Literacy · Resources · Teaching Strategies

Lighting the Literacy Fire!

On Thursday 8th August, I was lucky enough to attend a seminar conducted by Jill Eggleton. She was incredibly inspiring and spoke about lighting the literacy fire. In this blog post I hope to share some of the knowledge and ideas that were presented about shared reading and guided reading. Hopefully, you will feel as inspired as I do!

  • As teachers we need to ask ourselves what we are doing that is not essential. We must eliminate these so that the necessary can shine.
  • The biggest challenge of all is to create a love of reading in our students – not just school time readers, but life time readers. I love sharing this quote with my students from J.K. Rowling – “if you don’t like to read you haven’t found the right book.” 
  • Jill really emphasised that children need to understand what they are reading. For example, we can’t assume that they are visualising as they are reading.  
  • If students are not reading the punctuation, then they are not understanding the text.
  • We need to be extending and enriching the students’ vocabulary. As they read, perhaps they could add words to a book or a Google Doc under specific headings. For example adjectives, adverbs etc.
  • We need to cater to each child’s individual needs and encourage them to read for enjoyment.
  • Our aim should be that once we finish reading a book to our students, the words dance in their minds. When we read a book to our students, we should read it in one go, not stop and pull the book apart as we go. The students will lose interest and lose the magic of the story.
  • Novels should not be used for guided reading.
  • Teachers need to be asking high order questions as opposed to low order questions.
  • Who asks most of the questions in class, the teacher or the students? If it is the teacher, then isn’t the teacher doing most of the thinking?
  • If you have fluent readers in your class, then you must dig deeper.

Broad Question Types

  • The answer is in the text or illustration.
  • The answer is not in the text or illustration, the reader uses background knowledge. 
  • The answer is in the text or illustration but the reader needs to think and search. 

Higher Order Questions

  • Do you think the plan will work?Why/justify your answer. 
  • What do you know about the character? How?
  • What do you think might happen next?
  • What picture do you get in your head?
  • What questions could you ask the character?
  • How did you feel, why?
  • What do you think she/he has learnt?
  • Were your predictions correct, why/why not?
  • Can you see any adjectives, adverbs…?
  • What other books have you read that have been about (insert topic)?
    • Activity to follow: students write a story about (insert topic). 

Comprehension Strategies (each strategy should be covered throughout a guided reading program). 

  • Predict
  • Justify predictions
  • Make inferences
  • Ask questions
  • Make connections (text to self, text to text, text to world)
  • Visualise
  • Summarise
  • Give an opinion
  • Justify opinion
  • Clarify vocabulary
  • Main idea
  • Author’s purpose and point of view
  • Skim and scan
  • Compare and contrast
  • Analyse and synthesise
  • Evaluate ideas and information
  • Find evidence to support thinking

It is essential that the right types of resources are used. The books need to allow the students to dig deeper – they must sound good. Providing our students with the skills to learn is more important than providing them with knowledge. I love this quote Jill shared – “we too often give students cut flowers when they need to grow their own plants”.  There is so much research supporting reciprocal reading.  Click here and here for great resources from Jill Eggleton

I will leave you with more wise words from Jill. “We need to motivate our students to learn. We should  read aloud to them every day – being read to should be like eating a delicious chocolate”. Click here and here for online stories to read to your class.   

Click here for more information about Jill Eggleton and her resources. Listen to Jill herself in the great YouTube clips below.

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