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Year 7s with a reading age of a year 2

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by dee.ranged, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. dee.ranged

    dee.ranged New commenter

    Does anyone at all have any sort of insight into teaching a year 7 class of pupils who have reading ages according to the Suffolk test of between 6 and 8?

    Basically, I have been employed as a primary specialist in a secondary school where levels of reading are incredibly low. I'm doing small group work, which I can handle as I have done it before and been fairly successful in raising the kids scores. However, this is a whole class where the ages are abysmal! HELP PLEASE!?!?!
  2. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Yr 2? Lucky you. I have a kid in a yr 8 class whose literacy is below age 5.
    None of my 7s or 8s is as high as 8.
    As you're Primary, I'd suggest going back to phonics - I don't have that option as I don't have the training. OFSTED will be pleased.
    The sort of basic stuff I'm doing is making sure they know their alphabet - 90% don't - and the difference between upper and lower case letters (see above).
    Sight words.
    Sentence structure.
    Graphic novels. If you can find them - they're out of print - the Orson Cart Books by Steve Donald* are brilliant. Designed for reluctant readers, Yr 7+. They were published by Red Fox, so if enough of us lobby, maybe we can get a new print run.
    *He now works with Terry Deary, illustrating 'Horrible Histories'.
  3. gcf


    dee.ranged and gruoch - if you possibly can do enroll for a sound reading training - you'll know then exactly how to teach virtually any child how to read - and the course is immensely stimulating, too. Have a look at www.soundreadingsystem and at www.dyslexics.org.uk.

    but whatever you decide, do keep in touch about progress. Where on earth did all these children go for their 6 years of primary education? It beggars belief and what a tough assignment to be given.

    Good luck.

  4. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Costs £, doesn't it? I've applied for all kind of CPD on literacy and never got one, which considering that I teach it at KS 3 and our literacy levels are appalling, is a bit of a joke.
  5. gcf


    The materials with the Sound Reading System course are excellent and will enable you to teach adults, secondary students, primary children and it's a joy to use them. But, yes, they do cost - what an endictment that you can't get any funding.

    But what is happening to assessment in primary schools? How on earth did these children get so far? It's desperately unfair that so many of your class are functionally illiterate. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in their primary schools and to see exactly what is happening.
  6. dusty67

    dusty67 New commenter

    What's going on in our primary is the EP comes out, says..."This child (7yrs old) is functioning at the age of about 2 years old. But you're doing such a good job with him. Keep it up!" or "Yes he is on bottom 2 percentile for ability (Y6) but he's done so well with you (achieved Lv2) keep up the good work." and then walks away.

    LA refuses to statement or offer any additional funding as "Well he is making progress with you!" and their just determined to stop him from getting into special school.
  7. Have you considered approaching your school librarian for help with this class? If you don't have a (qualified and chartered) librarian in your school, you could consider getting in touch with your local Schools Library Service for extra reading support / promotion. Especially if your school already buys into their service!
    You could also find out whether your school is enrolled in Booked Up (run by the Book Trust) where every Year 7 student in England gets a free book and they have a selection for students with low reading ages. http://www.bookedup.org.uk/
  8. Try Alpha and Omega. It is published by Dyslexia Action. This will ensure that they know their phoneme/grapheme links, blends, suffixes and spelling rules correctly and will help with teaching decoding strategies.
    I'm a secondary, specialist SEN/Literacy specialist that works in both sectors now. Some primary schools seem so scared of being in special measures that they tend to teach success formulas for 'end gain' SATs in mind. More emphasis is put on writing than reading although reading is an ideal stimulus for writing anyway. Children need to be able to DECODE AND comprehend texts and it is a skill often overlooked. Too many of the children I meet are reading at frustration level which is less than 90% accuracy and this does not seem a priority in some schools. If reading was not something pupils simply managed to 'learn by osmosis' lower down the school, they are leaving without the necessary skills they actually need for life.
  9. You should try using the Toe by Toe system by Keda Cowling (check it out on Amazon). Its much more economical than many of the other courses recommended here and better still doesn't need any specialist training to use. It really does what it says, i've used it several times. You could perhaps enlist the help of some 6th form volunteers to work with some of these pupils for 15 minutes sessions a few times a week. You'll be amazed by how much progress they'll make.
  10. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Toe by Toe is an excellent programme, but needs to be delivered on a 1-1 basis and I teach classes.
    I agree with the comment upthread that decoding and reading are different things. (I have, I think, taught them the difference.) Most of my pupils can decode fairly well, but have no idea what the words mean, or how to work meanings out contextually. They are also unable to read complex sentences.
  11. Nessy Learning Programme is great! It is structured and covers reading and spelling. There's also lots of activities and games - hard copies (the downside is you have to made them) and computer. Suitable for primary and KS3 students.
  12. I have never used the Suffolk tests, but it seems to me that it measures reading comprehension ability and not decoding skills. So, some kids may be scoring low because their reading comprehension is low, but some kids may be scoring low because they lack the decoding capability to be able to read what is written in the first place.
    If the problem with the students is more a reading comprehension one than a "decoding" one, then going back to basics with phonics may not really help that much.
    I would try to assess individually what their need is, decoding, lack of vocabulary or comprehension ability.
    From there divide the class in groups and you will have to do what they do in small primaries in the countryside where they have different years in one classroom. Teach them two or three different classes at the same time. Difficult, but of course, if the school doesn't want to invest in more teachers, I can only see this as the only solution.
    My school uses the Hodder Reading Project for reading comprehension. The Reading Laboratory by McGrawhill is also very good for reading comprehension. However, I found that these only work well if the children can "decode" and their main problem is lack of vocabulary and thinking skills.
    As I said, I think you will need to use different approaches for different problems. Children may get bored and create problems for you if you start with "decoding" and "phonics" and their skills in these are okay.
  13. By the way, what primary do they come from? It would be interesting to find out what pathetic excuse they have to have let these kids go through 6 years of primary school without having taught them anything.
  14. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    We have a number of feeder primaries and the problem is fairly universal, though one or two do stand out.
    I have a whole (well, shared) Yr 7 set 1 this year and I happened to mention Shakespeare. Many cheers to my utter astinishment, other than one lass who had 'done' Shakespeare. That's OK, then.
  15. I currently work in a Special Needs School in which many of the children's reading ages are significantly below their chronological age. As I'm sure you can imagine, there is no 'one system fits all' approach to supporting the reading needs of these children. However, we have had some success with the '5 minute box', '15 Minutes a day' and 'Catch-up' programmes. Although designed to be taught daily, on a one to one basis, I am sure that many of the tips / ideas can be used with larger groups to similar effect. I would say that it is most important to identify / assess what the students know and work from there, rather than getting bogged down (as we all do from time to time) by what they 'should' know / be able to do at their chronological age.
    Hope that helps a little. It's great to see that the school have identified an area of need (in hiring a primary specialist) in order to support these students further. To those critisising the primary schools the students have come from ... please consider that the students lack of literacy skills may not be a result of bad teaching / schooling. Unfortunately, the school system at present does not always afford teachers the physical resources (time / people) they would like to effectively address the many varying needs of students in their care. Also consider, that all chidlren are different and that even if such support were availiable and in place, not all children / young people will reach government / asessment milestones (for many vast and varied reasons)
    Good Luck!

  16. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    how very predictable
    they will have had loads of extra input, loads of teaching. But you can only take a horse to the water. The teachers will have had to follow the system insisted upon and will have done their very best with their hands tied and far too many things to teach within the curriculum time, not being allowed to focus on the basics as they would have doen eyars ago until the pupils were ready for more.
  17. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    do you have children of your own, what do they say they ahve done at school today? Most say somethign like "nothing"
    How about actually visiting the said primary schools to see what is actually going on rather than guessing.
  18. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    How about the kids who come into Yr 7 with a level 4 or 5 and can't write their own name or know the aphabet?
    Or those who tell me that a paragraph is 4 lines?
    Or that a comma is used to join 2 sentences instead of 'and'?
    The final 2 have been quoted to me by 95% of my Yr 7.1 class this week. Most of them on a KS2 level 5.
  19. In my school we have had the older students doing guided reading once a week with those who struggle with literacy. I have found that the child in my tutor group has grown in confidence and is more preapred to have a go and risk getting it wrong with an older peer than with a teacher.

    This confidence has blossomed over to his writing in my subject area - RE. Additionally he has started asking for books for his birthday and he has become a librarian. I know it's not going to help overnight but it does seem to keep them keen and on track.
  20. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    was it teacher assessed as level 4 or NC test assessed? if it was the test that said that they have level 4/5, not really the teacher's fault. Was it their reading or writing level?
    How many lines does a paragraph have to be to qualify?
    Have you ever taught year 6 literacy, I have done so many times on supply so suspect that your 95% figure would be wildly innacurate for the same children in year 6. Perhaps they all have a brain transplant/failure over the summer?

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