A good bellow about the bears and the bees

10th November 2006 at 00:00
"In all my years of teaching, I'd never really got to grips with how individual each child is," says Glen Franklin. "In Reading Recovery, you see how differently they learn. In a class of 30, you can't see them. It's obvious really."

Ms Franklin leads the teaching of Reading Recovery in Tower Hamlets, east London. She is responsible for training teachers in the one-to-one tuition technique, as well as helping teaching assistants with less intensive programmes.

She also likes to fit in three half-hour sessions of one-to-one teaching herself every day at Chisenhale, a large primary in Bow.

In a small but light, yellow room just off the main hall she sits on Ryan's right, so he will read and write in her direction, and prompts him patiently yet firmly. She constantly praises his efforts ("I really like the way you're looking so carefully") but misses nothing, noting every achievement and difficulty on a record sheet - and going back to most.

Ryan starts by reading familiar texts, then the lesson moves on to writing a sentence and reinforcing his familiarity with all the words in it. After that, the challenge of a new book.

Six-year-old Ryan arrived at the school in the summer unable to read the simplest text, although, unusually, he knew all the letters of the alphabet. Now, after just three weeks of one-to-one help, he is making good progress with his reading, but his attention comes and goes, as does his writing ability. Today, his Ls keep turning into 4s (he's good at maths) and he can't stop filling in his Os.

Ms Franklin gives him a new book about bears and bees. The bears want to steal the bees' honey. What does the bee say to that?

"No, you will not," he reads, a bit hesitantly. "Wouldn't the bee shout?"

suggests Ms Franklin.

"No, you will not!" bellows Ryan. Then, turning to the last page, he shouts without hesitation the one word written there: "Splash!"

"I bet they heard that out there," he says, gesturing to the playground below. There is no mistaking the triumph on his face.

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