Reading Plus: The Missing Jigsaw Piece at Park View Academy By Jo Stephenson
Find out how Reading plus improved reading at Park View Primary Academy and became an integral aspect of their reading curriculum.
Jo Stephenson, Year 6 Teacher and English Lead at Park View Primary Academy, shares with us, as part of our teacher guest blog series, her school’s Reading Plus journey and how the programme was the “missing jigsaw piece” for their students’ reading development.
How have you implemented Reading Plus in your school?
We trained staff on the use of Reading Plus in a staff meeting and discussed the best way to implement the programme to have maximum success. We knew it was important for all staff to take ownership and feel part of the Reading Plus journey.
Timetabled sessions for success
High expectations are paramount for the success of Reading Plus. Children have a minimum of 2 x 20-minute Reading Plus reading sessions per day in school. These are mainly straight after playtime, as we find it a great way to re-focus the children after their breaks.
These routines are embedded, and children are straight onto their tablets as soon as they return to the classroom. Classrooms are kept calm, and children are reminded to focus their minds on their reading to achieve hitting their targets every session.
Encouraging reading at home
Reading Plus is regularly discussed with all parents, and word counts, levels, and progress are shared at parents’ meetings. The parents understand the importance Reading Plus plays in the progress of their child’s reading and support teaching by encouraging their child to complete 20 minutes of reading every evening.
During our most recent parent meetings, one parent said to me that her son now loves reading, he never used to, and it was a battle even to get him to pick up a book. This child is currently our top reader in the whole school.
‘Reading is at the centre of everything we do at Park View Primary Academy. It has been and will always remain the heart of our school’.
As such, celebrating the successes of our pupils’ reading achievements and progress is paramount in maintaining motivation and building on their newfound love of reading.
Every week, achievement certificates are handed out during our assemblies. A reading medal is awarded to the top reader from Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2, and a reading trophy is awarded to the ‘Highest Words Read’ class in Key stage 2. The teachers in these assemblies genuinely become very competitive, which adds to the tension before the announcement of the winners.
Increasing motivation to help with ability and progress
In class, teachers have their own incentives. In my class, if the class collectively read 135 texts at 80% comprehension during their timetabled Reading Plus sessions in a week, they are rewarded with a 10-minute of extra playtime. This goes down extremely well, and we haven’t missed the target yet. It secretly encourages the children to read more accurately and with care.
Sharing the data with the children is highly successful. The children love to know their motivation data and charts, especially when they see the number of texts they have read.
Helping children reach their reading potential at school and home
Positive praise and encouragement are always received well, alongside sharing the importance of reading with the pupils. Children always love praise. The award assemblies mentioned previously are always very exciting for the children to attend, and we invite parents and other visitors to watch these. This adds extra importance.
Keeping parents on board regarding the importance of reading at home helps our children stay motivated, and many no longer find reading at home a chore. They genuinely have a love of reading.
Reading Plus embedded in the reading strategies
Reading Plus is the final jigsaw piece in the reading taught at Park View Primary Academy. As soon as children are confident with their phonics, work begins in earnest on building fluency. As this improves and confidence in reading grows, Reading Plus is introduced. Daily Reading Plus sessions run alongside daily fluency lessons and whole-class reading lessons.
As many of our children are EAL, they have a significant deficit in vocabulary and understanding. We address this through our tailored reading curriculum through all three strategies.
As soon as we were recommended Reading Plus, we recognised that this programme was the missing jigsaw piece to reading at our school.
Park View Academy Data from September 2021 – April 2022
A digital reading landscape
We knew Reading Plus would engage the children straight away as the reading was online via a device; we knew children would read more words daily. Reading Plus also provides teachers and SLT with vital data not available anywhere else.
Opening the world through text
The children are developing their understanding of the world by physically reading many fiction and non-fiction texts. It is now commonplace for me to hear a child say, ‘I read about this on Reading Plus’. Talking about the texts they have read is very satisfying to hear. It is effortless to discuss some of the texts read, and the children then lead the conversation themselves.
Thank you, Jo, for featuring as a teacher guest blogger!
If you would like to inspire others teachers as to how you have implemented Reading Plus in your school and how you celebrate successes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
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