…below is an e-mail I sent to the rest of the English department yesterday. Having started #edread a little over a week ago and being a little tired after BBC School Report the day before I arrived in school on Friday morning caught between wanting to engage with my Year 8 class (my only KS3 lesson of the week) but also uninspired by the thought of either a grammar lesson or making them sit at desks and read within the confines of my classroom.
Instead of allowing either of these scenarios to be the start to my Year 8s’ Friday or mine for that matter I took them to the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) for their lesson – this is the grand title that is given to our school library. I wanted to go and make use of it, I wanted to free them of the classroom and I wanted to focus them on reading for pleasure rather than reading the book they had been assigned.
Several of my colleagues replied to the e-mail offering positive feedback and saying that they were going to do something similar. On reading through those comments this morning as I caught up with e-mail it dawned on me that here-in lied a blog post. So here is the e-mail that I sent yesterday:
What I did with my Year 8s today…
…being up to date with Grammar lessons and my students being well on track with their class readers I did something different today. When I taught a lot of KS3 I would regularly take my students to the LRC. So, that is what I did.
I talked to them about the fact that I had concerns about the amount of words my top set knew and understood and that I felt it was because 1. Some of them don’t read and 2. Some of them read the same thing all of the time – level of ability or genre.
I challenged my Y8 class to go out into the LRC and find something to read that they would not normally pick up and gave them 20 minutes to read. I let them sit wherever and however they wanted – leaning against the book case, on the floor, in a comfy chair or at the table as I explained that I don’t sit and read at a desk but sit on my couch or read when I go to bed. They were wonderful – absolutely silent as they read. I think Emma (a cover supervisor & ex-student) who was in covering for Andrea (our wonderful LRC Manager) was in shock when she saw how perfectly they read and behaved!
I then did a short activity with them to get them thinking about what they had read – I asked them to answer openly and honestly the following questions:
- What is the name of the book you read?
- What genre is it – if you can’t put one word on it just describe it.
- Why would you not have normally picked up that sort of book?
- Did you / Did you not enjoy it? Why?
- Even if you didn’t enjoy who would you recommend this book to – is there anyone in the class who you think would enjoy it.
I finished the lesson discussing “what” and “how” they read with them and challenged them to read one new text a week – be it a paragraph or two from a newspaper; to watch a documentary instead of EastEnders; to download a book to their iPod touch or iPhone – whatever works for them but to think about reading and to do it to enjoy it.
Just thought I would pass this on. The LRC is a wonderful resource and space and we should (I feel) make more use of it.
Any thoughts, comments or ideas please pass them on.