At Cue Learning we immerse ourselves in, practice and share critical understandings about learning read. We believe strongly in the core understandings that Braunger and Lewis outline in their paper: Building a Knowledge Base in Reading
Core Understandings About Learning to Read
1. Reading is a construction of meaning from written text. It is an active, cognitive, and affective process.
2. Background knowledge and prior experience are critical to the reading process.
3. Social interaction is essential in learning to read.
4. Reading and writing develop together.
5. Reading involves complex thinking.
6. Environments rich in literacy experiences, resources, and models facilitate reading development.
7. Engagement in the reading task is key in successfully learning to read.
8. Children's understandings of print are not the same as adults' understandings.
9. Children develop phonemic awareness and knowledge of phonics through a variety ofliteracy opportunities, models, and demonstrations.
10. Children learn successful reading strategies in the context of real reading.
11. Children learn best when teachers employ a variety of strategies to model and demonstrate reading knowledge, strategy, and skills.
12. Children need the opportunity to read, read, read.
13. Monitoring the development of reading processes is vital to student success.
The research-based experiences described by Braunger and Lewis in, Students need many opportunities to read, read, read, provides a clear guide for what we would do well to provide for every child in every classroom, every day to develop voluntary reading:
- One block of structured sustained independent reading for students per day
- Finding out about our students' reading
- Developing classroom libraries
- Sharing ideas about reading and making recommendations
- Library borrowing
- Content area texts - literature and non fiction
- Home reading.
When we actively promote and establish opportunities for students to read, we open the way for reading growth, at all year levels. One focus of reading instruction is to develop the lifelong habit of reading. However, some schools or programs spend a great deal of time teaching skills then leave little room for students to practise those skills by really reading.
'What is critical is that students do read-lots, for sustained periods, for meaning, and for real and authentic purposes.
Opportunity to read has an effect on various measures of reading skill or achievement, as described in the following findings:
- "Just plain reading" improves students' comprehension, vocabulary knowledge, ability to monitor their own reading for sense, disposition to read independently, English grammar skills and writing style into more sophisticated forms.
- A consistently positive relationship occurs between the amount of voluntary reading completed at home or at school and gains on standardised reading achievement tests.
- Even fifteen minutes a day of independent, recreational reading significantly increases students' reading abilities. Average and below-average readers experience the greatest gains. For struggling readers in particular, even more time for real reading is imperative if we are to ever narrow the achievement gap.
- When adolescents increase their pleasure reading, performance also increases in academic work.
- Middle school students want to read on their own in order to make an otherwise difficult text interesting and comprehensible.' Braunger and Lewis
As Cue Learning supports the development of these experiences in schools, so we see the improvement in reading that these research-based experiences promise. Keeping our eye on the experiences that count means keeping our eye on what counts for our readers.
At Kaurna Plains School in Adelaide's north it has been exciting to reflect on our growth this past term using a checklist outlining Braunger and Lewis's research-based experiences. Since one of the goals of the Site Improvement Plan is to improve student achievement in reading, each teacher has committed to developing one or more of the opportunities to support daily opportunities to read, read, read.
So it has been exciting to notice and celebrate the reading growth of students over the first term of 2019.
Some of the most exciting growth points we have seen have been:
- An entire class of Year 2/3 students growing more in a term than they had previously grown in a year, with the teacher working solidly to develop strong home reading opportunities.
- Students who had stalled on very low levels, launching into daily reading at school and then growing day by day, week by week, in reading ability, reading confidence and motivation.
- Incredible motivation and interest in books thanks to the arrival of a library assistant who reads aloud with passion, who helps match children to books and listens to children read because they ask her to!
- A secondary teacher has read 7 texts (2 novels) to her English class in Term 1, and has students responding to these texts in ever more sophisticated and meaningful ways. What's more they are keeping a class journal of their responses, thoughts, wonderings, new and interesting words and through it engaging in critically strong ways.
- Classroom libraries established in every classroom R-12, with many links, both fiction and non fiction, to content areas and units of study has provided students with ready access to a greater range of books on a daily basis. As a result we have seen students spending more time reading books independently and with others, and greater use of Read Aloud by the teacher to anchor learning within meaningful text.
You have just got to love the work of these Kaurna Plains School teachers and students!
What a privilege to be working with them all, right by their sides.
This is also a good time to be reminded of the power of reading, reading, reading as we move towards the NAPLAN.
‘All reading tests require speed, fluency and comprehension. This can only be learned in motivated, extended independent reading.’ (Farstrup, Alan e. and Samuals S. Jay. (2002). ‘Preparing Students for High-Stakes Test Taking in Reading’ in What Research Has to Say About Reading Instruction (3rd ed.). Newark:DE, International Reading Association).
- Like a copy of the checklist? Download it here.
- Like to read the article? Students need many opportunities to read, read, read S Braunger, J. & Lewis, J.P. 2006 from Building a Knowledge Base in Reading. See it at the end of this post.
There are many stories of wonderful reading growth points around Australia. We would love to hear about them.
Here at Cue Learning we're passionate about teacher voice, good stories and supporting the profession we love.
'If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hoper, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer,
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.