Stretching the possibilities
The English national curriculum at key stages 1 and 2 demands that pupils should be able to extract information from books. The Key Comprehension series shows how teachers can help them meet these demands and prepare for the reading comprehension tests at key stages 1 and 2. It targets the skills of reading accurately, fluently and with understanding, responding to text, and analysing and evaluating a wide range of writing.
There are three teacher handbooks with accompanying pupil books aimed at key stage 1 (national curriculum levels 2-4), lower key stage 2 (national curriculum levels 3-5) and upper key stage 2 (national curriculum levels 3-6).
Schools are increasingly aware of the importance of pupils developing flexible reading skills so that they can read a range of texts and it is pleasing to see that this series deals not only with the literal aspects of comprehension, but also with deductive, inferential and evaluative understanding in a developmental way.
A range of question forms (cloze, sentence completion, sequencing, truefalse, multiple-choice and answering in sentences) is used to test the pupils' different levels of understanding. The teacher's handbooks also provide useful definitions of reading strategies, including the difference between skimming and scanning, and a definition of detailed reading.
As a profession, we need to ensure that our pupils leave school able to cope with a wide variety of types of text and this comprehension series uses fiction, poems, fables, information texts and transactional material to develop an understanding of both implicit and explicit meaning.
Key Comprehension is a well thought out series and should help teachers and schools deliver one of the most demanding subjects of the national curriculum.