The purpose of reading is to make meaning from what is read – not just to be able to say the words. The ability to say the words is the process of decoding and the ability to make meaning from texts is reading. So, when teachers complain, ‘they read but they don’t understand’, students are decoding not reading.
As external exams become a larger part of the Queensland senior school experience, it is vital teachers prepare students to be able to work out the meaning of an unfamiliar word without consulting a dictionary or a mobile phone.
Automatic recall of what words mean makes learning efficient. During these times when many students will be spending a lot of time learning online, it’s a good idea for them to spend time developing their vocabulary.
All resources, mine included, are only as good as the thinking behind them. As a teacher, I found that the resources that helped me the most were the ones I created myself. These resources were tailor-made so tended to be the most effective.
I thought we might have realised that Naplan doesn’t really achieve that much and have decided, as they have done in the US and the UK, to do away with these tests but, we haven’t. Therefore, it’s that time of year to think about some of the ways that we can all help students prepare for these tests.
Teachers often tell me that they find it difficult to get their students to read. Just giving students a text and asking them to read it will probably not work as students need a clear purpose for reading.
If roundrobin reading is not effective, then what works when setting up a reading activity? The approach I use when organising a reading, viewing or listening activity is based on Directed Reading and Thinking Activity.
It is common practice to give students a glossary of words, particularly words in a unit of work, but Pat Hipwell argues this is not enough to help students understand key task words or the new cognitive verbs.