As we wind down to the end of the year, SATs 2020 looms on the horizon beckoning to Year 6 teachers to strategise and prepare come January. For many of us, it will bring a sense of panic but here are some tips to prevent that unnerving feeling leading up to the 11th of May.
1. Plan ahead to ensure full coverage of domains. To make this easier, I have created a weekly focus breakdown from January 2020 to the SATs week. Initially - teach skills explicitly and spend a full week on each where possible. Click the files on my free resources page to download useful guides for each month in 2020. I have done a calendar view and plan list for each month.
2. Keep reading for pleasure. Remember, the research proves that reading for pleasure boosts attainment across all areas in the curriculum. Giving children loads of text experience with quality content will continuously improve vocabulary, knowledge and a love for books. Work on reading for pleasure activities each week especially leading up to March and simply read quality texts daily with the class leading up to and even after SATs. There are several activities available on the Open University's reading for pleasure site which I recommend as go-to for practice that is research-driven and works.
3. Teach as much as you can to give ample time for practicing SATs style questions and reduce testing. Over-testing children can increase stress and has not been proven to be beneficial. At the start of the year, you may wish to do a baseline followed by an interim progress assessment by Easter but certainly no more tests after this. Practice is key and boosts confidence.
4. Work on fluency daily. Following the surprising length of text 3 for the KS2 reading paper in 2019, it is apparent that such lengthy extracts are within the realms of what is test worthy. Therefore we should aim to work on comprehensions of this length by March. Choose quality extracts for comprehension of which there are several suppliers of or simply work from a good book. You can check out Grammarsaurus for their amazing shared reading comprehension booklets here which gives a whole week's work around domain content for each.
5. Make use of SATs style questioning in planning. Too often I see teachers struggling to write questions or using questioning styles far removed from SATs which can throw children when they encounter it on the test. At least once a week work on a tricky question type picked up from the marks scheme of a past paper and daily work on simpler question types to boost familiarity - just adapt to the text you are using. The Teach Hub did an awesome collation of them which can be found here.
6. Know when to layer up comprehension skills. After initially teaching all skills explicitly - move on to doing multiple skills in a session. This gives children the opportunity to practice more than one question type as they build up to doing a full range of questions. The calendars I have provided show which skills work well together from January to May 2020.
We all know that teaching to the test is not the way but inevitably preparing our children is key. Keep the learning environment as fun as it always has been in your classroom. By building in key concepts early the stress of the Reading SATs melts away and will leave you with confident children able to do their best on the day.
Here's to an easier start to 2020 and to well-prepared reading children!
Kala Williams is a Primary based Education Consultant specialising in the teaching of reading using a mastery approach. She works across primary schools in the West Midlands, UK providing whole school CPD and coaching teachers daily to be their best reading teacher in the classroom. Follow her on twitter - @rogue_reading or contact her via FaceBook @brightideasedconsult