Friday 28 August 2015

RIC Reading Lesson Starters

RIC starters are short tasks at the beginning of a whole-class reading session which help children practise the most important reading skills.  RIC stands for Retrieve, Interpret and Choice.  These activities require children to read, watch, observe or listen to a stimulus, often a piece of media, and then answer some questions.  Below, I will introduce the stimuli, three questions and how to write them before explaining how the logistics of the activities work in my classroom.  I will show a RIC based on a video and come up with some potential questions which could go with it however you can view over forty examples of RIC activities on this blog post

The Stimulus
This can be absolutely anything but here are some examples of what we have used:
  • movie clip
  • trailer
  • poem
  • song
  • paragraph from book
  • blurb
  • photograph
  • cartoon
  • unusual object
  • front cover of a book/dvd/cd
  • TV clip
  • jingle
  • advertisement - poster and TV
  • newspaper and magazine article
  • image from book/newspaper/magazine
  • short interview script.
The Questions
The questions are labelled R, I and C, standing for Retrieve, Interpret and Choice.  
Retrieve - This question must be something that all children can access and answer.  It should be something very clear because this question helps children to realise that a lot of reading questions are obvious - they just have to retrieve it.  It might be a number, a colour, something the children have to count, a fact or something they must spot or listen out for.  
Examples: How many birds are in the video?  What colour is Juliet's dress?  How many ballet shoes are made each year? When does this film get released?  
Interpret - This question should require children to use clues from actions or events.  The answer should not be obvious in the media but should require some deduction and/or inference.  Questions about feelings or reasons behind actions are quite common.  With a sensible guess, children should be able to have a good attempt at this question.  The RIC logo for interpret has him holding a key.  This is because children have to unlock the answers from the clues given.
Examples: Why did he go down that road? How is the rabbit feeling? How did they get out? 
Choice - This is the hardest question to write - please be careful with this one.  It is important to say that this question should always be about the creator's choice, not the choice of a character in the movie.  Questions about a character's choice would be Interpret questions because children use clues from actions and events.  Think about the creative elements which have been used to have an impact on the observer.  The question should encourage children to think about why the creator made that choice so they can transfer this skill to thinking about the author's choice in books. 
Examples: Why did the director use this music?  How has the composer made you feel scared? Why did the producers put the information in text instead of spoken word? 

The Delivery
In our lessons, this is how the RIC starter is delivered.  
  • Children stick the RIC into their Reading books - this means the questions and potentially the stimulus appear alongside the questions.  This is to help them remember the questions while they are answers because sometimes there is something else on the board.  It also helps parents, staff and OfSTED (boo!) see what the questions and stimulus were for that activity.
  • Children look at, watch, listen to or read the stimulus. 
  • Children answer the questions - all children are expected to answer the Retrieve and attempt or guess the Interpret question.  Children move onto the Choice question if they have time; normally they do.  
  • Children switch to a gel pen.  Read more about this here
  • Use lolly-sticks or a similar method to hear children's responses to the Retrieve and Interpret questions.  Children mark and correct their own answers and we go over a quick explanation if some are confused. 
  • Children put up their hands to offer their response to the Choice question.  Lots are often keen to do this and we go over different answers in a lot of detail, discussing as a class why they are correct or not.  Most of the response time is spent on this.  Children mark their own and add to their answers from the responses given.  We praise children for using their gel pens to write successful answers and they respond to this.  Sometimes we combine answers to write a perfect response and children all write this down. 
This takes between ten and twenty minutes to complete in lessons however sometimes, when there is a lot to get from a stimulus, we will have stand-alone RIC sessions which are longer.  

The video below is an interesting one in terms of how it is shot.
Potential Questions:
R: How many ballet shoes are used each year by the Royal Ballet?  How much does the Royal Ballet spend on shoes each year? What colour are the ballet shoes? How do they stay on the dancers' feet? What tools does the first worker use? 
I: What is the camera being? Why does the screen go dark halfway through? Why does the Royal Ballet spend so much on shoes each year? 
C: Why did the Royal Ballet make this video? (Focus on the word "support" at the end).  What is unusual about how the director chose to shoot this video? (Perspective of the shoe).  Why did the director chose to shoot this video from the perspective of a shoe?

Children would have something similar to this stuck in their books:

To find out more about RIC and our move from carousel guided reading to whole-class lessons or to download the resources and logos for free, click here

Sunday 23 August 2015

Whole-Class Reading FAQs

Recently, my school has moved away from carousel "guided reading" lessons and we have been teaching reading skills in whole-class lessons. It has been an interesting process and we are still adapting and tweaking to improve; it is by no means a perfect solution. I've blogged about it throughout the way and have shared resources but people often have questions about certain elements. Here, I will try and answer some of the most common questions.  Some answers will link to previous blog posts so all links will open in a new tab so you can keep reading here as well. 

What is whole-class reading?
Very simply, it is when reading skills are taught in lessons similar to maths, science, art and music, with the teacher teaching the whole class and ensuring all children are challenged through differentiation of language, instructions, activities etc. as appropriate.  

Why move to whole-class reading?
Rhoda covered this in her post called Our Solution To The Problems With Guided Reading.  The two biggest reasons people consider moving is because it takes up much less teacher planning and preparation time and children produce a lot more work than in carousel lessons. 

How do whole-class reading lessons work?
I've answered that in this blog post. You can see a sample plan and download a blank version and all the resources for the lessons.

What is RIC?
RIC is a character which I made to help children remember the most important reading skills: retrieval, interpretation and commenting on authors' choices.  He is a Screen Bean and is used in the logos I made to brand the main reading objectives of the new curriculum.  You can download all the RIC resources here.

What are the main reading objectives for the new curriculum?
For KS2, I have adapted to the old APP AFs for the new curriculum. They are: retrieve, interpret, (author's) choice, viewpoint, perform, review. You can read more about how they came about in this post.

Where do you get the learning objectives from?
We take them directly from the new National Curriculum, using the RIC assessment sheets to help us.  You can see more about the assessment sheets and download them here

What is a RIC starter? 
It is a short activity used at the beginning of reading lessons to help children use the important reading skills (retrieve, interpret, choice) to answer questions about some form of media; it could be a short paragraph, a poem, a song, a film clip or trailer, a photograph or cartoon or one of the short films from The Literacy Shed.  The idea is that all children can answer the retrieve and interpret questions and that children add to their answer as they hear others' responses.  The "Choice" question can be about the author's choice or a creative choice made by a director, photographer, lyricist or artist.  There are a lot of examples of RIC starters to view and download here and a whole blog post about creating RIC starters here

How often and how long?
Mostly, we have one-hour lessons twice a week. Sometimes we have had three sessions in a week and occasionally we have long RIC sessions (half an hour rather than the normal ten minutes) if there's a really good one from which we can get a lot of high-quality discussion. 

Are the lessons extra to your English/writing lessons or as part of those?
This really requires a whole other blog post about how our English lessons are organised.  Our reading lessons are in addition to any writing or SPAG/grammar lessons. 

What about the really poor readers?
You need to ensure every child is challenged at their level.  That means, for children who struggle to read, you may need to adapt the activity so they can still meet the lesson objective.  It could mean using a smaller extract or changing some of the words.  They might have a matching activity or filling in the gaps to simple retrieval sentences rather than writing a paragraph in response (as your highest ability might).  Their activities tend to focus more on word reading and understanding rather than the interpretation of texts.  Think about what you would do in maths for those who struggle and transfer that to reading; it's not that dissimilar.  To help you, there's an example of a lesson with some very poor readers here.  Also, it's important to mention that these children still get phonics input each week or day (as appropriate to them) on top of the reading lessons in class.

How are the higher ability stretched?
We have found that whole-class lessons demand more complex written responses to texts from children. We have seen analytical paragraphs from 8-year-olds, including quotes and explanations of texts, that we ourselves wouldn't have written until we were at secondary school. 

How do you assess Reading in whole-class lessons?
I feel there are three types of assessment which we do in relation to reading lessons. Firstly, during the lesson we circulate and give advice, address misconceptions and ensure children are suitably challenged.  As with other lessons, we look at books and mark according to children's success and next steps.  Finally, we get our reading assessment data using the RIC assessment sheets which you can download and read about in this post here.

How do you choose texts?
There are three main ways in which we choose texts. Either we focus on word level, our current theme or the children's interests.  Books like Charlotte's Web and Matilda have been chosen because they contain many words from the year 3/4 word list and language of a similar complexity as well as being just above the general reading ability. We have chosen texts about ancient Egypt or Rome when studying those civilisations and likewise have used river poems or mountain-based news articles during geography themes.  We have also been known to plan single lessons on subjects like ballet, horses, Lionel Messi and dragons at the request of children - they love learning reading skills through their favourite things! With all texts, we use the curriculum word list as a basis for the difficulty we look for.

How do you resource books/texts?
We have used a variety of texts in year four over the last two years of whole-class reading. We've done single lessons or a short series of lessons based on poems, song lyrics, newspaper articles, online articles and blog posts, none of which require any money.  Also, being a school, we have made use of the 5% of books that we are allowed to copy so have copied sections of books for each child - most of the time is this a paragraph or double page.  Each year, we have bought a half class set of books to focus on for a few weeks.  We have 16+ copies of Charlotte's Web, Matilda and Romans on the Rampage.  These we have bought with travelling book fair money or through the English (Reading) budget.  When we are focusing on one book for a period of time, we let the children know in advance what it will be and some of them choose to bring their own copy in or to get it out their local library; this increases the amount of copies we have in school. 

Who reads the text?
Sometimes it is the children independently, or in pairs.  At times children read paragraphs aloud or read a sentence at a time and occasionally the adults read the text aloud or play an audio version of the text.  It all depends on what the objective is and what is most appropriate for what we want children to achieve. 

What do KS1 do?
I will try and get a KS1 year leader to write a bit about what they do when we start back in September but I'll do my best. Currently, our KS1 children have daily phonics lessons; we use RWI and children are streamed.  Year One have added in a few whole-class phonics sessions to ensure all children get exposure to all the relevant content for the (stupid) phonics screening.  KS1 children also do some RIC activities as a class every week. 

How do whole-class lessons fit into your timetable?
We have two hour-long reading lessons each week and we fit in two independent reading sessions.  During these, teachers and TAs listen to children read and we can pick up on any misconceptions and help children choose new books.  Below is a sample weekly timetable so you can see how this fits in around other subjects.  English-based activities are in pink.  Maths-based are in blue. For Theme lessons, I've indicated which subject is being covered.
Click to enlarge.

Can I come and see a lesson?
The simple answer to this is yes you can.  I'm near Brighton, if you can make it to me then I'm happy for you to come and watch a lesson, nosey in some books and have a chat. Many people already have.  Contact me on Twitter or email me if that's something you'd be interested in. 

If you have a question that hasn't been answered here, please leave it in the comments below and I will add it in!