Shared experience

5th July 1996 at 01:00
Shared Reading - Video support material, Kirklees Education Advisory Service Pounds 25. From Michaela Worsley, The Deighton Centre, Deighton Road, Deighton, Huddersfield HD2 1JP. Tel 01484 225790

This training video shows ll-year-olds how to help younger children to read. It runs for about 20 minutes and consists of four training sessions. The first session deals with how to help the younger child to work out the story from the pictures in the book. The second session shows how to read to a child and start to get the child involved in the reading. In the third session the children are shown how to read along with the younger child until he or she is confident to read alone, and in the final session the children are shown how to help a child when they are reading to them.

I tried the video with a Year 6 class who had not been involved in cross-age shared reading. In each session the announcer explains what the older child ("tutor") is required to do and then we see a clip of a tutor carrying out those instructions with the children. The children are then asked to discuss the video in pairs and decide whether the tutor was successful.

My co-reviewers were unmercifully critical of the children on the video: "She read it too fast" (Shane), "They weren't reading at the same time" (Victoria), "The little girl couldn't find the word 'hat' because on the front cover it had a capital letter" (Helen), "When he was talking to Dane he didn't stop to let Dane have a say before going on" (Emily).

Despite their criticism, most of the class would have liked to be able to follow such a programme in school. When asked whether it was necessary to have a video to show them how to do it, there was unanimous agreement that the video was essential. "It's good to see how to do it"; "seeing is much better than being told"; "it tells you what to look for"; "it's good to see children in other schools"; "if the teacher tells you something and you weren't listening you never get to know - with a video you can see it again." Analysing how other people do things and why things don't go quite right is a particularly effective training tool for learners of all ages. My thanks to the children of Kirklees and Parliament primary school, Stroud.

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