Changing my Teaching

 After consulting the research literature I came to the conclusion that I need to explicitly teach metacognition alongside reading comprehension strategies (particularly those involving vocabulary) and that I need to be aware of the amount of scaffolding I give my students when reading with them.

So how does this fit with my current teaching? I used observation feedback, observation of my own practice (that I filmed and later reviewed) and an analysis of my reading planning to identify what I am already doing and what needs to be changed.

1. Am I teaching metacognitive strategies?

Last year I began an intervention into this extremely late in the year. I had about eight weeks to roll out and modify my intervention. In that time I created a five point framework with my students to enable them to rate their understanding of a text. After reading a text, the students rate themselves and explain why they gave themselves this score. 

This is something I have continued using and the students can clearly explain to me what each number represents. This is a good start, but I haven't then got to the next step - recognising the strategy/s that will increase this score and student understanding.

Just as I noticed at the end of last year, I still haven't consistently enabled my students to reflect on this in my reading activities. It would be so easy to simply add a question such as "what did you find challenging when reading this text? How could you solve this challenge?"

2. Am I supporting my students to make sense of new vocabulary? I can see that I use lots of new vocabulary when I teach, particularly when we read non-fiction texts and come across new technical vocabulary or concepts. However,  I haven't been teaching my students strategies that they can use when they get stuck with an unknown word. I'm not doing 'word work' or enough explicit teaching regarding vocabulary, which I know is common for my junior school colleagues.

3. Am I over scaffolding my learners?
I always have high expectations of my students and ensure that I challenge them. This means that some scaffolding is required, but I seem to act differently on different days. Sometimes I let my students struggle, or use questioning or prompts that make them think rather than lead them to an answer. Other times I do over-scaffold them, using questions that guide the students thinking. This is something I need to be really aware of, as over scaffolding has taught my students to rely on the teacher to simplify a text on their behalf.

What changes should I make?
Overall, I want to take my intervention from last year, extend and modify it. I want to continue to teach metacognitive strategies explicitly while arming them with a range of comprehension strategies. I will start with strategies that link to vocabulary as this is an area that they are struggling with in particular. I need to normalise vocabulary instruction - it needs to be a part of my reading programme. I also need to be very aware of the amount of prompting or scaffolding I provide; running a reciprocal reading session or two with the group a week will support me to place the responsibility on the learners. In the other sessions, I will carefully notice, recognise and respond to my students - supporting them to identify a tricky part of the text and to deploy a strategy to aid their understanding.


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