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Reflections on a Read Write Inc. INSET day

A class teacher from Castledown Primary School in Hastings reflects on a two-day whole-school Read Write Inc. Phonics training. She considers the impact on her ability to teach reading and thinks deeply about how the 6Ps will improve her teaching practice.

Extract from the blog:

I am just home from an intensive 2 day introduction to the Read Write Inc. scheme attended by all staff. I have left the reading and writing co-ordinators looking at resources and we at the school are all contemplating and wondering how the program will be implemented. The scheme is designed to be put in place across all year groups and for some classes could potentially replace our traditional literacy hour planning. However it can equally be used for interventions with small groups of children. As we wait to hear from our senior leadership how exactly Castledown will adopt Read Write Inc. I thought I could reflect on what I had learnt from the 2 days. I have tried to pick out points that will be useful whatever the decision of the management team may be.

There were several catchphrases referred to repeatedly on the course, including the 6Ps: Purpose, Praise, Pace, Participation, Passion and Perseverance. I have chosen 3 of these to discuss, which resonated particularly strongly with me and made me think about how I could change my practice.

Firstly, I thought the way Praise was modelled and used over the 2 days was fantastic. I think that most of us would freely admit we could use praise more often and more positively in our everyday teaching. In the midst of class teaching, it can be very easy to pick up on the negatives and forget to praise enough. The Read Write Inc. trainer, Victoria Homewood, role-modelled some great ways for teachers to give praise and the children to praise each other; for example her actions for marshmallow claps, a whoosh, a silent cheer, a round of applause, a microwave and fireworks actions made all the staff smile. All of these would give the children great pleasure and boost their confidence. If these could help increase children’s enthusiasm for learning and reading they are worth a try!

The second P I want to pick up on is Participation. One of the key elements of Read Write Inc. is partner work as a means to get everyone in the class participating. Their reasoning is that ‘if a question is worth asking, it is worth everyone answering it.’ This partner work also frees up the teacher to assess the children and support them if need be. Research shows that working and discussing what we have been taught greatly increases learning. Apparently we learn 70% of what we discuss and 95% of what we teach, so the Read Write Inc. scheme gives children the chance to explain and teach what they learn to their partner as a reinforcement of the normal teacher input. I’m definitely going to try this out in my classroom as I feel that I could increase the participation of my children and step away from the traditional hands-up method. Although ‘carpet-partners’ or ‘talk-partners’ are used on a daily basis at Castledown I think more could be done to exploit them and use them as ‘mini-teachers.’

The final P I’m going to discuss is the P for Perseverance. During our training the phrase ‘Hear it, Say it, Read It, Write it, Review it’ was drilled in to us as a formula for teaching phonics and reading. It makes a lot of sense, particularly the last part, ‘Review it,’ which links strongly to perseverance. I think that as teachers driven by targets, time limitations and pressure to cover the curriculum, we sometimes omit reviewing what we teach. However, revision is absolutely essential, especially given that the average child needs to see and read a word 30 times before it enters their orthographic store and becomes a word they can sight read. We need to persevere with this review stage and give our children every opportunity to learn and set them up for success.

On the whole, I think everyone came away from the training brimming with ideas and with more confidence to teach phonics and reading. We also came away more determined to get every child reading. So, thus far, Read Write Inc. has had a very positive impact on Castledown.