Solutions to poor skills for learning
by Jeanne Reilly and Sarah Murray
Target Listening and Understanding in Secondary Schools
by Meriel Davenport and Philippa Hall
Target Reading Accuracy
Target Reading Comprehension
both by Bernadette McLean and Rosie Wood
Children need to be able to concentrate on spoken and written words to learn. Mandi Carmichael reviews texts to help you target pupils' problems
the Barrington Stoke Target series has been written to provide class teachers and support for learning staff with practical ideas for classroom support.
Each book aims to provide a greater understanding of the types of difficulties that children may face with listening and reading, and recommends activities and strategies to help improve their skills in these areas.
The books all meet their aims well and would benefit most teachers and educational staff. Although written for children with specific difficulties, other children would profit from the practical ideas and strategies.
As well as the marked emphasis on practical activities and the positive "you can make a difference" air to each book, another plus point is the use of clear and simple language, making them very readable and user friendly.
All the books are well structured and set out, which makes them extremely accessible. Although there is a lot of material in them, they are designed for busy teachers to be able to dip in and out with ease, finding the information and strategies they require.
Readers are presented with enough background information to gain a comprehensive understanding of the difficulties pupils face in the different areas and all terminology used is clearly and relevantly explained.
Detailed checklists are supplied to allow teachers to clarify what children can do, confirm suspicions of difficulties and help to pinpoint specific areas of difficulty. Each checklist then guides readers to the relevant chapters or sections where strategies can be found to improve pupils'
Assessment activities are also included and explained to help monitor progress.
All of the books feature similarly structured chapters, with background information on the particular difficulties, an assessment activity, a selection of teacher-led activities and strategies to try, photocopiable activities and resources to be worked on with an adult, and target cards which the pupils can work with on their own or with other children.
The activities take account of sound educational approaches such as the use of formative assessment, ways to help empower pupils, mind mapping and multi-sensory activities, meeting the needs of a variety of learning styles. Various teaching approaches are employed, including teacher-led, group, pair and individual activities.
Target Listening and Understanding in Primary Schools takes readers through six fundamental skill areas and offers strategies to further develop them.
Many of the strategies may seem obvious, but they can sometimes be forgotten and these are useful reminders.
Listening and Understanding in Secondary Schools focuses on the difficulties relating to "the recognition and management of listening and understanding".
Target Reading Accuracy and Target Reading Comprehension have been written with struggling readers in upper primary and secondary levels in mind.
Teachers are encouraged to ensure pupils have practised and mastered the activities featured in Target Reading Accuracy before moving on to the companion volume.
Both books have a chapter on the skills that children need in order to grasp comprehension, and there is a selection of easy to follow strategies and activities.
This series will be a highly valuable tool kit to the teaching profession.
Readers will find extensive but relevant information and many practical activities that should enhance their professional knowledge and skills.
They are also an enlightening and enjoyable read.
Mandi Carmichael teaches at Menstrie Primary, Clackmannanshire