Tag archives: drop everything and read

Thursday, 19 December 2013

My final reading round-up of 2013

I’m busy planning inset days on reading for early January, and have been looking in depth at the new curriculum for England. I’m certainly not a fan of everything in it, but I definitely like the emphasis on reading for enjoyment and on reading across the curriculum. (It’s no coincidence that I’ve had two literacy-related enquiries from maths teachers in the last couple of weeks – great to hear of maths departments taking support for reading so seriously.) I am relieved that comprehension is given equal weighting to word reading – just this morning a literacy coordinator told me of year 6 pupils who can decode without problems, but simply don’t get the meaning. It’s good that teachers are strongly urged to read whole books to children, and that promoting wider reading is heavily stressed. This surprisingly poetic sentence especially pleases me: ‘Reading feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.’ UKLA has produced a very useful review and planning tool for the new curriculum for English.

Ofsted’s 2012/13 Schools Annual Report states that pupils don’t receive enough encouragement to read widely for pleasure, and that time needs to be made for the reading, sharing, recommending and discussion of texts. This is a particularly interesting statement, coming from Ofsted: ‘Schools can be distracted by national tests and examinations, which do not always assess pupils’ wider reading skills well.’ Ofsted also says older students need to see the practical benefits of reading, as something that affects their daily lives.

Lots of ideas for on reading promotion in this Guardian article.

The Kids Lit Quiz is a lovely way to build up excitement around reading. I felt very lucky to attend the UK final two weeks ago. My picture doesn’t adequately show the buzz in the room.

Great to see an article about DEAR (Drop Everything And Read), an excellent scheme, though I certainly disagree with the authors’ assertion that good school libraries are not a necessity.

I’m sure all readers of my blog are fully aware of the crucial importance of school librarians for reading promotion and lots more. Author Linda Strachan here makes a passionate case for them in response to Edinburgh Council’s discussions on cutting the number.

I enjoyed reading about this bedtime reading event.

Beanstalk volunteers work wonders with children’s reading. Crucially, they give lots of choice of reading materials. A volunteer at a workshop I gave this week told us about the dramatic change the Minecraft Annual made to one boy’s attitudes to reading.

This is an interesting piece by Marcus and Julian Sedgwick on graphic novels: why and how to read them and where to start.

Finally, Michael Morpurgo is the new president of Booktrust.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Great reading promotion ideas for the classroom, the library and beyond

This has been a very busy period, with fascinating conferences and courses on making reading enjoyable. These are some of the wonderful strategies shared by teachers and school librarians. Many thanks to lots of great delegates.

DEAR, drop everything and read, is extremely effective in many schools. The key to success is that all the staff read, including mealtime and site supervisors and office staff, not just the pupils. This week teachers at two primary schools described how several times a year everyone brings in a cushion from home, so that they can sit comfortably, plus whatever reading material they like, which of course makes it especially attractive, with lots of comics, magazines and Argos catalogues in evidence. What a fantastic idea.

During the Olympics, one teacher asked her class to bring in cuttings about the games from newspapers, magazines or anything else to make into a scrapbook. It was an extremely popular activity, and the children still jostle for the chance to read it. She is working out what new event to celebrate in the same way.

I’ve heard some excellent reading group ideas. Instead of a dads and lads group, one school targets all male family members with their FUDGE group – fathers, uncles, dads, grandfathers etc. What about a cross-curricular group? One librarian has plans for activities like recipe reading followed by cookery in the food technology area.

Ofsted and the new curriculum for England rightly stress the importance of literacy in all areas of the curriculum. I’d love to have seen the horses made by KS3 students in DT, while they were reading War Horse in English. At a conference I was addressing in Northern Ireland an inspired PE teacher/literacy coordinator talked about taking books into a swimming lesson. Amazing! Threatened with dire consequences if any of the books got damaged, the students held them above water and read voraciously.

This sounds great: an English teacher divides his students into groups, and gives each a different chapter of the current set text to make into a short radio play, with music, sound effects and so on.

I’m very intrigued by the notion of a Tardis in a library. I must get hold of a photo. The picture here shows a fraction of the bunting festooned all round King’s School Worcester on World Book Day. Each flag is a book recommended by a student or teacher. Brilliant. The librarian’s new plan is for a pets reading competition, on the lines of an extreme reading challenge, with photos from students and staff.