Academic journal article The International Schools Journal

Learning to Read: Where Does It Happen?

Academic journal article The International Schools Journal

Learning to Read: Where Does It Happen?

Article excerpt


Pedagogical practices in International Baccalaureate (IB) schools are guided by a set: of standards and practices, which are used in the evaluation of IB programmes. These standards and practices require that teaching and learning address the diversity of student language needs and that teaching and learning demonstrate that all teachers are responsible for the language development of students (IB, 2010; IB, 2008; IB, 2009).

Furthermore, the IB language policy uses Halliday's (1985) description of the three strands of language and learning to guide language instruction across all subject areas in all four IB programs: learning language; learning through language; and learning about language. Teachers in all grade levels and across all subject areas are responsible for the language development of students in an IB programme.

These IB pedagogical practices related to the development of language impact a growing number of students across the globe. The IB provides an international curriculum for 3,923 schools in 147 countries with over 1,000,000 students from three to 18 years of age (IB, 2014) enrolled in one of the four IB programmes: Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP), Diploma Programme and Careerrelated Certificate. Considering the expectations related to the teaching of language, formalized in the IB's standards and practices, it was anticipated that in an IB classroom, evidence of the explicit teaching of reading skills should be found in classrooms across subjects and across grades.

During the course of the study to be discussed below, in the case of reading, not only were cases of explicit reading instruction rare, levels of reading-based discourse were low. Furthermore, the reading-based discourse identified tended to be teacher-centred. From the perspective of competing discourses in the classroom, it seemed that reading was lost: among classroom talk.

The exposure of students to reading and to explicit reading instruction in IB classrooms is particularly important considering recent findings across a range of schools that: suggest many students have limited ability to comprehend text (Beck, Blake, & McKeown, 2009) and that levels of explicit instruction in reading are extremely low (Dewitz, Jones, & Leahy, 2009) with low levels of reading in classrooms, especially of informational texts (Duke, 2000; Moss, 2008). Within the context of research suggesting that explicit instruction improves students' ability to comprehend text (Spörer, Brunstein, & Kiesehke, 2009; Roe, Kolodziej, Stoodt-Hill, & Burns, 2012; Vaughn, et al, 2010; Allington, 2011) low levels of reading time in the classroom (Allington R L, 2012) is a serious concern. Allington & Gabriel (2012, p. 10) suggest: that effective reading instruction doesn't require much time or money - just educators' decisions to put them in place.

If schools are to help their teachers make this important decision, they need to better understand the nature of classroom discourse associated with reading. The results of this study are a step in this direction for both the IB programmes and the wider educational community, as we come to understand that it is not just more reading time that is needed in our classrooms; it is a higher level of active engagement in reading, which we must: provide through the careful structuring of our classroom discourse.

The study

The degree to which one school's pedagogical practices aligned with intended IB pedagogy was examined in a larger study, of which this paper presents one part related to the range of reading related discourse evident in classrooms (see Endnoté). The study took place in a linguistically diverse Tokyo-based international school implementing three IB programmes, the PYP, MYP and Diploma Programme. All programmes are delivered in English with Japanese language instruction in every grade. The student population represented over 70 nationalities and faculty represented 13. …

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