about reading ('the reading curriculum') and how to do this with the whole class, small groups and individual students.
Go to the article: Effective Reading Teaching to read about the content of the 'reading curriculum' and other information that will help you teach all of your students to read successfully.
Make some decisions about what you need to learn more about and how you will achieve this. For example, at this point you may decide to follow the links to the units of this course where you can find out more about comprehension, vocabulary, fluency or decoding before you learn more about instructional practices in the next part of the unit.
The term 'Reading Block' is frequently used by primary teachers to describe the block of time primary teachers set aside for daily reading experiences, including Independent Reading, Read-aloud, Shared Reading, Guided Reading and other whole class and small group work focused on teaching and learning about reading.
However, other teachers may not have a set block of time for reading or they may integrate reading with other literacy experiences. Secondary English teachers are usually expected to be the teacher of reading but all teachers need to take responsibility for ensuring their students are able to read (with comprehension) any of the texts their students need to read in each curriculum area. Secondary teachers may not operate in the same way as primary teachers, but they still need to have times for whole class teaching and learning plus times when students independently read while teachers assess the students' reading, and times when groups are taught according to like needs.
Throughout this course there are interviews that Diane Snowball and other literacy consultants have conducted with teachers about Independent Reading and reading conferences. In this first interview Diane talks to Hannah, a Prep teacher at Newport Lakes PS about her Independent Reading and other instructional practices in her reading block. They cover a range of issues so you may want to view this film clip more than once. Teachers of older grades and secondary students should view the interview to listen for the ways that Hannah links her whole class, group and individual instruction.
Also note the questions that Diane asks. Perhaps they are questions that you could ask yourself to more deeply understand instructional practices.
Go to film clip:
View the film and note:
Hannah mentions one of her students, Eve, who you will also see later in a film clip of Hannah conferring with Eve during Independent Reading time (Newport Lakes PS: Prep Hannah & Eve Conference).
Go to the film clip:Manor Lakes P-12 College: Year 7 Maryanne Pearce interview with Kate Sykes.
View the film and note how Hannah (as a prep teacher) and Kate (as a year 7 teacher) have similarities in their planning, organisation, model for teaching and learning and recording about their students. Reflect on these in relation to your own practices and learn more about them in the next document about these issues.
Go to: Instructional Practices for Teaching Reading document. Ask a colleague, perhaps your literacy coordinator or your team leader if they would be prepared to read this document, and then work with you revising and clarifying your understandings of practices involved in the teaching of reading and how Independent Reading does not stand alone.
Read the document yourself and highlight important details prior to meeting with your colleague. Reflect on the document, and discuss your practices that focus on the teaching of reading.
Some questions you might consider - Does your time for teaching and learning about reading include:
These may not all happen in one literacy session and for secondary teachers in particular they may occur over a number of days (and hopefully not just in English classes). The fundamental issue in both primary and secondary situations is that the planning of work with small groups is dependent on knowing about the students and this best happens during reading conferences.
Language Experience is one of the instructional practices briefly described in Instructional Practices for Teaching Reading. For students who are initially learning to read, students who are struggling as readers at any year level and students at all year levl who are learning to read English as a second language, Language Experience work is extremely valuable because the students' personal language are being used as the basis for writing texts that those students then use for reading. This means that the students already have a great deal of knowledge to bring to the content of the text and the language is at a level that the students can easily read. To learn more about the Language Experience approach go to websites such as the following:
Go to film clip:Newport Lakes PS: Small group Read-aloud with parent Loren Bentley
Note how engaged the students are and how easy it is for them to make comments and interact with the text in the small group situation.
Prep year parents are often used for other tasks such as selecting students' books for take-home reading, a task they are probably not properly trained to do. However, there are many students at all year levels who benefit from small group or 1-1 Read-aloud and this task is ideal for many parents or other volunteers. It is particularly helpful if such volunteers develop a relationship with the students by reading to the same student or students, frequently and therefore learning about students favourite authors and books, interests and needs. Make sure they read with expression and encourage comments and questions from students.
Parents and other carers do play a very important role in students' literacy development. If you are interested in helping parents/carers to know more about ways they can help their own children refer to websites such as:
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