January 29, 2012

EAL Self Study Task

For this self study task I have worked in a pair with Kirsty Reason.

We chose 'Tortoise vs Hare The Rematch' by Preston Rutt

The language is lively and engaging "most exciting race of the year!" The narrator (Jonny Fox) tells the story as a running commentary which is akin to the sorts of commentary children may have heard on the television. If they havent, it is not a huge stretch in imagination to pretend.

The illustrations (by Ben Redlich) depict each stage of the sory (race) which allows the children to follow along with the events, and sometimes adds more to the story than just the text. From our experiences in schools so far (and from Kate's seminars), we understand that children often seek meaning from pictures in stories; as this is an important reading strategy at the early level, this text provides a great amount of potential 'talk' to gain understanding and comprehension.

Some phrases are repeated throughout the story, which can be a fantastic way for the children to join in, especially during shared reading (for example: on monday.... on tuesday... on wednesday... etc). Other phrases, mainly descriptive, are printed in a larger/bolder typeface, suggesting to the children to place emphasis etc, and often have a rhyming pattern (raced, chased, swam and ran.)

LI: to understand the importance of fairness.

(A) After reading the story as a shared read, sort pictures (without text) into the order the children think they should go. Encourage children to explain what they think is happening in each picture (aim is not to gain 'correct order' but to encourage talk about the pictures)

(B) Re-read the story as a class. How does the story make you feel? Which character to you like/dislike and why? Who do you think should have won the race, and why? Divide class into teams, Team Hare and Team Tortoise. Explain to the race officials (two or three children) why you think you should have won the race and have a rematch (tortoise) vs why the correct result happened

(C) Think Pair Share: Explain to your partner an experience you have had when something was fair/unfair. Share your ideas with another pair, and then feedback to the whole class. Teacher records vocab. Using a mixture of pictures and captions, create a comic style story of this experience. If teams wish to draw only pictures and then narrate what is happening, this is fine. After all stories have been heard, discuss further the importance of fairness.

January 21, 2012

Story Telling

Through listening to stories, the focused and often most challenging aspect of reading is removed. Through this removal, children are able to concentrate on the actual story and its events. Imagination, awe and wonder can all be engaged, often resulting in children truly becoming excited about stories. On a sub-conscious level, and I have seen this thorugh my time as a TA, when children watch and listen to other readers, they pick up on inflection, facial movements, exaggeration etc, and are able to transfer this to their own reading. This of course is not a natural transfer for all children, however for those more able readers in terms or word recognition - comprehension and reading fluency can often be improved.

In order to tell a story well, the reader needs to fully engage with the text. Character voices, facial expressions, tone, pitch, volume all contribute to an exciting retelling. I often find that slightly reading (scanning) ahead helps me to anticipate changes I will need to make shortly. During PP2 I realised that it is not necessary to read every single word - I often left out "he said," "she shouted" etc, because I had read the speech in the particular way. Reading every single word can, in some ways, make the text disjointed and hard to follow (For example, it can ruin an attempt at building supsense.)

Listening to stories allows children to gain access to new vocab, new ideas/themes/plots, and encourage relevant questioning. I think my philosophy on reading and story telling is to dive in! Be adventurous, be creative, do voices etc. It is important not to be shy and embarrassed, reading should be fun, it is a past time! If children see teachers having fun with stories, then they will emulate our excitement.

PP2 Evaluation

Did your teacher strike you as an enthusiastic reader themselves - of either childrens or adult literature? How did they communicate this impression to you? My class teacher did not strike me as an avid reader herself. Most of the texts in the classroom were common place sets (Morpurgo/Dahl etc.) Some books mentioned as possible links to curriculum work by myself were enthusiatically reseached, however I anticipated the teacher to have at least heard of them even if not read.

Did they introduce you to any books/texts? An ongoing Roman topic led to the children reading the play Onwards To Colchester - I had not come across this text before, and though it inspired some interesting drama activities, I found that the children did not respond to it with any gusto! Read Write Inc had recently been introduced to the school (including for my Year 4 class,) so with the upheaval of an old system, and the schools library being closed for refurbishment, the childrens text experience relied heavily upon the texts mentioned above.

What message did the classroom environment convey about the importance of reading? There was a reading corner within the classroom, which housed all of the in class books (which were available to take home.) This area had been dressed up with cushions and decorative awnings, however it was never used for reading. Unfortunately, it had become a dumping ground for drying pieces of art, boxes of files etc. Reading was encouraged every morning during registration, and occasionally used as a time filler after activities up until breaks. The children however appeared to see this as a forced task, rather than an opportunity to read for enjoyment.

Was the impression conveyed in the classroom (whether positive or negative) also conveyed at school level? Read Write Inc., as a new scheme, was working well within its appropriate key stages - children would quite happily discuss the work they were doing, and the books they were reading. However, due to the library being closed, KS2 could hardly be described as a set of pupils who engaged in reading. As I suggested above, reading appeared to be more of a chore, than an opportunity.

Does anything stick out to you as particularly memorable in relation to books/reading? Worryingly, I would estimate a strong 80% of my class did little to no reading at home. A few girls had said they preferred making up stories rather than reading boring ones they had read before, however, the general census was that Xbox and PlayStation are "much more fun". I had anticipated excuses of busy parents, or siblings not being willing to help, yet the only excuses given were blunt - I cant be bothered. This is a worrying thought, and will be something which I endeavour to encourage on PP3.

October 17, 2011

Reading Memories


Although my memory of learning to read is more than a little hazy, I do recall reading to one of my parents, or with my sister most evenings before bed. At the earliest stage, mum/dad would read to us our favourite books (lots of Roald Dahl, Narnia adventures, Famous Five) where we would both join in with our favourite parts - knowing them off by heart almost! I was never an avid reader, unless it was something like the Beano or some book about football!

When I began reading for myself, the books were usually non-fiction; fact books about football, or reports on famous games/people. That is until I was introduced to the wonderful world of Harry Potter! Following that, I discovered I was successful at school in English and Drama, and became intrigued by all the books that a rather excentric teacher discussed (the sort of teacher that would randomly start quoting Shakespeare or Byron!) Shakespeare then became a passion of mine, opting to read and watch his plays ahead of any other sort of text. I found I was able to link his characters to more modern characters within other texts, and enjoyed boring my dad with such details/theories!

As a young child I vaguely remember loving The BFG, but as I have said, Harry Potter really captured my imagination. This leant me towards Phillip Pullman's dark trilogy and other texts of similar sorts (I suppose I could loosely term them fantasy - Frankenstein, Van Helsing etc.)

Recently I've been reading a lot of philosophical writings due to my degree; Plato, Hume, Descartes (however I do often have a little light relief with various comedians autobiographies.) My taste is varied, and so can make choosing a book difficult, but it's usually influenced most by the mood i'm in, or what I have been recomended from friends and family.


During PP1 I was working as a TA within a Yr5 classroom. This gave me the opportunity to read a wide range of KS2 texts, although not often to the whole class. On the few occasions that I was able to do this, it centred around the play 'Olivia' (adapted from Oliver Twist) which the school was doing as their annual production. This gave me a great opportunity to explore reading techniquies, character development through voices etc. Often the children were in their seats, although sometimes I would take a small group out of the class to work on a particular scene. I was also given a couple of whole school assemblies to lead, which involved reading short stories or (on one occasion) a fable. Drawing on my past experiences gave me the confidence to read enthusiastically, and (hopefully) entertainingly - engaging the children.

August 2020

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