Teacher friends, I need a reality check. They say it takes a village to raise a child. My problem is I don’t have a village and two hours a week won’t raise a child. So, I’m asking for your help.
I have a small group of students (yr 10) who are sitting the core IGCSE (0522) this summer. We have nearly completed the c/w assignments and will be doing the S&L tasks between now and Christmas. It is the exam prep I want to talk about.
This group of kids is very weak. Many didn’t get Level 4 at the end of year 9. Many are SEN and most cannot read a sentence of text without some support. My bold, and perhaps deeply misguided comment to my HoD at the end of term was, “after the S&L I am going to teach them to read and then do the exam prep”.
I have these students for two hours a week (they also have two hours a week with another English teacher, covering the Edexcel Lit course). One hour is in an ICT suite. They have 2 hours with an HLTA called support, which is used to do homework and develop on ideas covered in my lessons. We have just bought Accelerated Reader, so this a possibility. We also have an HLTA, who is a phonics specialist, and could work with our weakest reader, who’s reading age is below 5.
All of these interventions are ongoing, patchy and as far as I am concerned have shown no progress. Most of the students in this group, don’t get any literacy support beyond the occasional TA in lesson.
Towards the end of last term, I received an email from their Maths teacher pointing out that some of the students were unable to read the worded maths questions, and therefore were likely to fail.
So, 2 hours a week. 11 kids. iGCSE reading exam in May 2014. For anyone of you, who haven’t seen these exams, you can be lucky but the reading tends be pretty technical, always on something my students will have no knowledge and complex vocabulary heavy.
Where do I go from here?
My old self would say, just do as many past exam papers as humanly possible. Teach the students a really structured approach to each question. Hold out that the writing task will get them the marks that they need.
My new self wants more. I want these students to be able to read. I want them to leave school being able to read a newspaper, a manual, a book!
Here is where I need your help…
Do I go for it?
If yes, how? I don’t have much experience at teaching kids to read (beyond my kids). Do I use Accelerated Reader? Or something else?
Do I demand that they read every day somehow, somewhere? I can’t possibly do this myself, can I?
Do I go for some of it?
Like perhaps using real texts to improve their reading but also to cover some of the exam stuff.
Do I go for results?
Take the exam prep approach and hope that by doing this, their reading improves. Knowing that my results are going to sketchy anyway but this is the best option to get them closer to the C in the exam.
What do I do?
Over to you, my village.