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Strand on the Green Junior School

Reading

 

 

Reading is truly transformative. It unlocks knowledge and offers the thrill of adventure. From book to book, we step into the shoes of others, glimpse different places or discover distant times. Given the power of reading to educate and contribute to fulfilling lives, it is only right that it should be the foundation of our curriculum. 



Content

For reading to be successful, its underlying elements must work in unison. The Strand curriculum addresses each of these pillars of reading separately and in tandem. 

 

Learners build their competency through a mapped route of quality texts, supplemented with purposeful text-based activities. As with any skill, practice is crucial, hence the many reading opportunities built into learning, both in school and at home. Our curriculum is designed to serve the differing needs of our learners which it achieves by matching the reading material and activity focus to their stage of development.

  Pillars of reading

1. Word recognition

Decoding new words; reading familiar words accurately

2. Fluency

The bridge between decoding and understanding

3. Comprehension

Reading for meaning: making inferences, understanding vocabulary, learning the patterns of different texts. 

  



 Progression model

The first steps of the Strand reading sequence prioritise the foundations of early reading: phonics and fluency.  Once learners have reached these milestones with age-appropriate texts, the primary focus is on reading for meaning. From that point, the curriculum develops reading in an integrated sequence  so learners become more confident at synthesising its various components. As children get better at reading, they navigate a wider range of reading material, their vocabulary and background knowledge grow and they are able to make sense of more difficult books.
This is how learners at Strand progress towards our aim of successful, effortless and enjoyable reading.


To download a PDF of our progression model for reading click here


 Book Spine

 The texts in our book spine have been chosen for their themes, narratives, language and settings. There’s a good mix of genres and authors, including classic children’s fiction, diverse cultures and traditional tales from our literary heritage. Some are instant page turners yet others offer the kind of challenge that requires a little determination to discover their worth. Books are purposefully matched for age and reading level which in the early stages includes structured scheme books to support phonics and fluency. 

Vocabulary

Language runs through every aspect of  learning so we emphasise the importance of vocabulary knowledge in every subject. During reading, we focus on understanding word meanings in the context of the text. This may involve pre-teaching essential concepts, strategies to deduce meaning, make connections or repeated use of purposefully selected target words. In every case the aim is to support children in their understanding of words and in retaining their meaning.

 



Organisation

 We’ve organised our reading curriculum into the following teaching activities.

Intervention (phonics/word recognition) 
By the time children reach us in Year 3, they have often mastered the phonics they need to read books written for children of their age. The teaching of spelling, particularly in Year 3, is the best way for us to reinforce the connections between written and spoken speech sounds.
If learners have not yet learnt the alphabetic code, or if blending sounds into words is proving difficult, we run intervention sessions to support them in becoming independent decoders.
We use the ‘Rapid Read, Write Inc’ scheme to structure our teaching.

Readers’ Theatre  Y3/4 (fluency)
Readers’ theatre is designed to build fluency through repeated daily practice of a play script that culminates in a read aloud performance at the end of the week. As fluency is one of the early reading milestones, our curriculum includes at least one block of readers’ theatre in Year 3 and 4. After that, where children would benefit from further practice, it is incorporated within reading groups. We introduced this curriculum component based on research findings showing the positive effect of repeat reading in improving sight recognition, phrasing and intonation - the ingredients of fluent reading.
Reading Group Book Study (reading for meaning) 
Reading groups are the main forum for our daily reading lessons.  In these half-hour sessions, children get to read and study a book in depth. Across the cohort, children at a similar reading level are grouped together so that the books selected for study are at the right instructional level to build stamina and support progress. The teaching sequence is text-dependent with a focus on vocabulary acquisition, questions to probe understanding, ‘book-talk’ discussion, journal responses and the practising of comprehension strategies such as  summarising and clarifying.  

Embedded reading is a form of background reading used - where relevant -  to enhance understanding of a book study novel. The format typically draws upon a related non-fiction text. For example, when studying a novel set on a galleon, children may spend a lesson reading an extract from a history text-book to provide background context to the historical setting.    

Class Novels (Story time)
Children love stories and their appetite only increases when they get to listen to a book being read aloud by their teacher. Story time in every year group enables the whole class to share in the enjoyment and thrill of a book. Moreover, listening to fluent reading that conveys nuances of meaning, humour and joy plays a really important role in language acquisition. 

Independent Reading 
This is the reading for pleasure and practice that children do individually or perhaps shared with an adult. We appreciate the support of families here as it often happens beyond the school day, ideally for at least 20 minutes each night. We have a really inviting, well resourced library and a good collection of age-appropriate books housed in each year group, all available to borrow. Book selection is organised according to age and reading confidence. This means structure and guidance where needed and self-directed choice as children gain the experience to manage this for themselves. When it comes to book changing, we teach children to be as independent as possible, including checking books in and out electronically.  

Our aim is to create a buzz around reading. Some children are hooked immediately whereas others need a helping hand to discover that the habit of reading is something to treasure. To make sure we take children with us, reading always has a high profile at Strand; reading campaigns, guest authors, a club for Bookworms, class library visits, book fairs, the Sora website and celebrating World Book Day are some examples of the routes we take to promote engagement. These activities all play their part in Strand’s reading culture, but we also recognise that our biggest strength is the voice of reading within our school - the book talk, the stories read aloud, the comfort of favourite authors and the swapping and sharing of what we’ve enjoyed. Collectively we show our excitement about books, take an interest in what children are reading and urge children on when they find it difficult because the notion that success unlocks enjoyment really does ring true.