PIRLS (2011) found that the time dedicated to literacy-related activities was highly correlated to the acquisition of reading literacy skills. In this regard, it makes sense, to select an intervention that spends time working on literacy-related activities with children who have literacy difficulties, in order to help them achieve reading literacy skills.
The Better Reading and Writing Progress looks at a number of literacy-related areas, one of which, is phonics and phonological awareness. The Education Endowment Foundation (2015) recently released a report suggesting that phonics-based schemes provide an advantage of about 4 months of reading age over other approaches they also suggest that work on phonological skills for reading should be embedded within a broad approach. These findings were some of the deciding reasons behind my choice in intervention.
Language skills and comprehension are another key area many children experience difficulties with. The intervention aimed to improve this area by teaching affective reading behaviours. Duke and Pearson (2002) outline a series of things good readers to when they read; they are active readers, they have goals in mind for their reading and assess whether the text they are reading is effectively meeting these goals, they look over what they read before they read it – noting things like the structure and which sections may be most relevant, they make predictions about what is coming etc. Not all children engage in these reading strategies but research shows that children can be taught these affective reading behaviours. Bereiter and Bird (1985) found that children who initially performed poorly in comprehension tests were able to achieve higher scores when they were taught reading strategies like think aloud. Similarly, Anderson and Pearson (1990) found children who were tutored in prediction and visualisation strategies integrated these reading behaviours into their own performance until it became second nature. The intervention incorporates lessons on affective reading behaviours to improve reading comprehension.
The final literacy area the intervention attempts to address is making reading enjoyable for the children. The U.S. Department of Education (2014) found that pupils who reported ‘liking’ reading were more likely to achieve high literacy grades. There is a well-established relationship between literacy development and time devoted to literary activities – as a result, it is important to select literacy and reading materials that elicit positive responses in children and make them want to engage in literacy-related activities. According to recent statistics only 26% of 8 year-olds in Northern Ireland report ‘liking’ reading (PIRLS, 2011). Interventions that encourage a positive mentality towards reading in Northern Ireland and schools in this region are more important than ever.