Across the Manaiakalani cluster, schools are not as good at teaching reading comprehension as they are at writing. I hypothesise there may be little shared language of reading instruction across schools as there is now established for writing (e.g. recount, narrative, adjectives etc). I also hypothesise that reading mileage - time actively spent reading or comprehending - may not be as high for reading as it is for writing.
Interviews will be conducted with as many of the 31 accelerated students and their Year 8 reading teachers as possible, and a very small sample of online class timetables and reading programmes will be explored. As time is limited, this will be done as a random selection of teachers, terms, weeks and reading groups. Qualitative analysis of interviews will be done via heuristic coding, and when drawing conclusions links will be made to existing literature. Finally, suggestions will be made.
Student interviews - Method
By the time I conducted student interview in late April the number of Year 9 students enrolled at Tamaki College from Manaiakalani feeder Primary schools had decreased. Therefore, the number of students who had made accelerated progress in their reading from T1 to T4 in Manaiakalani schools in Year 8 had also decreased: from 38 down to 31.
Interviews were held as six focus group sessions with between three and four participants. Of the 31 students who made accelerated improvement in reading comprehension in 2018, 18 were available to interview. These took place between 9am and 12.50pm on Monday 29th April. Two interviews were located in a classroom, two in the library, one on a stairwell and one on a bench outside. Participants were an equal split of girls and boys. I currently teach three of the 18 participants, and therefore am almost a stranger to the other 15.
Interviews began by introducing myself and explaining why I would like to talk to students about their reading last year - that they had made big improvements in their reading in Year 8! Bigger than most of New Zealand! And I would like to find out how. Students responded to this with a mixture of surprise, disbelief and pride. One said she would tell her Mum, and her Mum would “probably buy me McDonald’s tonight.”
I also offered students the opportunity to go back to class - and let them know they absolutely didn’t have to talk to me at all. A few students first checked that nobody would know who they were, before agreeing to stay for the focus group.
Questions asked during the focus group interviews were:
- Where are you most likely to read?
- What sort of things do you read outside of school?
- When do you most enjoy reading?
- When does reading really frustrate you?
- How did you get ready for the PAT tests last year, at the start and at the end?
- When you were in a reading group last year, what sort of person were you? (At times this question was followed up by what sort of role did you take in the group?)
- Can you please describe a really common reading lesson or activity that you did in Year 8?
- What do YOU think caused your big improvement in reading last year?
Teacher interviews - Method
Russell Burt emailed Principals of Year 8 teachers who had sent at least one student who accelerated in reading to Tamaki College. After permission was gained, teachers were then approached for an interview. I was able to speak to 7 teachers from across Panmure Bridge School, Glen Innes Primary, Glenbrae Primary and Glen Taylor Primary, for which I’m very grateful as these busy teachers took time out of their day to meet with me. Another teacher from St Patrick’s School who had left Auckland was willing to answer my questions via email, as did one of the teachers from Point England School. All other open-ended interviews were conducted in person.
Starter questions included:
- What did your reading program look like in Y8 last year?
- What sort of reading did students do last year outside of any set 'reading' time you had?
- What is your hunch about the cause of Student X’s accelerated reading improvement last year?