The JoR Hour – What , How & more …
Joy of Reading (JoR) conducted ‘JoR Hour’ a pilot program of structured reading at TSWRS Narsingi, Telangana, India with a team of 4 volunteers (Sailaja, Shiney, Vandana, Harini), for the academic year 2019 – 2020. The JoR hour was conducted during the library hours for the children.
We conducted the JoR hour twice a week for two classes of fifth graders. Each class consisted of 40 children. Two of us were always present during each session and at rare times all the four of us were present to provide the much needed attention to individual groups of children. .
The books that JoR donated were levelled based on the GROW By methodology from Hippocampus. In order for children to pick out the book at the right level we first measured reading levels of all the children. The children were then grouped according to their reading levels to facilitate like minded support groups and also help us in conducting targeted level based Interactive Read Aloud Sessions.
During the Library Hour
The children checked out books of their own choice at their reading level. It’s important to note that the children were the ones who chose what book to read (at their level) during the library hour. Choice Reading is important to facilitate interest in reading. We also gave them a small exercise at the end of the story to express their own opinions and understanding of the story either in their local language or English. After finishing a book at their level and the exercise assigned, children were encouraged to take any book at any level and read.
Volunteers conducted Interactive Read Aloud (IRA) Sessions for one or two groups using books according to the level of the group. We adopted a round robin technique across the groups during the week to make sure every group was exposed to IRA. During the read alouds, reading and comprehension techniques were also taught so that children knew how to read a book successfully even if they did not understand every word in the book. At the end of the Read Aloud we asked the children to explain the content of one page in their own words..
We also had a couple of struggling readers groups per class. These children struggled to read in English and also in comprehending the text. There were also children who were able to read the text but could not comprehend what they read. We gave extra attention to the struggling readers group.A volunteer conducted the Interactive Read Aloud session with struggling readers group consistently every week during this program. Every child was also asked to read one page of the book by themselves to develop confidence in reading. We also helped them learn FRY’s sight words .Thus during the JoR hour, the children read at least one book at their level and also completed a fun and a simple exercise. This systematic approach helped develop interest in reading amongst the children and helped us determine their understanding..
What did we see?
We used the Hippocampus level measurement – GROW BY methodology (Green, Red, Orange, White, Blue, Yellow) – increasing order of difficulty. Our observations from the 5th A and 5th B class.
(*) 50% of Green reduced to 10%
(*) 16% of Orange increased to 48% Orange+
(*) 70% of Green reduced to 25%
(*) 7.5 % Orange increased to 25%
(*) "Principals from other TSWRS schools who visited the Narsingi school, observed that quite a few 5th graders attempted to speak in English and were impressed.
(*) Children attempted to speak in English whenever they could with the volunteers.
(*) Every group enacted a skit based on one story they chose at their level
This testimonial from an English Teacher on the reading journey of the students was very encouraging.
“I observe a subtle difference in the 5th class children this year. They don’t seem to waste time roaming around, when they have free time but they seem to use their time either in art, reading, writing or something else. I have not observed this in other class children so far. The 5th class kids are more mature, and their character is much better.” She believed that reading has made a significant difference. This was an intangible outcome but invaluable as inculcating moral values is a life long learning !
These results were observed after a period of 7 months with the JoR hour being conducted twice a week. With a systematic approach, more than 60% of the class moved up a reading level. The children also went through their regular school courses which also contributed to the improvement. However the qualitative observations was a testimony that the program had helped in multiple fronts especially with the increase in the number of children attempting to speak in English. Reading books according to one’s level made the whole reading experience pleasant and provided the required confidence to children that they could read English story books!
The reading level knowledge could come handy while teaching English . Children could learn and apply grammar concepts and comprehension techniques with text at their level (rather than understanding it from one standard text ).
Many of the children who joined TSWRS at 5th grade were from local language medium schools. Due to less exposure to the English language the children fell in the struggling readers group. However wIth focussed attention from volunteers and strong determination from children, more than 50% of children at the struggling readers group moved one level up as we observed from the results. A few hard workers improved more than one reading level up. A handful of children did not make any progress which was understandable.
A 5th class English text book @ TSWRS is at Orange level and a quick and effective technique needs to be adopted to bridge the gap in English levels. Learning the language through stories is fun, interesting and last but not the least effective. And reading regularly helps in inculcating the reading habit as well. We were able to achieve two objectives through our effort ! In our own style, the moral of the story is “Aim to get two mangoes with one stone !! “
Level Improvement Graphs
“GREEN- ” means struggling readers at Green level
“GREEN” means readers at Green level
We have ‘-‘ group just to create 2 groups within a level. The ‘-‘ group is a bit lower than the regular Group i.e RED- < RED
Our plan is to continue to equip librarians and English teachers with tools to help them in their teaching journey, so that their students pick up the right book and continue to progress in their reading levels.