Success For All: how it's done

3rd July 1998 at 01:00
* The scheme is divided into two parts: 'Roots' teaches students how to learn to read. It gives skills and confidence to approach new words and texts. Most materials are provided. 'Wings' uses the expertise accumulated in 'Roots', though we find it works independently. Manuals provide full guidance. Activities related to a wide variety of specific texts are available and we also write our own.

Both 'Roots' and 'Wings' fulfil the demands of the national literacy strategy. The group I teach is following a scheme of five one-hour sessions. Based on my knowledge of individuals, I decide group membership and we start with team-building exercises. They choose logos and slogans ("Sports Spice Specials" and "Reading Ravers", for example). Each member of the group has a partner and belongs to a team. Individual success contributes to team points.

* Session one begins with a word mastery list of 20 words selected from the text we are to study. (I'm currently revisiting Narnia with my group.) I model the pronunciation and the students respond. We check our understanding of the words and using them as clues, try to predict what might happen in the text.

* I model reading aloud and ask the group to help if I get stuck to remind them how they can learn from each other. Individual reading is followed by paired reading where students sit facing in opposite directions and take turns to read aloud. I hear each student and note their progress.

* The lesson finishes with Two-Minute Edit, when a problem relating to previous work is revisited, learning is reinforced, and success celebrated.

* Varying the pace of sessions and celebrating success are key features of the programmes. Like our American colleagues, we find discipline problems rarely arise. There are special signals to instruct the class to pay attention, to think, to listen, to speak, to lower the volume, to move to new positions and so on. They know exactly what is expected of them.

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