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Literacy Improvement with Guided Reading

Al Hidayah Islamic School has embraced whole school improvement thanks to the hard work of Principal, Robert Mayze and his dedicated staff. Early results are positive and, a sense of excitement from teachers and students is evident.

The school’s whole school improvement journey began in November 2016 when AISWA literacy Consultants Chris Witt and Julie Broz were invited to work with the whole staff on the development of a literacy plan. To begin the staff reflected on the school’s philosophy and core beliefs related to literacy learning. In addition, the examination of NAPLAN data and a staff survey provided evidence to guide and select key focus areas.

The staff jointly decided that they needed to establish key targets in three areas for improvement:

- Reading Comprehension
- Guided Reading as a pedagogical approach
- Differentiating the learning for all students.

The school’s improvement plan documents the three key focus areas and it was decided to implement Sharp Reading across the school as a key strategy to drive the improvements identified.

Sharp Reading is essentially an approach to guided reading and it was evident that it would successfully support all of the targeted areas. Sharp Reading is not a new reading scheme. It is an approach and a routine to enable effective guided reading to occur in classrooms. The creators, Hilton Ayrey and Brian Parker from New Zealand have developed a resource and an approach that is both teacher and student friendly. After just 2 hours of professional learning teachers can begin implementation immediately. Accredited Sharp Reading trainers, Jill Buckrell, Kerry Handley and Chris Witt provided the initial training and also follow-up in-class coaching and support. This involved the teachers learning about how Sharp Reading targets readers who have developed fluency with decoding and now have the available headspace to process text at a much deeper level as they construct meaning and think critically. Sharp Reading guided and shared reading routines are quite unique and shift the locus of control from the teacher to the students, providing them with the opportunity to truly habitualise comprehension skills and transfer them into everyday reading. Sharp Readers do not just talk about the metacognitive reading strategies that they should be using, they spend most of their time using them!




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It wasn’t long before significant and positive improvements were noted. One impact that was almost immediate was the attitude and enthusiasm from the students themselves. The Sharp Reading routines have really lifted motivation and eagerness during the daily reading lessons. When asked, students talk positively about Sharp Reading.

Comments from students
Here are some actual comments from some of the students:

“I would rather do guided reading rather than English skills because I believe that guided reading has helped improve my reading and it is more beneficial.”

“It helped me understand what a text is about by looking at the clues in the sentence.”

“It helped me to find what the meaning is by looking deeply at the sentences.”

“Guided reading helped me understand difficult words I did not know before.”

“Guided reading helped me visualise the sentences about the text and helped me with my expression.”

“Guided reading helps my vocabulary and helps me to think for myself and not just copy what the texts says. It helps me to be a more independent reader."

“Guided reading helps my vocabulary and helps me to think for myself and not just copy what the texts says. It helps me to be a more independent reader. That’s why I love guided reading”

The next step for the school now is to verify the school-wide gains and improvement using Reading NAPLAN assessments. This key data will be incorporated into their literacy plan and used to inform further improvements.

For more information or assistance about whole school literacy planning or Sharp Reading contact Chris Witt, cwitt@ais.wa.edu.au

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