June 29, 2012

Final Reading Blog

Throughout this year I have had the opportunity to visit and teach in three diverse schools. The culture, ethnicity and attitudes differed greatly, as did the schools resources and their support and guidance relating to reading.

The main things that I will take away from this year and my experiences are to make reading accessible for pupils, make reading run for children and finally to incorporate reading into their writing and carry it on in to their writing.

Making Reading Accessible for pupils.

It was not until PP4 that I have witnessed the pupils visiting the school library as a timetabled activity. In previous placements pupils often brought books in from home and their experience and knowledge of the school library was very poor. This is somewhat annoying, as it is a waste of a fantastic resource. In my PP4 school pupils are trained on how to check books out of the library, using technology, how to find books in the library helping with their awareness of letters and order and they also have a timetabled slot to change their books - giving them a target by which to complete their books.

In the schools where library's were not visited it was evident that pupils lacked the knowledge and understanding of how to find books in the library, what sections there are, how they are ordered.

In addition to this on my PP3 placement the classroom book shelf was jam packed with out of date books, that were ripped, torn and very unappealing to touch let alone read. This area of the classroom was very messy and disorganised and did invite the pupils in to the area at all. Although the books and resources were present in the classroom they were not accessible for the pupils.

Make Reading Fun for Children.

In every placement I have seen pupils asked to read at the start of the day on the carpet, or to fill 10 minutes in the afternoon. Although this still provides pupils with the opportunities to read, it is very regimented and often delivered in a quite boring and stagnate way. To improve this I think it is important to make reading fun - not simply asking pupils to read a book quietly on the carpet (which on PP4 did not happen - pupils would sit on the carpet with a book but there was no reading taking place. They would then say that they had finished their book and could they swap it). With this in mind it leads into my next point about 'incorporate reading into their writing and carry it on in to their writing'.

Incorporate reading into their writing and carry it on in to their writing.

I saw an example of this on PP2 where pupils would have to fill in a short box about what their book was about, what did they like and what didn't they like. This helped to show the class teacher that the book had actually been read by the pupil. I would suggest that this idea could be developed. By incorporating pupils reading books into literacy and into it's own session when there is not time for a full literacy lesson. Asking pupils to create an alternative front cover for their book, asking pupils to write an alternative ending, can pupils create character profiles about their. All of which could be displayed on a working wall - on the wall have each childs name and a space to fill in what book they have been reading - the work produced by pupils could then be displayed. This would encourage pupils to read their books during silent reading, and would help to engage them further by them having the constant idea of which task/piece of work they would like to produce at the end of their book. It would also eliminate the problem that I have experiences in PP4, pupils would have to read and understanding the book in order to complete the follow up work.

My time on placement and in university has helped me to appreciate the role that reading can have in the classroom - regardless of the pupils age. It is imperative for reading to play an active role in a child's learning and for this to happen it is vital that the books, reading areas and attitudes towards reading are maintained at a high standard.

April 10, 2012

Poetry and PP3

My experiences of poetry:

I recall having access to a lot of poetry throughout primary school, reading, being read to, writing our own and working in groups to write poems. Although I cannot recall any poems directly from primary school, I do remember specific texts from my secondary years, such as 'I wandered lonely as a cloud'William Wordsworth and'A new Slough' by John Betjeman.

Whilst in primary school we were able to write poems that were then published in a book containing poems from a number of local schools. This was a massive achievement, both then and now when I look back at one of my poems in a real book, and helped to give me an interest in poetry.

Whilst on PP3:

I was in year one for my PP3 placement, and I observed limited poetry. The pupils were given nursary rhymes that they were asked to adapt, creating new rhymes, this involved the pupils working together to find words that rhymed with existing words in the poem. Some pupils struggled with this task, due to their lack of understanding of 'rhyming words'. In this instance I think it is important to be careful when giving the pupils examples, as it was often the case that they would simply repeat the example, without exploring for themselves.

In addition to this activity, some pupils had guided reading extension tasks that were based on poetry, asking pupils to find rhyming words, or to match rhyming words, based on their level of ability.

The guided reading books given to the pupils were sometime sporadically based on poetry, but there was little emphasis placed upon this, or expansion surrounding the type of text or the ways that it can be used. 

January 18, 2012

Story telling

Activity One

Children enjoy listening to stories, because it allows them to become immersed in the world of the text. They are able to listen and enjoy the text without having to read the words, this may mean that they can become introduced to more complex texts than they would need to read on their own.

There are key skills when reading a story, the ability to be theatrical, and to select the correct tone and pace for both the story and the characters. In addition to these, it is key to be able to become involved in the story and embrace what they are reading about.

Activity Two

When watching the two videos, there were many similarities. They both had powerful voices, and were able to create a level of intensity with the texts they were reading. With the first video the man had a powerful voice, and changed both the pace and tone of his voice to suit the text, however this was not as theatrical as the man in the second video. He was able to adapt the tone of his voice to portray a feeling and an emotion - sometimes proving rather unnerving and other times seeming to infuse humour into the text. The first video, showed the man was able to form a bond with the reader - as though it were just you and him and you were in the story together, he used questions and empathy to demonstrate this. The second video was more of a 'he was reading to you' story, and I was just the listener.

I prefered the second video, this is due to a combination of the story itself, and the way in which the man was able to portray an array of emotions just through his voice and facial expressions, I noticed that I had become really interested in what was going to come next, and I think this was partially due to the way he paused, and the way he was able to build up a situation.

January 03, 2012

Reader – Teacher reflections PP2

Throughout my PP2 placement I noticed that although reading was incorporated into everyday school life, there was little excitement surrounding it. Each classroom had a book shelf in it, but little area to sit and read, and the books were often old and uninteresting to the pupils. Occasionally the school would hold a book fayre, at which each class teacher could select a number of books to place on their book shelf. These books were often selected based upon the text or the speech that is used within them.

The class teacher did not seem over enthused about reading, although he was able to direct the pupils towards the most suitable texts for them, often relating to their interests. In contest to this, when taking part in group reading and class shared reading the teacher was very enthusiastic about the story and the history of the text.

The school did have a small school library, with books marked according to their level of difficulty, these books, although educational did not seem to spark much interest or enthusiasm with the pupils. As a leaving gift to the class room, I gave my class 2 texts, a Jacquelin Wilson and a current text linked to a stage show and a film release called War Horse. I am aware of the text and historical content within these books - and feel that due to their content combined with their level of relativity they would be a hit with the school, teacher and the pupils.

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