Anyway, we haven't really done much so far, but one thing that our awesome FoR facilitator has done (and I'm not sure if it's her brainchild or part of the FoR thing) is conduct a reading survey with our kids to get some info about their reading preferences and behaviours.
We need to analyse this data for a TPL session this week and as I'm always one to go a bridge too far, I thought I'd blog about some salient findings.
Phew! My Reading Approach Fits the Bill
This is my first year teaching Stage 3, so while I feel pretty confident teaching early years reading, I'm still finding my feet with the best way to approach reading in the older grades.
I started off from the position that reading can begin to seem really dull at this age if someone is shoving a book in your face that you're really not interested in reading, so I wanted to give kids choice and foster a lifelong love of reading. So a big chunk of my reading program involves independent silent reading, where kids choose their own books and engage in sustained reading.
We've done work on choosing good fit books, and discussed the importance of a balanced reading diet. The kids need to journal their reading (how they do it is up to them - summaries, pictures, reviews, or any other response that they can argue a case for) but after recently reading how reading logs can ruin reading, I'm thinking long and hard about whether or not I need to change that approach.
Anyway, the good news is that this approach seems to work for my kids. According to the survey, most of my kids like or really like reading by themselves and silent reading. Interestingly, the kids who don't like these reading approaches seem to be the kids that crave (read: generate) lots of noise in class. I'm curious to see if they would respond better to audiobooks.
The kids really dont like reading in a large group. I totally get this - as a kid who was a good reader, it was so painful to be reading quickly in your head, but having to wait for the struggling reader to drag themselves through challenging text. I imagine they didn't like it too much, either.
Reading in a small group fared slightly better, but they're still not entirely sold on the idea. Yet more of them were ok with reading out loud in general.
One concern I have with this data set is: Do the kids feel this way simply because that's the way they feel, or is there something about my classroom culture that's making them feel this way? Does my classroom need to be more supportive in some way?
I'm looking forward to seeing the data from other classrooms and also have a conversation with my kids about this.
These two provided interesting results.
I would have predicted results similar to this, perhaps with a few more "I don't likes", however
in the lead up, our FoR facilitator was talking about how previous surveys she'd conducted revealed that older kids like being read to. So I kind of expected these results to be a little different.
Still, half the class likes or really likes the teacher reading to them, which surprises me, given how I feel like I'm boring them to tears when I do it, even with my most expressive and dramatic shenanigans.
This batch of questions sought to determine how much the kids like reading for various purposes.
"Reading for enjoyment and fun" absolutely killed it - and I'm really excited by that result! But I'm curious about the other questions - I wonder if they are truly making the connection between the range of texts they're using every day and the purpose of those texts?
These are kids that I know would happily spend hours reading Minecraft how-to guides - I don't think they connect that with the types of procedural texts mentioned under "Reading to do a task".
The implication for this is that I really need to integrate more authentic texts into my teaching and make those explicit connections to the textual purpose. I think part of the problem here is that at our school we spend a term focusing on a particular type of text (e.g. Term 2 is persuasive texts, Term 3 is informative etc.) so although "mixing it up" happens incidentally, there's no teaching time dedicated to having a need for a text and working out which sort of text is going to fit that need best. My kids are great at identifying the purpose of a text in isolation (e.g. when we're learning about persuasive texts, they can say "Hey, this is a persuasive text.") but not so good at generalising this knowledge in a real world context.
If I were to do this again, I'd be really curious to pop a few more questions in.
- How many books do you have in your home?
- How much does your mum/dad read?
- How much does your mum/dad read to/with you?
The survey also gathered some qualitative data, and that was really interesting to read. I was blown away by how articulate some of my kids were around their thoughts on reading - I had expected them to trot out what they thought we'd want to hear, but there were some really fantastic, personal, grown-up reflections amongst them.
In light of such responses, I'm keen to "let go" a bit and start having more discussions with the kids about what they want reading instruction to be like in our classroom. What they need to learn will still rely on the syllabus, a shared understanding of skill development and professional teachery guidance, but I want to hand over the reins and let them direct the how a bit more.