Friday, May 3, 2013

The Reading Initiative Workshop Notes - By Fitch O'Connell

      As a follow up to my previous blog post, I would like to share the interesting notes I got from attending the Initiative Reading workshop , given by Mr.O'Connell at the British Council with everyone of you.
   In the beginning, Mr.O'Connell stressed the importance of affective learning. By increasing the pupils' affective learning, we can trigger the learners' love for reading. And since children use their cognitive and affective skills equally, it's the teacher's responsibility to accentuate the leaners' love for reading. Reading is not only a data-driven activity ie. taking specific data from the text, it's asking them to respond to the story. Learners are much more engaged with critical thinking activities. As a matter of fact, the power of reading is beneficial to the power of memory. More importantly, learners feel a sense of ownership, they can design videos after reading the short narrative exemplfying the story or building up new events to the story. Hence, the learner is not a mere reader, but also, affectively engaged and becomes himself an owner, so proud of what he accomplished as a reader.
Here comes a good question: why should we use narratives, not any other literary form?
Narratives , as the format of constructing our lessons, are built on : binary opposition- conflict- resolution- conclusion.
However, we should distinguish between 7 different plots:
1- The quest: a lot of fairy tales ( such as: the Lord of the Rings, Apocalypse Now, Raiders of the Lost Ark)
These fairy tales revolve around a mythical world.
2-Voyage and Return:
The main character usually witnesses transformation after a journey such as : ( Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver's Travels, Back to the future)
A Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast ...
Comedy does not mean funny. Rather the weaknesses of the heroes are exploited.
The internal problem of the main character that creates the tragedy.
Hamlet, Macbeth,
6-Overcoming the monster:
Dracula, Jaws, Hansel and Gretel, The silence of the lambs, Frankstein
7-Rags to Riches:
Aladdin, Cindrella, Great expectations
        After having a clear view of the theoretical background of the workshop, we had the pleasure of living the joyful moment of reading ourselves by stepping into the shoes of our learners.       
Personally, the prereading activities were so engaging and motivating that we were so motivated to know more about the stories. Mr.Fitch knew very well how to whet our appetite and gave us clear pictures of how teachers should make the reading activity a joyful moment taking  the learners to a stroll in the realms of imagination.

  1. Prereading Activities:

-Harnessing students creativity
-All paths are potentially viable
-There are no wrong answers- though some may be better than others!
         * Must : 

  • Motivate
  • exlpore
  • engage
  • provide a framework


  • be negative
  • block enquire
  • be prescriptive
  • be assessable
  • demand written work          
  1.    2-While -Reading Activities :
  • Encourage speculation through open-ended questions
  • Avoid direct questions
  • Develop imagination
  • Support comprehension rather than test it
  • Don't disturb "Ownership"
  • Mix narrative delivery with silent reading
  1. 3-After Reading :
  • Explore general themes
  • Use different student skills
  • Link to the syllabus
  • Maybe more traditional in design
  • Assess overall understanding
  • Bring a sense of closure
  • Revise grammar points
  • Kids designing a book cover

Hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and got much from it to implement in your classrooms. Let us help our learners enjoy reading and love it . We have to help them by designing the proper engaging, motivating activities. (Un)Fortunately, much of the responsibility lies on the teachers' shoulders.Happy Reading!