Friday, 23 July 2010

Exploiting graded readers

I am a huge fan of the OUP Reading Tree series, because it offers so many 'angles of attack'. Not just an interesting read, with familiar characters and cool illustrations, but very subtle recycling of vocabulary and sensible progression of grammatical structures.

Students love the stories because silly things happen, and in not too many pages! I love them because a happy reader is a learner on the loose!

Reading (and listening to the narration) is an 'at home' extra to regular classes, but things often tie in nicely with a classroom task - today our JHS girls were trying to distinguish the different sounds of a "final s" - voiced /z/ or unvoiced /s/.

Listening was one tack. Reading aloud and holding fingers gently across our throats was a second - fingers feel a vibration, then your voice is 'working'. If no vibration, then it's just wind between your teeth, isn't it?

Green series "A new house" was just right; lots of final s. As a group, the class read the story with two colour pencils at the ready (pink & blue to match the coding in their textbook). The story itself was irrelevant! Pouncing on words with an s on the end and pronouncing it clearly until I nodded (they modeled the sounds to each other, experimenting/testing until it sounded right).

Trial & error breeds confidence when students self-identify patterns or rules, and will listen to each other's intuition before any teacher's voice 'goes in'.