Four Weeks into using Thinking Reading
I have a background in the teaching of English and SEN in mainstream secondary schools. Whilst I have considerable experience in the delivery of literacy lessons, my Thinking Reading training has offered me a completely new approach to the teaching of reading to students with significant reading difficulties. Having closely observed Dianne’s approach, I have now been delivering the programme for a month and still am learning new skills on a daily basis. My learning curve has been steep, the training challenging but it has brought with it a great satisfaction in being able to make a significant impact on raising the reading age of my students.
There are many things which impress me about the Thinking Reading approach to tackling low reading ages. Firstly, the pace of the lessons is swift. So much gets achieved in a thirty minute session and the student is constantly engaged. In tandem with this is the amount of student-teacher interaction and, more specifically, the number of opportunities a student is given to respond. The constant dialogue helps keep the student alert and interested and makes demands on them not normally experienced in small groups or in classrooms.
I’ve learned that the type of response I give is crucial to ensuring the student makes progress. The use of responsive feedback strategies has enabled me to refine my corrective responses so that I now give precise interventions which bring about change in the reading habits/approaches of those I teach. Precise praise is offered regularly so that the student is constantly encouraged.
“So much gets achieved in a thirty minute session and the student is constantly engaged.”
“I am already discovering that with practice the lesson planning can take a matter of minutes”
The range of graded reading material is most impressive. Too often I’ve seen weak readers be given texts which are inappropriate, outdated or patronising. These books however, have been specifically selected for interest and variety and their relevance to the secondary curriculum. Students get offered a choice about what they want to read so already they are invested in the process.
Although there is paperwork which goes with the delivery of the programme, I am already discovering that with practice the lesson planning can take a matter of minutes. As someone who likes ‘proof’ that their interventions are working and who wants a systematic approach to developing decoding and comprehension skills in their students, I really like that my records reflect this. This programme and the records generated by it have a rigour I’ve not experienced anywhere else.
I am delivering several lessons a day now and my training is ongoing. What I like most about the Thinking Reading programme is that it has already given me lots of new skills to be able to effectively meet the individual needs of my students.
Three Months On…
Quite simply, this programme works: it not only ensures fast and measurable progress for my students but is professionally satisfying. I have been witness to progress in my students across a range of areas. I see:
- A variety of reading strategies being employed to help with decoding
- Increased reading confidence and greater risk-taking
- Increased reading accuracy through reducing errors and/or self-correction
- Reduced word/phrase repetition and increased pace
- Direct references to the text when asked comprehension questions
- Careful thought before answering questions of an inferential or evaluative nature
- Increased self-esteem
“Quite simply, this programme works: it not only ensures fast and measurable progress for my students but is professionally satisfying.”
“These are much more pleasant reading exchanges for the student and myself than I have hitherto experienced.”
I am now able to ascertain whether a student’s reading error is a genuine decoding difficulty or a matter of poor motivation. Now that I am familiar with the methodology of the Thinking Reading programme and have developed greater fluency in its delivery, I am becoming more interested in the psychological interventions that we can employ to affect change in students’ reading behaviour.
I am enjoying my wider reading on Applied Behavioural Analysis and have begun to utilise some of approaches with students whose reading progress has temporarily plateaued. The administration that supports both lesson planning and rigorous record keeping have become second nature and can now be completed in a matter of minutes. Being organised and efficient is effortless because all the proformas have been designed to ease completion.
Regular, immediate, positive and precise feedback brings about significant changes in the students’ desire to attend the reading lessons. They are given responsibility for their own learning, turn up on time and show greater persistence with challenging words. These are much more pleasant reading exchanges for the student and myself than I have hitherto experienced.