Intent and Overview
In the last year we noticed that our children’s fluency levels and ability to answer retrieval style questions had declined, mainly due to continual disruption to education on site. In response, we have introduced the explicit teaching of prosody using the strategy of ‘echo-reading’ into our daily reading lessons. Children repeat modelled reading, focussing on how words are emphasised for effect and where pauses are taken. Research from the Herts for Learning reading project on the teaching of prosody has shown a consistent and positive impact. This approach will support children in reading unfamiliar texts and gaining a greater understanding of vocabulary, inferring information about characters’ thoughts and feelings, as well as rapid retrieval of facts.
Alongside this initiative, as part of our whole school action to develop reading comprehension, we plan questions following the VIPERS approach. Reading lessons take place four to five times a week, from Years 1-6. Interweaving the teaching of prosody (echo-reading) and the VIPERS comprehension approach, helps develop core comprehension skills needed to be a fluent and confident reader. Each letter stands for a different skill:
Vocabulary – We look at new vocabulary we encounter.
Together we find/create definitions as well as collect synonyms and antonyms to develop children’s range and understanding.
Infer – Inference can be a difficult skill for children to start. Children learn how to develop their own thoughts from clues in the text. If we think about it at the most basic level - the text may not mention the age of the man, but children may infer he is older because it mentions he has a bald patch. Or perhaps the text does not mention the time of day but states that it was dark outside, this means the children could assume it was night time or early hours of the morning. Once children have these basic skills they apply this through more challenging texts and scenarios.
Predict – Children are encouraged to make predictions about the text. This may be just from looking at the front cover or blurb or it could be that they make a prediction part way through the book. A prediction may be about the plot or character and children should be able to offer reasons for their prediction.
Explain – Explaining is an important skill. Children are demonstrating they can articulate themselves and they are demonstrating their understanding of what they have read or what they think. As they become more competent, they should be able to explain concisely and with carefully considered vocabulary.
Retrieve – Retrieval is about finding the answer in the text. Retrieval questions sometimes ask the children for the exact words from the text (sometimes referred to as find and copy questions). e.g. Find and copy the words which showed you Jim was feeling angry. Retrieval questions focus on a specific answer as opposed to just what you think.
Summarise: Children find this difficult, as they often want to retell the whole story or chapter in as much detail as possible. To summarise effectively, children need to identify the important points and make choices about which details to omit.
Sequence: This is an earlier reading skill where children are required to put the story (possibly pictures or sections) in the correct order. Children would be encouraged to use language such as first, next, then, after and finally.
Together the classes look at texts (or extracts) and sometimes photographs and video stimuli to get them engaged.
This approach means the stimulus is used for the whole class, initially focussing on oral questions and discussion of new vocabulary. They then have the opportunity to complete modelled and guided questions, followed by independent questions in their reading journals. Different question types are used to help the children understand the variety of ways information can be represented and to prepare them for End of Key Stage Tests.