Tag archives: reading across the curriculum

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.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Inset on picture books

I’m really enjoying putting together an inset for next week on using picture books to support cross-curricular learning in the foundation stage, key stages 1 and 2. There’s going to be lots of hands-on activity exploring books and discussing ways to use them effectively to support topics. Every time I think I’ve got all the books we could possibly need, I remember others that just can’t be missed. Assembling a list that encompasses every area of the curriculum has been fascinating. I’m so pleased that more and more schools are recognising the enormous value of picture books, for encouraging reading enjoyment first and foremost, and for so much more. Picture books are most certainly not just for young children, as this photo of a ten-year-old family friend enjoying the wonderful True Story of the 3 Little Pigs demonstrates.

Here’s my web-page on picture book training, for anyone interested.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Moving English Forward and more

I really enjoyed giving a course at Heath Books earlier this week on ways to promote reading through the secondary school library. The timing was perfect, in light of the new Ofsted publication Moving English Forward. One of the report’s chief recommendations is that schools do more to promote reading enjoyment, the main topic of our day. Lots of brilliant ideas emerged. I especially admire one librarian’s practice of taking a laden book trolley to year 7-10 tutor groups, a great strategy for reaching students who don’t come to the library. We heard about lovely inter-actions between students and authors. Samantha MacIntosh brought a quiz to enable students to find out which of her book characters they are most like, and even more impressively, produced themed cupcakes for everyone. A girl at one school had such a long and impassioned email correspondence with Robert Muchamore that he is naming one of the characters in his next book after her. The photo shows author Tanya Landsman at King Edward VI School Lichfield.

Another key theme in the report is the importance of reading across the curriculum, something I strongly believe in. Many students who are not attracted to reading in English may well get the bug through their interest in some other subject. It’s a topic we tackled on Wednesday, and one that continues to preoccupy me, as I am preparing inset for a secondary school in Brent on ways to support reading skills and enjoyment through every subject area. My research has included extremely useful discussions with a maths teacher, a citizenship teacher and a head of humanities from a diversity of schools, who have given me lots of wonderful ideas.

The new report highlights the need for more support for students at the transition from key stage 2 to 3, another area we discussed on the course. One of the delegates works in Southwark, where a ground-breaking book award scheme brings together years 6 and 7.

I am delighted that Ofsted is at last taking reading enjoyment seriously and will be looking at whole school reading culture. The new report does not sufficiently address the key role of school libraries and librarians, but at least inspectors in the future will have less excuse for missing the library out. A Swedish teacher who attended Wednesday’s course told me that Sweden has just made school libraries compulsory. If only attitudes were as enlightened here.

The secondary school library course is being repeated on 17 May.