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


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. This and all your other posts on Guided Reading are really helpful. I feel inspired to try the whole class approach next week.

  2. I have just gone back o teaching Year 1 after 6 years in EYFS and I am shocked how GR has not evolved. Reading your blog is a joy - thank you. No more carousel for me. Any tips or lesson plan for Year1 would be gratefully received.

    1. This would help me out too. Any year 1/2 tips?

  3. So you stick the slip in their book and they answer the RIC questions underneath ?

  4. I love this idea and the clip. I'm definitely going to be having a go at fitting this into my timetable.

  5. This is a great way to move from groups to whole class and build on the children's skills. Some really useful resources - Thank you for sharing.

  6. Hi Jo,
    I would really appreciate a bit of advice please. I am an NQT in year 3 and have to teach comprehension for an hour three times a week. I haven't really been given any direction other than to start with reading with RIC for 10 minutes every lesson. I was going to set up a carousel but after reading your post I am no longer sure what to do. Unfortunately we don't have the budget to fund whole class or even half a class guided reading books so I was just wondering what do you think is the nest for me to do? Any advice or pointers much needed! TIA Gemma

  7. Hi Jo,
    I'm new to your blog and what a brilliant discovery! Welcome back motivation! I teach boys and have done for many years. I use the National Geographic Picture of the Day in a similar way to RIC at the beginning of each lesson. The boys make one observation, one inference and one prediction. Quick and easy but plenty of skills being developed.

  8. Hi x how would the RIC be applied to Early Years where children are just beginning to read? Thanks.


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