Planning for reading and writing

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Recently, I have been researching and reading about, well, reading. My first port of call was Burton, M (2007) Reading, NIACE, Leicester. I found many points in the book that I wish to elaborate on, add to my action plan, and further research. I love these little handbooks, as they are not only informative, but small enough to digest. They also cram in lots of theories and suggestions for further reading. I LOVE that. It saves so much time!

So, anyway. Burton (2007) poses the question:

‘How helpful do you feel it is to make a distinction between reading and writing in planning your teaching?’

Personally, I feel it is totally necessary to make a distinction between reading and writing when planning, especially for a developing teacher. I have seen resources in the past and wondered if they were they type of resources I should be churning out, and often wondered how much thought had been put into them. Not entirely in a critical way, but as a means for me to base and consolidate my knowledge through. I’m still not sure of that answer.

The risk of not looking at reading and writing separately, I think are all too apparent. Stages/activities in lessons have sometimes seemed to be plucked out of the air. For example, I’ve read comments such as ‘look at this great resource. They read about car adverts in a newspaper, then have to do xyz, before making their own’. I wonder if it’s a cop-out. As long as they’re practising their English, that’s ok, right? I guess if you’re teaching with a whole class-approach, then this is what you might have to resort to, but I find it a complete nightmare for understanding (personally). I just can’t seem to get my head around things that way. I currently think of individuals first. I’m not saying that’s right; it’s just what works for me and my learners at the moment. Some group stuff seems a bit like you’re not meeting what everyone needs. I’m sure I’ll keep coming back to this point.

I have sometimes been guilty of plonking on an activity because I didn’t want something I was teaching to feel completely random, and feel the guilt of it too.

I think it’s useful to have some ‘umbrella’ check for yourself when planning. For example, when planning for a reading activity, go back to your CPD and read your checklists of things to think about. I find if I don’t try to do this, then that’s when I feel guilty, because I’ve not given it enough justification in my own mind.

I try to think of any writing activities in the same way, then try to link the two together so activities aren’t futile. I think it’s necessary to appreciate that sometimes learners might need work on the small things, to feel like they’re making progress overall. And sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest difference in ensuring your learners hit targets. The milestones are golden.