Hand in hand
Laura Huxford reviews two books which could help teachers rebuff OFSTED's criticisms of reading standards at key stage 2
These two books confirm my suspicion that Scholastic has hit on another winner. The Primary Professional Bookshelf series emerged quietly a couple of years ago with three excellent books on aspects of teaching literacy. These two new additions not only bring us up to date accurately and concisely with research and thinking in relation to the national curriculum, but also with the wherewithal to carry out relevant assessment, planning and teaching. The latest additions to the Bookshelf, Reading On! and Learning in Tandem maintain the high standard of the series.
Reading On! Developing Reading at Key Stage 2 could have been written as a direct response to the frequent OFSTED criticism that standards of reading at this stage are not high enough. The authors believe that "with careful planning which addresses a clear understanding that the teaching of reading continues beyond the age of seven, different models of learning can be provided in the junior classroom". Planning to teach reading specifically and modelling the various skills of reading recur throughout the book.
Developing the reading of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and teaching through drama and the use of multimedia are all covered. Each chapter is strong on long, medium and short-term planning with practical suggestions - for example, modelling a "critical and reflective" response to fiction; using big books to show typographic devices and graphic aids; demonstrating how to "read" a non-fiction book. Perhaps one omission from the non-fiction chapter is the lack of specific planning to teach writing within another curriculum area.
Other publications deal with each subject in this book in even more detail, but there is probably not a comparable single volume on the teaching of reading available at present.
In Learning in Tandem, the IMPACT projects in maths and writing are among a number of initiatives described. Like the others in the series, this is a practical book which briefly outlines the history of parent-school co-operation and some successful projects over the years. It then suggests ideas for introducing parent-school partnerships and activities which parents and their children can do together.
The tenor of the book is captured by an amusingly provocative foreword by Michael Rosen in his role as parent. This role in relation to the first five years of a child's life is discussed in the opening chapter. Subsequent chapters consider parental involvement in reading, maths and writing with a further chapter on the wider curriculum.
These books are not merely "how to do it" accounts. They raise issues - cultural, political and ethical - and don't pretend to have all the answers. But they combine this with a stock of ideas which have enough detail for teachers to act upon them.
Laura Huxford is a senior lecturer at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education