The ‘Every Child, Every Day’ approach comprises of six simple elements of effective reading instruction, according to literacy expert Sharon Callen.
On episode 13 of The Teacher’s Tool Kit for Literacy, Sharon delved into this highly effective concept, which was developed by Richard Allington and Rachel Gabriel.
Sharon explained the first element, where ‘every child reads something he or she chooses’.
“Every child every day needs this because they’re not being given something to read, they’re making the choice. There is really robust and conclusive research that tells us that students who do that, who self-select for reading, will read more and they will understand more,” she said.
“We’re not saying that children shouldn’t have access to other things and that we wouldn’t direct them towards things, but they need to be able to have that experience of choice.
“Why is choice important? Because it’s more likely that the more choice we get given, the more likely we will continue to read, because we are learning the strategies of how to choose. We have the power and we build wider repertoires for knowing how to choose … reading motivation and comprehension, the two big pieces for that were students’ access to books and that they chose what they read.”
A key part of this element is that students understand how to select books.
“It’s an important piece that we are actually building students’ strategies for knowing how to choose books,” Sharon said.
“It is a series of mini lessons. And in fact, Allington suggests that in the article, we would want to have a number of lessons that help students learn how to go about choosing books.”
The second important element is that ‘every child reads accurately’. Sharon said this accuracy can be improved through re-reading books, and having constant ‘high success reading’.
“Good readers actually read with accuracy almost all of the time. So when we have children who aren’t reading with accuracy, it’s really difficult for them to grow as a reader … the just right book should be a high rate of accuracy. So 98% or greater is actually where we’re going to get the most growth,” Sharon said.
“Re-reading can help with accuracy. So for our readers re-reading a book, we will rate it with greater accuracy each time because we’re using more strategies, we’re using prediction to help us, we’re bringing background knowledge to this.
“But it isn’t just time spent, it is the intensity and volume of high success reading. So high success is another term we can talk about [which] means we are reading with accuracy.”
The literacy experts said accuracy will closely align with the third element of ‘every child reading with understanding’.
“We want text to be accurate so that we can not only be reading with accuracy, but number three is to read with understanding, because if I’m reading accurately, then I should be able to understand what I’m reading. And that at the end of the day is the purpose – getting meaning from it,” Sharon said.
“We could say, well, what about all our children who aren’t at grade level or who we would say require some intervention….if they’re missing out on time to read with accuracy and comprehension, we can get them doing a whole lot of activities, broken down skills, strategies, disconnected things, [but] that’s not going to get growth. Growth for readers happens through choice, accuracy, understanding every child.”
Following on is the fourth element of ‘every child writes about something meaningful’.
“So an important part of our reading is actually being able to write about our reading and writing. Not with low level literal kinds of responses, but with thoughtful, insightful, deep responses to how our reading has impacted on us as a person. That’s what something personally meaningful means,” Sharon explained.
“I would say that every week our writing should involve at least some really meaningful response to our reading.
“Now, meaningful response might not be what I’m thinking about the reading. I might write in a particular way because I have been influenced by the author that I have been reading in the way that they talk about things or the way they express things or how they’ve said something where that might spill over for me into my writing.
“What kinds of things might we get students to write about after reading? Just answer some questions … we want to be thinking much bigger things than [who were the main characters]. We want to be thinking about how were those characters feeling? How do we know that? How did the writer tell us that? How did they use that dialogue?”
Element number five is ‘every child talks with peers about reading and writing’.
“Research demonstrates that conversation with peers improves comprehension and engagement with texts more than anything else does dramatically,” Sharon said.
“So once again, we’re not talking about conversations that are about low level things. So not conversations of what colour was so-and-so wearing on that day if it’s not a meaningful piece, but it’s about analysing and commenting and comparing and really thinking about what they’ve read.
“Allington will say it’s probably one of the most under-utilised yet easy to implement elements of instruction.”
Finally, the six elements are concluded with ‘every child listens to a fluent read aloud every day’.
“So when they hear a fluent adult read loud, it increases students’ own fluency and comprehension. It expands their vocabulary. It expands their background knowledge. It expands their sense of story, their awareness of genre and text structures,” Sharon said.
“We also want to make the connection here that our class read aloud brings another whole layer. When everybody is hearing this text being read aloud, we’re building community and we’re talking about the same kinds of things. We’re bringing another layer to this other than just every child in their bubble of listening to a text read aloud.”