You’ve just started a new school term and discover a group of children in your class has little or no experience in reading and speaking English. What would you do to make reading more engaging, accessible and fun? Do you:
a) brainstorm for ideas
b) speak to your colleagues to share ideas
c) identify common learning gaps
d) review current reading resources in class or
e) try a new reading game or app
Whether you picked a, b, c, d or e, you’re correct! There are no fixed solutions because every class and child is unique. It also takes time to address and implement strategies to improve reading skills. There are, however, measures teachers can take to motivate pupils to read and learn. Here are 5 proven steps.
Step 1: What Are Pupils Struggling With? Identify Learning Gaps
Identifying learning gaps helps us understand why a child is struggling. If left unaddressed, these disparities become wider and could cause them to lose confidence in school.
Does the child live in an English-speaking environment? Does he or she have access to resources at home? Reasons for learning gaps are commonly linked to a child’s family background and home environment.
If there are children in your class who come from homes with little or no access to English resources, tap into reading resources from school that children can bring and use at home.
Reading assessments can also be effective when used with the intention to help children become better readers. It helps identify learning gaps and place children at appropriate reading levels.
Reading Eggs, an online reading resource for learners aged 5 to 13, offers reading assessments that place them on an appropriate level, so they receive activities and lessons aligned to their level of understanding.
Step 2: What Areas Do You Want To Improve
After identifying learning gaps, the next step is to envision how success looks like in your classroom. What do you hope to achieve and how will you define success? Keep in mind these goals are for narrowing learning gaps you have identified earlier in Step 1.
The goal can be something broad at the start. For example, to foster a stronger interest in reading, or to see higher class participation when it comes to reading activities.
Step 3: Brainstorm For Ideas
Once you’ve set your goals, the next step is to think about how to achieve them. If you want to foster stronger interest in reading, one way is to lean on trending topics or common interests. Or let children learn from each other by creating a peer learning system where you assign a reading buddy to a child who has less experience with English.
Another way of expanding children’s understanding is through cross-curricular learning – connecting topics between different subjects. Learning about classification in science? Why not let pupils identify and classify words that begin with the same sound.
During music, ask children to share their favourite songs and learn the lyrics together as a class. Think outside the book. The possibilities are endless!
Technology is also a great motivational tool to improve reading skills and engagement. Multimedia options allow children to engage and interact with text in more ways, offering more opportunities to overcome reading challenges.
For example, struggling readers can choose to listen to an audio version of a book and follow printed text. Reading Eggs provides young learners with this feature.
You can have access to over 3,500 books of all reading levels in Reading Eggspress (part of Reading Eggs suite) online library, including a Read to Me function for lower year level books. The Teacher Library in Reading Eggs also allows you to assign books easily to each child.
Step 4: Review Current Reading Resources
If your school is already using a reading resource, it’s time to review and assess its effectiveness. How long are your pupils spending on it? When using these resources, are they motivated, focused, or disinterested?
At King Fahad Academy, London, teachers noticed children’s engagement were low while using their current reading resource. Some of their pupils also come from environments where English was not their first language. They had less access to reading support at home as their parents had no or limited English.
The school decided to run a trial using a new interactive and engaging reading resource that could be used both at school and home.
Step 5: Online Reading Games
Children learn better through fun. Online games keep children engaged with interactive multimedia elements, and promote creativity when children create their own characters. When used as part of a wider reading system, online reading games are not only efficient at teaching early literacy skills, it also develops children’s computer fluency, a vital skill in today’s digital world.
The more time spent on-task means children advance through the lessons and enjoy greater reading success. Reading Eggs makes learning to read easy and fun by combining digital books with over 500 interactive online reading games, motivating rewards and songs.
The Preferred Reading Resource For Children and Teachers
To encourage children from diverse backgrounds and abilities to read more in school and at home, King Fahad Academy introduced Reading Eggs (including Readings Eggspress) to 59 children, from Year 5 to Year 6. Children spent 2 weeks in school and 1 week at home using them.
When asked to choose which they preferred, the school’s current reading resource or Reading Eggs, almost 90% of the pupils chose Reading Eggs.
A pupil at the school shares, “I chose Reading Eggs because if you don’t understand, it will let you have another go and it tells you what to do.”
See how King Fahad Academy boosted student reading engagement in less than a month
One of the features that was a big hit was The Stadium. Found within Reading Eggspress, it allows pupils to enter different 1-minute events (Spelling Sprint, Grammar Skating, Vocabulary Pursuit) and play against peers from their class, school, or around the world.
When children first discovered The Stadium, they started telling their teachers and peers. Within a week, usage of The Stadium skyrocketed.
Teachers involved found Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress accessible and easy to navigate. They noticed children were engaged and excited to see their own progress. Some of them even sent their login details to their own emails, so they can save it and use it at home!
“It is engaging and easy to navigate. Children have been eagerly reading independently. They are keen to progress and do more at home. ‘Word Trees’ and ‘Dictionary’ activities are excellent resources to support Year 5 and Year 6 objectives,” adds Haneen Aljaaf, language coordinator at King Fahad Academy.
Teachers also agreed that the phonics element supports learning and teaching in school. With all the positive feedback from teachers and pupils, it’s no surprise that reading engagement levels soared.
Reading Games Can Support Classroom Goals
Reading games can be highly effective at supporting early literacy skills.
To run a successful reading curriculum, it will also need to include instructions in other core areas of reading such as phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. Reading Eggs combines the above core areas of reading.
When King Fahad Academy noticed unmotivated readers struggling to read, they first identified the learning gaps and looked at areas they wanted to improve.
Next, they reviewed their current reading resource and tried a new reading resource that could be used at school and at home, with a wide variety of reading games and digital books. In less than a month, the school saw positive results and reading engagement spiked.