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February 29, 2012

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Improving a critical skill that will last a lifetime

WRITTEN language differs in a number of important respects from the spoken language. The processes for making sense of these two forms of language also differ in some important ways. The continuing presence of the text on page or screen allows the reader to move around and to vary the reading pace. This makes it possible to correct errors and uncertainty, relate what is being read to knowledge gained elsewhere, in a more measured and careful way than speech allows. Readers can apply comprehension strategies not available to listeners.

Reading is a key skill for students, which they need in order to be able to learn across all curriculum areas. In my classroom I focus on the teaching and learning of reading through a variety of approaches. The students are immersed in language throughout their school day and reading is a part of their everyday lives. The students read for enjoyment and understanding, and to gain information. They are exposed to a wide variety of texts.

My reading program includes the use of Big Books for shared reading, and group Guided Reading with leveled reading books, whereby the students are leveled using the PM Benchmarks. Each student is catered for individually using this system. In Guided Reading sessions I focus on the skills to be learned, while the students are enjoying books that are interesting and fun to read. As a followup to reading, the students are engaged in comprehension activities.

Individual reading is encouraged through the borrowing of library books and through our very popular and successful Home Reading Program, whereby the students take home a book each day at the level appropriate to their own individual development. This encourages the students to be regular readers.

My classroom is also a print–rich environment that encourages students to be aware of print all around them in their everyday lives. Phonics and the decoding of words also play an essential part in the reading process.

The students in my classroom are highly motivated to read and thoroughly enjoy reading due to the books available to them, and the fun, exciting ways they are presented. The students are being educated to use reading as a vital skill they will use throughout their lives.

(Susan Lloyd is a teacher at Shanghai Singapore International School.)

SSIS recommendedreading list: Is Your Mama a Llama?Deborah Guarino Stellaluna Janell Cannon Flat Stanley Jeff Brown How to Eat Fried Worms Thomas Rockwell Miss Nelson Is Missing!Harry Allard


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