Reading is the foundation of all learning. It is the process by which our brains interpret or decode written symbols and make meaning from them, allowing us to open the door to learn everything about anything. Through the First Peoples Principles of Learning, we know that learning is embedded in memory, history, and story. Story and story telling allow us to connect with others and share our world. By focusing on reading and fostering a love of reading with our learners, we are in instilling the ability to question, infer, wonder, and learn about and understand our world.
Within a safe and connected community, we can enable the students of Martha Currie to reach their full potential by providing tools and strategies to help develop the foundational strategies and process for our students to be confident and capable readers.
As a dual track school, one of the key learning outcomes for all of our students is learning to: Reflect on the information they receive through observation, experience, and other forms of communication to solve problems, design products, understand events, and address issues. We hope that a focus on reading will develop the skills our students need in order to be able to do this.
Our students continuously work on exchanging ideas, making connections, and using personal experience and knowledge to further their understanding and make meaning of the world around them. Through exposure of non-fiction and fiction books, students are able to exchange ideas and perspectives to build shared understanding.
After reading the book, "How to Build an Insect" by Roberta Gibson, students used loose parts to build their own insect model. They worked in partners and practised communicating their ideas and transferring their learning from the story to create their own insect.
Through listening and speaking, our students can connect with others and share our world. Our students recognize the importance of stories and how these can be a source of entertainment and enjoyment. Opportunities for self selection of books and reading material are important to our students in developing a love and joy for reading.
Students at Martha Currie have many opportunities to engage in reading and reading activities in their classroom and throughout the school. Guided reading, where students work on the same levelled text, as pictured above, is one of the many ways that students learn reading strategies and practise reading with their peers.
Below are examples of our students' classroom experience as they relate to:
We know that being able to read and comprehend a variety of texts are essential to student academic success. In order to foster this, reading strategies are explicitly taught and opportunities to practise reading are integrated within daily academic instruction. Focuses on sight word development, phonemic and phonological awareness, as well foundations of print have been integral in the development of student reading. In addition, a variety of reading practises are imbedded in our day to day routines for all students.
Every day, our students are presented with opportunities to practice and demonstrate their reading skills and competencies. Our team at Martha Currie has worked collaboratively with students to identify strengths and stretches in the area of reading. We have provided greater access to levelled home reading materials, and have purchased and organized paired fiction and non-fiction levelled books for small group reading instruction. In order to better understand our students' strengths and stretches (areas for growth), we have tracked students' reading progress from term to term, through formal levelled assessments, and discussed as a staff some of the observable growth we have seen over the course of the school year.
This video shows a student reading a non-fiction text. The student is able to read the text fluently, is able to read the text features, and is able to self-correct, when needed. The text the student is reading is above their grade level, demonstrating proficiency in reading.
Providing levelled books that students may easily access has been integral in supporting reading development. Within the levelled bins in the photo above, students are able to peruse a multitude of books at their level and may self-select books to take home and practise reading outside of school. This system has created a sense of ownership for students and allows them the opportunity to choose text at their independent reading level. While students are encouraged to practise these books with their family at home, as the books are at their independent reading level, students are not dependent upon an adult to support them in their reading. These books are in addition to books that they would self-select from the library.
Martha Currie students are developing foundational literacy skills to help them be confident and capable readers. They are using the strategies that they have been taught to be able to decode, comprehend, and make deeper connections to the text that they read. Designing classroom experiences that support literacy and reading development has our school well on its way to reaching our goal of increasing the number of students reading at grade level. In addition, educators at Martha Currie have reflected upon what they have seen in the development of these skills in their classrooms and their assessment data reinforces what we observe in our students.
This graph of a group of students in a Grade One/Two combined class shows the growth in students reading with comprehension over the course of the school year. Grade level end of year bench marks are identified at the top in purple and the colour coded graph indicates growth over the school year. Grey indicates where they started and then the additional colours show progress through term one, term two, and term three. The last box coloured in red in each row indicates instructional reading level at the end of the school year. 6/9 Grade One students are working at or near grade level, and 8/10 Grade Two students are working at or near grade level. This is considerable improvement, particularly for the group of grade one students where it can be seen that none were at grade level at the start of the school year.
A similar growth pattern can be seen in the graph below that represents a progress of students in early primary. Comparative to where these students started in September, with none being at grade level, we now see the majority of the class reading, with comprehension, at or near grade level.
Early Learning Phonemic Awareness Tests (ELPATs) were administered to Kindergarten students at the end of January and again at the end of May. The following images show the increase in the number of students that were able to complete various activities within the assessment. ELPATs are an indicator for early reading success.
As we continue this important foundational work, we will build on our students ability to use sources of information and access prior knowledge in the following areas:
We will continue to build on our reading instruction by continuing our focus on phonemic and phonological awareness, as well as increase our guided reading and home reading programs. We have recently purchased decodable books for our French Immersion classes that will be available in September that will help our students learn and better understand the different phonemes and text structures of the printed language. Staff will have access to year end reading data to inform their practise in the fall and will be able to use these benchmarks and information to continue the work and achievement of our students, thus far. In addition, we have three teachers who will be joining the Responding to Readers project and we will draw on their learning to support and move our school team forward.
Our focus will also continue to build on some of the extra curricular initiatives from this past year that were implemented in order to make reading an integral part of all that we do in our school. Some of these extra-curricular clubs, such as the French Café and the Reading Link Challenge, have been captivating and exciting opportunities to engage students outside of class time to build on their reading skills and encourage and foster a love of reading.
Groups of Grade 4 and 5 students, from both our English and French Immersion classes, were excited to be a part of a number of teams for the Reading Link Challenge. Continuing to offer these experiences for our Martha Currie students will be integral in moving them forward in their reading and literacy skills.