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Teaching Inquiry 2016

{ What strategies can I use to engage and motivate
students during a reading programme?
Red= Well below
Orange= Below

What do I know?
Issue 1:
100% of Yr 3 students are below or well below the
National Standards in Reading
{ Year 3 Girls
{ Year 3 Boys

HFW 37/50 26/50 34/50 39/50 HFW 32/50 35/50 30/50

L/S 18/26 16/26 20/26 20/26 L/S 16/26 17/26 15/26

Vowel 2/5 1/5 3/5 3/5 Vowel 3/5 3/5 2/5

Blends 2/26 2/26 4/26 8/26 Blends 5/28 3/28 5/28

Dec. Pics Pics Pics Pics Dec. Pics only Pics only Pics only
only only only only

Year 3 students are my targets, as majority are reading at a Level 4/5.

They all lack:

-High Frequency Word knowledge -Blends knowledge
-Letter/sound knowledge -Decoding strategies
-Vowel sounds knowledge
Issue 2:
A group of 4 boys in particular, are thoroughly unengaged in
independent reading activities, and have a negative attitude
towards Reading.

 EMH- He was with the teacher for  VA- He was found to be off task 84%
28% of the time. He was found to be of the time. *NOTE he spent part of
off task 42% of the time. With only this time hiding in the library shelf -
having 43 mins to do independent completely and utterly off task!)
activities, he was found to be off task
for 25.2 mins (58% of the total time
to do independent activities.)
 LB- He was found to be off task 92%  SH- He was found to be off task 84%
of the time. of the time.

Long story short…majority of independent
time is being spent off-task.
Hmmm… what to do now?
Issue 1: Many students are well below the National Standards in Reading, particularly Year 3 students.

Teaching of
Knowledge and
Strategies? How
long for?

Targeted Location of
Follow-up Reading
Activities? Lesson?

Reshuffling of
Wait Time? Phonics
Researchers suggest that Explicit teaching of knowledge and strategies
“‘enables’ students to know what is of primary relevance” (Edwards-Groves,
2002). By explicitly teaching knowledge and strategies, students know
exactly what it is they are learning, and have a chance to practice
following the lesson as they read.

I talked with Liz Hansen (RTLit) about structuring a lesson to enable me
to teach the knowledge and strategies students need, followed by the
opportunity for students to practice knowledge and strategies during the
act of reading.

To help develop these skills, Liz has modelled several
sessions for me through-out the year. Teaching of
Knowledge and
Surprising to see students have very low Strategies? How
level knowledge and decoding strategies. long for?
I’ve found teaching these skills explicitly
have had an impact on students levels and
knowledge in particular has increased. Confidence and
ability in decoding and using a range of strategies is increasing
Researchers suggest ‘Wait Time’ is a crucial skill as a teacher
to use in the classroom; increases chances students will
actually have a go, quality of answers increase, and allows
students time to search for required information (Stahl, 1994).

I was finding students were appealing as soon as they got
stuck and straight away, I tended to jump in and tell them the

Providing ‘Wait Time’ has dramatically
increased students confidence in ability
to apply the knowledge and strategies Wait Time?
they know. They are beginning to tap
into their bank of knowledge and
strategies and having a go at applying them
independently and gaining a better understanding of
what works well when.
With our new approach to learning in the classroom through
Play-Based Learning, students were becoming very distacted
by the construction and role-paly area in the classroom as it is
directly next to the teaching table.

We discussed about undertaking guided sessions elsewhere
as a class. A suggestion was made to do them on the mat. I
found taking sessions there, the students became less
distracted as we were away from the chaos, and most of all
were more relaxed. As a result, students are willing to take

Location of
more risks and are more confident
Reading when sounding out words, and are
Lesson? more focused and engaged in the
We began the year doing Yolanda Soryll’s Phonics beginning
at Stage 2 to recap all letter and vowel sounds as many lacked
this knowledge. We then began looking at Stage 5 . I began
teaching this stage from the suggested order, but found that
this knowledge, didn’t match to Liz’s suggested knowledge in
her guide. I began jumping between the stages to teach the
lower level knowledge students need, that are found in Stage
6 and above.
Students are beginning to make the connections between
Phonics and Reading, and are becoming much more
confident when chunking and sounding
Reshuffling of
Phonics out unknown words. I have also
Lessons? begun Guided sessions recapping
these sounds and corresponding
words from Phonics to build on these
Follow-up activities began with worksheets to practice the
explicitly taught knowledge and comprehension. Throughout
the year, as I’ve implemented different approaches to
independent tasks, I have adapted these where a lot of
comprehension work is undertaken during and at the
conclusion of lessons during small group discussions, and
follow-ups have become game based.

Students confidence in recalling explicitly taught knowledge
has dramatically increased, and as the follow-ups are game-
based, students are much more involved
and engaged and don’t procrastinate, Targeted
resulting in less behaviour issues also. Follow-up
Hmmm… what to do now?
Issue 2: A group of 4 boys in particular, are thoroughly unengaged in independent reading activities

Game-based Play-based
Approach?? Approach??

Thematic Hands-on
Approach?? Approach??
Initially, I introduced Daily 5 using the
concept of MAHI. I set targeted Must Do’s and
Can Do’s.

Students were thoroughly unengaged and
unmotivated. TKI suggests that "a lack of
engagement can be one of the first signs that a
student in your class is not going
to experience success with their learning – and may
be a strong signal that something in the way you
are teaching is not working for that student, or
group of students.”

Something had to change!
I began investigating a Thematic approach to teaching: where
students lead an inquiry topic throughout the day, with
literacy and numeracy being integrated.
However, although I was very keen for this approach, I have
students working at very low levels in reading, so would need
a tonne of support. I just felt that this approach wasn't right
for my kids at the moment, but it something I would love to
try one day. 

I tried a hands on approach instead. After Hands-on
3/4 of a term using this approach to Approach??
independent activities, some of the activities
weren't in fact very knowledge focused
and it was hard to incorporate other
learning than just HF words. Thematic
Students however, did appear to Approach??
enjoy this approach.
Here’s what they had to say:

These were some comments made about the activities:

"I like finger painting because its more fun that writing
and its colourful“ 78.4% of students like the new
Hands-on Activities

"I like blocks building because I can make lots of cool

"I think the pastels were fun because the bright colours
looks cool on the black“

"I like the beads because they were tricky to thread, but I 8.6% of students liked some of
the new Hands-on Activities
got better at making words“

"I like making funny sentences out of the dominos“

“I liked that I could choose my own activity”

"I liked making words then taking photos with the
magnets" 13% of kids didn't like the
Hands-on activities and prefer
the Must Do /Can Do Activities
I discussed with the students about a games based approach
where they learn through playing games. They thought this
would be fun, but get boring if playing different games all
day. I decided to use this approach for follow up work.
Students were much more motivated that doing worksheets
and because they were using this new knowledge in more of a
context, I found they seemed to pick up on it much quicker.

This still didn’t solve my problem of another
approach to independent activities. So after
Game-based discussion with my mentor, she suggested
a play-based approach. And so my
investigations into this began.

As you know, this approach is all about developing all areas of the
curriculum through play, as well as developing Key Competencies.

As a class, we sat down and discussed this new concept and the reasons
behind it. All kids were on board and keen. We brainstormed different
areas of the classroom that they wanted and began planning together
from there:

• sand area
• dress ups
• vet/doctors area
• tank for animals
• letter writing

This approach has been wonderful! I have begun to see all students
focused and engaged and socialising and problem solving with others.
The RTLB returned after setting this up and couldn’t give me any graphs
to compare with initial data, due to all students being on task 100% of the
time. Student’s have also been coming to the mat much more relaxed and
more focused in their learning, knowing they can return to the same
What does the data look like now?
 Year 3 Girls  Year 3 Boys

HFW 50/50 50/50 50/50 50/50 HFW 50/50 45/50 50/50

L/S 26/26 26/26 26/26 26/26 L/S 26/26 26/26 26/26

Vowel 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 Vowel 5/5 5/5 5/5

Blends 28/28 28/28 28/28 28/28 Blends 28/28 28/28 28/28

Dec. Pics/ Pics/ Pics/ Pics/ Dec. Pics/ Pics/ Pics/
chunk chunk chunk chunk chunk chunk chunk

Although students are still well below or below, their
knowledge and ability to decode words has improved
dramatically. Several Yr 3 students have moved from being
well below to below. YAY!!!
Over all, I have found teaching students knowledge explicitly and then
allowing them to practice as they read and in a game format, we have
filled many gaps in their fundamental Reading knowledge. In addition,
ditching the prescribed Phonics program and teaching Phonics based on
students needs has also led to major improvements in chunking.

In regards to independent activities, students are much more focused and
engaged. There is a purpose for their learning and are practicing literacy
and numeracy concepts in context. This has allowed them to develop their
key competency skills, enhance understanding of fundamental knowledge
and develop their fine and gross motor skills.