Raising Standards Together

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MEP learning pack

Masters in Educational Practice: Literacy

5

Professional responsibility to literacy

5.3

Every teacher a reader: building reading communities

This sub-topic considers a project funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA). The aim of the project was to improve teachers' knowledge and use of literature in order to help them increase children's motivation and enthusiasm for reading, especially those less successful in literacy. The project is recommended reading (external link) for this sub-topic and can be found here.

As a part of developing an understanding of your own philosophy concerning literacy, you will explore your own approach to reading and how this impacts on learning and teaching. Additionally, in subtopic ‘5.4: Professional responsibility to sustain current subject knowledge’, you will develop this knowledge by examining ways in which reading and writing can be valued by school communities through developing wider participation.

Activity 5.6

Every teacher a reader

Take a moment to write down your top-ten list of books. For each one think about the following questions and identify what has influenced your choice of texts.

  • Does your list contain texts which are current?
  • How wide-ranging is your list (fiction, non-fiction, poetry)?
  • What has influenced your choices (texts from school or university, favourite books from childhood, book awards)?
  • Does your list have a variety of genres or does it demonstrate a loyalty to a particular author (have you read a complete series)?
  • Do any of your choices relate to the age range that you teach?
  • Do you prefer to read on-screen or have a hard copy of the text?

Reflect on your answers and see if you can determine any patterns which have formed your reading behaviour. What are the influences that have been more positive and encouraging in developing you as a reader? Conversely, what may have hindered or limited your development?

Finally, take a look at this list compiled by the Times Educational Supplement (TES) (external link).

How does your list of favourites match with those selected?

Developing an understanding of your own reading practice is the starting point of considering how to improve the community of readers in your learning environment. If the results from the activity show that you need to develop your personal approach to reading then this is an important step to take in demonstrating professional responsibility towards literacy.

The next activity builds on examining your personal approach to reading by asking you to reflect on the ways in which the learners perceive you as a reader.

Activity 5.7

Readers as teachers

This activity is designed to help you reflect on the ways that your learning and teaching are influenced by your views on reading.

Reflection – think back to a lesson you have recently taught in relation to these questions.

  • How would the learners in your lesson know that you value reading?
  • What evidence do you have that you promoted a 'love of reading' in this lesson?
  • What pedagogical opportunities were available to encourage text talk?
  • Were you able to refer to a range of texts to illustrate key points?
  • Did you create learning opportunities whereby you were able to recommend texts to learners?
  • Do you know the learners as readers?

You may like to compare your notes with other colleagues and begin to identify areas where your role as a 'reading teacher' can be developed.

It can be difficult to imagine how developing as a 'reading teacher' can actually raise attainment in the classroom but it seems to be the case. Encouraging and guiding learners to read for pleasure as well as for knowledge and assessment can raise academic standards. The article Reading Teachers/Teaching Readers (external link) provides some very pertinent points.

Summary

In this sub-topic you have begun to consider your personal philosophy towards reading and how the learners perceive you as teacher of reading. Making reading visible in your learning environment is a positive step in encouraging young people to become involved in literacy.

Pupils need to feel that they are part of communities where the enjoyment of reading is valued, whatever form it takes, by talking more to their teachers, family and friends, whether face to face or online. Such talk can help them see the kind of reader they are and to make choices about the kind of reader they would like to become.

(Source: nate.org.uk) (external link)

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