In the summer term of 2019, all teachers and support staff were involved in the design of a progressive curriculum map for reading. Although ‘in transition,’ the curriculum has been implemented to not only meet the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum, but to also create opportunities for the foundational skills of reading to be mastered across a ‘text-based curriculum.’
The diligent study of reading is the diligent study of idea creation and development, so the urgency of making the teaching of reading at Ball Green Primary School as effective and rigorous as it can be must always be at the forefront of our work. Our programme not only offers practice at autonomy, independence and problem solving but it also ensures that every foundational skill on which they rely is robustly developed.
The totality of the texts that we choose for our children positively impacts, not only on a child’s ability to read, but also on the connections that can be accomplished as a part of their broader education.
The ‘Text-Based’ curriculum is based on age related books of substance and children are exposed to long and sustained engagements with an author [Anthony Browne], a set of characters [Mr. Toad, Mr. Badger, Rat and Mole], a perspective [Torak/Wolf], and a voice [August, Via, Summer, Jack, Justin and Miranda]. Children build a sustained relationship with a text over time and come to understand its perspective and mode(s) of narration – and how they shift.
Individual reading books taken from the ‘operational level’ reading scheme, ‘BugClub,’ are utilized with the purpose of developing decoding skills for fluency, ensuring success and subsequently increasing confidence in reading. Our earlier readers are supported through access to ‘Phonics Bug’ reading books where they are given lots of opportunity to review, rehearse, practice and apply their knowledge and skills to phonologically decodable texts.
Library books are books of choice and children are given the freedom to select books that appeal to them, excite them and engage them in the world of reading. Library books support the whole school vision of promoting ‘reading for pleasure’ and creating an environment where children can love and celebrate books. Once children are fluent decoders, much of the difference among the ability of readers is due to how wide a range of knowledge they have.
During our adapted Reciprocal Reading sessions, children are exposed to a range of reading domains, referred to by the children as ‘Domain Dogs,’ such as ‘Rex the Retriever’ or ‘Victor Vocabulary’. The children develop a knowledge of what each domain entails and then apply the skill of each domain by deconstructing a broad range of increasingly resistant texts, including the prescribed core-text, a range of non-fiction, narrative and poetry. At Ball Green, we believe that the close reading and unpacking of very short examples of resistant text provides effective opportunities to expose children to intense challenges without overwhelming them.
Shared reading provides an opportunity for children to be exposed to more complex texts. Short stories provide a low-risk way of introducing daring texts and shared discussion mitigates the risk of mis-reading. The use of pre-complex and complex texts in ‘Reciprocal Reading’ and ‘Shared Reading sessions’ facilitate exposure to increased challenge through what D. Lemov et al., refer to as the ‘Four Plagues.’
- the use of time as non-linear;
- complexity of narration;
- complexity of story, and
- resistant text, i.e. poetry.
Since ‘Reciprocal Reading’ and ‘Shared Reading’ sessions are largely adult led, the level of complexity and challenge can be increased.