Here at St. Elizabeth's, we recognise the importance of the effective teaching and learning of reading and writing. We acknowledge that English is the door to the curriculum and we strive to instil a deep-rooted love of reading and writing in every one of our pupils.
Phonics is taught daily in EYFS, Year 1 and 2. After recognising the words, the children practise spelling them. At St. Elizabeth’s, we use ‘Read, Write Inc’ as our approach to teaching Phonics. We equip children with the skills to be able to read real and 'nonsense' words which is a requirement for the Phonics Screening testing, normally carried out in June, in Year One. If a child doesn't pass the test in Year 1, they get the opportunity to retake the test the following year.
Phonics is assessed termly and tracked in KS1 and into KS2 when needed. Some Key Stage 2 children may receive extra phonics intervention work, or a repetitive spelling programme intervention, with a teaching assistant.
At St. Elizabeth’s, the children in EYFS and KS1 are read to and with daily. The Read, Write Inc. literacy programme is used to teach reading. This programme integrates phonics with comprehension, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting.
In KS2, the children are taught through two separate reading sessions each day.
The first is a daily guided reading carousel. This comprises of five different activities that they will complete across the week. Here is an example week:
Monday: Reading their school MyBookBlog book for pleasure. They also have access to iPads for MyBookBlog at this time.
Tuesday: Independently answer domain questions based upon a short text extract.
Wednesday: Working with the class teacher to discuss the answers written in yesterday's activity.
Thursday: Use dictionaries to look up any unfamiliar words written on their bookmarks. They can then record these in their magpie books (a book used to store exciting vocabulary they wish to use in their writing!)
Friday: Reading their home MyBookBlog with the class T.A.
The class teacher will adapt these group sessions to meet the needs of their age, the ability of the children and the domain focus. These sessions are also vital to address decoding and fluency.
The second is a daily whole class reading session, following the Talk 4 Reading scheme, which teaches children how to read as a reader, and read as a writer. This strategy immerses children in reading and centres itself around the importance of reading for pleasure. Across the school, children need to know, understand and be able to utilise some difficult vocabulary (particularly in Year 6): our focus on Talk 4 Reading will give them the skills to do this. During these sessions, children experience a variety of carefully selected high-quality poetry, fiction and non-fiction texts.
This lesson involves the explicit modelling of the different reading domains, with one focus per week: Retrieval, Summarising, Vocabulary- The meaning of words, Prediction, Comparing and Contrasting, Infer and Justify, Organisation & Presentation & Vocabulary: The effect of word choice. These domains are revisited continually across the school to reinforce and strengthen the children's reading application.
The Talk 4 Reading scheme follows a repeating five day structure:
Monday: Vocabulary - Here we explore the vocabulary, and share opinions, of our new text. We do this through RAG rating, defining meaning with visual aids and looking at the effect of specific word choice.
Tuesday: Working on fluency -We achieve this through echo reading (My turn, your turn), modelling intonation and emphasis, performance poetry and peer reviews.
Wednesday: Summarising - Here we work towards summarising the text. We do this through creating blurbs, headlines for non-fiction texts, "Twitter" activities and story mountains.
Thursday: Model answers - Here the teacher provides the children with SATs style questions for this week's reading domain. We model answers together as a class, looking at what makes a good answer!
Friday: Independent answers - Here the children will look at an entirely new text related to their domain. They are then presented with a new set of similar questions to answer. This allows the children to independently apply their knowledge of this week's reading domain.
We have recently introduced MyBookBlog (MyBB) into our curriculum, and as a result, our children's excitement and love of reading has rapidly increased! Through this scheme, all children are able to choose their own book - matched to their ability. The books available to the children are exciting, world-renowned titles and collections, such as the Chronicles of Narnia, the works of Roald Dahl, The Hunger Games and the works of Michael Morpurgo.
The children will select two books, one for school use and one for their home-reading book. As they progress through the book, the children then access the MyBookBlog website, where they can 'blog' about their chapter, answer vocabulary and comprehension questions and find out interesting facts about their chosen book. This really motivates and encourages the children to look deeper into the content of their book and ‘magpie’ words to use within their own vocabulary.
The books are sorted into ‘challenge’ levels, which helps to ensure that your child is reading a book that is appropriate for them and is supportive of their learning. If a book is levelled higher than your child’s reading level, the book will not be available to them on MyBookBlog. Please note that the teachers have reviewed these challenge levels in relation to your child’s ability and have ensured that your child’s current reading level is appropriate. This will be regularly reviewed. We have also labelled some books with a red sticker on the back, this indicates that these books are only appropriate for Years 5 and 6.
For their home-reading book, the children are expected to complete the MyBookBlog activities at home. This allows us to monitor how much the children are reading at home. The children will read with a TA 1:1 at least once a week.
We also provide the children with a 'bookmark' to help monitor their reading progress. On this card bookmark, the children are to write down any words they are unfamiliar with or have struggled with when reading their book. They then have the opportunity to look up these words with the TA and during the relevant guided reading session.
Over the past year we have adopted the Talk 4 Writing scheme of English, created by Pie Corbett. We have been working alongside T4W expert Dean Thompson to consolidate our teaching of this fantastic scheme, which enables children of all ages and abilities to learn to write with confidence and creativity. The scheme embodies a three-stage pedagogy: Imitation, Innovation and Invention, put simply: I do, We do, You do. Through it's multi-sensory and interactive approach, the scheme aims to improve writing ability by giving pupils a secure understanding of the structure and elements of written language. This involves working with 'tool-kits', which the children commit to memory to aide the structure and content of their writing. Throughout this scheme, grammar is also taught explicitly. Where possible, the teaching of grammar rules is applied to the context of the lesson and uses the texts learnt for consolidation.
Teachers start each new genre with a ‘Cold Task’ - where children have around 20 minutes to write in the style of the new genre, to show what they can already do. This is their 'starting point' and allows the teacher to assess the children’s initial strengths and weaknesses and plan meaningful lessons. We then introduce a 'hook', (a wow activity!) which fires up the children's creativity and imagination before they immerse themselves in the model text.
Next, during this phase the children learn a model text using actions and story maps. The key to success for the children is that they internalise the text type through repetition and rehearsal. They explore the structure of the narrative and investigate the different characters, settings and events. They also begin to look closely at the language used and the effect this has on the reader. We call this process ‘reading as a writer’. The classroom becomes a dynamic, interactive resource filled with word ideas, sentence types and language tools collected by the children to use in their stories later. During these two weeks, we do plenty of short-burst writing activities so that the children begin to understand the construction of sentences and why we use certain sentences and language features for certain purposes.
During this phase, the teacher and the children begin to change aspects of the model text using their own ideas. They explore the text using different characters, settings or events and new ideas for descriptive language whilst sticking closely to the underlying structure. It is during this phase that the children work using their toolkits learned in the imitation phase. The toolkits, based on the features and ingredients of the model text, remind children of the different strategies they could use in their stories and helps them to see the progress they are making.
In the this stage, the children plan and write their own text based upon the text type they have been learning. This is their opportunity to experiment with different ideas and begin to explore their own style of writing using sentence types from the model text. We also prioritise editing their work, as a key skill in writing. During independent work, expectations are differentiated for each group and children are assessed against an assessment criteria that is suitable for their level of learning.
In Key Stage 2, we practise spelling patterns and the irregular words ordered by the Andrew Brodie spelling scheme. Spellings are sent home weekly to be learnt and tested the following week. Please check your child's class webpage to find out which day this is.
At St. Elizabeth’s, we recognise that children’s bones develop at different rates and some children find handwriting a challenge. EYFS develop gross and fine motor skills through fun methods such as Dough Disco. A focus on these gross and fine motor skills will extend into Year 1 and Year 2 if necessary.
Handwriting remains a priority focus for us this year. We have spent significant time and efforts on improving our presentation across the school and have recently introduced lined handwriting books across the curriculum. We are proud to report that the impact of these, alongside the use of the Read, Write, Inc. scheme is significant. Teachers also model presentation and handwriting at the beginning of writing lessons and set high expectations for pupil presentation in books. We also strive to use a specific font when presenting children with typed copies of work, which follows our taught letter formation.