The Five Plagues
From Nursery to Year 6, children study the 'Five Plagues' in whole class reading sessions. These five plagues represent five different challenges presented in literature:
Archaic texts (stories written in older language)
Non-linear time sequence (books which treat time in an unusual way)
Complexity of the narrator (stories which are challenging because of the narration)
Complexity of story (books with a challenging plot)
Resistance texts (texts which are written to be deliberately difficult to understand)
We believe a steady exposure to these different challenges will help to prepare our pupils as life-long readers. Reading tricky texts provides our students with a toolkit for future reading. Within these lessons, children will also explore a range of non-fiction texts; develop their understanding of new and challenging vocabulary; listen to their teacher's 'thoughts' as they read and improve their fluency.
We believe that pairing non-fiction texts with fiction books helps to increase absorption rate of both texts. Children are more likely to remember the non-fiction because they are then applying it within the story they are reading, and they are more likely to understand the story because they then have the non-fiction background. Across the school, children are given the opportunity to explore a wide variety of non-fiction texts in conjunction with their plague text on topics such as: asthma, bullying, dementia, refugees, deaf awareness, and the holocaust. They also explore non-fiction texts and poems which link to the science, history and geography curricula.
Reading for pleasure is of paramount importance and we work hard to ensure that all pupils develop a love of reading. We publish Book of the Month recommendations; have reading challenges within every year band; create links with authors, through visits and video calls; share a reading newsletter monthly with parents; have timetabled story sessions throughout the school and build a reading community through constant book talk.
Reading at Home
It is vitally important that children are heard read every night at home. We recommend that parents work with their children for at least twenty minutes a day on their reading. Research states that children who are heard read at home for this length of time will hear 1,800,000 words per year and will, on average, fall in the 90th percentile. Reading at home may involve your child reading to you or you reading part of a story to them. This could involve sharing a book or reading a magazine or newspaper. Try to promote book talk as much as possible in the home.
We use the Accelerated Reader system as our home-school reading system for Key Stage 2. Children will complete a 'Star Assessment' termly and are given a ZPD score. Books in our school library are organised by ZPD and pupils may choose their own books from the selection within this range. When they have finished a book, children take a quiz to see if they have thoroughly read and understood it. Passing these quizzes gives them points and they can get certificates based on their reading achievement.
At Saint Bernadette’s, we recognise that being part of a child’s early reading journey is a privilege. We as staff understand that we are teaching and building a skill that our pupils will rely upon day after day throughout their lifetime. We encourage our children to view reading as a gift, a gateway to worlds that are different to theirs, a source of knowledge and empowerment.
We begin this journey with RWInc phonics and the teaching of letter names. Staff teach children to use their knowledge of sounds to decode and blend words enabling children to access phonically matched reading books from the RWInc programme. We develop the children’s love of stories, poems and other genres through daily story sessions and book talk. It is through book talk that we develop the children’s comprehension skills in their EYFS years before they move onto written comprehension tasks in KS1. Through the combination of learning to read with RWInc phonics and listening to and discussing a range of stories, above a level that can be independently read, we aim to foster a love and enjoyment of reading in our pupils.
Reading Tips for Parents
We ask that parents listen to their children read every night at home. With the younger children, this will help them to improve their word recognition, therefore building up their sight vocabulary and fluency. However, for those children who are fluent readers, parents should concentrate on developing their child’s understanding of the text. It may not be necessary to listen to fluent readers every night, but instead to question them about the text that they have read.
Reading with children and helping them practice specific reading strategies can dramatically improve their ability to comprehend. We have included a number of questions that parents can use with their children to develop their comprehension skills.
It is not expected that parents cover all of these questions every night, but rather that they concentrate on two or three questions each day.
At St Bernadette’s School we adopt a strategy based approach whereby pupils are exposed to a variety of texts, question types and are taught strategies (tips) to support them to fully comprehend challenging texts.
What is the two-week cycle?
In week one pupils read the text and focus on identifying any links to the text, retrieving information from the text, clarifying new vocabulary as well as summarising the text. In week one pupils are also taught how to make sensible predictions based on prior knowledge.
How do we ensure reading is an active process?
Before reading the text, pupils are set a challenge so that they read the text with intent and are actively engaged throughout.
What happens during the reading process?
Strategies for following the text are modelled by the teacher -for example pupils may be encouraged to follow the text with their reading finger. A variety of approaches are used to read the text and these include the teacher reading the text aloud, pupils filling in word-gaps as the teacher reads as well as independent reading. At St Bernadette’s School we stop at key points in the text and encourage pupils to think aloud. During this process, they may consider how a character is feeling or they may even make a sensible prediction about what may happen next.
After reading, pupils summarise the text .
This is a key skill. Once pupils have been submerged in the text, we model how to be selective and retell the text in our own words –sequencing the events as they occurred.
Did you know 1/5 of the 2018 paper tested vocabulary?
After reading we return to the words pupils may have been puzzled by and clarify their meaning. We teach the pupils how to methodically skim and scan for key words or phrases and give them strategies to make this process efficient.
We model how each question starter gives the reader a hint as to the response required. Pupils are encouraged to circle the key word in the question and other key words so they carry the information in their head.
Pupils are exposed to all the question types.
We ensure that pupils are presented with questions in different formats so they become increasingly familiar with the many question styles. Our role is not only to expose them to all the question types but to give them strategies to answer each question type, ensuring that they annotate the text first
Once the pupils are familiar with the text it means that in week two they can dig deep and be text detectives (they realise the answers are not explicitly in the text) and infer information. This mind set means they grasp inference and are quite excited about the challenges ahead.
In addition, pupils consider how the text is organised and discuss why the author has used certain language choices and their effect.
Assessment to inform planning.
During the two-week cycle, key objectives are assessed and should the need arise pupils will have a drill down lesson whereby they close the gap in a specific area to ensure the skill or strategy is secure before moving on.