“Is there another way I can engage my learners during reading ‘lessons’ other than the way I have always done it?”
This was the question which started it all. I was becoming disengaged with what I was doing and so were my kids. To be honest, I was bored. If I was … so were my learners. This question led to more questions ...
“What is a more authentic way to help my kids learn what to do to understand a text when reading? How can I change things up to engage these kids in a text, to help them see the power of being immersed in a story, and to hopefully encourage them to love reading enough to WANT to read independently in their own time?”
“Why do I have to run a ‘reading programme’ the way it has always been done? Are ability groups the ONLY way to help kids learn to read and comprehend? Is it time to ditch the groups and try something else? How will this disruption to the ‘norm’ be taken?
What if I could mentor my students to learn strategies of comprehension through using ‘deliberate acts of teaching’ such as thinking aloud, modelling, and encouraging inference and questioning which were seamlessly infused into the act of ‘reading aloud’ one book to the whole class?
I could cover the ‘stuff’ I needed to like extending their vocabulary, exposing them to language features and how to interpret them, encouraging deeper more critical thinking about a text, at the same time fostering further authentic interest-based learning opportunities. We could reinforce the concept of ‘ako’ and have everyone learning from each other.”
The ‘read aloud’ could be the center of a whole integrated learning programme! I could begin to break down the silos and just have LEARNING!
Then I participated in #GlobalReadAloud 2014.
It is not just about reading aloud though.
What was involved in the setup and is involved?
There was WAY more to it.
Enthusiasm is required to build the excitement BEFORE it got started. Passion is required to read aloud IN CHARACTER.
Risk-taking is required to try something different to TTWWADI.
Grit is required to persevere with an online platform like Edmodo which was new territory.
Dedication is required to pursue connections which will enhance the CONNECTED LITERACY experience AND to give it the TIME which was needed to fully integrate the ‘read aloud’ into the learning happening as well as the student selected learning opportunities which arose.
The beauty of what was happening was that the whole ‘read aloud’ concept was fulfilling a number of goals I had set for myself to change my pedagogy to suit today’s learners. We were becoming ‘connected learners’, we were learning how to collaborate ‘outside the walls’ of our classroom, we were seamlessly infusing technology into the learning, I was able to help learners ‘just in time’ - my teaching was becoming more responsive and personalised, and my class were learning that teaching and learning is reciprocal - I could teach them, they could teach me, and they could teach each other.
The start of 2015 saw the creation of #NZreadaloud.
Having had success the previous year with #GRA I decided to try ‘connected literacy’ with anyone who was willing to step outside the norm with me. Initially I thought ‘school-wide’ but when not too many got on board I tweeted out to my PLN to gather interest.
From these small beginnings has developed a literacy initiative which has grown from eleven Year 7 / 8 classes in its inaugural Term in 2015 to over 200 classes across all levels of Primary and including Year 9 / 10 during Term 1 of 2016.
Here are some of the schools who added their tag to the Google Map for #NZreadaloud4 …
- Understanding of the kaupapa - knowing why this is the ‘future of literacy’ and believing this.
- Dedication to the 3 C’s - COMMUNICATION, CONNECTING, and COLLABORATING.
- Passion for ‘getting into character’ - if you are only prepared to ‘read’ that is not enough. As the reader the teacher MUST be willing to be ‘the actor’ too. Use different voices for different characters, use expression, tone, and volume. Act out little episodes, move around when you read, ask the kids to help you ‘act out’ certain scenes.
Today as we head into #NZreadaloud5 there are those teachers who have been with me since the inaugural #NZreadaloud. I am sincerely grateful to these teachers who have helped share the kaupapa AND who have taken on leadership roles in order to inspire and guide other teachers through the process. These educators have been invaluable. These educators have seen the potential in what #NZreadaloud can offer to their programmes and are willing to share this and encourage others to do something different.
The blog is a one-stop shop for everything teachers want to know and is developing all the time as we gather feedback from teachers regarding their needs. Here we have purposefully shared ‘teacher voice’ AND more importantly ‘student voice’ about their #NZreadaloud experience.
The Facebook Group is our place to share and discuss what we are doing. It is wonderful seeing what is happening with #NZreadaloud across the age levels and we encourage more teachers to share here.
#NZreadaloud is popular because it is future-focused. It incorporates everything which is innovative about modern pedagogy.
Having authors involved has been really exciting - both for teachers and kids. Skyping or having Google Hangouts where authors answer the kids questions is as authentic as it gets. Authors who give up their time to discuss and comment on students posts in Edmodo is special. The authors’ involvement is VERY MUCH appreciated by everyone involved.
What's the future for it?
We will continue to Google Survey at the end of each #NZreadaloud to gather ‘voice’.
We will continue to ask our kids what they think.
My hope is that we can get some global connections happening during #NZreadaloud and have a chance to share our wonderful New Zealand authors and their stories with the world.
The team will continue as long as there is a need and as long as they are able to - I am forever grateful to Jemma, Kaehlah, Karen, and Stacey for devoting time and energy and emotion to this project, which at times can be frustrating!
We possibly have two new members who have joined our team. We welcome Kerry Anne Absalom a Year 3 / 4 teacher at Otorohanga South School in Hamilton who has taken on the job of organising the Year 3 / 4 teachers and classes along with author Leonie Agnew. They will work as a team on the Yr 3 / 4 organisation. We applaud you both for stepping up and taking on something which is a risk! Thank you.
Another connection made with other passionate teachers who see the value in the #NZreadaloud kaupapa. More passionate teachers who will help inspire others to get on board.
And so on it grows!
To find out more about #NZreadaloud, check out the website for more info.
Thanks Kerri for sharing your great success!