Frontloading Reading for understanding in the classroom - Mr T beattie

Something that may have happened in your classroom already this week is that you may have given your pupils a chunk of text to read. Whether on the board or from a book, it happens in classrooms regularly. What is best practice though? An earlier episode from 'Teaching Technique Tuesday' (catchy...Cheesy...all of the above) dealt with reading aloud in class and how to improve fluency, this week we are looking at reading for understanding. What is best practice? How should we approach texts in the classroom? Do we hand out the book, give out the page number and ask pupils to get on with it, do we give a very brief overview of the topic or do we go as far as checking for any understanding before letting them loose?

Some people refer to it as frontloading. I think it sounds less like a wrestling move and is slightly easier to comprehend when we call it pre-teaching vocabulary. Either way, it is a very powerful tool that can be used by the teacher before asking students to read, in order to ensure better understanding.
By giving students explicit instruction in vocabulary, teachers help them learn the meaning of new words and strengthen their independent skills for constructing meaning from text (Kamil, Borman, Diole, Kral, Salinger, & Torgesen, 2008).
I am delighted to say that one of our support for learning teachers and resident literacy expert Mrs Albina Howard will be in Room 4102 on Wednesday taking us through some CLPL on pre-teaching vocabulary from 1320, please feel free to come along and bring your lunch!

The more pupils understand key vocabulary, the easier it will be for them to understand the topic. Some might argue that the time we have in class during a period can often limit how much work around texts can actually take place. I would argue that taking a little time to pre-teach just enough information or vocabulary will allow pupils to gain a much deeper understanding of the text.

When I think of the last time I watched a movie on Netflix I definitely read the blurb or synopsis, possibly even watched the trailer beforehand. It helped me understand the plot and I knew what was coming, I ALWAYS do this and it always sets me up for what is coming next. Sometimes being taken by surprise by the plot is fun, but I definitely understand the first 30 minutes more if I have an idea what is going on. Could this be translated to pupils and key texts?

There are many teaching techniques that we can use to help us frontload vocabulary. This video is from a maths teacher, but gives an example of a technique that can be used over a number of disciplines and curricular areas. The William and Mary school of education in Virginia have some great resources, one very handy tip is to use a vocabulary choiceboard as seen below, why not experiment and let me know how it goes (ddtbeattie520@glow.sch.uk)

Vocabulary choiceboard

Hope this helps and a reminder again that if you are free please come along to the CLPL in room 4102 in room at 1320.


Created with images by Pedro Nogueira - "Lost in Red Light" • NeONBRAND - "untitled image" • Kyle Glenn - "Always room to grow" • Charles Deluvio 🇵🇭🇨🇦 - "Browsing Netflix"

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