Wednesday 6 December 2017

The Reading for Pleasure Conference


Anna Vaughan
Head of International Primary Curriculum and Education Lead

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The Reading for Pleasure Conference held at the headquarters of the Guardian newspaper at the end of November 2017 was truly inspiring. It had a great mixture of authors sharing their literary journeys and passionate educators with practical takeaways regarding best practice for the classroom. There were also a series of workshops and I was fortunate to attend one given by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) on developing a whole school reading culture.

Below I have listed the points I found of interest from each speaker.

Nick Mohammed –
Author, Comedian, Actor, Magician @nickmohammed

  • As a newly published first time children’s author, Nick spoke of the benefit of having children review drafts of his book. How children were a brutally honest audience
  • He reminded us of the positive influence an author can have on a class of children. For many schools either due to cost or geographical location, author visits are not possible – I have put together some resources as an alternative on this connected blog post [link to Authors in the classroom blog]

Catherine Millar -
Teacher @allicatski

  • A teacher passionate about bringing back the joy into reading in her class, Catherine spoke of two major factors that PIRLs and PISA research showed in improving children’s love and learning in reading; firstly motivation – if children are motivated they read more – if they read more they get better at it. Secondly, the significance of parents reading to children.
  • The following practical ideas were shared as part of infusing the culture of the school with a love of reading:
    • A class story at the end of every day - despite time pressures
    • Starting various book groups to include members of the local community
    • Paired reading of older and younger children. This was particularly successful with older children that had initially struggled with reading
    • Planned opportunities for both guided and whole class reading
    • Introduced personal reading logs as part of independent guided reading activities – children chose the paper to cover them in
    • Planned opportunities for guided reading groups to  pre-read
    • Guides for sibling reading – celebrating ‘Super Siblings’ who read together at home
    • Introduced certificates in assembly to celebrate reading
    • Created displays of reading; for example - ‘Where we like to read’
    • Used fairy lights and music to create a calming atmosphere during reading
    • During book week all staff were asked to share a book they loved
    • Bedtime stories – children returned to school to have a story with hot chocolate

James Clements –
Education Writer and researcher @MrJClements

  • Spoke of his project involving 60 schools, “on Building an Outstanding Reading School” and shared 6 strategies recommended as a framework to build a culture for reading:
  • James also shared some of the great practice he’d seen throughout the project:
    • Reading buddies, with all years paired up, so reception read to nursery, with great results!
    • Reading camp, which resulted in children spending the night in school one Friday night – they were also allowed to bring siblings – this proved to be very popular with parents.
    • Instead of bringing in a cake for birthdays, children were encouraged to donate a book to the school. For recognition they got a nameplate for the front of the book and their name announced in the school newsletter.
    • Golden tickets were hidden in older books that often got overlooked in the library, if they read a book with one in, they could bring to the library, answer a couple of questions and receive a bookmark as a prize.  

1- Supporting Staff 2- Teaching the Reading Curriculum 3- Engaging Parents 4- Developing the Reading Environment 5- Targeting Resources 6- Celebrating Reading

  • James warned of the danger of separating teaching reading and ‘reading for pleasure’
  • Importance of planned opportunities: of a text based curriculum; reading aloud to the class; independent own-choice reading.

You can read more about the Project here: 

Charlotte Hacking –
Learning Programme Leader at CLPE @charliehacking

  • CLPE want to support schools to develop a ‘policy with integrity’ 
  • Shared their reading and writing scales and how to use them to move children’s reading on
  • Discussed their mission of supporting schools with a whole school provision. One that has a thorough understanding of how the progression of reading and writing should enable children to move from dependence to interdependence.
  • Reminded of the importance of breadth of reading – it’s not about reading the chunkiest novel you can find!
  • Established clear routines for before, during and after reading
  • Although CLPE provide thorough scope and sequences for texts, Charlotte stressed the importance of reading the text first and adapting it to the needs of your class.
  • Using the book "Moon Juice" by Kate Wakeling, Charlotte ran through a concise version of the first few lessons of the scope and sequence – it was inspiring!

We have been lucky enough to collaborate with CLPE in order to strengthen links between our IPC units and literacy and language. If you’ve not seen it yet have a look at our news story here. I’ve also blogged about it here. If you are already an IPC School you will be able to find the initial mapping documents on MyFieldwork. 

Find out more about our International Primary Curriculum