by Joanna Shobbrook, Year 5/6 Teacher, St Michael's Primary School
I’ve been teaching for fourteen years and have lived through a whole plethora of Primary English teaching styles and schemes. I was inspired to write this review of the Power of Reading after reading Dylan Wiliam’s article ‘Teaching, not a research based profession’ in the TES. Wiliam writes: ‘The teacher with a growth mindset says: “What else can I try to help this student learn?”’. Although I’m an experienced classroom practitioner, this article resonated with me as I have met teachers along my teaching career who are constantly open to new methods of teaching, and I am also always striving to do better. The article made me think of the CLPE’s membership, with its comprehensive lesson plans and teaching ideas, which allow teachers to do just this and improve their literacy provision.
I teach at a small school called St Michael’s in East Sussex where I am a Senior Leader and a role model for good practice. As a teacher, I get inundated with flyers, brochures and leaflets in my current school promising improvements in English progress, and I generally ignore most of them and am suspicious of pre-written plans. However, about one year ago I joined Twitter and I began noticing the CLPE. A colleague then recommended the CLPE and I decided to give their lesson plans and teaching approaches a whirl.
Fast forward a year and I am now a keen advocate of the Power of Reading approach. My school has invested in Power of Reading resources, which is rather fortuitous as I had independently begun trialling the sample sequences within my own classroom. I did not have formal training with the CLPE for the Power of Reading, but was given access to the full range of lesson plans through its online membership. I was, however, also lucky enough to attend an ‘Inspiring Writers in Key Stage 2’ course in October 2018, which improved my use of the CLPE’s planning tenfold. I saw, first-hand, how the lesson plans could be interpreted, and l learnt how to incorporate high quality texts like Harry Miller’s Run by David Almond within my own Year 5/6 classroom.
This is my first year using CLPE planning and I have to say that I feel that my English teaching has greatly improved. I am more enthusiastic in my teaching, my pupils have become more engaged, and there is far more speaking, listening, vocabulary, drama, role-play, art and writing woven throughout my teaching. The lesson plans are detailed, and enable effective teaching to take place. Our pupils have all benefited from the experience.
So far I have used the CLPE’s Power of Reading lesson plans for: Skellig by David Almond, Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, Jemmy Button by Valerio Vidali, Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver and The Viewer by Gary Crew. The planning has saved me hours of my own time and I am able to focus on creating memorable and engaging English lessons for my pupils. The plans have allowed for writing opportunities which even my most reluctant writers have enjoyed. The Power of Reading has created so many opportunities to enable pupils to write without it feeling like a chore. Like every other lesson plan, I make sure I adapt them to make teaching relevant for my whole class, but the CLPE plans and resources are robust, and allow room for interpretation and application, and I have not had to edit huge parts of them.
I wanted to share my experiences of Power of Reading as I have had a brilliant year teaching English thanks to the CLPE and their creative teaching ideas and plans. The CLPE recommended books have also meant that children in my class are now more likely to be reading the books I’m teaching in class too. For anyone interested in progress, the CLPE has been successful in raising the attainment levels in my class. All children have already met or exceeded their writing targets already and are actively enjoying English lessons.