Ben Connor, well known by Reading Rockers on Twitter as @bbcteaching, has joined us on #RRBlog to share his thoughts on #ReadingRocks16. If you’re wondering whether to join us this year at #ReadingRocks_17 then read on…..
Reading Rocks was my first ‘proper’ Saturday Twitter Conference. The first experience I had of sitting in a room full of people, slightly unsure whether I knew them or not. I endured that strange moment of panic when Social Media and ‘Real Life’ blur. Luckily I had already arranged to meet up with some Twitter Friends which made the whole process easier.
Settled in and feeling comfortable, I was able to enjoy the day. One of the best things about these sorts of events is the people. Reading Rocks was buzzing from the get-go. I walked in (too early as usual) and sat with a coffee to peruse my bag of goodies. As people arrived the buzz began. Quite a lot of people were non-Twitter, but everyone there had given their Saturday up to learn more about teaching Reading.
All the talks were wonderful, but two stand out in my mind. The first was a session led by Rhoda Wilson (@templarwilson) on Whole Class Reading. This was an idea that I had never even considered after years of Guided Reading Carousel muddles. Rhoda spoke confidently and with experience on her teaching of reading as a whole class. She introduced us to ERIC (Explain, Retrieve, Interpret, Choice) Questions as a way of focussing on specific skills each week. Another idea that shone through was teaching Reading as you would every other lesson. Not separating out into groups for half an hour each day, but a focussed time together learning about the same topic. Her starter ideas were brilliant, as well as the opportunity to talk with the whole class about books. As someone who always found Carousels stressful, the idea of Whole Class Reading lessons was appealing. I wasn’t the only one in the room nodding sagely.
The second talk that stood out was Mat Tobin’s (@mat_at_brooks) Keynote Talk on Picturebook Codes. As with many KS2 teachers, I had long thought that short Picturebooks belonged solely in EYFS. Within a few short minutes, Mat had roundly disabused this idea. Showing examples from ‘Not Now Bernard’ and ‘Gorilla’, Mat unlocked the secrets of the ‘Picturebook Code’- the set of rules followed by some influential illustrators. This in turn unlocked the potential of illustration to develop children’s understanding of colour, character position, symmetry etc. Mat demonstrated that an understanding of illustration added another dimension to Comprehension and provided pupils with a wider appreciation of Literature.
After the Event
I always leave CPD Conferences feeling refreshed- new ideas, new contacts, new friends. Usually what I learn takes a while to filter into my teaching, and sometimes it never does. However, the week after RR16 I ditched Guided Reading Carousels (gladly). The ideas I had heard had opened my eyes to a different way of doing things. From those ideas over the next few weeks, my Friday Reading Extravaganza emerged. I welded the ideas of Whole Class Reading and Picturebook codes together with my own ideas, and tailored to my class the process is having a big impact.
Thank you Ben. We look forward to hearing more about the Friday Reading Extravaganza in another guest #RRBlog coming soon!