Q1: Explain 5 strategies that a teaching assistant might use to support literacy development. The teaching assistant could read to the pupils on a daily basis, this will help pupils learn how fluent reading sounds and this will help them understand how sentences and text can make sense, and will learn when to pause for full stops, question marks etc, and they will also learn how using expression in reading can make a story more exciting and understandable. The teaching assistant can have one to one sessions with a pupil, getting them to read certain passages aloud from a story and then getting them to repeat the passage, this will help with word recognition, and their speed and accuracy will improve the more they are asked to do this.
Games or structured computer games where there is some reading can also be used to help with literacy skills, the teaching assistant can play games with a group of pupils, appropriate age related games with simple instructions can be a good learning resource. Building a child’s vocabulary is very important to a pupil learning to read, write and being able to express themselves, a pupils vocabulary will grow if they are in a rich language environment, this will help them when they try more challenging text, so they teaching assistant can help by talking to the pupil and asking if they understand the words and if not explaining what they mean, which will help them learn more words.
The teaching assistant could in a group have a reading session, where each pupil could try to guess what will happen next from the line they have just read, this will help to see if any of the pupils do not understand any of the text, the teaching assistant can then help explain any parts that are not understood which will then help the pupil in the future to understand that type of text.
Q2: outline the stages of reading development skills. Early emergent readers: these readers are just beginning to understand the concepts of books, they are learning the alphabet and maybe recognise upper and lowercase letters. They are also learning high frequency words and sound words, books in this level include: repeated words, picture support and content that will be very familiar. Emergent readers: these readers understand the alphabet, they also know a lot of high frequency words and they are also grasping how to attack words they don’t know better, books in this level include: more lines per page, harder words in the sentences and less picture support.
Early fluent readers: these readers are reading harder text and have more of an understanding of the text, they read more automatically rather than trying to attack the word, they are able to recognise different styles and genres of books and understand what is being read, they are becoming independent in their reading and require a lot less help, books in this level include: books with a lot more pages and much longer sentences, and a lot less pictures to help with their reading and understanding.
Fluent readers: these readers rarely need help with any text, they can pause at the correct time, they can also have expression when reading out loud, they are able to read many genres of books and understand what they are reading, and they are able to keep learning reading skills if they read a harder book, they are no longer learning to read, they are reading to learn, books in this stage include: more varied topics, a lot more text and pages, books with no pictures as they are capable of understanding the text without visual references and a lot more challenging vocabulary.
Q3: describe the main methods used to teach reading skills There are three main methods that can be combined to teach reading skills, they are: Auditory training, this is where an adult talks, sings and reads to their child, this will put language and sound into the child’s brain, the more they hear the bigger their vocabulary will be, which will help them to learn to read when they are ready to, playing and singing rhyming games will all help the child with learning to read. Phonics: this is the most known and used method to teach reading skills, phonics teaches children the relationship between letters of the written language and the sounds of the spoken language, it teaches children to use these relationships to read and write.
This will teach them the alphabet and how these words are written and spoken which will be predictable, this will help them recognise familiar words and help them with harder ones. They are taught to sound out words by learning certain rules that they will memorise, some of these are: blending sounds such as br, fr, wr and bl among others, digraph sounds such as sh, th these letters combine to make a different sound, double vowel sounds. Phonics will start to be taught in nursery or reception and a child will not be able to learn to read without proper understanding of phonics.
Whole language: this is a whole-part method of teaching children to read, children are taught to memorise words as one whole word not as parts or broken down, they can do different activities like writing in journals and using pictures to help memorise the words. Children can begin to write early using this method and it can make reading more interesting, but the only problem with this method is that some children may not be able to use phonics and may find it harder to learn new words without the understanding of phonics.
Q4: give 5 examples of how a teaching assistant could support and demonstrate writing and spelling skills
1. Get children to discover how different sounds can be written, this can be done by reading books or rhymes that they know and asking the children to listen out for words with a particular sound, for example words with a T sound, words like bite, height, light. They can then be helped to find these letters that make that sound by finding them and circling or underlining them in any book.
2. Choosing words that the children know from a song, poem or book they can learn how a word they know can help them to write new words just by changing the beginning letter, for example the teaching assistant can write words that sound the same but have different beginning letters and then ask the children if they can think of any other words with the same sound that can be added, the examples could be: hat, cat, mat. This can help with phonic awareness which is vital in writing and spelling skills.
3. Correct letter formation is the start of learning to write and develop writing skills, there are many ways a teaching assistant can support a child in this, a couple of examples are: get the child to say out loud how they are writing the letter like a ’round , up and down’, p’ down, up and around’ . The teaching assistant can make some dot to dots of the correct letter formation.
4. Teaching children about different spelling patterns, the teaching assistant and child could look through a book they know and look for spelling patterns, looking for ones that have been chosen like ea, words like: break, treat, bread and lead, the child could then mark the words they find and say them out loud as they find them.
5. The teaching assistant can help children learn how to use a dictionary to help them spell a word they are unsure of, they need to teach them that words in a dictionary are in alphabetical order, so if they know the first letter then they can try to find the word they are looking for, the teaching assistant or teacher can make an individualised dictionary with words that are aimed at a particular level of writing and spelling stage, they could also leave spaces for children to write any words they have learned that are not in the dictionary they have got.
Q5: How can a teaching assistant encourage learners to use speaking and listening skills correctly. The teaching assistant can encourage these skills by asking the child to write down what has just been said to them, this is a good way to make sure they are listening properly. Or to ask them to repeat something that is being said, for example another child could be telling a story or event that has happened and if the teaching assistant thinks that someone is not listening then they can ask them to repeat it. If a child does not understand anything that is being said then they should be encouraged to ask questions to help explain, this will show that they are listening to what is being said.
Children can show they have listened when they can follow instructions properly and this can seen by asking them what they have to do, or when they make responses or comments to anything they are listening to. If they have watched a film or other type of programme they should be able to recount some or all of the story if they have listened, a group talk on certain subjects would be a good way to encourage speaking and listening skills, letting everyone have a say while all others listen but have some input or comment if they didn’t understand anything. Having a weekly time for any children to stand in front of the class and tell the class of anything they have done or somewhere they have been would be very good for speaking skills, the rest of the class should be encouraged to listen and to ask any questions at the end, if there are any children that are reluctant to speak in front of people, then trying to to encourage them in group discussions will hopefully help them to be more confident and eventually want to speak in front of everyone.
Allowing children to have time to chat amongst themselves can also help develop these skills as they will learn to listen and speak at different times, and they should be encouraged not to ignore people because if they do no-one will want to talk to them.
Courtney from Study Moose