At Teignmouth Community School we recognise the value that literacy brings to the lives of students. Not only is literacy essential to the personal and social development of young people, but it enables them to comprehend, analyse, evaluate and disseminate knowledge with confidence and clarity. Broadening vocabulary and providing students with strategies to create meaning from unfamiliar words enables students to excel in every subject across the curriculum and beyond secondary education, which is why we have prioritised explicitly teaching vocabulary in our tutor time programme.
Alongside being actively taught vocabulary, students will read and discuss anthologies of short stories, fiction and non-fiction extracts, with their tutors, which introduce them to a range of diverse voices, genres, historical periods and, consequently, the richness of vocabulary that forms these written texts. Our aim, alongside the Year 7, 8 and 9 Accelerated Reader programme, is to create a unified focus on the importance and value of reading, for purpose and pleasure, to create independent life-long readers.
Our approach during Tutor Time
Excellence in any subject requires strong reading and it is our responsibility, as teachers and tutors, to prepare students to read with precision and independence, through modelling effective reading. For this reason, we have transitioned from individual reading, to collective reading, to enable students to develop fluency, through listening to adults modelling good reading. Students will then have opportunities to read aloud, which is essential if they are to develop fluency and, consequently, develop their comprehension, as the two are strongly associated with one another. Additionally, this approach of collective reading facilitates peer discussion, subsequently improving students’ engagement with the written text.
Possessing a broad vocabulary frees up space in working memory and increases reading for pleasure and motivation to read (Alex Quigley 2018), as students are not having to continually grapple with unfamiliar vocabulary, which inevitably reduces the enjoyment of reading. For this reason, we believe it essential to combine reading with direct vocabulary instruction, if we are to significantly improve students’ comprehension and engagement with written texts. We have carefully selected vocabulary which are high frequency within cross-curricular academic writing and are important for understanding and expressing complex ideas; these are words which are unlikely to be acquired implicitly through social interaction, so it is essential that these are taught. Fundamentally, we aim to develop the confidence of our students, through providing opportunities for exploring, discussing and interacting with new vocabulary, discussing layers of meaning and teaching them strategies that they can use to decipher the meaning of unfamiliar words, developing independent and resilient readers.