Reading ages…

#15MinForum – 9/03/17

I can’t remember the last time I taught a lesson which didn’t require students to read something at some point. Nor can I remember the last time I spent¬†any real amount of time looking at the text I would be getting students to read (be that on slides or in books) and really considering how individual students in a group might cope with it. There are certainly strategies that I’m sure many of us use in a lesson to introduce keywords and technical vocabulary, or to model the use of language, but how routinely do we look at the texts and the tasks and think explicitly about the impact of our students’ reading ages on their ability to engage meaningfully with these things?

Our latest 15 Minute Forum, led by Andrea Boohig (our Head of Learning Support/ SEND Coordinator), challenged us to think about exactly this…

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Photo Credit: mangoldm Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Andrea started by sharing some context in terms of how we currently assess students’ reading skills (NFER, Basic Literacy Assessment, Spelling Assessment, Wrat 4, Edinburgh tests etc) and the interventions currently in place to support students (paired reading programmes, small literacy groups, our transition teaching group, one to one support, parental engagement etc). Information about specific students across years 7-13 is made available to staff, and students are regularly retested to establish whether the various interventions are working.

This all sounds like important and impressive work – our Learning Support team is doing great things¬†with vast numbers of students (we have more students with EHCP’s than many special schools do, and then there are those many individuals with needs that aren’t recognised at the same level but which are still of real significance).

But the work of the Learning Support team alone is not enough: it is essential that classroom teachers do their bit…

Hand and book stairs
Photo Credit: thaisteles2 Flickr via Compfight cc

Steps to success…

Andrea set about highlighting the characteristics of students with reading ages below 8 years, between 8-10 years, and between 10-14 years, with some specific suggestions for supporting these students. It is well worth a read and some reflection on your current practice. How carefully do you unpack key vocabulary to support students (not just with technical language, but with multisyllabic words)? How often do we assume that because a student has had chance to read something and then write it down, they have taken it in (when in fact the act of copying one letter at a time limits comprehension almost completely)? How often do we recognise behavioural traits as resulting from a students (in)ability to access the text they are expected to work with? There is a lot to think about…Slide4Slide5

 


Excerpts from Andrea’s presentation can be viewed below:

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