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Learning to read

Phonics

The teaching of phonic skills is embedded within English teaching in each class.

Phonics is explicitly taught in the EYFS and Key Stage 1 on a daily basis in Reception and Year One, using the Read Write Inc. Phonics scheme. Pupils who did not pass the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year One, also attend the daily lessons.

We initially assess all pupils in our Reception class using the Read Write Inc. Sound and Word Entry Assessment framework. The children are then taught Set 1 Speed Sounds and ‘Word Time!’ as a whole class. After half a term, pupils are reassessed and then split into groups according to the progress that they have made.

Pupils in Key Stage One are also assessed every half term using Read Write Inc. Sound and Word Assessments 2 and 3 (rotated regularly to provide variety). The children are then re-grouped. This gives us a very good indication of how well they are making progress and ensures that children are always being taught at an age appropriate level for individual learning needs.

During our daily phonics sessions, children can revisit previous learning, learn new skills, practise and apply their knowledge in an environment that is both engaging and stimulating. Our lessons also allow pupils the opportunity for -

• Sound recognition through discrete phonics teaching.

• Application of phonics strategies for reading and writing.

• Reading using specific texts at an appropriately challenging level.

• Writing including editing, sentence construction and structure, and extended writing pieces linked to the book the children are currently reading.

• In Reception, handwriting opportunities using the rhymes linked to each individual sound, children are taught to form and practise individual letter shapes. In Key Stage One, children follow the handwriting scheme and join letters.

Our Reading Scheme

Once children have completed the Read Write Inc. Phonics program, they then move on to our ‘Accelerated Reader’ reading scheme.

What is Accelerated Reader (AR)?

AR is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. At St Katherine’s the children in Years 2 - 6 use AR.  Children select a book at his/her own level and read it at his/her own pace. When finished, they then take a short quiz on the computer - passing the quiz is an indication that they understood what has been read.

What is a STAR Reading test?

STAR Reading is used to determine your child’s reading level. It is a computer based reading assessment program that uses computer- adaptive technology. Questions continually adjust to your child’s responses. If the child’s response is correct, the difficulty level is increased. If the child cannot answer a question or answers incorrectly, the difficulty level is reduced. The test uses multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 10 minutes.

 

Children are tested for assessment every half term and book and book levels are then adjusted using the test results.

 

What is a Book Level?

Book Levels are reported using the ATOS readability formula and represent the difficulty of the text. The levels range from 0.5–13.5. Books are chosen based on the ZPD range (see below) recommended for each pupil by STAR Reading. The ATOS Readability Formula is one of the most widely used measures for judging the difficult level of text. The product of extensive research, the formula employs several unique features:

  • Takes into account characteristics that most heavily influence readability (average sentence length, average word length, and word difficulty level)
  • Utilises a graded vocabulary list number more than 100,000 words
  • Bases analyses on world’s largest database of words from actual books (more than 170,000 books comprising nearly 2.5 billion words)

 

What is a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)?

ZPD is the range of books that will challenge a child without causing frustration or loss of motivation. Your child will receive a ZPD, or reading range after taking a STAR Reading test. It is important for children to read with a high degree of comprehension and within his/her ZPD.

 

What are points?

Every book that has an AR Reading Practice Quiz is given a points value. AR points are based on the length of the book (number of words). Pupils earn a percentage of points according to how well they pass the quiz.

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