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Tips for ‘Guiding Comprehension’ when reading.

Infants- First Class

1. Read to your child as often as you can.

2. Talk about books /characters / plots.

3. Enrol your child in the local library.

4. Provide a good role model by reading yourself / other family members.

5. Keep audio tapes of familiar stories to play in the car.

6. Vary the type of books read – stories /poems / information.

7. Accept your child’s efforts with praise.

8. Concentrate on what he /she got right.

9. Make reading together enjoyable.

10. Take part in school based initiatives like Literacy Lift Off.

2nd – 4th  Class

1. Continue to read to your child everyday.

2. Read some of the books your child enjoys so you can discuss them with him/her.

3. Encourage your child to read to younger brothers/ sisters.

4. Ensure that your child knows that you value and enjoy reading yourself.

5. Make sure there is a wide variety of reading material in your home – newspapers, magazines, information, cookery books etc.

6. Enrol and encourage your child to visit the local library once a week.

7. Discuss favourite authors.

8. Encourage your child to read articles / headlines in newspapers.

9. Encourage your child to guess unknown words.

5th and 6th Class

1. Encourage your child to visit the local library as often as possible.

2. Recognise and praise your child’s efforts in reading.

3. Ensure your child has access to a wide range of reading material –newspapers,

magazines, guides etc.

4. Take an interest in different children’s authors.

5. Discuss ideas and points of view proposed by newspaper articles etc.

6. Provide a well lit study / reading area.

7. Ensure that you value and enjoy reading yourself.

8. Allow your child to choose his /her own reading material.

9. Encourage your child to read for information – timetables / weather

forecasts / menus

10. Encourage your child to try and guess unknown words.


Category: Literacy Initiatives  Comments off

Writing Stations

We did writing stations in our classroom for 5 weeks. There were five different stations and we stayed at each station for 8 minutes. Some Moms and Dads came to help us with the writing stations. They helped us every day and we learned how to hold a scissors the right way & practise our cutting. We cut out shapes to make flowers, cars, angels, boats, snails etc. At station 2, we threaded shapes with laces, and we used playdough to make letters. Múinteoir Christine taught us how to write letters the correct way. She had lots of small white boards and we got to practice our letters on them. Sometimes M. Christine called out words and we had to write them on the boards. We were writing stories with Múinteoir Nóirin. When we were writing our stories we used the 5 Ws – who, what, where, when and why. We wrote stories about mice, turtles, birds, caterpillars and frogs. We did rainbow writing with Múinteoir Jennifer; we had to write over a word lots of times with different colours and we were learning how to spell words. Sometimes words were mixed up in sentences and we had to write the words in the right order. We learned about capital letters and full stops as well.

The writing stations were fun!

Infant Classroom

The writing stations are fun. We get to play with play dough and shapes, and we cut out paper to make pictures. I don’t find cutting hard anymore! M. Christine is teaching us how to write our letters the right way. We are writing capital letters. We sometimes do rainbow writing; you have to write over a word 5 times using different colours. It helps us to spell words.

Gavin Fleming,  Senior Infants

I like the writing stations, especially when we get to write on the whiteboards. We write different letters and we must make sure they are on the line. M. Jennifer is teaching us about capital letters and full stops. M. Nóirin is helping us to make stories. We wrote a story about birds. They can fly and they eat worms. I drew a blackbird for my story. I like writing and I am getting really good at it!

Colin O’Leary, Senior infants

  • Writing station - story structure
  • Fine motor muscle development
  • Writing station - letter formation
  • Story structure, stage 2
  • Cutting station - mine motor control
  • Fine motor development
  • Letter development

Category: Literacy Initiatives  Comments off

Guided Reading

Success all round…
Comments by pupils in Ranganna 4, 5, 6
  • I enjoyed Guided Reading because the novel I read was very interesting and I acquired new information about Irish history that I hadn’t previously known.
  • I really liked it because we got to read in a group in class and when somebody made a mistake, the others in the group were there to correct it.
  • I didn’t find it boring; I can’t wait to read the next two books from the author.
  • I thought it was a great help to me in understanding grammar and comprehension. I also liked the fact that the groups were small so we could all discuss the novel in great detail.
  • I found the book very challenging in some parts but I enjoyed it because it helped me recognise new words.
  • It helped me with spelling and comprehension and I like predicting and enjoyed making images in my head.
What is Guided Reading?

The purposes of it is to expose children to a wide range of literature, teach comprehension and teach children how to read with books that become increasingly harder. Children read from multiple copies of trade books. The block usually begins with a discussion led by the teacher to build or review any background knowledge necessary to read the selection. Comprehension strategies are taught and practised during this block. This block also includes writing in response to reading.


With Guided Reading, instruction can be streamlined to meet the individual needs of each student within a group. This is very essential in teaching a critical skill such as reading. Instruction is easily managed in small groups and the teacher is able to give individual attention to the group members. The teacher meets them where they are, moving them along so they can progress with confidence.

Guided Reading is similar to Shared Reading but focuses in on the needs of each child within a group. The importance of individualised attention can’t be over-emphasised. Since the reading materials gradually become more difficult, students have the opportunity to apply the strategies they learn within their group and feel like successful readers!

What are the benefits of Guided Reading?
  • Reading strategies are strengthened as the students are engaged in a particular story.
  • As the teacher introduces the story, children learn about cueing, predicting, and monitoring.
  • Assessing prior knowledge strengthens comprehension.
  • Students can practice recognising sight words.
  • Students learn the skill of predicting and inferring meaning.
  • Capitalisation and punctuation concepts are reinforced.
  • Students learn about sequencing of the story — the setting, characters, and beginning, middle and the end of the text.
  • Students have the opportunity to practice self-correction.

Rang 4, 5, 6: Guided Reading Stations

Category: English, Literacy Initiatives  Comments off

Story Sack

The story sack is fun. In our story sack, there is a book called ‘Cock-a-Doodle-Doo, Farmyard Hullabaloo!’, a farm set with lots of animals, hay, a feather, worksheets and a farmer’s cap. We take turns to take it home from school for a night. We read the story at home with our Mom and Dad and then we get to play with the farm set. We can wear the farmer’s cap and pretend to be the farmer! My favourite part about the story sack is the book because there is a lot of reading in it and the story is good.

Eoin O Driscoll, Seniors

I did lots of worksheets from the story sack. There is a farmer’s hat in the story sack and I put it on. I pretended to be a farmer. A farmer does lots of work on the farm. He has to feed the animals and cut silage. He ploughs the fields and he milks the cows every day. I would like to be a farmer when I grow up. 

 Dara Weathers, Seniors

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Literacy Lift Off

Reading Initiative

Literacy Lift Off reading initiative with 1st, 2nd & 3rd Class,
Sept-Oct 2012

We have found this programme to be very successful and beneficial to pupils of all reading abilities in the Junior and Middle Classes. We believe that Early Intervention is the key to successful reading and writing.

“Literacy Lift-Off”, also known as “Power-Hour” or “Guided Reading”, is an intensive programme of reading and writing, which gives the pupils a lot of opportunities to read books at their own level of competency. It gradually lifts the complexity of what they can do in both reading and writing by equipping them with the necessary problem-solving skills. Pupils on the programme would typically be expected to progress at the rate of one level per week. The aim of Literacy Lift-Off is to make pupils constructive learners. It teaches them ‘how’ to problem-solve independently.

It is implemented in blocks of 6/8weeks in the Junior and Middle classes in Primary School. Diverse activities are essential for extending literacy processing power. Hence, the pupils work in ‘stations’ to carry out a number of activities in reading and writing, under the guidance of teachers, Special Needs Assistants and parents. The programme uses specially graded “PM+” readers. Pupils are assessed and grouped according to their reading ability prior to the commencement of the programme.

Station 1:

Familiar Reading
Pupils read previously seen PM+ Readers.
Purpose: Development of enjoyment, fluency, comprehension and speed.

Station 2:

Word Work
They use magnetic letters on the whiteboard to make and break words.
Purpose: To show children how words work, so that they can make a fast visual analysis of their reading.

Station 3:

Pupils write sentences based on their own experiences, using words that they encounter in their readers.
Purpose: That they will learn how they can write their own messages by hearing and recording sounds in words, using analogy and learning unusual words.

Station 4:

New Reading
Encountering new texts each day challenges the pupils to discover new ways to go beyond their current operating ability and lift their literacy processing.
Purpose: Pupils learn to use strategic activities to read new texts.

Station 5:

At this station, the pupils listen to a variety of stories.
Purpose: To develop their listening abilities and imaginative use of words.

Station 6:

Stile Trays
The Stile Tray is the key to the self-checking activities of the programme. Pupils answer the questions by simply placing each of the eight/twelve numbered tiles on the appropriate square on the base of the tray. When all the tiles have been placed, they close the tray, turn it over, and reopen it to reveal a geometric pattern.
Purpose: To self correct comprehension exercises. If the answers are all correct, the pattern will match the one printed at the top of the exercise.

Station 7:

Eight key comprehension strategies are identified, namely, prediction, visualisation, making connections, questioning, clarifying, determining importance, inferring and synthesising. Each strategy is explicitly modelled through a think aloud process using high quality fiction and non-fiction picture books. Children’s understanding of each individual strategy is supported by Comprehension Process Motions which are hand movements that help to concretise abstract unseen cognitive processes thus reinforcing the learning through a kinaesthetic pathway.
Purpose: to teach comprehsion strategy skills.

  • Familiar Reading Station
  • Word Work Station
  • New Reading Station
  • Stile Trays Comprehension Station
  • Comprehension Strategies
  • Comprehension Station
  • Listening Station
  • Writing Station

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