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'Teaching of Reading' sessions (Years 3-6)

Key Stage 2

Language comprehension sessions are taught five times per week (from term 4 in Year 2 through to Year 6). Each lesson lasts for 30 minutes, although teachers do have the flexibility to make the length of these sessions work for them (ensuring a minimum of two and a quarter hours learning per week).

The texts chosen for study during these sessions range widely. They may be short or longer narrative extracts, song lyrics, poems or non-fiction texts relating to another area of the curriculum or special events (such as Armistice Day). 

The central purpose for reading in every session is the deriving of meaning from the text under study. Even when the development of fluency is a key focus (as it will be regularly in Years 2-4), gaining meaning is still an essential element of each teaching sequence.

Key Elements of a 'Teaching of Reading' sequence of learning

Planned vocabulary instruction

Integral to our classroom practice are strategies such as:

  • Pre-teaching vocabulary
  • Discussing word meanings
  • Grouping words
  • Comparing words
  • Finding precise definitions, synonyms and antonyms
  • Exploring vocabulary use in varying contexts

In every sequence, teachers will pre-select challenging vocabulary that the children will come across in the text. The meaning of these words will be explained, discussed or explored prior to a first reading of the text. In a longer unit, the exploration of related vocabulary may form a short, written task such as the activities below (taken from Reading Recharged by Alex Barton).

Fluency Practice

In this part of the teaching sequence, we have the opportunity to both model and develop fluency and prosody. By varying the reading strategies employed, we can ensure that the energy and engagement in the lesson remains high.

This table, taken from Reading Recharged (Alex Barton), serves as a useful reminder of the variety of strategies staff can employ during this section of the learning sequence.

Developing text understanding through discussion and planned questioning

This ‘book talk’ element of the session is crucial. While we are in the process of reading a text, we mentally construct and update a model of what we have understood from it.  This is sometimes called a situation model. Doing this collectively in a whole class situation is really powerful. 

Comprehension is an active process. It involves creating meaning through a process of personalisation, prioritisation and integration.  A reader’s language comprehension abilities are all related to the specifics of whatever text is being read. Instead of focusing on reading comprehension skills here, we focus on the comprehension strategies that good readers employ.  The 'In the moment of reading' diagram from Oxford University Press, provides a really useful reminder of these...

Focused skill questioning

In this section of the sequence, pupils are given opportunities to answers questions based on the National Curriculum’s list of comprehension skills. This may be done orally or in writing. During this part of the learning sequence, there will be:

  • Opportunities to think, pair, share
  • Opportunities for solo work
  • Opportunities to answer a variety of question types with a written response