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Research shows that one of the greatest (if not the greatest) influences on and predictors of future educational success is reading - early and often. So one of the most important roles of primary education must be to develop the skills and habits of reading. At IST we do this through three approaches :
Required reading - the primary teaching approach where students acquire the Skills of reading through decoding letters, words, phrases and sentences (Pre-School) and then reviewing and discussing paragraphs and stories (Juniior School). All students read the same types of text, althuogh not necessarily at the same level, and the essential skills are expressed through our Outcome Statements for each level. The Pre-School focus is on the skills required to decode text; the Junior School focus is on independent reading and J1 students are expected to become independent readers. Texts are chosen by the teacher specifcally for pedagogical purposes. This approach links to Middle School textual response and analysis.
Wider reading - may begin in P5, but is really more of a Junior School approach. Teachers select a number of books for their classroom libraries on different topics, at different levels, written for different audiences and related as much as possible to that particular Unit, and sudents are required to choose and read a certain number. Simple "reading checks" show whether the student has in fact read each book. This "restricted choice" allows teachers to work with each student at his/her level, while also keeping his/her interest and thus curiosity and enthusiasm. Reading Skills are reinforced and extended, and the habits of and pleasure from reading begin to develop. This approach leads to the background reading needed for Middle School, and is essential for 'learning to learn" or the 'learner autonomy' IST seeks to develop.
Personal Reading - begins as early as possible. The "free choice" builds on the curiosity and enthusiasm inculcated through Wider Reading; students are encouraged to read, and praised for reading. Students may borrow books from the IST Library; we also periodically link with Pima County Libraries and help each student obtain a membership card.
IST's Library is continually developing - we have about 30 metres of books available to students and their families. The four language sections for "reading books" (gnerally fiction) are organised approximately by level. The non-fiction and reference sections are organised by subject (Dewey) and all languages are grouped together. Classroom libraries are changed with each Unit, so that students continually see new books and so that the Wider Reading requirements can be more easily met.
And of course reading cannot be separated from writing; when one writes, one reads by default. But more on this anon.