I have been thinking about and researching how to improve comprehension skills using a range of high quality texts, images, picture books and of course film.
After a number of sessions with children in schools using the new content domains, which can be found on the gov.uk website, I found that all of the key comprehension skills were being covered through the domains. As some of you who follow this blog will know, I like a mnemonic. So I set about thinking about a mnemonic that could be used by teachers, other adults who read with children and also the children themselves. My first attempt - MR SIP TEA was not the catchiest so we have come up with Reading Vipers. Vipers cover the key comprehension skills in line with the 'new' content domains.
At Literacy Shed the minions are now busy making a whole host of resources that will link to Reading Vipers, we are editing our film comprehension materials so that they refer to vipers.
We are also creating a range of comprehension materials based on extracts from classic texts such as Black Beauty, The Time Machine, Robinson Crusoe and many more which will soon be available here. www.literacyshedplus.com Until then you can download The Time Machine sample (as seen below) by clicking here.
The same key viper skills can be rehearsed effectively using single images or picture books.
Take a look at this example using the picture book 'Return' by Aaron Becker.
The question stem documents can be downloaded by click on the relevant image below.
As always comments are welcome!
It made me think - if reading was taught in the Guided Reading slot, spellings were taught in the spelling slot and grammar taught for an hour in the grammar slot. Then what was taught in the other 4 hours of 'Literacy?'
Sadly, I think in some schools this is spent preparing children to write on a Friday in their extended writing session. Perhaps this is done by giving children short writing opportunities after a discussion of a stimulus, perhaps an extract of text. we need to ensure that this text analysed using the same reading skills that have been practised in Guided Reading? Do we encourage children to use inference and deduction skills during these sessions, perhaps more importantly do we sign post these for the children so they can see how the skills are linked?
I am sure we give children opportunities to read and write. Opportunities to read and write do not always lead to improvement. We need to show students how to be successful, in my opinion writing and reading skills should be modelled before we ask the students to do it.
We really need to be taking all of the strands of literacy and weaving them together for children in the literacy sessions. It is no good leaving our grammar to a one hour 'spag' session after lunch on a Thursday, it needs to be taught in context, children need to be fed a never ending stream of this, drip fed, force fed if necessary.
It doesn't even need to be in literacy, it can happen in foundation subjects too! How many times have you stopped a science lesson to identify a verb or adverb that a child has used? Have you ever asked your children what synonym for run you could use in PE? It doesn't have to stop the lesson for a long time, it can be done in a matter of seconds. Once again though the skills need to be modelled and taught before we can expect our students to complete the tasks adequately.
I have had a number of discussions with teachers who lament at the fact their foundation subject work is not as well written as the work that happens in the Literacy lessons. Often I find that the children were asked to write a diary or a news report, scaffolded only by some meagre success criteria. When we ask children to write a newspaper story in the literacy sessions we use a range of techniques that could take more than a week to get a piece of high quality writing, in foundation subjects some of us expect the same high quality to occur in less than an hour.
Drip, drip, drip - that is what we need to be doing with literacy skills, and if those skills are poor then that drip needs to be a torrent and the skills need to be practised continuously, relentlessly and in context
Rob from Literacy Shed