The New Zealand Book Council is our country’s national organisation dedicated to reading and readers. It was founded in 1972.
The Book Council has four key priorities which they are focusing on over the next three years; ONE of which is Promoting New Zealand Stories and Writers with a special focus on championing the next generation of New Zealand writers and their stories.
On 16th May 2018 author Karen Trebilcock introduced me to the Programmes Manager for NZ Book Council, Kathryn Carmody, (via email). This began a conversation between us about how the NZ Book Council could support #NZreadaloud.
Since the inaugural #NZreadaloud back in 2015, the team have set out to read and find the most suitable NZ books for all year levels involved. As much as this sounds like an easy task, it actually is anything but. Over the years we have learnt that there is a certain type of book which suits the purpose of #NZreadaloud but will also capture the interest of our tamariki; both to motivate them to read more and write more but also to get curious about stuff and use topics which come up for learner-led inquiry.
I know I speak on behalf of the team when I say we have read a heap of books in our search each Term (12 terms in total at this time) – novels, picture books and non-fiction – written by our wonderful NZ writers. Along the way each of us who lead a Year group have built up an impressive personal library for our classrooms; of books we have paid for ourselves.
When the offer arose as to how the NZ Book Council could help us at #NZreadaloud it was a no-brainer for us. Please assist us with the purchase of books! So then this happened:
The Book Council is offering financial support to #NZreadaloud to help with the purchase of new NZ books as part of the process around assessing which books to include in the programme each year.
The memorandum of understanding between the NZ Book Council and #NZreadaloud is a collaborative agreement which sees us working together to promote NZ authors and the building of a reading & writing culture. #NZreadaloud acknowledges the NZ Book Council as a partner and we will promote the organisation in all future presentations, conferences, or other media. In collaboration with the NZ Book Council classes participating in #NZreadaloud have opportunities to connect in authentic ways with our wonderful NZ authors through the Writers in Schools programme. From feedback we have received this is always a highlight for the students.
This is an incredibly exciting time for #NZreadaloud.
As a team of teachers we are committed to changing the way we deliver literacy to our tamariki. Of more importance though, is our dedication to changing the way our tamariki experience literacy. #NZreadaloud is a connected experience which has constructivist theory behind its purpose; providing reading experiences which differ from the way it has always been. Reading doesn’t have to be a solo activity, it doesn’t have to be a quiet activity, and it doesn’t have to be an ability based experience. Whole class Read Alouds sees us building understanding together, where discussion and analysis takes place with each other as we read thus the experience becoming a more inclusive and culturally sustaining one.
The Power and Promise of Read Alouds and Independent Reading, a recent publication released from the ILA (International Literacy Association), quotes this:
“Effective read-alouds increase children’s vocabulary, listening comprehension, story schema, background knowledge, word recognition skills, and cognitive development. In
addition to these important academic benefits, read-alouds promote a love of literature, foster social interactions, and ignite a passion for lifelong reading habits.”
More specifically, “read-alouds help emergent and beginning readers
gain understanding of book handling, print conventions, story
structure, literacy syntax, expressive language, and text organizational
This quote from the same publication confirms the reason behind Karen Wilson’s stoic commitment to promote #NZreadaloud to the Secondary sector as well as why Reading Aloud continues to be a valuable instructional practice for us at Intermediate level:
“Secondary literacy teachers must embrace the read-aloud as nonnegotiable instructional practice. Upper elementary and secondary students reap multiple benefits from teacher-led read-alouds, including building background knowledge and vocabulary and modelling of effective comprehension strategies. As teens embrace the social nature of literacy activities, effective teachers provide opportunities for students to personally connect literature to their lives. When we relegate read-alouds to the purview of elementary teachers, we overlook the power and joy of read-alouds across grade levels.”
Since its inception in 2015 the other aspect which we continually see develop during Reading Aloud is a student’s curiosity. By actively encouraging students to ask questions rather than answer them, we have seen our learners inquire into their own wonderings which arise from the book and build on their own knowledge through engaging in meaningful discussion with others and further research into areas of interest.
This quote from the same publication sums up exactly what we are trying to promote through #NZreadaloud, this is the difference:
“What matters more than merely reading aloud is the quality of the teacher–student book interaction. Read-alouds must be interactive, during which teachers briefly stop, model their thinking, ask and answer questions, and invite participation from students. In reading aloud, an effective teacher serves as an orchestra conductor, coordinating conversation among students, fostering aesthetic and efferent text responses, pushing students’ text reaction past surface-level responses, and weaving an intricate network of meaning.”
WOW … I have been trying to articulate EXACTLY this over the last 4 years!
It is also affirming to see this publication also mention this:
“Another key ingredient of effective read-alouds is purposeful selection of text.”
The selected books need to serve as “mirrors, windows, and doors so that students not
only see themselves reflected in stories, but also are able to consider perspectives of those who are different from themselves.”
This is the reason why book selection takes longer than we always want it to. We look for books with a suitable length for reading aloud (try to fit this into a 6 week time frame), with characters who our kids will relate to but who also offer a look into another’s world, books with familiar Kiwi settings, and books which have opportunities for students to inquire into particular topics of interest which arise in the story.
The team would like to thank the NZ Book Council for their support and the hunt for books has already started!
as much as we try to get #NZreadaloud out to other teachers through conferences (we presented at ULearn2017), local #educamps as well as school-based staff meetings, we were disappointed when our abstract for the inaugural New Zealand Primary Teachers Conference in Wellington was not accepted. Knowing the success we have seen and been told about, we were looking forward to getting #NZreadaloud out to a wider audience and gaining more traction. Unfortunately not to be … not this year anyway!
This response from Belinda (Year 1 / 2) shows the grit we need to continue to promote #NZreadaloud.
And this response shows the support we have from our amazing authors:
Despite set-backs, we will persevere in getting #NZreadaloud out to teachers in Aotearoa.
We look forward to what #NZreadaloud and NZ Book Council can do together in the future to continue promoting NZ writers and the culture of reading and writing.
Nga mihi mahana
I am writing a quick post to reflect on What You Are Saying from the Google Survey I posted in the FB group.
Like we all know, reflecting on what we are doing and getting feedback and feed-forward allows us to understand what is working and where the improvements need to be made.
Unfortunately, out of the many teachers who participated ACROSS the levels in Term 1, 2 & 3 this year only 15 teachers have gone onto the survey to share their feedback (it has been there all of Term 4). This is disappointing as it is the only way, as a team, we can really gauge what is working, where we need to make improvements, and how we can make the #NZreadaloud experience the best it can be for those teachers willing to step out of the ‘norm’ and try something different.
My concern is that when new teachers DO register and participate and their experience does not live up to what WE as a team know it can be, we need to know why this has happened. That is why the surveys are really vital.
Those of us on the team, myself (Year7 /8), the awesome Jemma Thorogood (Year 5 / 6) who leads this Year level from Tamatea Intermediate, the extraordinary Crystal Hewitt (Year 3 / 4) who is actively promoting #NZreadaloud wherever she can, the amazing Belinda Whyte (Year 1 / 2) who does this mahi on top of her work as a Resource Teacher of Literacy from her Levin school, and the ever-persevering Karen Wilson (Year 9 / 10) who continues to believe in #NZreadaloud for High School students and struggles to get others to do the same – are totally and absolutely dedicated and committed to #NZreadaloud as a new (literacy) pedagogy. I put this in brackets because all the team know that ‘doing’ literacy this way is not only about literacy but about an integrated approach to all learning.
The 5 of us use (or have used when in a classroom) #NZreadaloud in our classrooms over the last 3 (or 4 years for some of us) and have
watched reluctant readers learn to love stories
have watched learners understand language features and how they work and why authors use them because they are being exposed to them and taught about them IN CONTEXT
have seen our students writing improve HEAPS because they are being exposed to and taught text structure, great language use, conventions of text IN CONTEXT
have watched kids follow their own curiosities and wonderings and lead their own inquiries in the classroom
have watched as kids are so totally engaged in the stories being read that they ask us to keep reading and don’t want to wait for the next day
have seen the excitement of connecting to others outside the walls of our classrooms and learn alongside others around the country – whether that is via Edmodo, Twitter or through Google Hangouts – this includes the invaluable contributions from the many authors who give up their time to connect with the kids reading their books
have seen previously disengaged kids re-engage by using Sketchnoting as a way to follow along with a story
have listened and watched what a good reader does while reading – use of expression, pauses, tone, volume, and THINKING ALOUD
have watched how inclusive this pedagogy is – when everyone is involved together; kids get to listen to each others’ contributions, questions, and predictions and the thinking becomes visible to others which helps everyone learn how to interact with text – kids are teaching kids without even realising it
These are just skimming the surface of the learning which becomes visible during participation in #NZreadaloud.
I have digressed off the purpose of my post … the feedback and feed-forward!
Here it is with some of my own responses added underneath.
So word of mouth seems to be the way this kaupapa is spread. So we NEED teachers to continue to bring others on board. But this will only happen if their experience has been a positive one and they see the difference it can make.
Unfortunately due to the small numbers of respondents, this doesn’t really provide us with anything valid to make further decisions about which Year levels we need to target. I could make an assumption that Year 7 / 8 teachers are more invested in the success of #NZreadaloud as they are prepared to give their feedback. Or it could be that other teachers are not in the FB group where the survey was shared. GET IN THE FACEBOOK GROUP!
Although the majority of respondents were happy with their experience, the one respondent who wasn’t is what we need to focus on – WHY is this?
And here is something we can work on … our team leaders need to be ACTIVE in promoting good Digital Citizenship from the other teachers in their group. They need to ensure they are regularly communicating with teachers in their team and leading the way in regards to inappropriate commenting. The other issue which has arisen here is the lack of commitment from some teachers to the process. #NZreadaloud is not a ‘programme’ where you join and leave the rest up to the team leader. #NZreadaloud is not a ‘programme’ you join where ‘questions’ and ‘other stuff’ is provided to you. #NZreadaloud is about building other leaders and teachers having their own agency – what activities does the book lend itself to? Do we ALWAYS have to have ‘activities’ for the kids to ‘do’? Sometimes a hearty discussion in class and / or kids leading their own discussions in Edmodo or Twitter is just as valuable (if not more). If you sign up you need to understand this.
And then there is ALL this great feedback. THIS is the stuff which we as a team see and know. When it is done ‘properly’ with commitment AND NOT AN ADD-ON #NZreadaloud blows us away with what we see happen in the classroom. More importantly what the kids say about it.
I think the comment which stands out to me is ‘teachers need to take ownership’. Like I mentioned before, #NZreadaloud is not a ‘programme’ which you sign up for and others do the mahi for you. It is a collaborative initiative which was started originally because ‘why do we have to teach reading the way we have always done it’? #NZreadaloud is for teachers who want something more now, something different, something which can integrate other curriculum areas, something which flattens the walls of our classrooms and provides opportunities for transformational use of the devices our kids use in the classroom.
BUT it takes commitment on your part to involve yourself just like we are asking our kids to involve themselves. We need to model curiosity, we need to model how we post in Edmodo and ask questions to deepen their thinking, we need to set up connections via Google Hangouts or Twitter, we need to go into #NZreadaloud with ENTHUSIASM and belief that this can be something more than what they have had before. We MUST be prepared to demonstrate what a great reader does – act the stories out! Bring some emotion to the story. This is the stuff that will engage our kids. Let #NZreadaloud lead the inquiries your kids do. Pull out the wonderings from your kids and let them investigate these. Along the way teach them how to sketchnote – a lifelong skill. So much, so much.
I will leave it there now.
Some things for all participants to think about. Some work-ons for us as a team managing the Year groups – to endeavour to help out our leaders and ensure they understand their vital role if we want to continue to build this connected literacy experience.
Nga mihi nui ki a koutou katoa
Left to right: Ximena, Sandra, myself, Kaehlah, Crystal, Jemma, Karen (in front)
Thanks to Grass Roots Initiative and the funding they awarded me, the #NZreadaloud team presented at ULearn17.
Although speaking in front of people is really not my thing and I get quite anxious, the experience was made less stressful with the team sharing alongside me. We hope that participants experienced a little of what #NZreadaloud is all about.
It is not just reading aloud.
We hope this came through in what we shared. #NZreadaloud can infuse a whole lot of learning experiences; which are mostly student led. Our New Zealand authors have told us how much they love the initiative – as they get to connect with their readers. This is what we love about it. Our kids get an opportunity to listen to the authors of the books tell them about life as a writer and they get to see that the writers of the books we select are real people!
Here is a Flipgrid which shares some of our author voice.
Along side the learning which can take place in the classroom is the connected aspect of #NZreadaloud. Flattening the walls of our classrooms and using digital tools for authentic purposes like real time discussion with other learners and authors in Twitter, learners participating in literary discussions in Edmodo, Skyping or having a Google Hangout with others participating, authors, or experts is where the real memorable moments come from.
I will share the Flipgrid of student voice – as this is what really matters. Those of us who believe in the power of #NZreadaloud see the enjoyment on our learners’ faces when we are doing #NZreadaloud. It is an inclusive way to ‘do literacy’.
Lastly, but by no means least, is our teacher voice. The Flipgrid below shares the stories of some of the teachers who have participated on a regular basis over the last 3 years. I would like to thank the teachers who are choosing to do something different for their kids and all of the teachers who have taken on a team leader role. Without you, we couldn’t make this happen.
I am writing this add-on acknowledgment to our connected teachers who joined us via Google Hangout for our presentation.
Thank you Belinda for sitting and waiting (in Levin) while we did our introduction. It was fantastic to have you share the Year 1/2 side of things as you and Ximena have worked hard to make this work for our new entrant learners.
To Laura who joined from Connecticut, USA, to share how #NZreadaloud can be part of a Global programme – your contribution was valuable and insightful for the teachers listening in.
Modelling how easy it is to connect to teachers around New Zealand and the world was explicitly demonstrated during these parts of our presentation; a vital part of what we wanted to share.
To end this post, I am sharing the link to our ULearn17 presentation here.
We have also started a Padlet for teachers to ask questions on. We have tried to make this blog a ‘one-stop-shop’ but sometimes there is still something you don’t ‘get’. Please use the Padlet to ask and we will check in on it regularly and answer:)
Kia ora rawa atu mō tō koutou whakarika o te kaupapa.
Kerri and team!
Time to reflect.
We have just finished #NZreadaloud7. Another wonderful book in our Year 7 / 8 category. Another wonderful six weeks of connecting, discussing, sketchnoting, inquiring and most of all changing the reading attitudes of many learners.
This example of a #booksnap is an example of something we did after the book had finished. Share your favourite language feature, a ONE word summary, and something you learnt from the book. Use Bitmojis to help with your visual.
#NZreadaloud has become a HUGE part of what I do in my classroom. My literacy programme is centered around it. I learnt early on that I couldn’t do #NZreadaloud justice if I didn’t take something else out. We can not keep adding things and not be expected that something else goes.
This reflection comes after feedback given to me from many of my team leaders. Teachers who sign up to #NZreadaloud must be familiar with the kaupapa behind its beginnings. To understand the WHY is essential – just like understanding why we are changing our pedagogy.
Understanding why #NZreadaloud was started will provide teachers with the necessary background to then move forward and learn about HOW we implement this read aloud into our programmes. Not saying you have to ‘do it just like us’ but the blog posts shared below show some of the immense learning which can come from infusing #NZreadaloud into other aspects of our programme.
I have written before about ‘It’s not just about reading aloud’. It is much more than that. This post was written after the very first #NZreadaloud I did back in 2015. Right from this very first experiment I knew this change was going to be worth it.
#NZreadaloud4JWM saw kids learning to juggle, finding out about rock climbing, seeing how a Growth Mindset is valuable in contexts outside the classroom.
#NZreadaloud5PoT was highlighted by a visit from Des Hunt where he shared his passion for writing and infused this with his passion for science – BRILLIANT. A writing workshop saw the kids learning to write a backstory for a character.
#NZreadaloud6TGoT was another awesome book with participation from another amazing New Zealand author. Sue Copsey joined the kids on Twitter and regularly responded to questions and contributed to discussion.
And all this is only Year 7 / 8 section.
The purpose for this post is to ask that teachers who are considering participating in #NZreadaloud read the backstory, read the purpose, read the #eduvoice and #stuvoice, and everything else on this blog BEFORE registering. The team have put together this blog with the vision of it being ‘a one-stop shop’.
This post has come about because of the feedback we received about ‘no shows’. We had many team leaders this time around who had team members who simply did not respond to emails, did not sign up to Edmodo (or if they did never participated in there), and to be blunt ruined the ‘connected literacy’ experience for others in their team.
#NZreadaloud is about CONNECTING. It requires COLLABORATION. It requires a commitment which can only happen if teachers understand the kaupapa. You can not add #NZreadaloud into your programme as a ‘traditional’ read aloud as it requires more time than this. Done with the vision in mind, #NZreadaloud has potential to infuse into your WHOLE programme – I have seen the power of this integrated learning throughout the seven ‘read-alouds’ I have now done. My learners are empowered as they decide the questions to ask and discuss, they decide what topics of interest they can follow up on, they decide which new words they want to pursue. #NZreadaloud provides choice.
#NZreadaloud is about empowerment not compliance.
#NZreadaloud is not an initiative where you are provided with tasks and questions, it is not an initiative where you join and leave it up to your leader to do all the collaborating, it is not an initiative that you should consider if you are not prepared to ‘change the way you have always done something’.
#NZreadaloud has become a powerful way to engage learners in literacy and then infuse all the book offers into your programme. The kids can drive this. You need to listen to their korero and jump on any little comment made which can turn into an opportunity for them to inquire.
Please think carefully about your decision to participate.
Know thy impact.
Last year Jemma, Karen and I were the lucky #NZreadaloud team members who got to travel to Waitangi for the 2016 Literacy Association Conference ‘Navigating Literaseas’.
This was Jemma and my first time presenting at a conference and as nerve-wracking as it was, it was also a terrific experience.
On this page I have shared the Google presentation we prepared for the conference as it will help teachers to see where #NZreadaloud fits in with the curriculum. We thought it was a good idea as there has been feedback that ‘#NZreadaloud is difficult to fit in’ with everything else which teachers are having to do. Our response to this is … when we add something new to our programmes we need to take something else out. Otherwise we could keep adding and adding. Our staunch #NZreadaloud teachers can tell you that the programme on its own has the potential to cover reading and writing if you allow it to. If you are willing to take it a step further, you can base your whole integrated programme around a read aloud; which is why we think VERY carefully about the book selection. The books we have selected so far have seen our students driving their own inquiries into topics / themes which arise in the story. This type of authentic learning is exciting to see in action.
Anyway, here is the slide show …
So the idea of a collaborative ‘read aloud’ is all teachers are reading the set chapters during that particular week… preferably finishing by the Wednesday/Thursday so some discussion and sharing can take place Thursday / Friday.
Feel free to have some ‘slow chats’ via Twitter using #NZreadaloud(no.) throughout the week. Any of you teachers or your students can tweet a question or thought for discussion at any time.
The sharing which takes place at the end of the ‘set’ Chapters may be in the form of a twitter chat, some online sharing using Tackk or Padlet, tasks/questions posted in Edmodo groups, or possibly a Google Hangout.
This is about being flexible and using what works for you in your class with your kids. I have found it is engaging to use a variety of collaborative tools with our kids for this.
Here is my TeachMeetNZ presentation which explains #NZreadaloud in 3 minutes (or almost!)
Below is the Google Slideshow I presented at #TeachMeetNZ july 18th 2015.
How does it function?
Below is an overview of who does what, as well as the various interactions that exist within the world of Edmodo.