Research School Network: How we Implemented Daily Tutor Reading Remotely

How we Implemented Daily Tutor Reading Remotely

by Greenshaw Research School
on the

These past eight weeks have been like no other in my entire teaching career. I know with certainty that I’m not alone in saying that.

With less warning than you’d get from some traders on Amazon delivering a haul of retro sweets or a flamingo-shaped inflatable lilo, our education system was turned upside down.

In the couple of weeks which preceded this new normal’, there were rumbles of closures’ and whispers of remote learning’. It was in this brief period of madness and planning that I considered how we might best translate what has been such a transformative programme in every single one of our Greenshaw Learning Trust secondaries into an online alternative. While there was an obvious easy route to temporarily park the programme while we were away from school and take this time to just focus on academic subjects, I felt compelled to reimagine what this could look like remotely, for these key reasons:

  1. We have worked incredibly hard to shift the culture of our schools, and believe our students can now proudly assert the identity of being a reader’
  2. We see the cathartic impact daily reading has on our students in our schools, and wanted that to continue in their different home environments
  3. We want to continue offering a door into worlds and plots that offer some kind of escape’ from the strange reality of the here and now
  4. Reading continues to be one of the best ways to expose students to rich and vast vocabulary, which they are unlikely to encounter in a day-to-day environment, however scholarly a family home might be
  5. We wanted students to tangibly feel connected to school, by engaging with a daily diet they are familiar with – starting the day just as they would, sitting in tutor time

So, what did we do?

We took our non-negotiable core principles from our Tutor Reading Programme and put them into a series of videos.

Every day, students across each of our secondary schools, and many other non-GLT schools too, click on the relevant playlist for their year group, and watch a 15-minute video. The video reveals the voice of an adult reading the story to them, with the camera facing the page directly, and the reader using a ruler for students to follow along with. This is as close as we could get to the real thing, where they’d usually have a book in front of them. Students listen and watch for 15 minutes, learning more about the characters and plot as they go, until that day’s video is over.

Once the 15-minute video has finished, students then click onto a Google Form, and complete ten comprehension questions (almost all are multiple choice) based on that day’s extract. We usually have 1 – 2 questions at the end of the form for opinion responses, encouraging students to give thoughts and feelings about certain points in the story. We require student email addresses on each form, and use these to match responses to their other subjects, meaning we can keep a track of engagement on a daily basis. It is then very clear to see who is and is not participating. And, simply, that’s it.

We’ve centred much of our reading practice around language acquisition findings, well-documented studies on vocabulary tiers, recommendations from recent literature to read challenging texts, and far beyond.

From the incredible response we’ve had (over 150K views on YouTube and tens of thousands of returns on our comprehension quizzes), we know this has been a real success in this period of remote learning and, to some extent, a time of real unknowns.

To reflect on what has made this programme work so well, I’d suggest the following:

  1. Students buy into the programme because they’re familiar with it in the non-remote world too
  2. We have tried to select a range of very interesting texts which are not in our usual canon, so none of these will be duplications of their own school texts
  3. In the main, our students love to read
  4. It’s consistent and turns up every single day – a new extract to offer fresh food for thought whether it’s Groundhog Day again or not
  5. We promote it and maintain strong communication with parents and carers to ensure students are engaging with it

We’re certainly not perfect. And there are certainly more ways of doing this, and perhaps better too. But we’re confident we’re offering our absolute best to these students and that is the motivation which drives us to keep going.

Josie Mingay – School Improvement Lead, Greenshaw Learning Trust

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