Here we dig a little deeper into reading comprehension and what it means to be a skilled reader. We start with a quick look at The Simple View of Reading but then move on to the more detail model of Scarborough’s Reading Rope, which shows that our comprehension relies on our background knowledge, vocabulary, language structures, verbal reasoning and literacy knowledge.
Looking at this in practice we take the example of a well-known, richly written poem and see how children, for example, might use their knowledge of language structures and verbal reasoning to make sense of what is going on. It is, as course creator James Clements describes it, a ‘messy process’ - but one that should be embraced and approached without fear.
By placing rich texts at the heart of a curriculum, we’re shown how comprehension is supported by the quantity of texts to which children are exposed and the frequency of activities such as thinking aloud and book talk.
To support schools in moving forward, James ends with some questions to help structure further action. Does the school have a shared model for thinking about comprehension? Is there deeper discussion and exploration of texts, or is too much time spent focusing on answering comprehension questions? And are the texts on which the curriculum is based rich enough to support more detailed discussion?
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While working as a senior leader in an outstanding inner city primary school, James was instrumental in developing effective reading provision, and was also consulted on the 2014 National Curriculum. A former local authority lead teacher, he is now an English advisor supporting schools and LAs to improve the teaching of reading, writing and drama - and an author for Oxford Owl.
About the Course
In this set of films, education adviser James Clements explores how teachers can develop a text-based approach to the English curriculum. The films take a detailed look at selecting texts, structuring units of work and practical classroom ideas for using rich texts in the classroom.