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How to start a ‘reading movement’ at your school

This week, we hear from experienced teacher, (and Adam Voigt’s business partner at Real Schools), Ryan Martin, on creating a ‘reading movement’ at your school with a few simple steps like individualised goals; making sure kids have access to books they like, and as always, build relationships.

Thursday night after school, whenever possible, my daughter Evie and I stop at a little bakery in Melbourne and sit down and have a hot chocolate and a cookie and talk about the day’s events.  It is time that I treasure greatly.  This week we got talking about books and what she is reading at school.  Evie became incredibly animated as she gave me the most colourful run down of the book and the activities that the class were undertaking to draw out the underlying themes of the book.  It got me thinking (‘not again’ my wife would say), if this talented teacher can generate such excitement and enthusiasm then it was worth sharing exactly what was going on in her class.

My daughter’s class, like every class, has a range of reading abilities and the teacher has sat down with all of them and discussed their reading level and what they need to do next to improve. Tick! 

At the start of the year, the teacher got the students to complete a reading inventory to find out what books they like reading and makes sure those books are always available in the class.  Tick! 

Shared reading involves a more complex book and students reading at lower levels get to engage with more complex, colourful and interesting texts as a way of creating greater interest in reading. Tick! 

All of this lines up strongly with the research and what I believe is important in classrooms. There are many more powerful ideas that can be deployed in classrooms and I am not dismissing any of them. 

However, the biggest tick this wonderful teacher gets from me is the effort he has gone to building relationships with the children and their families. He uses this knowledge to get students to think more deeply about the books they read using carefully thought out questions and real life ‘hooks’ that get the students invested in the book. 

Evie has always loved reading but now she is powering through books at an alarming rate and has become pretty ‘chummy’ with the local bookstore owner and the librarian who are choosing books ready for her next visit. 

I have been ‘banging on’ about data a bit lately but if you analyse this story, the creative way in which this teacher is gathering evidence about these kids is awesome. 

Ryan Martin

Ryan Martin is an experienced school leader with a proven track record in behaviour management, leadership and coaching. He has a sharp focus on changing the trajectory of students from highly complex and disadvantaged backgrounds. Ryan has a passion for education but you might also find him, surfing, skating or tinkering around with old cars.

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