Higher standards in literacy are at the heart of the National Curriculum. But encouraging a love of reading in the digital age can be a challenge.
Higher standards in literacy are at the heart of the National Curriculum. But encouraging a love of reading in the digital age can be a challenge for parents and teachers. Discovery Education Espresso bridges the gap between screen and paper, helping children to enjoy the written word in many forms, and start reading for pleasure. Over 6,000 UK schools use this award-winning digital learning service to improve pupil literacy outcomes. Let’s see how Greet Primary School in Birmingham uses Espresso to bring English lessons to life – from EYFS to Year 6.
LIFTING LANGUAGE OFF THE PAGE
Greet Primary School is a large and welcoming school in the heart of Sparkhill, Birmingham. With nearly 900 pupils, and a high percentage of EAL learners, this outstanding primary school offers a broad curriculum and a pupil-centred approach.
Teachers at Greet Primary School have been using Discovery Education Espresso for many years, and the platform is now a key resource in English lessons. With over 23,000 multimedia resources aligned to the National Curriculum, and extensive planning and support tools, Espresso helps Greet Primary to deliver high quality, engaging English lessons which get children excited about reading.
BRINGING PHONICS TO LIFE
Unlocking the joy and wonder of books begins with the teaching of phonics. Research shows that when phonics is taught in structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing to the most complex, it is the most effective way to teach children to read.
Discovery Education Espresso gives primary schools a complete bank of phonics resources, aligned to DfE’s Letters and Sounds programme. Featuring over 100 video clips and hundreds of activities, the platform gives teachers tools to engage children with early reading and opportunities for active learning beyond the screen.
Leon Blake, a Year 2 teacher at Greet Primary School, explains why he uses the Espresso phonics resource in KS1. “Discovery Education Espresso phonics is a complete resource and it is brilliant. We had tried other phonics tools but wanted something interactive to pick up and use straightaway”
Espresso phonics videos contain ‘jumping-off points’ which can be matched to pupil ability. Linked activities allow children to practise blending and segmenting letter sounds, providing the building blocks for learning to read and spell.
“The pupils love the videos which we use as a prompt for their writing, and the games which test their knowledge. They are so engaged that they are often bursting to take their turn at the whiteboard! The lower ability pupils are even more switched on because the video content is accessible, helping them to feel ‘this is something I can achieve”,explains Leon.
The resources also provide practice in reading words in context and can be used by a whole class, small groups or individual pupils. The digital format helps children get to grips with independent learning, as Leon explains: “Espresso phonics gives pupils instant feedback and prompts them if they need to make a correction. This gives children ownership of their learning.”
GETTING READY FOR ASSESSMENTS
Greet Primary School uses Discovery Education Espresso to prepare pupils for both the Year 1 Phonics Check and Year 2 SATs tests. Assistant Headteacher Matthew Haydon says that Espresso’s digital resources make revision fun. “Children are expected to make significant progress in Years 1 and 2. The reading expectations for Year 2 pupils are huge – particularly for children who aren’t reading at home. Discovery Education Espresso has many pluses for us. It’s visual, interactive, and can be used for whole class teaching or individually on laptops and tablets. When the children are using a device, they often don’t realise that they are learning!”
Teachers at Greet Primary School also find that Espresso’s digital content can spark interest in reading away from screens, as Leon Blake explains: “If we read a book online on Espresso and then bring out the physical book the children get really excited. They recognise the book, and that makes them feel good. It makes the text more accessible.”
USING NEWS AS A GATEWAY TO READING
Developing pleasure in reading is one of the key aims of the National Curriculum, but this can be a challenge for some children, particularly boys. In a bid to close this gap many schools are turning to real life content such as the news, using world events to engage children and act as a stimulus for reading and writing.
Discovery Education Espresso offers a fully interactive news service for primary pupils with curriculum relevant stories for each key stage. Video news bulletins produced with ITN Productions are updated weekly, while shorter news bursts are added daily for Key Stage 2 pupils. Each video comes with questions for discussion, a transcript and links to further reading, prompting children to find out more – while an interactive ‘News Bites’ quiz tests their knowledge. Differentiated newspaper articles from the Daily Telegraph also provide opportunities for comprehension and the basis for written composition.
Assistant Headteacher Matthew Haydon explains how the resource is used at Greet Primary School:
“We use Espresso News regularly in school – and particularly after difficult world events such as terrorist attacks. Delivering bleak news to children is very difficult, but Espresso News helps us. We incorporate it into our daily moment of reflection – which is our school’s act of worship.”
For many children, accessing the news can be a route into other areas of learning, prompting them to read about a different country or culture. Leon Blake explains: “We want to encourage our children to be curious learners, to ask questions, and Espresso News is great for encouraging that.” Leon also believes that Espresso gives pupils a can-do attitude when it comes to reading – helping them to see books as enjoyable and exciting.“Not all pupils feel comfortable with fiction books, but they might enjoy reading non-fiction resources, and Espresso can open their eyes to that. Interactive video content is the perfect stimulus for reading because it’s accessible. It’s a great leveller because it appeals to every child.”