By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager
Once upon a time, (but not so very long ago) over 150 teachers ‘gave up’ their Saturday to be part of something very special in a lovely primary school buried deep in Merseyside. While I’m still on a professional and personal high from experiencing this day first-hand, now the dust is starting to settle from all of the excitement, I wanted to put finger to keyboard and share my thoughts on why Reading really does Rock!
So apart from the fact that this first ever one-day conference dedicated to celebrating reading in primary schools came about from a genuine love of reading (huge credit to Heather Wright aka @Mrs_iPad_W at The District CE Primary School, Newton-le-Willows for making this happen), I’ll be remembering the day itself for a long time to come… and here’s just a few reasons why:
- A picture speaks a thousand words – Mat Tobin’s aka @Mat_at_Brookes session on the role of illustration in children’s picture books was a genuine fascination for me. I always thought that I understood picture books, but it was based more on intuition than knowledge. After hearing Mat speak I was quite literally blown away by how picture books are put together and how the interplay between images and text paint a potentially very different story. This coupled with the second key note from James Clements aka @James_ShMore who shared his strategies for making reading for pleasure work in schools. Both offered me new ideas on how you can use pictures to encourage the reader to question the text in a deeper way, but also reinforced the importance of picture books in engendering a love for reading and developing children’s comprehension skills at all ages!
- Don’t judge a book by its cover – my own presentation focused on decoding using ‘The Dot’ by Peter Reynolds. The main message I wanted to get across was that decoding a book is only ever going to be useful to a child if they are comfortable in their reading space. In simple terms, if the text is too difficult they won’t be able to decode it. That’s why the Renaissance ATOS Analyser is such a useful and free tool; it makes determining text complexity level easier than ever.
- Feel the love – it’s not often that anyone can say they attend an event for ‘work purposes’ and leave with a real sense of passion, inspiration and love. But that is exactly what #ReadingRocks16 did for me. It felt as though everyone at the event literally had their arms around reading, giving it a great big hug!
I’d like to thank everyone who made the day such a wonderful experience, in particular Michael Tidd @MichaelT1979 for his ideas on the use of film in literacy and Russell Prue aka @russellprue for catching me unawares with an impromptu radio interview!
Roll on #ReadingRocks2017!!
Strategic Education Manager
Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.