Wednesday, 5 November 2014

October was Reading Month

Mouse Count 100!!!!!!
Yes I’ve finally achieved my century. For a long time I didn’t see any mice whatsoever and I can only guess that they all had a little holiday while the weather was warm. Well, it’s definitely getting cooler again and our little furry friends have returned with their big ears and their trunks.

So, sorry for the long break between blogs. October was a very busy time. Firstly, Justine was working like a demon on her numerous assignments. I’m not saying Justine was grouchy while she was doing them but let’s just say that we were all very happy when she finished. She’s got quite a break now before her studies resume so – happy days are here again. She has hit the books (for pleasure) with a vengeance and she’s getting through them at a fair rate of knots. 

Reading Month kicks off with motivating messages from Class 1

The other reason we were busy is because we declared October to be ‘Reading Month.’ Reading habits are quite poor at this school and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a student reading a book that wasn’t a set text. I think the way students are taught to read in the lower years needs to be reviewed as the students don’t learn sounds, instead they learn spelling. So when a student comes to a difficult word e.g. carpet, he says: “c-a-r-p-e-t, carpet” (rather than saying: “car-pet.”) Obviously this method is very slow and understandably may deter students from reading for pleasure.

So, Justine and I came up with 3 ideas:
1) Impromptu reading – one student from each class is selected, given a text ‘unseen’ and they have to read it in front of the whole school.
2) Reading Challenge – give each class a box of books and the students have to try and read as many as possible in one month.
3) Reading assembly – For 3 assemblies a week, the students simply sit down and read a book for 20 minutes in the morning sun.

All smiles at how engrossed the students are in their books

Now, the thing about Reading Challenge was that we had to be sure that the students had actually read the books and so we came up with the rule that the student’s English teacher would ask 3 questions about the book to ensure it had actually been read, before signing.  Well, let’s just say some of my fellow English teachers embraced Reading Challenge more than others. The result was that Justine and I had huge numbers of students from other classes coming to see us to sign off their books. This took up every lunch-time and approximately one hour after school for all of October. Some students read more than 100 books so you can imagine that this created quite a bit of work.

Reading assembly was my favourite. As I hope the photos show, the students simply turned up with a book and sat down and read it. There was no need to discipline any students for talking, everyone was reading. Now, I know you may be thinking, big deal, we have Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) at our school. But, here they don’t, and frankly if I asked the teachers to do it in their classrooms I think very few would.

Justine and I really hope that these initiatives will help to boost reading skills and help to make reading a habit. We will present the winners with their prizes (mostly chess sets) tomorrow.

Kindergarten and Class 1 students end the Impromptu Reading with the chicken dance

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