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Texts in English Lessons and Sharing Stories
In Foundation Stage, the children enjoy a story every day at the beginning or end of each session; and stories or rhymes often provide the focus for a unit of work. For example, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle could be used to develop learning about minibeasts and changes (Understanding the World); counting and ordering numbers, and days of the week (Numeracy); and understanding about healthy eating (Physical Development).
In Key Stage 1, a text forms the basis for English lessons; and texts and the features of the various genres are explored; writing activities are often linked to texts. Every week, there is a dedicated VIPERS lesson, focusing on one of the comprehension skills; and adults make observations of pupils’ contributions.
As the pupils move into and through Key Stage 1, they still have regular opportunities to share a story with their teacher throughout the week – this may have been chosen by a pupil; it may be a teacher favourite; or it may fit with a topic. Now that word reading is automatic, pupils volunteer to read aloud to the class, for pleasure, at the end of the day or during lessons.
In Key stage 2, English lessons centre around a guided text, for example Y3, Y4, Y5, Shadow by Michael Morpurgo (Y6). In lower Key Stage 2, the children are taught to look closely at the vocabulary of a text, infer meaning, make predictions, explain events in a text by using key evidence, retrieve information and summarise what they have read.
By year 6. the pupils make observations and ask questions about what they have read; make predictions based on what they have read and to re-evaluate them based on further reading. They are encouraged to refer back to things they have read in previous chapters and when answering questions to give evidence to support their answers.
Some writing tasks are related to the texts being studied.
Our teachers believe in the power of a good book and that pupils should have the opportunity to enjoy a story being read without always having to analyse it; Key Stage 2 share a class reader throughout the week.
STARS and VIPERS
In the Early Years, we refer to STARS, a precursor to VIPERS, developed by Dudley Wood. STARS is an acronym, with each letter standing for a key skill the children need to practise in order to become a successful reader.
To focus the pupils and guide and aid their learning of comprehension skills, we refer to VIPERS when reading in English and across the curriculum, in Years 1 - 6. Again, VIPERS is an acronym, with each letter standing for one of the key reading skills they need to learn and develop in order to comprehend a text.
Sequencing (KS1) / Summarising (KS2)
Questions and activities which address these skills are shared in the pupils’ reading records and reading activity books for further practise at home.
At Dudley Wood we follow the Complete Comprehension scheme from years 1 - 6. Although not explicit, the scheme is closely aligned to VIPERS. Every year group explores around 18 age-appropriate, yet challenging texts, each of which focuses on a different comprehension skill - word meaning; inference; prediction; word choice; relationships and comparisons between texts; retrieval; and sequencing and summarising. These skills are revisited regularly within the scheme across all year groups.
In Key stage 1, Complete Comprehension is used within the English lesson.
In Key Stage 2, Complete Comprehension is used in addition to the English Lessons, during Reading Skills lessons.
Complete Comprehension is supplemented by other comprehension lessons within school and through Oxford Reading Tree and Oxford Reading Buddy.
Books and Reading in the Learning Environment
Throughout school there is an abundance of quality children’s books on display and for pupils to borrow.
Every class has their own class library, from which they can choose a book to take home. As well as the enticing fiction books, there are displays of non-fiction books, related to topics being studied in various subjects.
In EYFS and Key Stage 1, the books are displayed on specially chosen, forward facing book cases. Books are rotated to encourage the children to share and discuss a variety of books. There are always books available for the pupils to choose as a child-initiated activity and in all classrooms, there are plenty of interesting areas where they can enjoy them - cushions, beanbags, traditional tables and chairs and even tents!
Children are encouraged to take responsibility for their books and their reading areas, so developing their love and respect for books.
Interactive displays are used to develop a love of reading and individual classes have various initiatives to encourage pupils to see reading as an activity which can be shared – via display boards, teachers recommending books, book swap boxes and pupils tell others what they have been reading.
Other displays help pupils with the 2 key skills of reading - word-reading, for example displays of High Frequency Words (HFW) and Common Exception Words (CEW), and comprehension, for example a VIPERS display.