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Reading and Comprehension The importance of teaching The Importance of Reading Unless pupils can read well, they cannot access the rest of the curriculum, nor can they succeed in later life. Improving standards of reading is therefore an absolute priority. A Love of Reading Does our school’s environment promote a love of reading? How is reading promoted across the curriculum and within the community? Comprehension - What is it ? Children can complete a comprehension ‘question and answer’ text card quite easily. They learn the pattern of how to do it quickly and there is absolutely nothing wrong in doing this. It is an essential skill for passing tests, but there is so much more to learning how to comprehend a text. Three Key Things to Think About Be clear about the comprehension skills you are teaching Provide opportunities for high quality dialogue Spend time teaching new vocabulary- it’s worth it The Skills Be clear about the comprehension skill you are teaching. Start with the skill. This instantly makes it easier to select the right teaching strategy and activity. Choose your text carefully, thinking about whether it creates a rich enough work to be explored. The Skills Broken Down Activate prior knowledge Predict Ask and answer questions of the text Construct mental images (visualisation) Sequence the text mentally Make deductions and inferences Summarise Empathise Give a personal response Understand vocabulary and grammatical structures What does this look like in practice? It is a good idea to build up a bank of strategies for each comprehension skill and add to the list each time you use a different book. Choose your text carefully, thinking about whether it creates a rich enough world to be explored, with enough depth of issues and choices to be made by the characters. High Quality Dialogue Try and give time at the beginning of the comprehension lesson to develop a skills based objective such as: To learn how to ask questions of the text or to learn how to give reasons for our ideas. Give yourself time to think and do not over- direct the discussion in the first instance or offer too much feedback. The Text Read the text or get the children to read it, show images, allow thinking time and ask facilitative questions such as: Tell me Tell us what you think What thoughts, ideas, feelings came into your mind when you heard or saw this? Rather than give feedback say’ That’s an interesting thought and listen carefully so that you can build on what the children are saying. At a later stage you can ask more direct questions and help them to extend their thinking and response together. Vocabulary Spend time teaching new vocabulary explicitly. One of the key inhibitors to comprehending a text is our inability to understand the individual words. Act our, provide props and images and talk about new words when reading a text. Introduce and use vocabulary at a much higher level than the children are using in their conversations. After a week of using words like ‘dilapidated’ Reception children will not only use in their conversation but will begin to also be able to use it in their writing! Finally Comprehension is not just for SAT’s papers. It’s for life!
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