Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Teachers discuss comprehension

    THIS IS A FACEBOOK CONVERSATION. I POSTED THE QUESTION. PEOPLE RESPONDED BELOW.

    Do the KS 1 or KS2 teachers here do any particular kind of work that is called 'comprehension' or work designed to 'improve comprehension'? Who planned it? Is it any good? Is any of it crap? Why is it crap? If it's good, why is it good? Does any of it go beyond 'retrieval' and 'inference'? If so how? Are you asked by senior staff to do things that you think don't work? Is there 'comprehension work' that the children specifically don't like/do like? Why? What do they say?
    Like · Comment ·  · 825324
    • Glawen Phandaal Law · 5 mutual friends
      EWducational theory is a load of shite
    • Ruth Bennie · 2 mutual friends
      I prefer the radical idea of reading a book and talking about it....
      Like · Reply · 48 · July 2 at 9:33pm
    • Glawen Phandaal Law · 5 mutual friends
      Primary: teach em to read;teach em to write; teach em basic maths; don't let them leave until they can do it.
      Like · Reply · 4 · July 2 at 9:34pm · Edited
    • Ruth Bennie · 2 mutual friends
      Create memories. Make learning fun so they want to keep doing it.
      Like · Reply · 18 · July 2 at 9:37pm
    • Glawen Phandaal Law · 5 mutual friends
      The number of kids who come into secondary without 3 r's is ridiculous. The number who leave secondary in the same state is a shame on the nation.
      Like · Reply · 6 · July 2 at 9:39pm
    • Shirley Brooks · Friends with Alison Martin
      The Government make our Y2 children tick some boxes and write phrases about something they are given to read unseen (Not statutory, much!). Mostly, when left to our own devices, we find well written, interesting stories, poems and information books, read them, share them and talk about them. My Y2 class adore unpicking a good story.
      Like · Reply · 14 · July 2 at 9:40pm
    • Kate Jackson · Friends with Nick O'Brien and 1 other
      Yes, but I find that trying to collect evidence really inhibits good development of book talk and deeper discussion. I am an NQT though, so perhaps those super-powers are yet to develop. (KS1)
      Like · Reply · 15 · July 2 at 9:43pm
    • Glawen Phandaal Law · 5 mutual friends
      and still the few filter through without any 3 r's
      • Emma Lucey · Friends with Claire Melhado
        How much blame for that do you place on the parents rather than the school? I taught both my girls to read before they started primary, also basic writing, their address, money and numbers. I'm not a teacher but I've worked as a TA, in Early Years and family support. I would say that the kids leaving school without these basics are the victims of their upbringing rather than their schooling. It is a disgrace to the nation indeed but I don't think it's fair to place the blame on schools.
      • Maria Pye · Friends with Debbie Goldsmith and 1 other
        Not all parents have the ability or time to teach a child . If a child comes from a disadvantaged background , their access to learning at school is even more vital than ever !
      • Rob Smith Time? They should all have the time. It takes 15 minutes a day
      • Alexandra Moir · Friends with Becky Marks
        Far too much (blame/responsibility) is placed upon teachers and schools. Children need a supportive home to really thrive. It doesn't need to be a pushy home, just a supportive one...
      • Deborah Caulfield · 15 mutual friends
        And if the kids have the bad luck not to live in a supportive home, what then? Blame the parents and absolve the schools? Pathetic.
        Like · 17 hrs
      • Michael Rosen
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    • Glawen Phandaal Law · 5 mutual friends
      Primary - I couldn't do it. I am in re-engagement.
    • PL Miller That would be me. One of my things. Shall I wax lyrical? (I will get the sack)
      Like · Reply · 3 · July 2 at 9:55pm · Edited
    • Rosie O'Kitty I find that lots of it is very prescriptive and not open to interpretation. It is a real shame because when it comes to marking these comprehensions, some children may see things in different ways and be able to justify their ideas using the text, however, if it's not in the mark scheme we are supposed to mark it as wrong. Which I think is wrong...
      Like · Reply · 24 · July 2 at 9:55pm
    • Josephine Walmsley · Friends with Tracy Hager
      I guess you could say all work that is based on a text is some sort of comprehension. Reading a real text, responding to it, being inspired by it and then writing yourself is all comprehension. 'Proper' comp though, answering usually written questions about a text has its place. But I write my own questions so that it is based on the books that I want to read the kids. The worst stuff is based on tiny extracts from real books that the kids haven't read, or may never read or even worse is based on 'pretend' texts. I find the kids like doing it if the text is interesting enough, if they are asked their opinion and if they can show their comprehension in different ways, by using pictures for example.
      Like · Reply · 4 · July 2 at 9:58pm · Edited
    • Janet Walton · Friends with Sam Ud-din
      Yes we do 'inference'. The children really like it. It's a simple intervention to follow and generates lots of discussion as well as highlighting much misconception.
      Like · Reply · 3 · July 2 at 9:56pm
    • Emma Davey · Friends with Claire Frawley and 1 other
      reciprocal reading is quite trendy at the mo and a good starting point to develop comprehension questioning and skills.
      Like · Reply · 5 · July 2 at 9:58pm
    • Tracy Hawdon · Friends with Andy Kershaw
      My year 2 class love 'role on the wall' and 'zone of relevance' activities but we base lots of our understanding of books in drama and practical reading activities. Making film clips to encourage someone to pick up a book. Creating their own reading corner/station. Making their own story sacks etc. Fun stuff, you know!
      Like · Reply · 6 · July 2 at 10:02pm · Edited
    • Helena Clare Cook · 3 mutual friends
      I do reciprocal reading with my class... It's great for getting children to read and discuss what they're reading...
      Like · Reply · 3 · July 2 at 10:07pm
    • Leigh Taylor · Friends with Lucy Worsley
      New curriculum and it's SPaG and planning, drafting, writing, editing sequence has squeezed regular reading comprehension off the timetable this year. Lit coordinator though has consulted with staff and found we believe it needs to be reinstated in some form. We have also tried it as part of guided reading time but poorer readers, for both decoding and comprehension skills, needed adult input to support meaningful learning. More able decoders appear to be independent, but often the quality of their understanding wasn't developing due to lack of discuss / exploration etc.
      In KS2, the difficulty we have ( even with a high achieving intake) is that fluency is very variable, so pitching the text with the right amount of challenge is a struggle. Tasks are predominantly old Af2 &3 type with occasional forays into word choice/ sentence structure. Af4-7 seem to be best explored through class text, which is used as vehicle for writing genre or when exploring other text types eg non fiction. Poetry is rarely explored - I wonder if it is because it isn't a major writing focus.
      Like · Reply · 4 · July 2 at 10:09pm
    • Helena Clare Cook · 3 mutual friends
      We also do straightforward'comprehension but only on books/poems/artwork that we've been reading/looking at them selves...
    • Leigh Taylor · Friends with Lucy Worsley
      What do you think about teaching similes? It only seems to appear as a terminology term in 2014 curriculum Y5 statutory programme.
    • Fiona Weir · Friends with Jo Haslam and 5 others
      Terry Buckley, you might be interested in this discussion. smile emoticon
      Like · Reply · 1 · July 2 at 10:11pm
    • Leigh Taylor · Friends with Lucy Worsley
      Some of our staff have just had Reciprocal Reading training and it seems we might use it as an intervention strategy. Has anyone any experience it with small groups or in some way with whole class?
      Like · Reply · 1 · July 2 at 10:14pm
    • Vicky Ayech · Friends with Andy Roberts
      Grandson, now just 9, has for the past 3 years had to read a book or part of one and write about it each week in a reading diary. At first it was just write anything about it but the last 2 years there have been questions each week like Who is your favourite character in the book? What questions would you like to ask them? Describe a scene in the book where someone is scared and say what words the writer uses to show it is scary. Some have been ones I've found quite difficult.
      Like · Reply · 2 · July 2 at 10:24pm
    • Rosie Joyce · Friends with Betty Hall
      I was intervention teacher for year 1 before going on Mat leave and I did comp sessions within my guided reading groups. We'd do guided reading one day, mainly focussing on phonological awareness and some basic comprehension/ discussion, then next day we would discuss yesterday's story, draw up basic story map from memory with key names/ words/ phrases and then re-read the story which would improve both comprehension and phonics and mainly confidence of the group. They could then add to story map at the end with more detail. I was working with those with low level reading skills and often short term memory issues so this kind of work was at the correct level. It would need to be extended for the more able readers.
      Like · Reply · 3 · July 2 at 10:24pm
    • Hazel Danson · Friends with Alan Gibbons and 27 others
      Phonics Test & SPAG have reduced the teaching of reading and writing to just doing the bits that are easy to test. I think primary teachers understand this is wrong but are increasingly squeezed for time and space and professional control to do what's right for the children we teach. What's the point of reading if you can't understand and comprehend and discuss and enjoy it. It's become mechanistic teaching and we are losing the confidence to do anything other than what we are told. Language is power and we need to give our pups the tools and imagination and confidence to use it to effect. Our current curriculum and hard core accountability system are taking that away
      Like · Reply · 22 · July 2 at 10:27pm
    • Morven Brown · Friends with Louise Young and 1 other
      Graham Holman - any thoughts?
    • Leigh Taylor · Friends with Lucy Worsley
      Thank you Eleanor, that's how we envisaged it working as whole class strategy. 
      Like · Reply · 1 · July 2 at 10:28pm
    • Dani Dub Dub · 3 mutual friends
      We have used New Reading & Thinking successfully in KS2 especially. The strength of it is that using fairly short texts, it succeeds in asking questions that go beyond the text, requiring inference, visual clues, and more than one possible answer. We also use Rapid Reading, but I have not had much personal experience of that.
      Like · Reply · 1 · July 2 at 10:30pm
    • Karen Bernard · Friends with Janet Hetherington
      Hazel I've been out of the classroom for 6 years having my boys and don't know what SPAG is unsure emoticon but your post there sums up everything I felt about Literacy teaching even before I went on maternity leave. I dread to think that it has got worse at the point where I'm now hoping to return to the classroom, even if only in a supporting role as a TA.
      Like · Reply · 4 · July 2 at 10:33pm
    • Zoe Zeero · Friends with Joe Duggan
      Funny enough we do loads around SATS time... Bores them
      And me to tears...
      Like · Reply · 4 · July 2 at 10:34pm
    • Zoe Zeero · Friends with Joe Duggan
      Yep Karen lots of spag and vcop now... Barely have time to do the actual lesson by the time all that's done! Spag= spelling punctuation and grammar. Vcop= vocabulary connectives openers punctuation. Boring...!!!
      Like · Reply · 3 · July 2 at 10:36pm · Edited
      • Karen Bernard · Friends with Janet Hetherington
        I may sound really old fashioned now but surely children learn those things more naturally if they are both spoken with and read to/ with? All this focus on making them jump through hoops for testing rather than making time for more quality interactions in the classroom seems insane to me and extremely depressing frown emoticon
      • Alexandra Moir · Friends with Becky Marks
        Extremely!
      • Michael Rosen
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    • PL Miller I have been asked by Yr 2 coordinator, "Pls can you help these borderline chn get a level 3?" "They can read but not accurately enough and they can't do comprehension?" (Yes they can, says I) We have approx 8 - 10 sessions - extra to the normal day - before or after school. We start by reading books that are not cutting edge difficult but 'can we sum up what they are about in 3 sentences?' Great skill to pull out the gist of what this book is about. I model what I would say about a book / story. I believe in learning hard or new concepts using not too difficult content. (Hard concept - easy content. Hard content - easy concept) We work on reading accuracy - many children skim over some words they don't know / can't be bothered with, because they have been abandoned too soon to read by themselves, and if nobody is there to be interested and they can usually get the gist, why should they bother with every single word?)
      We learn to read syllable by syllable etc, not first syllable dribble waffle skim mumble. We work on working out what certain words mean from their context - fantastic skill. 
      We decide that it is not helpful to read certain words and not know what they mean? We treat the unknown as a puzzle, a game, and try to work out the answers. 
      And then we work on the SATs paper type questions (It amazes me that 7 yr olds call it a 'paper' - incredible) I work on the premise that if they have to jump through a hoop, I will help them get through that hoop. 
      We work on reading the text, reading the question and then reading the text again, pinpointing where is the answer to the question. Children will read and think the answer to a question must be in their heads - it is alien to them to search the text for the answer. 
      We work on "what do you think" and "explain why" questions - that the answers are not there so blatantly but they have to answer based on what they have read.
      We work on taking time to think / giving others time to think. We make overt that in a group, somebody might take a bit longer to think, but will probably know the answer just the same as somebody who can answer straightaway. We work on people noticing if they have made a mistake and fixing it themselves. We work on giving each other time and not jumping on somebody's error.
      This all sounds very mundane but we do our best to have fun and take the mick if necessary out of the texts and the process.
      Like · Reply · 12 · July 2 at 10:45pm
      • PL Miller Management don't tell me what to do. And we succeed.
      • PL Miller Children seem to enjoy? Small children enjoy because they know you; they do it for you, not necessarily because the work is intrinsically thrilling for them. I think this applies across the board? Little kids like Milwall because their adults like Millwall.
      • Michael Rosen
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    • Isabel Reid · Friends with Alex Grace
      Seems that if we just felt able to spend more time in class reading stories and talking about them we wouldn't need to be 'doing comprehension '...
      Like · Reply · 10 · July 2 at 11:59pm
    • Caitriona Ward · Friends with Jakki VB
      I am a reading recovery teacher and totally agree that comprehension teaching has been squeezed out of the curriculum . Parents want to know why their children children are not flying through the coloured book bands and the answer is usually comprehension. After a parental questionnaire which indicated parents wanted to know more I prepared a presentation on comprehension and nobody turned up!!
      I've spoken to the head about training the teachers in how to teach comprehension partly based on comprehension training I received on the Inferential comprehension course produced by Leicester County Council. 
      She is keen for this to happen.
      Like · Reply · 4 · July 3 at 12:03am
    • Isabel Reid · Friends with Alex Grace
      But yes, we do do comprehension, we buy schemes, we download things, we practice SATs questions and some kids like them and some help their understanding of what they read and some are a waste of paper and all are done to improve SATs scores and none increase children's enjoyment of reading...and at GCSE level my kids have found reading comprehension tests equally pointless and unconnected to books and reading!
      Like · Reply · 3 · July 3 at 12:06am · Edited
    • Emma Lucey · Friends with Claire Melhado
      When I was at primary school two things happened that profoundly affected my reading ability and love of books, words and stories. Our teacher had time to read to us every day in an exciting, expressive way and when we were ready to go up a level in reading books we had to go and read to our fantastic headteacher Mr Lamb. He'd let you have a sweet out of the jar and you could go and swap your book up. So motivating and inspiring. I'm glad I'm not a child now!
      Like · Reply · 4 · July 3 at 12:33am
    • Sarah Phoenix · 3 mutual friends
      My boy was tested using the York Reading Test for comprehension. Apparently, he missed a question on inference (where his answer differs slightly from the one given but was still valid) and subsequently he spent a term reading ORT books 4 levels below what he had been reading previously and bored silly. At home he reads every night and we look at all sorts from his mini encyclopedia to the Usborne rewriting of King Arthur. He loves reading and stories but this was a huge setback for him because of a comprehension test.
      Like · Reply · 1 · July 3 at 12:40am
    • Jennie Jones · Friends with Sara Tomlinson and 3 others
      We do some official paper sheets for comprehension practice as we are year 2. The much more fun stuff happens in guided reading where the children read their chapter then write their own questions for a partner to answer. They like to make these very difficult and particularly enjoy making multiple choice questions! Thy also enojy the challenge of working as a group to make a question for me to answer.
      Like · Reply · 2 · July 3 at 6:42am
    • Judith Kahn · Friends with Amanda Smith and 1 other
      Lizi Patch - I think you have some trenchant observations about this
    • PL Miller We also draw scenes that have been described - learning to visualise what we are reading; get a picture in our heads of what is going on; talk about what the author is trying to do to us; make up questions for others to answer; read aloud 'as if we are putting on a show'. I have also watched films with children, discussing and analysing what is being shown, how and why, and predicting what might happen next - what is the director trying to do to us, what are we supposed to be thinking, feeling, what are we supposed to know from this scene, how do we know that's the baddie etc? Working with books is similar. Some children don't cotton on that we can 'do things with our minds' and not just react to externals. Some children need to have it made overt that they can switch on and direct their thinking onto stuff that might be challenging. Some children need to have it made overt that they are 'just as clever as so and so, but this is what so and so does...' I have seen this make a big difference to certain children, overnight. Marie Clay, who studied what 'good readers' do, not just what 'poor readers' lack, talks about what children are attending to and asks us to keep working out how to get them attending to what will be most useful to them at this time, getting the children to learn that they can decide what to attend to and be flexible i.e. not over-reliant on rote formulae and linear schemes.
      Like · Reply · 1 · July 3 at 8:29am
    • Dave Harry We base our stuff within the Talk for Writing model - lots of book talk, role play, empathy, reading as a reader and then as a writer, etc. The children are totally immersed in the world, language and 'talk' of stories and texts. We always gauge initial responses, thoughts and feelings before moving into any kind of analysis. Alongside this we run guided reading workshops focusing on specific texts, drawing out certain techniques and tools that will help us understand and interpret (individually/collectively) a text. This philosophy/approach runs throughout the school but it also encourages individual creativity and spontaneity. It's fun and helps raise standards! As necessary, we then nod to the ever changing goalposts but without losing our soul or integrity! 

      We try as much as possible to set our course by the stars and not by the lights of every passing ship. Gove, Morgan, tweaked systems wrapped up in political rhetoric, etc are the passing ships (we do wish they'd pass through quicker however...) 

      This approach provides as much security as possible for the teachers, TAs and children.
      Like · Reply · 11 · July 3 at 8:46am
    • Karen Parkin · Friends with Kevin Courtney and 2 others
      Our education system is now almost entirely based upon short term targets and easy to measure outcomes. Any child not meeting their (our) 'goals' is deemed to be 'lower ability ' 'failing' or having SEND. Labels which stay with them for life. The long term view of a child's education doesn't matter because voters might not attribute any successes to the Govt currently running the schools. And no, privatisation is not the answer. 
      If only we had thousands of educated, inspiring, dedicated, caring, experienced professionals to nurture, teach and invest in a long term vision for our children....
      Like · Reply · 3 · July 3 at 8:59am · Edited
    • Michael Rosen Does anyone use this? What do they think of it?http://readingformeaning.co.uk
      This research project makes explicit links between theory and practice, and evaluates three approaches to...
      READINGFORMEANING.CO.UK
      • Nina Curran · Friends with Alison Wilde
        I heard about this last week at the Hull L.A English meeting and I intend to research it further. Sorry but just on way out.
      • Alice Tuckett · Friends with Polly Tuckett and 1 other
        It looks really interesting. I try to develop children's comprehension through whole class studies, guided reading, individual reading and comprehension style questioning. I've found that in KS2 children are increasingly left to read on their own and the discussion that they would get if reading with an adult leaves a gap between their decoding and comprehension abilities
      • Michael Rosen
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    • Rob Smith We use lots of film and images to supplement reading, children enjoy the visual aspect and it makes them more confident when using the skills with text
      Like · Reply · 2 · July 3 at 11:20am
    • Rob Smith This is my guided reading blog - it worked effectively and had impact. If I went back in time I would change some of it but it's a good starting point http://www.literacyshedblog.com/.../guided-reading-just...
    • Tony Dowling 'Reading recovery teacher'!? Pft!
    • Rob Smith Here is Mrs P's blog about whole class reading sessionshttp://www.mrspteach.com/.../the-problems-with-guided...
      I no longer teach in the UK but was fascinated by this...
      MRSPTEACH.COM
    • PL Miller I am not the oracle, but: I saw research somewhere that showed any scheme will work if it is done properly, consistently - (the current phonics regime had not been started then!). 'Properly' includes training, ongoing top up training and evaluating practice, as well as delivery. Teacher training does not include 'How to teach children to read. From scratch to fluency, including 'comprehension'.' It pretends it does but it doesn't. Lots of local authorities and schools and teachers developed best practice which has mainly been discarded and replaced by tick box-able lists of items of knowledge. The DfE pretends that phonics is the way to teach reading - they know it isn't. They need to stop telling lies. They need to stop forcing others to lie about what reading really is. We need every primary school teacher and manager to be an expert in the teaching of reading and for schools to be resourced accordingly with appropriate books.
    • Emiko Daly · Friends with Jasey Ò Dàlaigh
      I am Japanese and I didn't learn phonics but I can still read most of the words I don't know. I just learned how to pronounce words and it works. Anyway there are lots of words you can't read with phonics rules.
      By the way, "Teacher training does not i
      nclude 'How to teach children to read. From scratch to fluency, including 'comprehension'? So it wasn't my imagination... Also teaching 'how to write' wasn't that good I think...
    • Lorraine Tovey Cooke Reciprocal teaching methods. Lots of discussion, clarification, prediction. A very interesting way of teaching compression. The unexpected often pops up
      Like · Reply · 1 · July 3 at 8:54pm
    • Lindsey Oakman · Friends with Ginny Dougary
      I find the best way to teach comprehension is to read to them (range of genres e.g. we just read Terry Jones and now doing Louis Sachar) and discuss as we go along, modelling thought process and guiding them through 'wondering about' stuff... but since I can't then evidence their learning, I can appreciate why the extract / worksheet approach is so widely used. That's why I'm off out of it!
    • Jennie Evans · Friends with Debbie O'Brien
      We do daily guided reading throughout the school from year 1-6, sessions being around 20 mins long. In year 1 we look at all sorts of things from answering direct retrieval questions (and inference for more able) to text features, opinions about the book to predictions, characters motivations to using context to try and identify the meanings of unfamiliar words. It does seem to help and a lot of my children make accelerated progress in reading although not sure it would work so well on it's own without having such supportive parents who, on the whole, do read daily with their children.
    • Michael Rosen
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