Reading and Phonics
Reading is delivered using varied structures to ensure the mechanics of reading are developed, comprehension is explicitly taught in reading lessons but also practiced across all subjects and, perhaps most importantly, there is a culture which develops a love of literature and exposure to high quality literature for all. Wherever possible, and without compromising the quality of the literature, the texts have been linked to the thematic content to further enhance knowledge and provide a purpose and content to writing, particularly for non-fiction.
- Read aloud - adult-lead whole class texts.
- Independent reading using accelerated reader to track.
- Comprehension taught using VIPERS approach.
- Reading as a Golden Thread across the subject areas.
- Immersive experience promoting a love of reading and high quality literature.
- Bookwings phonics in EYFS and KS1.
- Comprehension taught using the same texts.
- Home readers linked to phonics knowledge.
- Taught as a Golden Thread with specific pedagogy used in all lessons.
- Traced, revisited nad linked over both key stages.
- Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary explicitly shared and taught using cognitive science to embed knowledge.
- 'The Write Stuff' approach to instructional teaching of writing.
- Mixture of fiction and non-fiction.
- Grammar taught within writing lessons.
- Handwriting and spelling continually revisited.
The elements of reading
Love of reading
Reading is a skill and, as with every skill, it requires not just instruction but practice. Reading practice serves a number of purposes. It enables students to apply the skills and strategies that are taught; it provides opportunities to check student learning and identify weaknesses and it draws students into the world of “real” reading - a world in which people learn from and enjoy books.
Using the Horizons project enables us to build a large bank of books to ensure our children have to opportunity to be inspired and motivated to practice. Practice does not automatically lead to growth, however, to be effective, practice must have certain attributes: It must be at the right level of difficulty, cover a sufficient amount of time, be guided by the instructor, and be enjoyable enough to sustain.
To ensure we balance this, we are approaching independent practice using the following components:
An integral part of our approach to reading is the Access IT software: a library management system designed to be used on the iPad. It integrates physical and electronic books and has the following functions:
- Centralises a record of the physical books in the academy with the primary housekeeping functions of a library.
- Links to online-library packages to offer a e-book range for children to borrow from. Children can also add notes/bookmark pages which are still then accessible after the book is returned.
- Links to local libraries using children’s library card number to access additional texts.
- Children are able to search for books using a variety of filters (age-band, AR band, categories), read the blurbs and borrow or reserve.
- The software also keeps a record of books that have been borrowed for each pupil for class teachers and reading lead to access data to further support children with their reading.
This provides us with a deliberate and sustainable process to opening a world of books to children in a hybrid form of physical books in the academy and e-books.
Wheelers provide extensive breadth to the library offer in the form of a digital library that children can ‘check out’ books from and reserve books for future reading. Wheelers provide access to a world of books, to be read and listened to online. The library integrates fully with Access It so children access the Wheelers Catalogue from within the Access It App. This provides our students with 1250 e-books and 400 audio-books as a base offer which we can then add any texts to.
Accelerated Reader, including the use of Star Assessments, ensure we are deliberately, forensically and accurately ensuring that children access and read books which are at the optimum difficult to ensure development of reading skills. We have chosen to use Accelerate Reader to enable powerful practice by:
- Providing data that helps you monitor and personalise reading practice.
- Encouraging substantial amounts of practice, according to guidelines based on research findings.
- Making practice fun for students by facilitating successful encounters with text.
The timetabled element of independent reading will enable children to read individually to the adults and give regular time to read, quiz, change books, discuss choices and for adults to carefully check book choice and patterns of reading over time. The time allocated for reading is then supplemented by our ‘home reading’ expectation.
Book Wings Phonics
The uniqueness of Book Wings Phonics is that the synthetic phonics teaching opportunities are embedded within the context of real books; books written by skilled and well-known writers and illustrators who know how to engage children and make them want to read for pleasure.
The balance between the two skills (word recognition and language comprehension) changes as children acquire decoding skills and progress from learning to read to reading to learn for information and pleasure. As teachers, our main priority should be to instil a love of books, enthusing and motivating children to want to learn to read for pleasure, whilst working alongside teaching children to decode and encode.
Being able to read opens up the whole world for children. Being able to decode is only a part of reading. Wanting to read, wanting to find things out, wanting to find out what happens next, these are the behaviours that propel children to become readers hence the need to incorporate using real books. Blending and segmenting, recognising split digraphs, recognising tricky words by sight are essential elements of teaching early reading skills but you become a reader when you are driven to read out of a thirst for knowledge or out of a joy of being lost in a story. Just like we need air to breathe, children need to hear and read stories it is so vital to our development as complex human beings. That is why Book Wings Phonics uses storytelling and real books at the heart of the programme.
Whole class teaching is a central part of the programme as it exposes all children to new learning every day. Whole class teaching provides you with the opportunity to take ownership of your class, to be empowered by the knowledge you have of every individual. Gentle reminders can be given to specific children throughout the day enabling you to build and expand upon your phonic session across the curriculum, giving phonics a real purpose of being integral to being a reader and a writer.
Weekly suggested sequence
|Phase 2||New phoneme||New phoneme||New phoneme||New phoneme||Recap based on
and new tricky word
|Phase 3||New phoneme||New phoneme||Recap based on
and new tricky word
|New phoneme||Recap based on
and new tricky word
|Phase 5||New grapheme||Practice and apply
new grapheme and
other grapheme(s) for
|New grapheme||Practice and apply
new grapheme and
other grapheme(s) for
|Recap based on
and new tricky word
We value a broad, balanced and reading rich curriculum that includes reading with, reading by and reading to children. By protecting time every day, to read aloud to our children they will have the opportunity to hear and respond to great stories written by some of the most highly acclaimed literacy authors. Not only that but, research also demonstrates that reading to children develops empathy - meaning reading aloud to our children will not only make them better readers, but also better people. We cannot think of a better gift for our students and the world.
Our canon of texts has been carefully selected because they are books that are ‘worth reading’. They will inspire a love of reading, ensure that our children are exposed to high-quality literary language, will widen and deepen their personal word-hoard, develop cultural capital, enrich character and empathy and prepare them not only for the demands of future curriculums but also a fulfilling literate life.
The focus for sharing reading in this way is pleasure and enjoyment. However, during read alouds there will sometimes be an additional focus for teaching. This might be modelling how phrased and fluent reading should sound, vocabulary development, word-analysis, deepening layers of meaning, questioning and critical thinking, and knowledge and understanding of the world. During read alouds the aim for the teacher is to read the story with as little interruption as possible but sometimes, the teacher might pause to explain what words mean, explain new and unfamiliar concepts, ask questions (both teacher and children), visualise what is happening or summarise a main point or idea. All stories will be read from beginning to end to ensure that within this part of our curriculum, children can engage in the whole story. This means that sometimes the texts stand alone, sometimes they are continued from our literature spine and sometimes they are continued from guided comprehension.
For younger children, a range of high-quality picture books will be read a number of times so children can join in with repetitive refrains, rhythm and rhyme. The journey will then continue with short novels moving into longer novels for older children which is why you will see less texts to choose from at this stage of development.
We deliberately choose texts which open a window on the world, using centres and badges of excellence including CLPE, The Carnegie and Kate Greenway Medals and recommendations from Children’s Laureates from the last decade. Each text links with and compliments the Oasis Primary Curriculum, enabling children to re-visit particular favourites and engage in author and poet study. The literature is mapped and planned to tell different stories from different people. Every term we include: classics; poetry; picture books for all ages; books that are written by and tell the stories of black and global majority communities; working-class voices; stories which make disability visible; that highlight different family types, LGBT and gender issues; and reflect the realities of the diverse communities we serve.
Teachers will be given both support and freedom to explore, interrogate and make links between the texts chosen. We will offer suggested question stems and domains of reading to pick up on. We also realise that different children will have different needs so will provide a frame work but not prescriptive sessions.
Comprehension is messy. There is no clear-cut path that the brain takes when making sense. There are many roads the mind can take as it burrows through layer after layer of meaning.
Our goal for teaching reading comprehension so explicitly is to enable all of our children to understand the most demanding texts, interpret them and understand the deeper layers of hidden meaning. When readers are able to do this, then every reading context is pleasurable and readers read more and more. To achieve this our children need to know and understand that reading is active, requires effort and cognition and that effective readers apply a range of strategies in combination, subconsciously to read with understanding.
It is well evidenced that reading comprehension can be improved through the explicit teaching of specific strategies to support pupils to monitor their own reading and overcome barriers to reading for meaning. Specific strategies include predicting, asking questions, summarizing, clarifying and activating background knowledge and when used in combination enable the outcome skill of inference making – understanding the deeper layers of meaning.
To enable all of our children to read actively and apply these strategies whenever they read independently our reading curriculum includes time protected daily for explicit strategy instruction and modelled and supported practice. To enable pupils to practice, a range of quality text extracts, chosen from reputable resource banks including The Literacy Shed have been selected because they provide the opportunity for children to practice the strategies, broaden and extend vocabulary and fully utilize background knowledge to support inference making. We have chosen to follow the ‘VIPERS’ model – vocabulary, inference, prediction, explain, retrieve, sequence and summarised following a fortnightly cycle as this provides a structure required to teach pupils to integrate multiple strategies.
Text extracts are used rather than whole texts as these provide the focus for teachers to read loud and think aloud and for pupils to practice the strategies. Sometimes theses texts will be continued in Read Alouds, sometimes children will be encouraged to continue reading these stories independently and sometimes the texts are overlapped with our literature spine.