by Lorraine Haugh, Year 1 teacher at Our Lady of Muswell Catholic Primary School
I first heard about CLPE and their teaching sequences five years ago when I was teaching Year 1 and went on one of their training days. The ideas I picked up that day have stayed with me ever since. During that time I went back to EYFS, where I first started my teaching career and taught three years in Reception, also using the CLPE teaching sequences. Fast forward to 2021 and no one could ever have imagined the situation we would all find ourselves in. Teaching is a hard enough job in normal circumstances, but now add in being beamed into pupils houses via laptops, iPad’s, and phones teaching live lessons is a terrifying thought! TV presenters we are not….. (well at least I’m not anyway!)
This year at my school, the whole school from Nursery right through to Year 6 have begun to use CLPE’s Power of Reading Teaching Sequences. I have always found the teaching sequences easy to follow when planning my English lessons and I hadn’t given much thought to what would happen if my ‘bubble burst’ and I had to teach from home! When we were given the news that schools would not return until at least February half term, my thoughts quickly switched from ‘I can’t wait to see the children do these activities’ to ‘How am I going to do the planned activities if the children aren’t with me?’
I needn’t have worried. Yes, I had to go back through my planning and adapt some of the lessons I had planned but because the teaching sequences are so well thought out, there wasn’t much I had to do. This term in Year 1 we have started ‘The Adventures of Egg Box Dragon’ and one of the first few lesson planned was for the children to design and make their own egg box dragon. As I knew the children would be making these at home rather than at school (which some people may see as a positive- no paint, glue or tissue paper all over the classroom floor!) I had to warn the parents to keep hold of egg boxes, junk modelling and craft materials that may have otherwise ended up in the recycling bin! I taught the lesson as near to normal as I could through a computer screen with children unmuting themselves to give me their ideas as to what they were going to include on their dragons. I had every idea from ‘orange fire made from tissue paper’ to ‘a sharp, pointy, red tail’, an idea they got from the story.
The children in my class have not lost their enthusiasm for the learning that takes place using the texts and teaching sequences. At school they get annoyed when I won’t read all of the book to them straight away, and this has not changed just because they are at home. I still don’t read all of the book even though the children ask. I think this is part of the joy that the teaching sequences bring as it all helps add to the suspense and excitement ….The children thank me for it in the end!
I would recommend CLPE's Power of Reading Teaching Sequences to every teacher. I have found that very young children are engaged in their learning from the start and can’t wait for the next lesson. Feedback that I have received from parents over the first week of remote teaching also backs this up. One parent said "My child was very excited to write his own little story about ‘Under the moon Adventure". Another parent added “My child enjoyed writing this piece. He says he wants to be like the egg box dragon and go and help the people in the hospitals”.
I have found that being organised and reading through the teaching sequences in advance is a great help. The sequences give children the opportunity to join in reading the text with the adult which builds their confidence in becoming readers themselves. Children are also able to write their own poems, letters and diary entries based on learning taking place in the sequences.
Through the CLPE's Power of Reading Teaching Sequences I have found a love of poetry that I never had before. I have found that my teaching has improved and as a result so has the children’s learning. They never fail to surprise me each day in the suggestions they give during lessons.
In conclusion, if you are a teacher worried about remote teaching, whether that is through recorded lessons or live teaching, don’t be. No one has been in this situation before and we are all doing our best. In my experience keeping things simple and to the point helps, and if you are lucky enough to have access to Power of Reading Teaching Sequences, use it.