Reading is the foundation upon which other skills are based. It is this philosophy that led the international English team to launch a ‘structured reading programme’ last semester. The scheme is designed to give our students regular frequent opportunity to practice reading, as well as to create the habit of reading for pleasure. It is an educational philosophy begins in a classroom, but with a clear belief in a holistic, wider approach to learning. What begins as a task, can become a habit and in the end can be a pleasure.
Structured Morning Reading takes place on a Tuesday, Wednesday and a Friday between 8am and 8.45am, for all Middle School students. The students are divided into three broad reading ability levels using Cambridge test results which produce a CEFR level.
This is an internationally recognized system which ensures teachers select an appropriately challenging book for the class. The three classes are taught by Mr. Rees, Ms. Mackenzie and Mr. Hayward. Typically, each reading group finishes a text every two weeks, before moving on to the next, as chosen by each group's teacher.
Over a year, a student will read around twenty books specifically because of this programme, and the expectation is that the programme will both encourage and enable our students to choose to read more widely and independently. The Morning Reading Programme takes place outside of the standard class hours, which has the effect of adding an additional nine hours of English instruction, per month, at the school. Both our teachers and our students have embraced this extra effort.
The value can be seen in improved CEFR reading scores across all groups in Middle School. This is a significant achievement given the fact the programme has been running for less than six months. However, it can also be seen in the quality of discussions students are now able to have about the books they read, as well as their written work. Students that could not read at all have begun to. Students who were struggling are now reading with much more confidence.
Students who were already quite good (if unpracticed at reading) are now much better. Our best students were good readers who are now beginning to actually orate. The Structured Morning Reading Programme has proven to be beneficial for all ability levels at our school and this is exactly the kind of outcome that we expect. Our efforts must reach all of our students, not just some. It is a guiding philosophy, and the Structured Morning Reading Programme is an excellent reflection of it.