The Reading Wall
I am relishing the opportunity to do some independent coaching at an outer Brisbane primary school. As part of a whole school approach to improve reading outcomes, I am implementing a strategy with which I have experienced great success over many years of working with harder to teach students.
It has been almost ten years since I first introduced The Reading Wall as part of an initiative to accelerate the reading growth of students participating in literacy intervention programs. Since that time, I have enjoyed and welcomed the many opportunities to refine this strategy for use across all primary years.
So, what is The Reading Wall?
The Reading Wall is a strategy used to:
- highlight and analyse strategic problem solving
- build a meta language for describing problem solving activity
- prompt for (student) reflection
- highlight the use of strategic actions for reading across all subject areas.
Through continued contact with teachers and students and the implementation of The Reading Wall in every room, we are working toward one goal . . . to improve reading outcomes.
How are we doing it?
We implement The Reading Wall through the use of consistent routines, procedures and teaching practices and by building endurance and stamina to increase the length of time students are able to read.
. . . Within weeks we have seen significant growth in reading stamina, with one class already reading uninterrupted and sustained, for more than 30 minutes at a time . . . no one gets up to change books, no one gets a drink, not one student disengaged, every student on task! We are setting goals for students to work towards two million words each year!
Not only that, but many students are showing an intrinsic motivation to read, as well as confidence and enthusiasm to participate in discussions around strategic problem solving.
Those of you who attended the Novice to Ninja or Expert Teachers workshops have heard me discuss the need to:
- increase reading stamina
- increase the daily volume of text read by all students
- build a consistent meta language to describe problem solving actions
- support students to know which strategic action/s to apply in order to successfully solve
- teach for assured success
- reinforce successful attempts at solving in order to increase the likelihood that the strategic actions will reoccur.
You’ve also heard me talk at length about the importance of text choice in order to develop self regulatory reading behaviour. Independent reading, within the context of the formal reading program meets different outcomes to those of Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading (USSR) or Free Voluntary Reading (FVR). Therefore, text choice is critical.
It has been a thrill to see children take ownership of their learning, read with a sense of purpose, bask in the success of the solving they are doing and transition from reading because they have been ‘told to read’, to reading because they are intrinsically motivated to do so. What a privilege to be working with teachers on this!
It was with the greatest joy that I entered 4W last week and after independent reading, during which time Andrew, the class teacher and I listened to several children read and gathered vital data to share with them (the children) – VERY IMPORTANT!!!; the children requested that we continue with the new Buddy Read model we’d started learning two days prior.
For almost an hour the children read. Andrew and I gathered data on all of them and then moved to the Reading Wall to highlight the use of strategies and strategic behaviour we’d observed, and to discuss ways to solve some of the trickier words encountered.
It is with great enthusiasm that we continue to build a love of reading, highlight specific reading goals and provide clear, purposeful and relevant reading instruction to students across this school.