Transforming Whole Class Reading (WCR) with myON
By Chris Jarosh
myON is so much more than an online library
Whilst the allure of the thousands of online books is undeniable, the product has a treasure trove of clever tools and simple mechanisms that enable teachers to have full control of their reading lessons and reduce their workload. The ability to carefully select and deliver high-quality, purposeful texts into the hands of each and every pupil in their classroom means children reading more and knowing more. With this in mind, myON has developed into a key player in our reading strategy at Manor Leas Junior Academy, as our focus has been on developing the rigour of the wider curriculum. We believe that myON has two crucial roles in this strategy within the classroom: being used as a tool for knowledge acquisition and ‘pre-learning and as a means for enabling efficient and effective WCR instruction.
Reading is a key factor in knowledge acquisition
Doug Lemov touches on this in Reading Reconsidered, “it can often be useful to have students read multiple texts on a topic so that their reading will result in a crescendo of knowledge absorption.” The curriculum is bulging with objectives, so teachers need to be clever in the way they assign tasks in order to supplement the key learning across the curriculum. This is where myON’s ‘Projects’ feature is a revelation. Let’s talk through why: our Year 4 pupils learn about The Middle Ages and the impact on our judicial system today in History. The vast majority of 8 and 9-year-olds will not have much background knowledge in this area, so teachers can take this opportunity to assign some ‘pre-learning during the half term. Using ‘Projects’, they assign specific books that are at an age-appropriate reading level that will give the children the suitable background knowledge needed prior to beginning their new topic.
Previously, an assignment like this would not be monitored or evaluated or could even be considered busy work, but with myON and Accelerated Reader (AR), teachers can quickly see whether or not pupils have read the assigned texts and whether they have understood what they’ve read through AR quiz results.
Key vocabulary can be introduced through reading, familiarising pupils with words they will come across during their study. This enables all children to be speaking a common language in terms of prior knowledge when beginning the topic of The Middle Ages. Teachers can then begin teaching with the confidence that pupils have a foundation of the basic knowledge required in order to move more swiftly onto complex concepts and ideas. In English, these texts could be used to give context to a novel study, setting the scene for worlds that the children are yet to understand. Lemov continues, “Nonfiction, we argue, is ideal as a secondary text. These secondary texts could give context, provide background, show contrast, or develop a useful idea that helps students better engage the primary text.” Not only does this strategy enable our teachers to move through the curriculum at a pace, but it also means that pupils are developing independent study skills and are becoming more inquisitive about their learning.
Using AR across the school means that in class our teachers can focus on the depth of reading skills rather than simply fluency or stamina development. Using an age-appropriate text across the class and drilling down into a specific page or two allows for the focus on practising specific skills and the chance for the teacher to question this understanding specifically.
When using myON as a platform for WCR, the pupils can be guided towards using three fantastic mechanisms: a dictionary, a reading journal or the ‘tools’, which consists of annotations, highlighting functions and virtual post-its. These simple features mean full oversight for the teacher into each individual pupil’s understanding, whilst also enabling instant feedback for the student. There are endless options and ways this can be used to improve the quality of WCR in the classroom. Importantly, myON also can decrease workload for teachers: easily find high-quality texts (no photocopying needed!), give personalised feedback quickly and efficiently and the ability to assess easily.
“We have found that myON is so much more than just an online library- it has bolstered our foundation curriculum in History, Geography, Science and RE, and given teachers flexibility and ownership in developing a more efficient way of delivering WCR.”
It has developed pupil independence and their study skills, with levels of vocabulary understanding rapidly increasing across the school. Yes, of course having thousands of books that children can access both at school and at home is a brilliant resource- but when myON is utilised to its full potential you really do have something very special indeed. I will touch on a whole host of ‘Top Tips’ to ensure you can get the most out of using myON in the classroom.
Whilst there is probably an infinite number of ways these tools can be used within the classroom, some of my favourites include:
- The narration feature enables children to independently use WCR strategies such as ‘echo reading’. This can also be used to target pupils reading at a lower level to enable them to engage with an age-appropriate text.
- The highlighter tool is to get the children to identify keywords or ideas on a page.
- The virtual post-its to get children summarising each page, construct questions or for quick note-taking.
- The dictionary asks pupils to define keywords and record these into their vocab journals. They can then use these words in their writing!
- ‘Projects’ to assign books to your class prior to introducing a new topic. This will enable them to do some ‘pre-learning and you can ensure they have a basic understanding of a concept prior to introducing it in class. This works especially well for subjects like History, RE and Geography, as well as for giving historical context for English texts.