Reading is such a pivotal aspect of all our ongoing education! Whether it is for work, school, higher education or for sheer pleasure…reading can fulfil our human need to know more about the world around us. Researchers have hard evidence that routine reading aloud to our young children activates the parts of pre-schoolers brains that help mental imagery and understanding of narrative; both of which are key for the development of language and literacy. (1)
However, it does not stop there; watch the Revolution School episode on ABC, Tuesday that was screened on 7 June 2016 (it is also available on Iview http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/revolution-school/DO1412V002S00 or on Clickview). This program shows an example of one school, Kambrya College, as it addresses the critical issue of reading, and how to teach the skill so kids improve and learn to enjoy reading. Diane Snowball states in this program that strong literacy skills equals maximised potential for students. Diane has been a primary and secondary school teacher, teacher librarian, language and literacy consultant and teacher trainer at schools and Teachers Colleges in Australia. She has also worked on the Teachers College Writing Project at Columbia University, New York in 1992 and is currently affiliated with New York University.
Sadly, she also states that studies have shown that 60% of high school students are not reading recreationally.
“Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn” (2)
Encouragement of recreational reading should increase text literacy and confidence for our students, so making a variety of text types available would enhance the opportunity for reading. Some ideas include; a book chosen by the student for a birthday gift, an Ipad loaded with their favourite series of novels, a magazine subscription, reading in the school library at lunchtime, or even an informal book club amongst friends. Making a practise of fifteen minutes reading before sleep helps to reduce stress and aids relaxation. Try not to use technology for this reading time as it overstimulates the mind, try a real book on for size.
Another way to improve literacy for school based reading involves using seven literacy teaching procedures (LTPs). These procedures tell students how to act systematically on text when they are reading and research has shown that they assist text comprehension in any KLA area. These LTPs suggest that students should:
- get their existing knowledge of a topic ready for learning and for literacy activities. Students recall relevant verbal, imagery, experiential and action knowledge of a topic and recode this to a verbal linguistic form ready for literacy activities. They can see that what they previously knew is valued.
- study between five and ten key relevant words or phrases that are the building blocks of the knowledge to be learnt. Students:
(1) say accurately each concept,
(2) read and spell it,
(3) suggest synonyms and antonyms for it,
(4) clarify its meaning and link it with other concepts.
- read aloud short portions of relevant text.
- visualise and / or paraphrase (or say in their own words) each sentence in the text.
- say questions that each sentence in the text answers.
- summarise the text read, usually paragraph by paragraph.
- predict or anticipate ideas in the text, ‘read between the lines’, infer ideas.
- review, consolidate and show comprehension of what has been learnt by reading silently a written summary of the content covered. (3)
This is not meant to be a totally exclusive series of ideas to help increase student literacy levels by reading…but it can be the start…for now!
Mrs Karen Pentland
- The Huffington Post Australia. (2016). Science Proves Reading To Kids Really Does Change Their Brains. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/science-proves-reading-to-kids-changes-their-brains_us_55c26bf4e4b0f1cbf1e38740?section=australia [Accessed 13 Jun. 2016].
- Farstrup, Alan E & Samuels, S. Jay (2002). What Research Has to Say About Reading Instruction (3rd ed). International Reading Association.
- Munro, J. (2016). Improving literacy in the secondary school : An information to knowledge innovation. 1st ed. [ebook] Melbourne: The University of Melbourne, pp.3-4. Available at: https://students.education.unimelb.edu.au/selage/pub/readings/literacyld/Art_D_Brydon__04__sec_sent_.pdf [Accessed 14 Jun. 2016].