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Development and Discussion: Challenging More Able Readers

As we approach the new year, what better time to review and refresh your approach to challenging more able readers?

In this blog post, education consultant and NACE associateJudith Mason shares five effective strategies based on her experience of working with schools in this field. For the full version, visit the NACE website, and for more ideas in this area join Judith’s upcoming workshop, “Challenging more able learners in English”. These tips are useful for library lessons, and to support the use of school libraries, and library staff generally!

1.       Cultivate independent reading for pleasure

Developing reading for pleasure and positive attitudes to reading is part of the English National Curriculum – and for good reason. Children who enjoy reading are more likely to read well. There are lots of ways to encourage readers – and to deter them! Give them choice, but also give them recommendations to extend the range of reading and try something new. 

2.       Select quality texts to teach reading

Choosing the right texts is key. Consider texts that will appeal to the children and provide motivation, especially if they have to dig deeper into the meaning. Select texts with multiple challenge opportunities – through the theme or subject matter, complexity of sentence construction, unfamiliar vocabulary, narrative style, organisation or visual features. Think about the different opportunities for learning, not only what must be learned.

3.       Ask authentic questions

In discussion about a text, there is an opportunity to explore different ideas and views and to ask children to give their reasons for them. It can help to start the discussion with a really good, genuine question. Value and encourage different responses – though you can challenge them too.

4.       Develop dialogue about reading

Act as a “conductor” to build exchanges between learners that develops their thinking. Ask one child to respond to another, add a comment or ask a question. As teachers, we can add information to develop knowledge and understanding, as well as asking our own questions. Deeper comprehension is more likely to be developed in this way than through written answers to a list of questions with little discussion.

5.       Develop independent reading strategies

To read more challenging texts independently, children need to use a range of strategies and even more able readers may need to be taught how to use them. For example, it may help them to visualise what is happening where there is a lot of different information, to summarise to make sense of longer passages or to use prediction to develop the skill of inference.

Finally, be ambitious for all children. Present challenge opportunities that they can all access. They may surprise you!

Education consultant Judith Mason has over 30 years’ experience working with a wide range of schools. As an associate of the National Association for Able Children in Education(NACE), she provides CPD and consultancy for schools working to improve provision for the more able within a school-wide context of challenge for all. Join her in London on 27 November 2018 for a new one-day workshop “Challenging more able learners in English”.

NACE is proud to be supporting the #GreatSchoolLibraries campaign – a three year campaign spearheaded by the SLA, CILIP SLG and CILIP, aiming to raise the profile of school libraries across the UK. Read more here.

 

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