What do we do to develop reading at Living Faith?
There is no question that learning to read is a complex process involving many different elements. While learning each of these elements is important, the underpinning success of learning to read stems from curiosity, interest, engagement and enjoyment. Developing a passion for reading will encourage children to practice and develop the technical elements of reading without even realising it. As you can imagine, a child who wants to read is going to learn much faster than one who doesn’t. Young children will become reading-ready in their own time and only then can we begin to develop the technical skills - but the challenge is to not snuff out their natural curiosity in the process.
Children have a natural curiosity and interest in reading. You can often find toddlers thumbing through books without any notion of how to read the words. Yet too often reading is transformed from an activity of enjoyment to a chore. Once children develop a negative association towards reading, it makes it incredibly difficult to change that thinking.
Engagement and curiosity are core values which drive the way we approach reading at Living Faith.
We use Daily 5 as our model for English lessons. Daily 5 involves: (1) reading to self, (2) reading to someone, (3) listening to reading, (4) word work (spelling) and (5) working on writing.
Read to Self, Read to Someone and Listening to Reading
As part of Reading to Self and Reading to Someone, students are not prescribed set levelled readers which they could easily lose interest with. Instead, students are coached on how to select the right book for themselves based on their interests and their personal reading goals. These are called ‘good fit books’. Allowing students to choose a good fit book means that students spend time reading for curiosity, interest, engagement and enjoyment. During ‘Read to Self’ time, students have reading conferences with their teacher to determine and work on an individual reading goal from the CAFE menu. Students then practice their goal and reflect on their progress. During Daily 5 students are also given the opportunity to practice their oral reading by reading to a partner and taking turns.
The CAFE menu is used for Prep to Year 6 to guide students to develop reading strategies and goals. The four menu headings include Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency and Extending Vocabulary. If a student is working on improving fluency (for example), then they will work with the teacher to determine which strategy from the fluency menu best suits their goal. Targeted strategies from the menu are also taught to the whole class each week and are modelled by the teacher during listening to reading time.
The important element of this design is that students have a choice over what they read and have an individualised approach to furthering their skills. This means that the strengths and needs of each student is taken into consideration so that students do not become bored or complacent and can recognise their own growth. Since the implementation of Daily 5 in 2016, we have seen significant improvement in students results with a number of our cohorts, achieving the highest PAT reading results ever recorded at Living Faith. We have also seen a 32% yearly increase in the level of improvement across all grades with our students, on average achieving almost 10% over the national average.
When it comes to reading, the key is fostering children's love for reading. The more you practice something the better you will become and if children have a passion for books then they will read more often and continue to improve.
- Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning