At Windmill, we believe that reading is fundamental to the development of children’s language and imagination. Research demonstrates the links between good reading skills from an early age and future success in life. That is why we want all our children to be readers, be passionate about reading and develop a love of books.
We hold themed book events; including Scholastic Book Fairs, World Book Days and we are developing our links with our local authority library – The Dales Library. We also have authors and story-tellers in for workshops and we are developing Buddy Reading sessions across our school. Children are innovative when developing their own passions for reading including organising and running their own successful daily lunchtime Reading Hut (run by our Year 5/6 Reading Role Models).
Our half-termly, thematic topics are underpinned by high-quality, core class texts allowing for relevant and meaningful cross-curricular links across a multitude of subjects, ensuring English skills are promoted and practised across the curriculum. Coverage of text types and genre, across school, have been carefully mapped out to ensure variety, exposure to a multitude of texts and genres and progression of complexity of texts. Our Provision and Vision map provides a school-wide overview of the coverage of text types and genres, along with our reading celebration days.
Using the National Curriculum English Programmes of Study (Key Stages 1 and 2) as the starting point, Windmill’s medium and short term English planning for reading is underpinned by Windmill’s Reading Progression Map. Windmill’s Reading Progression Map combines the objectives from the National Curriculum Programme of Study for Reading and the End of Key Stage Reading Domains (underlined and in bold), into ‘strands of reading’ (e.g. decoding and fluency, range of reading). Where the National Curriculum objectives repeat (Year 3 and 4, Year 5 and 6), Windmill’s English team have progressively differentiated the objectives. Additionally, the Reading Domains have been broken into smaller, progressive steps and included in the objectives for the year groups that come before the end of each key stage. Highlighted in yellow, on the left-hand side of the document, is the detail of when the different strands of reading are taught.
From the reading progression map, learning objectives, for whole class reading skills lessons, have been devised and are in place on Medium Term Plans for each week. These learning objectives have been carefully mapped out to ensure coverage of all of the different strands of reading, yet with a heavier allocation of teaching time given to the strands of vocabulary, inference and retrieval.
Whole Class Reading
Windmill learners have three Whole Class Reading (WCR) lessons per week. WCR sessions are based mainly on the class novel, although may include extracts and supplementary texts as appropriate, and focus on the discrete teaching of a specific reading skill, such as inference, retrieval, clarification of vocabulary (detailed on Windmill’s Reading Progression Map). During WCRs, the teacher models the reading process to the whole class as an expert reader and sessions are characterised by the explicit teaching of specific reading skills and the depth of exploration within the teaching of this skill, through teacher input and high quality reading activities. The core and supplementary texts are quality texts that reflect the teaching objectives and are of a higher level than the general class’ reading ability. The children join in with the reading of the text in a supported manner. Sessions are differentiated appropriately so that all children, aside from those with additional and different needs that mean they are working on a different English curriculum, can access the learning.
Session content consists of a short (5 minutes) activity to pre-teach and secure understanding of new vocabulary in the text, or embed previously introduced vocabulary, and a short (5 minutes) skim and scan retrieval based activity, before focusing on the main reading skill. This is to ensure that pupils are regularly taught new vocabulary and practise skimming and scanning for retrieval frequently.
Windmill learners have three reading comprehension lessons per week. Reading comprehension lessons are based on supplementary text extracts – texts and extracts that, where possible, link to the class novel and half-termly topic in order to widen the children’s exposure to text types and broaden their background knowledge. Reading comprehension lessons involve the children answering comprehension-style questions, in a guided, supportive, yet increasingly independent manner. Each comprehension lesson focuses on one element of question style (vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and summary/sequencing) allowing children the opportunity to apply their reading skills to comprehension questions.
Reading Schemes, Levels and Stages
In addition to the texts children read during reading lessons and across the curriculum, each child, before becoming a ‘free reader’, is provided with a ‘banded’ reading book to read 1:1 with adults at school and at home.
Windmill uses the Oxford Reading Tree reading scheme which groups books into coloured book bands. A reading scheme is a series of books that have been written to provide an appropriate level of challenge dependent on the child’s stage of reading development. Books that are too hard can be frustrating and may put a child off reading; books that are too easy do not provide the appropriate level of challenge required to improve reading skills.
At Windmill, each child’s book band is determined through a half-termly assessment of their reading using the PM Benchmark system. Children are consequently assigned a ‘book band’ for their level of attainment and a reading sticker is placed in the home-school diary. These stickers contain questions and targets to be used by any adult that reads with the child at school or at home. This means that when your child knows their book band, they are able to choose a banded book, at their level, from the wide selection we have at school. The questions provided in the home-school diary, help you to support your child’s reading at home.
Please follow the link to the Oxford Owl website for more information on the reading scheme and levels.
Once children have progressed through the ‘bands’, they become a ‘free reader’ where they have a wide selection of novels to choose from.