Reading incorporates two activities. But what is the most successful way of pulling these two elements together?
Most of us working in primary schools will have witnessed children who have the ability to decode texts at an appropriate level for their age, but who find it hard to grasp and hold the meaning of that text at the same time.
As a result they cannot engage in activities that build upon their reading, because they simply don’t have enough of an immediate understanding of what they have read.
In such cases what is happening is that the brain is working to translate each pattern of letters into a word, but because so much effort is put into this activity the brain does not then take the words of a phrase or sentence and convert those words into something meaningful.
As a result there is little ability for the child to answer any questions about what has been read and (more worrying in the long term) there can be no enjoyment in reading. Reading is a chore to be got through, not something to be enjoyed.
Unfortunately, many resources that exist to help primary school children read, focus on helping children read the text, but don’t simultaneously focus on giving them something that is enjoyable to read.
And so it was to provide this additional vital element in primary school literacy that we have produced the new edition of Brilliant Activities for Reading Comprehension – Years 1 – 6
The books in this series contain a variety of types of comprehension passages ranging from newspaper articles and dialogues to plays, stories and poems. Each is followed by a series of enjoyable tasks for the children to undertake which test and stimulate their understanding of what they have read.
There is a lot more information about these books and their content on our website.
The books can be ordered either as a PDF for £13.99 or as a hardcopy book for £19.99. There is also the option to buy the hardcopy and PDF together at a discounted price.
What are the two activities that develop pupils’ ability with French far more effectively than any other?
The answer is, as you may already know, through the use of stories and through singing.
Because both stories and songs put the French the children hear and vocalise into a full context, the words become much more meaningful and become learned as part of sets of phrases which are a part of everyday experience.
As a result, the more you can encourage the children in your class to speak French sentences and to sing in French, the more rapidly they will progress.
Which in turn is why Learn French with Luc et Sophie is such a successful approach to the teaching of the language at KS2.
Each part of the course incorporates no fewer than 14 French storybooks written at the appropriate level along with creative teaching ideas to maximise the pupils’ ability to learn to speak the language.
Each story is topic-based using simple sentences based around key vocabulary and language structures.
And then, in addition, each unit contains an original song to reinforce vocabulary. Because the children will be happy to sing the songs over and over, the vocabulary and grammar becomes more deeply embedded within their consciousness.
Indeed, if you have ever noticed how children can pick up the lyrics of everything from nursery rhymes to popular songs you will appreciate just how incredibly powerful the rhyme and song element can be – especially when, as in this case, the songs are written to fit exactly with the vocabulary being learned.
The Learn French with Luc et Sophie course follows the Foreign Language Programmes of Study in the September 2014 National Curriculum for KS2 and is written with non-specialists in mind.
Full details of the Years 3 and 4 course can be found here while the Years 5 and 6 part of the course is explored here. In each case there are sample audio files of the songs and sample materials.
What is the most effective way of giving KS2 pupils an understanding of how maths actually works?
There is no doubt that the rote learning of times tables is helpful to most pupils. But for progress to be made beyond that point children also need to understand the meanings behind mathematical problems.
Perhaps the most effective way of encouraging children to think about such issue is to give them maths problems that need them to use their knowledge of the four basic functions to solve simple problems.
Of course this can be done through the classic, “A man goes to a shop three times and buys four items each time…” type of question. But before children are ready to enter into those conundrums, they need to be able to solve the maths problems in purely mathematical terms, without any words in the way.
And the most effective way of doing this is through missing digit puzzles in which the mathematical question is set out with one part of the problem missing.
Thus they can be presented with an additional problem in which part of the answer is written in, and one of the two numbers to be added together. They have to work out what is missing.
Later they can be asked for a number in the eight times table where the first number is between 1 and 6 and the last number is six.
The big benefit with this approach is that because the questions are presented as puzzles to be solved rather than maths to be learned, they are much more stimulating and attractive to most KS2 children – and they really do help the children progress towards a mastery of mathematics’ basic functions.
You can see examples of how this works on our website at: Missing digit puzzles for times tables
And there is more information about the book and its contents here.
You can order Missing Digit Puzzles on our website either as a PDF for £10.99 or as a hardcopy book for £16.50. There is also the option to buy the hardcopy and PDF together at a discounted price of £19.80.