We see reading as the key to unlocking all other areas of learning, and therefore urge parents and carers to enjoy spending time reading with and to their child every single day.
The Big 5 of Reading
Teaching reading runs throughout a child’s entire school life. The Big 5 are evidence based components of reading which all need to be taught, practised and embedded for children to be successful, confident readers.
Phonics is the understanding that there is a predictable relationship between phonemes (individual sounds of spoken language) and graphemes (letters of written language).
This refers to the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds, or phonemes, in spoken words. Phonemic awareness is important because it improves children’s word reading and reading comprehension. It also helps them learn to spell.
Vocabulary refers to the words we must know to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary describes words we use in speaking or recognise in listening, while reading vocabulary refers to words we recognise or use in print.
Fluency refers to the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. Fluent readers are able to focus their attention on comprehension (i.e., making connections between the ideas in a text and their background knowledge), while less fluent readers are focused on decoding individual words and have little attention left for comprehending the text.
Text comprehension is the goal of reading, and thus children must be able to move beyond reading individual words in order to comprehend texts.
Phonics and Phonemic Awareness
Phonics is taught using the letters and sounds sequence of teaching. This begins in EYFS and is completed for the majority of children in Year 2. Some children may need more support with phonics. It is important to go back to phonics for those that need it, otherwise they will continue to struggle with reading due to these early gaps. It is important that all staff are confident and knowledgeable about phonics as it provides the basis for reading and for spelling.
Teaching and Learning of Reading
1:1 Reading is important for all children. It is a time when phonics and fluency can be developed, comprehension assessed and individual problems tackled. The teacher should hear all children read and extra support can be provided by TAs, volunteers and parents. Time to hear children read is provided throughout the school week. The fluency matrix should be used to support feedback, modelling and development. This can be seen below.
Reading can be assessed in many different ways. Formative assessment can be done through:
- Listening to children read
- Asking them questions
- Having a group discussion
- Using the fluency matrix
- Accelerated reader quizzes
Summative assessment is done through:
- Salford Reading Test (Reading Age)
- STAR Reader (Reading Age and Diagnostic)
- SATs Reading Tests (Year 2 and 6)
- Phonics Screening Check (Year 1)
However, these assessments should not be used in isolation to form a judgement of a child’s reading. All aspects and forms of evidence should be taken into account in order to build a picture and assess against the year group expectations for reading. Moderation of reading will take all of these aspects into account.
VIPERS is a structured approach to teaching strategies that students can use to improve their reading comprehension. For KS1, VIPERS consists of Vocabulary, Infer, Predict, Explain, Retrieve and Sequence. This is exactly the same for KS2 with the exception of the 'S' which stands for Summarise.
Our reading sessions begin with a focus on unpicking titles and illustrations in order to make predictions about what the text could be about or if it could be fiction or non-fiction. Throughout the week, the children will unpick the text in detail whilst developing fluency, asking questions, making inferences and clarifying any unfamiliar vocabulary. The children will then be taught how to answer a specific type of comprehension question.
It is important that children read both fiction and non-fiction texts. Balance the use of PowerPoints with reading of articles, reports and books that can be used to support learning. Support will be needed for children to interact with these texts as required e.g. understanding chronology.
Accelerated Reader (AR) is an online system used for children once they are able to test on STAR – usually within Year 2. This is a system to promote reading for pleasure. On STAR children receive a ZPD which indicates what level of book they should be reading (a band e.g. 2.4 – 3.5). Library books are labelled with these levels so that children can be guided to the texts to choose. Once they have read the text children complete an online quiz. They can use the book to help them with this. Incentives should be put in place to encourage the use of AR and completion of quizzes. These quizzes are not tests – children should use the book to support them with these. Reports on quizzes and any other STAR or Early Literacy Test can be viewed by logging into Renaissance Learning.