Sharp reading

I attended a Sharp reading workshop run by Hilton Avery and found a lot of his approach interesting and in-line with my own thinking. I think the main learning I took from the session was that the teacher does too much of the 'work' during a standard reading session and that we need to avoid the 'teachable moment' when a great discussion starts which is interesting but is not keeping the focus on reading.

In Sharp reading, there is a specific routine to follow. The aim of this is to habitualise this routine in the students' minds in order to raise their reading ability.

Here is a useful summary of some key considerations when running this programme:

  • Introduce your students to this new way of processing information by providing clear explanations for all the pieces. 
  • Get comfortable with the routine, put in the mileage so that it doesn’t feel clunky any more. 
  • Focus on students “Having a Go” and getting your responses sharp for “Clearing the Roadblocks” and “Convince Me”. 
  • Work on the PACE so that you are managing to get close to four paragraphs of text plus the book ends in 30 mins which is a good indication that the students are getting the practice they need.
Having tried to implement this over the few months since I completed the course, I have found it to be a generally really good system. The assessment sheets with the numbering system of 1, 2-, 2+, 3 has worked really well and gives me some really good information about the students reading behaviours. I'd like to get better at taking more notes of observed behaviours as well as doing the scoring.  

However, I find it really difficult to get through the paragraphs in the time I have. Looking back through the course material tonight, I think that I didn't stick to the suggestion of starting with reading material just under their reading age so this has caused a few too many roadblocks which has slowed down the groups. I'll look to change this soon.  

Another challenge for me has been the fact that this method can reduce the text down to sentence level and I still want to focus on the text as a whole and look at features across the text. I particularly want to do this with my top reading groups. Therefore, I would like to sign up for an online module for Levels 4 and 5 in order to see the next steps according to the Sharp Reading approach for these kids.


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