There are many reasons why I have chosen to inquire into reading this year, and I will do my best to explain my thinking throughout this blog post. However, the biggest reason for my decision to focus on reading has got to be passion.
I have discovered that I am really passionate about kids reading books. By books, I mean real books. Not PM books. Not school journals. Not some badly written story based on a movie or comic book hero with a cool cover. But real-life chapter books. Books written by wonderful and inspiring authors. Books that make kids excited to read the next page. Books that kids want to tell their friends about. Books they want to tell the world about.
I have my 2018 class to thank for this newly realised passion. I had made the decision last year, at the beginning of the year in my new role of Team Leader, that I was going to shake things up a little bit and change our Team's morning routine. The existing routine had been to engage in silent reading for the first 20 minutes of the day. I decided that I wanted our kids to start the day with Mihi and Waiata to match the assembly structure, and a more similar structure to the rest of the school. This meant that the silent reading was to be slotted somewhere else in the day. However being ILE's, this proved to be difficult thing to synchronise and in result didn't happen.
Later on in the year I was reading Roald Dahl's Matilda to the class and realised how much my class were enjoying the book - Please read more about this here. They were absolutely enthralled with the story, and couldn't wait for me to read more each day. I felt absolutely inspired by this and made it my sub-mission (or sub-inquiry) to explore this. By the end of the year there was absolute Roald Dahl fandom in my class. Many of the kids having read 3 or 4 of his books. You can read more about this here and here. On top of the Roald Dahl obsession (that I was heavily encouraging) there was the exploration of other authors and books all the time. Silent reading, in a classroom that wasn't silent wasn't something I had previously thought possible. However, if the love of reading is there, it will happen.
Anecdotally I have a tonne of evidence to support my hunch that this was improving students reading outcomes. But, I also have the running record results of my target group I had focussed on that supports this as well.
I had been following this group in particular for maths, and happened to notice a large gain in almost all of their reading results as well.
I want to know now, was this the chapter book reading that contributed to this? Was it the regular reading instruction? Or a combination? What ever it was, it was an inspiring result. Something I would gladly try to recreate again.
This year we have began doing school-wide professional development into reading instruction. This has come as a result to seeing patterns and trends throughout the school, and in fact the larger Manaiakalani community of declining reading results. This has been recognised not only by our Pt England Staff, but that of the Woolf Fisher Research centre who analyse our results and feedback to us.
Independent reading is an important part of an effective literacy programme, and therefore inquiring into it feels like a necessary part of this "push" into reading instruction. I know that other classes in my team, and likely other area's of the school could also use some help with this. Therefore if my inquiry can be useful to other teachers, and ultimately benefit our learners. Then this very much feels like the right thing to do.
There seems to be a common level that our kids get stuck on. Our team of Year 5 & 6 learners seem to find it really hard to move past the reading age of 8.5 (PM Levels 23-24). At least, every year we seem to have a large number of kids at this level - a higher proportion than any other level. Once they move on from these two PM levels, there is a much more even spread. It's almost like their is a bottle neck situation, that once they are past there is more freedom to improve.
I want to look into this, as I again have a large group across the team at this level, higher than any other level. I don't know why, but I believe that it is a problem we can solve!