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The English Department, with its vision, “Avid Reader, Budding Writer, Effective Communicator” and mission, “to equip students with listening, speaking, reading and writing skills so as to be effective communicators” has planned a series of programmes to provide our pupils a strong foundation and exposure to rich language in line with MOE’s new English Language Syllabus 2010’s approach to teaching.
The key focus of the English Department is on developing the reading skills of our pupils for research has shown that failure to read by 9 years of age will lead to a lifetime of illiteracy for at least 70% of struggling readers. The following four reading programmes were introduced to address this area of concern.
Comprehension and Literacy Intervention Programme (CLIP)
The Comprehension and Literacy Intervention Programme (CLIP) in Bendemeer addresses the needs of struggling readers from Primary 3 to 6. The curriculum and the strategies used in the mid primary level differ from those used in the upper primary level.
CLIP at Primary 3 and 4
The CLIP programme addresses the needs of the stuggling readers of Primry 3 and 4 who have not been identified for the School Based Dyslexia Programme or the Reading Remediation Programme. It draws on the curriculum designed by Professors Irene Fountas and Gay-Su Pinnell. It is a powerful, research-based early intervention program that can prevent literacy difficulties before they turn into long-term challenges. The teachers involved in this programme have all given feedback that they are able to see progress in the reading and writing skills of the children involved. Bendemeer Primary is the first school outside the United States to implement this programme.
Ms Sandy Yeo conducting the CLIP lessons with pupils.
CLIP at Primary 5 and 6
The CLIP at Primary 5 and 6 started as a Reading Coach programme with emphasis on letter-sound relationships. The response to the Reading Coach programme was very positive. All the pupils in the programme showed an improvement not only in their reading levels but also in their self-esteem as well. After the initial 2 years, the emphasis has now shifted to the comprehension of texts. Pupils from Primary 5 and 6 are identified by English Language teachers and enrolled in this programme. Pupils attend ½ to 1 hour sessions 2 to 3 times a week during their English lessons and are guided in reading skills and comprehension strategies.
Enhanced Learning Support Programme (ELSP) with Graded Readers
Bendemeer conducts the ELSP programme for pupils who have been identified using the School readiness test provided by MOE. Our school has modified the programme to include the use of graded readers so that pupils will be able to learn to read in context. We have also included a writing component as we believe that learning to read and write go hand in hand.
Jolly Phonics is introduced to all Primary 1 pupils to supplement the main stream English curriculum. Children learn the sounds of letters through stories, songs and actions. It teaches children blending skills and phonological awareness, which research studies have found are strong predictors of reading success, in a fun and engaging manner. Children have given feedback that they look forward and enjoy the phonics lessons and teachers have commented that the children have a better grasp of the letter-sound relationship which would help them in their reading.
Mdm Suhaila conducting the Jolly Phonics lessons in the hall and in her own classroom
The above reading programmes all addressed the intensive reading concern that is reading for understanding and comprehension, whereas the main objective of the reading period that was introduced is for pupils to develop a love for reading. It is conducted once a week and worked into the school timetable to reinforce the school’s position that reading is important and time must be set aside for it. For this reason, no worksheets and very minimal writing is involved so that the time is devoted solely to reading. The feedback from pupils and teachers so far has been very positive. Both the designated reading teachers and pupils look forward to this reading period. Choral reading, Reader’s Theatre and Book Circles are some of the activities conducted during this period.
Pupils performing Reader’s Theatre during the Reading Period
Weekly storytelling during pre-assembly
On top of the 4 reading programmes mentioned above, teachers are scheduled to read aloud a story every Wednesday to provide our pupils exposure to the rich language found in story books.
Pre-assembly English Programmes
Pre-assembly English Programmes are also conducted termly to share with pupils rules and strategies with regard to the English Language to provide them a stronger foundation in the language.
STELLAR (Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading)
Bendemeer is one of the thirty schools to pilot the new English Language curriculum from Primary 1 to Primary 6. Bendemeer has been on STELLAR since 2007. STELLAR’s vision is for all children to develop a love for reading and hence the use of interesting and engaging stories in the STELLAR curriculum. The lower primary STELLAR strategies are the Shared Book Approach, the Modified Language Experience Approach and Learning Centres. The strategies at the Upper Primary are Guided Reading, Supported Reading, KWL and Retelling.
Mrs Joyce Lim using the Shared Book Approach
Assessment for Learning
The department believes strongly in Assessment for Learning and introduced an Oral feedback form for students that teachers use in the oral exams to better inform pupils of the performance during the exam so that they would be able to learn from it.
In Bendemeer, all children will have the opportunity to attend Speech and Drama lessons in Primary 3, Storytelling lessons in Primary 4, Public Speaking in Primary 5 and Debating sessions in Primary 6. The objectives of the Bendemeer Oracy Programme are to build students’ confidence and self-esteem, produce students who are vocally and physically expressive in the English Language and promote and foster an enjoyment of the language in all forms.
Our pupils during their Speech and Drama lessons
Our pupils showcasing their newly acquired skills in performances for their school mates
Good for online stories and games
Good for downloading poems and teaching poetry
Good for downloading Children’s Songs
Good for teaching reading through phonics