April 13

Promoting Independent Reading

Every day my students need to read independently (I call it ‘Indepedendent Reading’ also referred to  DEAR time or USSR time). They have to read a chapter book of their choosing. My novels are broken into 3 levels, and at the beginning of the year I tell them which level of fiction matches the various PM reading levels.

We discuss ‘real readers’ v. ‘fake readers‘ and I have a chart that goes with this discussion. I provide a bookmark for each student and allow them to keep the chapter book they are reading in a tub on their desk, as reading a novel is often a task for early finishers.

I have a lot of other books on the bookshelf besides chapter books, but I find some students will always choose joke books, picture books, drawing books or non fiction texts. I understand that they love those sorts of books, but I want to ensure they are reading a range of texts at their instructional level, and can maintain the reading of a long text over a number of days or weeks.

But if I make them only read chapter books, when will all those other books get read?

There were two things I did to address this issue. I tell them they have to read a ‘chapter book’, not necessarily a novel. That way the non fiction fans can read the ‘Horrible Histories and Horrible Science’ books – still in a chapter book form. Also, each week one reading group gets to have ‘free choice reading’ – whereas for the whole week they can choose any book they want and also get to read on the cushions and wear the genre glasses. it was too hard changing groups each day for free choice reading, so rotating through the groups each week is less disruptive.

I had a few parents comment at the Parent Teacher Interviews that they have noticed their child has increased their level of interest in reading this year, so all the things I’m implementing must be working!

September 18

Pinning My Way Into Teacher Heaven

I don’t know about you, but I am loving Pinterest. Originally I loved it for food, fashion, beauty, and then travel, interiors, craft and gardens.

Finally I started loving it for Education!

So many great ideas, endearing and enticing photos, links to all sorts of blogs and websites. Very helpful and inspiring!

I made a board for School Inspiration. With iPads now featured in many schools, the iPad links are great too. As we teachers get super busy during term I find I just pin stuff to my board and then later (usually in holidays!) I can go and search through them properly, click the links and actually take it all in.

Here are some great Education Pinterest boards:

Ipad App Ideas

Educational Ideas

Teaching Reading


Here are some of my favourite educational pins:


August 7

Andy Griffiths rocks for older students

One of the best authors to read to older students (especially boys) is Andy Griffiths. I was introduced to his ‘Just’ Series way back in 1998 by a librarian I met on one of my prac teaching placements.

The series has become a firm favourite in my school library, was a secret weapon when casual teaching in London and guarantees whole class focus when I open one and start reading. Andy Griffiths writing style is extremely humorous, with enough quirky situations and toilet humour to engage reluctant readers. Just Stupid, Just Annoying and Just Tricking would have to be my favourites; stories of food fights in fancy restaurants, sealing up the shower cubicle to make a bath and swinging on the clothes line in the middle of the night.

His other books are equally as entertaining, including the ‘bum’ series, the ‘bad’ books and the ‘schooling around’ series. I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Andy Griffiths speak at a children’s literature festival, and he explained how he would take a simple idea, such as being locked out of the house, and expanding it with a lot of what ifs… (that keep getting sillier and sillier) What if I was in my undies?  What if the girl I liked came past?  What if I fell in the mud?  What if dad got locked outside with me too?  In the mud? In his undies?   You get the picture.

If you are looking for something to entertain a class, or encourage a reluctant older reader, get yourself a copy of one of Andy Griffiths books.