Updated: Mar 7, 2020
According to Ofsted, all subject teachers have a duty to improve student literacy. Not only does this improve the standards of reading, writing, spelling, listening and speaking but improved literacy skills are also linked with improved ability to understand and engage with wider concepts. I could write all day about the case for literacy but let's just skip that part and get straight to the point.
There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that there is a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment (Clark 2011; Clark and Douglas 2011). It is clear that reading for pleasure is proven to enhance student's reading, writing and overall attainment, do we utilise this as teachers?
I have explored tackling this issue with a simple intervention and this is it. I have started using a 'wider reading' article, comprehension questions as extension tasks make up an engaging 'Do Now' activity in lessons. Students enter the class and immediately begin reading something related to the lesson that I have provided for them. This creates a calm atmosphere at the very beginning of every lesson as it is now part of the routine. During this time, students are asked to highlight any new words before looking up and writing their definitions as annotations on the page.
How does this benefit students?
1. Students are exposed to high level reading material every lesson.
2. Lessons are started in silence, creating a calm atmosphere.
3. Students are challenged to engage with the text in extension tasks.
4. Students will learn at least one new word if the level of challenge is appropriate.
Now you're probably thinking that while this would be a nice orderly start to a lesson, how is this engaging? This is where you need to really think about it. The text has to captivate students, find something interesting-even if only loosely related to the topic. Once students get used to this routine your selection of texts will become easier.
See our downloads section for a PowerPoint slide to display to students when using wider reading as a 'do now' activity.