I will be focusing on Year 6 reading over the next few weeks. As you know, our school data concentrates on the children having ‘positive attitudes’ so if they seem to be smiling then you must ‘meet’ their objectives (see below). If they are shy or don’t appear to be enjoying reading, do not tick ‘met’ even though they understand the text. The objectives are very clear – ‘they must have a positive attitude’.
Our school data program requires you to collect evidence for 21 reading objectives. The weighting for each one is equally spread. However, the SATs paper is weighted differently. For example, 15% of our school reading objectives focus on ‘word meaning, retrieval and inference’ compared to around 80% on the SATs paper.
So, do you spend more time teaching ‘word meaning, retrieval and inference’ to ensure a good SATs score or do you thinly spread your teaching to cover the school’s 21 objectives to make your TA data look good?
You can’t really win. Some of our school objectives are perfectly vague so do your best to collect evidence for them. I have listed a few below with some guidance to help you along your way.
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by reading and discussing an increasingly wide range of fiction, poetry, plays, non-fiction and reference books or textbooks
Our non-fiction and poetry books in school are mostly over ten years old but children used to enjoy them. We have a few reference books in the library but someone said the children now use the ‘google’ book. I haven’t seen it in the library. I must look out for it. Do the best you can.
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by increasing their familiarity with a wide range of books, including myths, legends and traditional stories, modern fiction, fiction from our literary heritage, and books from other cultures and traditions
I am not sure we have these books in school; certainly not enough for everyone to access properly. Make sure children have positive attitudes towards the books we do have and then you can tick ‘met’.
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by preparing poems and plays to read aloud and to perform, showing understanding through intonation, tone and volume so that the meaning is clear to an audience
If a child doesn’t use their voice correctly then you have to assume they have no understanding of the poem so do not tick ‘met’. If they understand the poem but seem to have a negative attitude then do not tick ‘met’.
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by asking questions to improve their understanding
If they seem to be enjoying the book because they are reading for pleasure, do not tick ‘met’. They must regularly ask themselves questions to maintain their positive attitude. Assess this somehow?
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by summarising the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details that support the main ideas
You only get 0-3 marks for this in the SATs so don’t bother with this one.
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by drawing inferences such as inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions and justifying inferences with evidence.
This is a huge part of the SATs test but bizarrely it only counts for 5% of our school data. As long as they have a positive attitude by justifying their answers that’s all that counts. If they don’t have a positive attitude then please do not tick ‘met’.
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by recommending books that they have read to their peers, giving reasons for their choices.
If a child doesn’t want to recommend a book with a positive attitude they obviously can’t read. You better put them back on the Read, Write, Inc. program. If children in Year 3 can recommend a book with a smile then feel free to tick the Year 6 objective as ‘met’ in advance.
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by participating in discussions about books that are read to them and those they can read for themselves, building on their own and others’ ideas and challenging views courteously.
You must judge a children’s ability to read by how polite they are. Please do not tick ‘met’ if they are reluctant to join in discussions or forget to say thank you. Again, if you think a Year 3 child is polite when discussing a book, please go ahead and tick the Year 6 objective for them in advance.
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by explaining what they have read, including through formal presentations and debates, maintaining a focus on the topic and using notes where necessary
Any child who isn’t comfortable delivering presentations must not meet this objective. They must be jolly and confident in order to show they understand the text.
- Maintain positive attitudes to reading by predicting what might happen from details stated and implied
You only get 0-3 marks for this in the SATs so don’t bother with this one too. However, if they predict something might happen with a big smile then you must tick ‘met’.
You must collect evidence for your class all the time to prove that a child has an understanding of the text. I appreciate collecting reading evidence is hard but it must be done. Maybe one day you will be trusted to make a judgement without the need to write a full commentary of what they said.
In addition, can I remind you to film each child reading each term. I saw one school do it and I really like it. I have no idea why they do it because I can’t imagine they spend time watching the films back. I suppose you could see if their fluency has improved but you you could always just tell me. I trust you. Oh hang on. No. Film the children every term.
Good luck with your class reading. I have no idea if we are supposed to be teaching whole class reading or group reading at the moment. I will let you know when I have time to think about it.