Sequencing Text in KS1 SATs: The Early Reader Skill

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

Sequencing a text is often challenging for early readers as they start to access a wider range of reading. The 1c cognitive domain asks children to identify and explain the sequence of events in a text. In light of the recent 2018 SATs paper this should be interpreted as children demonstrating their ability to understand the text, link details from the question to the relevant sections of the text (often summarised) and to place details in chronological order. The sequence question featured as only 1 question on both paper 1 and paper 2 for 2018. Notably in the English reading test framework for KS1 (for test developers) based on NC tests from 2016, 1c questions only feature between 0-8% of both papers with marks ranging from 0-3. So is it a necessary teach? Well - it forms a part of the expected standard therefore it is important children are exposed to this skill through classroom practice, if even minimally. Three marks can make all the difference on many occasions and 8% can be a shortfall that could let down a child who we know are working at the expected standard.

The 2018 SATs paper 1 for had the following accompanying 1c question and text:

Children needed to summarise in order to identify where in the text the statements came from which demanded the reader to connect details across more than one statement. Statement one demonstrates this. The second statement is a direct match to text - demanding the ability to retrieve information. The third statement includes the use of pronouns (them/ its) and indirect references (the rest) which readers needed to identify as 'apples' and this as well as statement four, summarises.

The 2018 SATs paper 2 for had the following accompanying 1c question and text:

A much harder cognitive demand for those working at the correct standard. Statement one has demanded an inference deduction about the ducks living 'happily' from paragraph three where there is no direct match between words in the statement and children would need to understand that that pond being a 'home' where they could swim and eat as well as their nights 'sleeping safely' meant the ducks enjoyed living there. Statement two demands the children to infer an impression from words like huge, rumbling, grumbling ... crawled towards... roar and a gurgle as negative and destructive. Statement three is a direct retrieval of detail. Statement four demands the children to infer the ducks were placed in a box by someone and link to the understanding of the meaning of 'helper' as a positive outcome. Statement five also features a pronoun (they) which the children should identify as the ducks.

As you can see, there are many reading skills at work within what seems to be a simple question which begs the question, how do teachers tackle in classroom practice?

Over time in group reading across KS1, I have come away with the following practices that work effectively. By modelling 'the how' initially and demonstrating recall, summarising and sequencing, teachers can assist children with the correct way to apply these skills before moving to them trying it out verbally first. Initially when teaching a text, children will need to be able to retell it using their own words. When done through discussion, teachers will need to revisit the text after an initial read through and question children to activate recall and retrieval around key information. Questions like: 'Can anyone remind me about what we read yesterday?' followed by clarifying questions such as: 'So what happened after...?' or 'Is it correct to say... or was it....?' and summative questions: 'We know that... so what does this teach us about...?' are helpful if done cyclically and become a running feature of oral retelling for both fiction and non-fiction.

In doing this repetitively at the start of a group reading session or even whole class, children become accustomed to retelling a text in chronological order and become increasingly fluent at summarising what they know. Linking key ideas using 'because' helps them to justify their understanding while at the same time addressing any misconceptions to enable them to recall as much detail as they can before then doing a text check to confirm their accuracy. Creating a flow chart alongside oral retelling creates a 'thought visual' that will enable tracking and correcting in written form. Text mapping is brilliant for sequencing as a visual alongside recall.

Another activity is the use of sketching. The following is an example of metacognitive practice in year 2 which worked for all children using sketches of key detail. I used the text Bilal's Brilliant Bee by Michael Rosen.

1. I sketched 5 images from key parts of the text we have read together as a group so far. (I am not brilliant at this- but it isn't art class).They were not in chronological order of events.

2. As a group we discussed what my sketches were about (great to ensure retention).

3.The children were given 5 post sticks which they numbered.

4. They then had to create a summary statement about which image was first, second and so on making sure I could identify which detail they referred to in their sentence.

5. We then reviewed answers with children discussing their statements and sequence.

6. Where there were errors we used the text to check the responses.

7. Children then made corrections with partners then added post sticks to the flipchart which I read aloud.

Beauty of this was all the summary statements varied but included the key details of the sketches and actual text and used their own vocabulary, children lead the learning and monitored their own understanding - children even picked up that there were two places that Nanu called Bilal clever but not using that exact vocabulary. Therefore that image could appear in more than one sequence depending on which part of the story was recalled (now that I didn't plan- but brilliant!).

Of course this activity will be repeated at the end of the book using additional images with these sketches. A simple teach which took 30 minutes but enabled children to practice and perfect sequencing with summary overlapped making 1c questions less challenging for any ability.

Can you think of any others that work? Feel free to comment below. Happy teaching!

Kala Williams is a Primary based Education Consultant specialising in the teaching of reading for mastery who works across primary schools in the West Midlands, UK. She teaches to train, provides whole school CPD and coaches teachers daily to be their best reading teacher in the classroom. Follow her on twitter - @rogue_reading