Foundations of reading- the final extract

We’re all happy its Friday but we’re also SO GUTTED that today is the last day of extracts from Carol Hayesnew book.


We’ve saved the best for last so enjoy!


When you are reading critically it is important to distinguish whether what the writer is saying is fact or opinion. Sometimes this is hard to ascertain but consider the following and try to decide whether it is fact or opinion.

LLC 1 extract 260216

This is more difficult and could fall into both camps, as it depends upon your definition of the word ‘good’in this context. If you are saying that Letters and Sounds  receive Government support as a ‘good’ way to teach reading, this may well be fact. However if you are saying that most teachers consider it to be good for their children, this is opinion.

LLC 2 extract 260216

You can see from this that critical reading requires a different approach to that of reading a novel or a magazine. You need to actively engage with the text in a sustained manner, to learn from it rather than simply be entertained by it.

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The A to Z Guide to Working in Further Education

Our Book of the Week this time is The A-Z Guide to Working in Further Education by Jonathan Gravells and Susan Wallace. Designed to support professional development in Further Education at all levels, from the trainee teacher to the experienced team leader. The A-Z format ensures the book is comprehensive and easy to use, while a list of key themes enables the reader to navigate the material in a range of ways.

In this very witty blog post Jonathan explains the value of the A-Z approach. Let us know what you think!

Are you the sort of person who values order and having everything in its allotted place? Because even if you’re not, you must admit that there is something inherently satisfying about knowing exactly where to find that nugget of information you need for your upcoming paper/meeting/team day/appraisal/address to staff/etc. Cataloguing information and know-how in this way is not without its drawbacks of course. Dictionaries, for example, do not, by and large make for good holiday reading, and anyway Education already has its own dictionary anyway (we know because one of us wrote it!). Encyclopaedias, likewise, whilst undoubtedly useful as reference works, are hard to digest when read at length. Furthermore, the thought of following a dictionary by writing an encyclopaedia seems to smack of obsessive-compulsive, not to say downright masochistic tendencies. Giving people who work in FE concise, practical introductions to a host of useful topics, minus the ‘stodge’, however; that struck us as much more fun.

How about borrowing the same structure and producing a handbook people would actually enjoy reading? It would help people to find exactly what they want (and get us out of the boring job of compiling an index!)  Just call it an A to Z, and not only will readers immediately know that it is designed to help them find their way around, but also it will automatically appear at the top of any reading list (unless someone brings out “Aardvarks and their role in Further Education”). Know-how neatly presented in alphabetical order, however, was just the start. Looking for what you want might be made even easier if we also showed how those same topics could be grouped into themes. Managing Upwards, for instance, is part of Developing Resilience & Reducing Stress, as well as Personal Effectiveness. New lecturers wanting to know how to support learners effectively could in this way be directed to a topic like Emotional Intelligence, but then so could experienced leaders and managers looking to develop their people skills. O.K., so now we had our structure. Practical, bite-sized information for everyone in FE from lecturers to principals, in an easy-to-follow A to Z format. Questions remained, of course. Restricting ourselves to a manageable number of topics was not easy. S for S***ing Students was considered too controversial, as was M for Management B*****k-Speak. To make the whole thing more entertaining we have invented a cast of characters and a fictional college. Using snippets of dialogue to bring topics to life is something of a trademark for us. Vignettes like this pepper the book and hopefully help to leaven the mixture a little.

We sincerely hope that you will find much here to inspire and inform you, whatever your role, and, when faced with the undoubted challenges of working in FE, you will dip into our A to Z to seek reassurance, guidance or maybe even new ideas. X may mark the spot for treasure-seekers, but in our book you can find value anywhere in the alphabet (I may even start using this alphabetical mullarkey for articles or blogs). Yes, here it is, at last: an accessible collection of practical and easily referenced advice on everything from Appraisal to Zero-Tolerance. Zippedy-Doo-Dah!

Jonathan Gravells – September 2013

Back to Critical Publishing

Developing vocabulary through active engagement

Here is the first of three extracts from our primary title Beyond Early Reading by David Waugh and Sally Neaum to give you a taste of the content and the approach. Let us know what you think.

International perspective

The activities described above involve developing vocabulary through active engagement and through incidental learning. They offer a range of different ways to draw children’s attention to vocabulary, just as those described later in the chapter do. Consider the findings of the National Reading Panel in the USA as you reflect on them and read about further classroom activities. The Panel summed up research on vocabulary development by citing nine implications for reading instruction.

  1. Vocabulary should be taught both directly and indirectly.
  2. Repetition and multiple exposures to vocabulary items are important.
  3. Learning in rich contexts is valuable for vocabulary learning.
  4. Vocabulary tasks should be restructured when necessary.
  5. Vocabulary learning should entail active engagement in learning tasks.
  6. Computer technology can be used to help teach vocabulary.
  7. Vocabulary can be acquired through incidental learning.
  8. How vocabulary is assessed and evaluated can have differential effects on instruction.
  9. Dependence on a single vocabulary instruction method will not result in optimal learning.

(National Reading Panel, 2000 , 4–27)

Activity 2

Focus, in particular, on the fifth point in the panel’s findings above. What kind of activities might engage children’s interest? How might some of the other points be drawn upon to enable this to happen; for example through use of computer technology?

Bunting ( 2000 ) makes numerous suggestions for activities and word games that have the potential to engage children’s Interest and develop their vocabularies. These include exploring words from other languages that have become part of the English lexicon such as yoghurt , tobacco , menu , bungalow , anorak and mosquito . To these we might add a number of words that are so commonly used now that many won’t be aware that they were unheard of by some of our grandparents. Names of foods from other countries, in particular, become common parlance and include pizza , pasta , spaghetti , masala , paella , tacos , fajitas , kebab and sushi . By exploring such words, children can begin to understand that grapheme–phoneme correspondences vary around the world and that when learning another language they need to be aware of this.

Bunting also suggests word games such as inventing onomatopoeic words for everyday sounds, giving the example of the noise a shower makes as it starts. We might add our own ideas such as creating words for the sounds of the following:

  • windscreen wipers going back and forth;
  • a mobile phone ringing;
  • a glass breaking;
  • an aircraft flying overhead;
  • children on the playground.

Another of Bunting’s ideas that may appeal to children who have watched programmes like Eastenders, The Only Way is Essex and Only Fools and Horses , is the creation of new rhyming slang. Cockney rhyming slang, which was originally used so that locals could disguise their (sometimes dishonest) activities from outsiders, has spread as people outside London have watched films and television. Phrases include:

  •  read for money (bread and honey – money);
  • donkey’s for years (donkey’s ears – years);
  • loaf for head (loaf of bread – head);
  • rabbit for talk (rabbit and pork – talk).

Rhyming slang is not restricted to east London: it can be found around the world. Children could create their own rhyming slang and in doing so explore rhyme and vocabulary.

Click here for details of  Beyond Early Reading by David Waugh and Sally Neaum