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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Reading Video Clip 3

Instructional focus
Analysis of STAR data revealed that the students needed further support in building comprehension at the sentence and paragraph level, and their vocabulary also needed extending. Further gathering and analysis of data using data obtained from PROBE also identified the need for practice in making inferences. 

In this part of the session, Denise planned to use the text to help meet these needs by considering the author's point of view, by helping students to identify the author's message to the reader and to understand how that was conveyed in the text. This comprehension focus also provided opportunities for students to infer and justify their inferences when identifying the author's point of view.

The text was chosen because it linked to the class science topic (electricity), and supported students' learning needs in science as well as literacy. The shared reading approach was used to provide the necessary level of support and ensure that all students in the class could access the content of the text, including technical vocabulary, and participate in the discussion. 

Through planned links to their writing of explanations, Denise also wanted to explore how the author went about writing this part of his explanation. This was a direct link to what the students were doing in their writing, namely, to show, rather than tell, a point of view. 
The shared learning intention for the part of the session from which this interaction is taken was:

  • to make inferences to help us understand an author's point of view.

Watch the video and think about these questions:

Deliberate acts of teaching: questioning, prompting, and giving feedback

1. How does the teacher's use of questioning, prompting, and giving feedback: 

  • support the students towards meeting the shared learning intentions? 
  • engage students in a thoughtful, focused learning conversation? 
  • provide a language for students to think and talk about their literacy learning?


1. How does strategic instruction such as this lead students to become self-regulating, thus enabling them to take control of their learning?

Expert comment and transcript

Denise Durrant's reflections

The class is large - 32 students -  so it was important in the shared reading sessions to keep the students focused, and thinking about and discussing the text as much as possible. So I used ‘think pair share’ to provide opportunities for all students to be engaged and express their views and opinions. This strategy supported those students who are reluctant to contribute in a big group.

My objective in this segment of the lesson was to help the students to identify the author’s viewpoint and to understand that to do this they had to infer. The session provided further practice for the students to explore the text at a deeper level, and I was conscious of the need to keep referring them back to the text to find the evidence to support their inferences. Laura did this well and Michael piggy-backed on the idea and added more information. I was also pleased with the way the students were learning from each other and building on each other’s ideas. I’ve been working on this.

I was surprised by Connor’s comment. I hadn’t thought about that aspect and it was important to let the students know this. If this occurred again I would point out that Connor had made his inference using background knowledge beyond what was in the text, which is a valid thing to do.

Peter Johnston’s comments
Teacher: We’re going to sum up. What’s the author’s point of view about electrical storms? How does he feel about them? Discuss it with your neighbour.

The teacher names a process ‘summing up’ the group are about to engage in. 
Student discussion.

Teacher: What’s the author’s point of view about electrical storms? Laura?
The teacher reminds the students that the text was written by someone, and that writers have perspectives -  a foundation for critical literacy.

Laura: Um, well, he wants us to enjoy them, but then again you have to be aware of them.

Teacher: Could you show me in the text where you inferred that?

Asking Laura to ‘show’ is, again, building responsibility for knowledge. At the same time, as students point out the evidence for perspective, they have the whole concept of author point of view  - and thus of critical literacy-  reinforced. The teacher also names the strategy of inferring again.

Laura: Um, well with the safety tips he’s kind of telling us to be aware, but with... he’s kind of explaining what he’s like enjoying them, sort of thing?

Teacher: OK, could you just find in the text somewhere where it does tell you that he enjoys them and just read that bit to me?

Again, the teacher encourages responsibility for views by insisting on evidence.

Laura: Um

Teacher: Where you had to infer.

Again, the teacher names the process.

Laura: Oh, um, ‘And if you’re a lightning fan, enjoy the thunderstorm, but watch safely’?

Teacher: It does. You had to infer that he also enjoyed them. Good thinking. Michael?

Here the teacher points out that it’s not exactly in the text and reinforces the need to establish where it did come from. She also stresses that thinking is the valued process.

Michael: Like Laura, he likes them but, um, he knows what -  oh, yeah, he knows what to do around them and  it’s not saying you just take for granted, like, you take it seriously?

Michael’s questioning tone at the end suggests he thinks there is a right answer which he might not have.

Teacher: You take it seriously. Enjoy it, watch it, and respect it because it can be quite lethal, it can kill you. Connor.

The teacher’s tone of voice is important here.

Connor: Um, there’s a really big hint, um

Teacher: Oh, is there?

Connor: He must really like them because he wouldn’t have really wrote the book.

Teacher: That’s a good point, that’s something I hadn’t thought of, he wouldn’t have written the book if he hadn’t been interested in them.

This comment points out to the students that the teacher does not have all the knowledge to impart. Students can teach teachers. The teacher also reinforces the significance of the idea by repeating it.

Connor: Yes, if he hated them, or wasn’t interested in them at all, he would have said no, I don’t want to write it.

Teacher: OK. Thomas O.

Thomas O: Well, I think he likes it but he thinks it’s quite dangerous -  like, he just wants you to be aware of the dangers and what could happen and what you can do and what you can’t do.

Teacher: Beautifully said. You have said that very well and I think you’ve summed it up perfectly.

I wonder quite how this plays out. The ‘it’ remains undefined here and could refer to the main idea. I wonder whether ‘You have summed up our discussion very nicely’ would offer a narrative of collaborative construction of meaning instead of an individual getting the right meaning.

Published on: 22 Mar 2016