Reading is a Visa to the Diaspora

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TEACHER’S DIARY

Reading is an instant visa to the diaspora. It’s a great opportunity to be relocated within minutes! Nothing confirms this opinion better than a school’s reading initiative that I have been supporting a pupil here in the UK to use for the last few years.

This scheme designed by this school is called the ‘Reading Passport’. It encourages the children to read a wide range of different texts in addition to those that they bring home from school, as part of the school’s reading scheme.

The child reads independently, reads with his peer(s) or shares the reading with an adult. There is no fastidious way to complete any book. Whatever mode is felt best for each individual book and task is applied when you pick up the book. Some tasks are linked to the curriculum, others aren’t. The tasks are allowed to be completed in any order within a term.

Term in, term out, I have gone through these passports with the child and found, not only the child to be improving in confidence at reading, but improving at expressive reading, diction, knowledge of words, reading speed, prediction and general comprehensive of the story/book.

An example of a year group’s ‘Reading Passport’ this term has the following eight tasks to be completed by the end of term:
Read an adventure story.
Learn a poem and recite it to the class.
Read a non-fiction book about Ancient Egypt.
Read a book from the school library.
Read a story out loud to another person.
Read a story with a familiar setting.
Read a Christmas story.
Read any book of your choice.

The following are ways in which I have supported this child to improve at reading. You may also find them useful.
I have always emphasised how titles and heading of a book tell what the book is about. This prepares the mind of a reader.

I find opportunities to relate information in each book to other happenings of interest to the child, such daily living issues, siblings, holidays, trips out, games, child’s fantasies.
I point out unfamiliar words and we explore the meaning, I have insisted on the use of a dictionary and thesaurus which this child now uses with competence.

I stick these words up on the fridge (you could use another spot) and revisit them frequently. I purposely use them and encourage the child to use them in conversing with me and others.

Aside from using the dictionary, I also guide the child to use clues from the context to sieve the meanings of words.
I encourage the child to wonder the whys and hows in a story.
I encourage wonderings and predictions. For instance, I ask at strategic points in the story/text: “What do you think…? “How do you feel…”etc.

I guide the child to identify the main ideas presented in the text. I emphasise the importance of pictures, drawings and graphics in helping readers to understand more clearly what they are reading.
I set comprehension questions on the story/text to assess the child’s understanding of what we’ve read.

Omoru writes from the UK