A ‘Flamboyant’ approach to remedial reading

By Leanne Kurz

Nestled amongst the Flamboyant trees on the outskirts of the small town of White River in Mpumalanga, is a small remedial school with a big heart.

Flamboyant School has embarked on a dynamic daily reading programme to help children in grades 4–9 overcome their barriers to learning. The word ‘dynamic’ relates to the teacher being actively involved with the child in the reading process.

Reading forms part of the acquisition of language, integrated with the skills of listening, speaking and writing. Therefore, if a child has a reading problem, the other language skills are also affected.

Relevant methodologies

On every week day except Monday, for 25 minutes, the students move to their allocated groups and classes where a teacher accompanies them on a specialised, serious reading journey. The aim is to ignite in each child a passion for reading. Each Friday, reading games are played, reinforcing what has been learned during the week. The children are grouped according to their ability, thus each child has an opportunity to achieve success at the end of every lesson. Activities are planned in such a way to intrinsically motivate children.

Each week, staff members are given a resource pack to use as a springboard for their lessons. Their briefing includes the request to work according to the class’s own pace. Running concurrently with the reading initiative is a computer-based programme. Groups of scholars spend time in the computer room on a rotational basis, completing a range of visual perception exercises. Aspects of syllabification and punctuation will be incorporated into the computer lessons in the second term. Vocabulary is built up each week, and the pupils display their newly acquired words on a notice board in the school’s main passageway – an ideal methodology for daily subconscious reinforcement.

The teachers apply these kinds of techniques to all the subjects being taught. For example, when the children are learning about how to identify the main idea of a topic, their content subject notes are incorporated into the programme. The first term’s course this year revolved around the theme of sport, and ‘prediction exercises’ regarding the Oscar Pistorius1 saga has been the latest theme – current events are incorporated whenever possible to make topics meaningful, relevant and interesting.

Everyone in on the action

The teacher pack is created from many forays onto the internet, sourcing an exciting range of activities including games, cards and lesson plans. This pack is tailor-made to meet the needs and interests of the pupils. Numerous teachers have already come forward with additional resources they have personally sourced them What is particularly exciting for me to see is the ripple effect on our staff as they become co-owners of the programme. Teamwork at its best!

Reference:

1. South African Olympic star Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murdering his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, 2013. See, for example, http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2013/03/oscar-pistorius-murdercharge- tlc-documentary.

Category: Featured Articles, Winter 2013

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