Literacy for Young People who May or May Not Have Offended

Here’s something I wrote in 2013 in response to a conversation about ‘illiterate young offenders’. Reading deficits in ‘young offenders’ exist for many reasons, not just a lack of good instruction in primary school because they often have complex educational, social and emotional needs. I also don’t talk about young offenders separate from any other marginalised young person because those in YOIs are just the ones who got caught and sentenced to an institution, not the ones who got a … Read More

What Older Struggling Readers Need

 Older struggling readers need: 1. to change their minds about reading Reading includes speech and sounds so they learn to use their ears as well as their eyes. English is a code which can be decoded for reading and encoded for spelling. 2. new strategies for attacking unfamiliar words – to replace guessing badly Discover the complete English code Say the sounds and listen for a word Check for meaning in context. 3. confidence All learning needs to be both … Read More

Books for Struggling Readers: 3 – least confident

It can be quite difficult to find “real reading” material for those who are working hard through the Foundation Levels of TRT. They can read the decodable sentences but, if they’re not flying towards the Advanced Levels, it’s important that they have something to read that is all of: possible, challenging and age-appropriate. Here are my two favourite solutions for two very different age groups. Star Quest Several years ago, the local youth offending team asked me to work with … Read More

Books for Struggling Readers 2 – mid level strugglers

Here’s the second in a series of posts about a few books I’ve loved working with over the years – starting at those for readers with the highest ability and working down. The first post is here. Older struggling readers have very low expectations of what they can achieve and I’ve generally found those same low expectations are echoed by their teachers and support workers. When I was volunteering in a small school for boys with behavioural and emotional difficulties, … Read More

Books for Struggling Readers 1 – most able strugglers

When I read Dr Bethan Marshall’s comment that: many teenagers will think that being made to read Dickens aged 16 is just tedious… I felt incredibly deflated by the thought that we’ve created a world where people will miss out on the colour, characters, truths and entertainment of reading Dickens. John Walker writes more about the whys of the matter on his blog and comments: Too often the velleities of secondary school expectation are to blame. After looking up “valleity” … Read More

It’s Not Magic – It’s Reading

I once had a call from a TRT trained teacher who told me it was going well, but the boys were getting through all of the TRT Levels without making much improvement in their reading. That’s not the most thrilling news I’d ever heard so thought I’d see if the problem was with TRT or with the way it was being delivered. Me: How much time are you spending reading in each session? Teacher: Oh I’m just going through the … Read More

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