Since October, on the back of a shared interest in guided reading, Sway Humphries and I have been using Skype with some of our children as an extension to guided reading. We spend half an hour each week Skype-ing one another about a shared read.
The sessions with our groups works a bit like guided reading, but I feel it has more of a ‘book-club’ approach that Pie Corbett recommends. There is little time for actual reading as the children have so much they want to say and ask. We try to (two groups of 5/6) encourage them to ask their own questions and give their own opinions with as little prompting from Sway and myself as possible. Some of the discussion, once the children find their voices and overcome their nerves, has been excellent.
It has all been very lovely, but what impact has it had on these groups?
Sway emailed me some interesting data regarding reading scores for her group of children, looking at the average point scores (APS) for her class.
|October 2013||February 2014|
As you can see, the group of children Sway had chosen to take part in Skype sessions were behind the rest of the class (in terms of average scores) and have since made huge progress, even to the point of being slightly above average.
With this in mind, I tried to take a detailed look at my own class too.
|September 2013||December 2013|
The difference between mine and Sway’s groups are fairly clear – my children were above average at the start of the year, and continue to be in that same bracket now. However, their progress is near-enough double any of the other guided reading groups (none of whom had used Skype). In fact, the Skype group out-performed the ‘top’ guided reading group by some distance too.
Of course, the children in each group will obviously benefit from having an extra half-hour session each week (and hopefully from having input from two teachers!). But how else could they be benefiting?
As I mentioned earlier, confidence really grows as the children get to know one another and become more comfortable talking into a camera. Listening skills are easy to see improving as children constantly refer back to points made by another child. Hopefully, a love of reading is inspired as the children discover how other people might interpret the same book.
So what next?
We are trialling the use of Edmodo to encourage discussion between sessions, and we have changed our groups. I can’t speak for Sway, but I have chosen a group who were highlighted as having not made required/desired progress in the hope that the extended discussions Skype allows helps them to move on, while still enjoying their reading. Fingers crossed that the above data was not a one-off – I will be keeping a close eye on it.
Watch this space!