Recently, prior to an inspection, a colleague of mine approached me with a dilemma. They wanted to introduce a new short text to their children but was concerned that if that lesson was observed, they may not show 'Ofsted Outstanding Progress'. Many schools around the UK and world promote 'library time' or 'free reading time' which give children chances to read books for pleasure in order promote a love for reading. The theory behind this is that if children develop this passion for reading, they will be more willing to read and in turn develop their skills at a much faster rate - leading to progress. However, was my colleague right to be concerned about Ofsted seeing these 'free reading times'? Did she have a point? Can promoting a love for reading really be integrated with producing an 'Ofsted outstanding lesson'? After all, where is the accelerated progress in 15 minutes of free reading?
In terms of progress, each school has their own stance on what that means and how it looks in their classrooms, however there is no doubt that promoting a love of reading can lead to future outstanding progress. Promoting a love for all subjects leads to a greater focus and determination to achieve. After all, isn't that why we are teachers - because we have a passion for education and helping people learn?
Below are a few ideas of how to promote a love for reading in your lessons whilst having a clear direction towards fantastic progress!
1) Surprise Books! - Wrap new books from the library up in wrapping paper with a label from a character. The label can give clues to the story promoting inference, predictions and enthusiasm from the children. Unwrapping the book will be both, exciting and informative!
2) Dragon's (Book) Den! - As a persuasive task, get children to persuade the rest of the class why their chosen book is the most exciting/informative etc. This will get children investigating books, understanding the purpose of the text and developing persuasive language. In turn, the children listening with be exposed to new books they may not have discovered in the library yet!
3) Extreme reading reviews! - When children have read a book that they loved in class, get them to write an 'extreme' book review. They can summaries the narrative in a small paragraph; state why the book was so 'extreme' and exciting and suggest other books that are similar to tempt new readers in. This will develop summarising and comparison skills.
4) Create or find the setting - When reading a book, children can be set the challenge to create or find on google images the setting sin the books. Once found they have to give reasons for their choices using evidence from the text. This brings the scenes to life and also develops inference and helps children identify description within a text.
5) Invite authors to speak - Children can be inspired to read by hearing an author (if possible, especially one from a similar background to theirs) speak about reading and writing. If you can't get them in, contact them on twitter or via email.
6) Make connections between reading and other issues - Choose books that are on topic with current interests and integrated into the children's interests. They will have their own view points and understandings which can create debates, discussions and lots of fantastic understanding.
If you have any success stories with promoting reading for pleasure whilst having a strong learning focus then please share via our social media sites or email us!
With a keen interest in the neuroscience and psychology of learning, WAGOLL Teaching is about sharing research alongside great, simple teaching ideas to a global teaching community.
Ben has been in education for over 10 years and is passionate about simplifying high quality teaching and learning through innovative and practical approaches in the classroom.