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Stage 1: Preparing for reading

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Stage 1

Preparing for reading

Some students may have difficulties reading independently or with sufficient comprehension to learn from texts used in the classroom. The first stage of the Learning through reading and writing strategies enables all students to follow and comprehend a text as it is read aloud.

Strategies in the ‘preparing for reading’ stage have been divided into two steps. Both steps require teachers to look closely at the text before reading in class commences.

Step 1

The first step is to discuss with students the background knowledge they need to access the text. Often this builds on knowledge that has been studied in preceding lessons.

Any text about a new concept will involve knowledge that is usually beyond the students’ experience. If it is a new topic, five or ten minutes may be needed to build up background knowledge before starting to read.

Step 2

The second step is to give students a step-by-step oral summary of the text, using terms that all students can understand.

The accompanying videos demonstrate the strategies in action across the four stages. Sample lessons based on these strategies have also been provided for Geography, History, PDHPE and Science.

Video transcript

Presenter (Dr Rose)

[Talking head]

In the science lesson shown here, a Year 8 class is studying an explanation of the water cycle. The teacher has read the text carefully and has identified two aspects of the cycle as water moving through the environment and changing state from liquid to gas and back to liquid. She has also identified three steps in the explanation, including evaporation of water from oceans, lakes and rivers, condensation of water vapour in clouds, and precipitation of water as rain, ice and snow. In preparing for reading, she uses a diagram from the textbook to orally explain the sequence of events. By combining oral explanation with visual support, she builds the students’ background knowledge at the same time as summarising the sequence in which the text unfolds. As she does so, she engages the students by asking them to identify features in the diagram, to say the technical terms aloud, and to label them in their own copies. She also asks the class to think about features of the cycle, and she relates them to both the technical field and their own experience. In this way, the students become familiar with the sequence of the text and some key terms, before it is read.

Teacher

[Teacher and class discuss diagram on smartboard]

So what we're going to look at today is the Water Cycle. We've been talking a lot about how unique and special the Planet Earth is. So what we want to look at is one of the key elements to that. So we're going to look at how the water gets cycled around and can move through lots of different places. So what we're going to talk about first is summarised all in our diagram here on the board. Where have we got water? Can we name some of the specific places?

Student

Ocean.

Teacher

OK, so we've got the ocean labelled.

Student

River.

Teacher

Rivers, shown on the diagram.

Student

Lake.

Teacher

And the lake. What type of water is it there? Think back to our states of matter, solid, liquid, gas. What are we talking about in rivers, lakes and oceans?

Student

Liquid.

Teacher

We're talking about liquid, thanks. What makes it go up into the sky?

Student

Water vapour?

Teacher

OK, so it's becoming water vapour over here, excellent. If we look at this label here, water evaporates from oceans, forests, farms, lakes, rivers, swamps. So we're talking about how it evaporates and I've changed that into a noun to change it into the process of evaporation. So I'm going to write that up here.

[Teacher writes on board]

Can you all say that for me?

Students

Evaporation.

[Students write in books]

Teacher

[Teacher and class discuss diagram on smartboard]

OK, so we’ve got evaporation. It's gone from liquid to water, to water vapour, to water as a gas. We can't see water vapour but we can see clouds. What's happening back in a cloud?

Student

It's turning into the cloud and that's where the rain is forming.

Teacher

OK, that's right, and so what state of matter are we in when it's raining? The water is not a gas anymore, is it?

Student

It's gone back to a liquid.

Teacher

Gone back to a liquid. Thank you, Jeremy. That's great. OK, that's called condensation.

[Teacher writes on board]

Student

Do we write that?

Teacher

Yes, please.

[Students write in books]

Teacher

So that's what's going up on the clouds. So we've had the water start as liquid. It's gone up into the atmosphere as water vapour, as a gas. And in forming the clouds, it'll come back again into a liquid. So this is condensation. When it rains, on your sheet there is a technical word already that has the -ion ending. We look here at this label.

Student

Precipitation.

Teacher

Precipitation, well done. Let's say that one together.

Students

Precipitation.

Teacher

Good. OK, so that's the technical name now rather than just saying that it rains. To make our understanding a little more scientific, we want to name the process properly, so we're going to talk about precipitation. It might end up going down and becoming part of our underground water system. Or it might end up flowing straight back through into rivers and lakes, and then we can start again. It cycles through. And so that's the main idea for today's lesson, is that we're looking at the Water Cycle as a whole.

Alright, so let’s have a look at the text itself. It’s an explanation of the water cycle and so it’s going to go through step-by-step how we talk about it. OK, so to just kind of summarise it for you, basically it says what we've just talked about in the diagram. So we've had the water start as liquid. It's gone up into the atmosphere as water vapour, as a gas. And in forming the clouds it'll come back again into a liquid. If it gets high enough up into the atmosphere and gets really, really cold then we might get snow or sleet coming out of the clouds but mainly we'll get rain.

Presenter

[Talking head]

As this text is quite technical, it’s read paragraph-by-paragraph rather than all at once. The teacher first prepares each paragraph, with a brief summary of what it’s about, and then reads it as the class reads along. Alternatively, students may take turns to read paragraphs aloud, if they’re confident readers.

Teacher

[Teacher introduces text and reads aloud]

So the first paragraph is our introduction. OK, so it's the Phenomenon. It's telling us what it is that we're going to explain. So it talks about the fact that water is there and it's always moving, always changing. So the first paragraph, I'll read it out to you, if you can just follow along. Water is found in many different forms on Earth, and it's constantly moving from one place to the other. As it moves, it changes state in cycles from liquid water, to water vapour, sometimes to ice, and back to liquid again.

Presenter

[Talking head]

After reading each paragraph, key meanings may be discussed. This discussion may include giving names to parts of the text. Here the teacher names the first paragraph as the Phenomenon that the text explains. She writes this on the board, and the students label the paragraph in their books. This will be very useful when they come to write a new text.

Teacher

[Teacher writes on board]

OK, so let's label that first paragraph as the Phenomenon. Go Robbie, nice and loud.

Student

[spells]

…nomenon.

Teacher

So, looking at the first paragraph it's the Phenomenon. Let's say that together, 1, 2, 3.

Students

Phenomenon.

Teacher

[Teacher discusses text]

OK, so that's where we identify what it is we're talking about. So if you can write it beside your text in the margin, that it is the Phenomenon, that first paragraph. OK, so now the text has identified what it's going to explain to us, it starts going through it step-by-step.

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