We have been trialling Reading Planet for just over a year. We use the books for group reading and independent reading, and for shared group reading in conjunction with the Online Library. We also use them in phonics intervention groups. In Year 2, we have enjoyed using the Reading Planet books for shared group reading with a wide ability range - using the online books has been fantastic for whole class sessions because even the less able can participate and repeat after the audio – the audio has been amazing and they can learn words by sight without needing lots of flashcards. We love the Galaxy and Comet Street Kids – It’s great being able to search on the toolbar of the online library to find the topics that link with our themes – for example, we were studying Space and just put it into the topic bar and picked up the books on those. It’s good that the children see the theme-linked key words from the new curriculum in the books. It’s apparent that the scheme reflects the content domains and examples from the National Curriculum documentation. The punctuation used is in tune with what’s being taught, too.
In Year 1, we read the print books daily and use them for group reading and independent reading. Our TAs use the books for intervention for phonics for the lower band – Red and below - using the grapheme section and picking up sounds the children can find in the words. The TAs also use the teacher’s support materials for this.
In Reception we are pleased that the books are decodable and that Reading Planet allows the children to move through the bands at a better pace. We love the wordless books and the Lift Off First Words books which are a great bridge to the Rocket Phonics.
We like the Talk About the story prompts - some of the parents have commented that they have used those questions with the children at home, and we use them in the Guided Reading sessions. It’s clear that they use retrieval, inference, vocabulary and personal experience questions. Sometimes parents don’t know what to ask so the questions in the books help quide the parents in their discussion at home.
The links to foundation subject topics are great – we especially like the Geography – continents and wonders of the world, and the links with our safari topic, and in Year 2 the Gaudi one was good for our famous artists topic.
We think the Online Library is excellent for allowing all children to enjoy a book together. Rather than it being a passive experience the children come up to the whiteboard and answer quizzes, highlight text, move things around – it all enhances the shared reading experience. The quizzes are very helpful and keep the children engaged – they encourage the children to remember the order of events.
Parents have loved using the online books with their children at home. The children in the intervention groups also have one book a week allocated to them in the intervention group to reinforce what they’re doing in school. We felt that the intervention group passed their phonics screening test with the use of Reading Planet and the reinforcement at home with the online has helped – they have been reading more at home when they wouldn’t normally, as they get stars at the end and enjoy taking part in the quizzes throughout.
Year 2 reading progress has been really good. One boy in particular was on Blue at the beginning of the year and is now on Gold – a massive, massive jump – he would have been Working Towards but has made it to Expected standard.
In Reception, we’ve had more readers this year in that they’ve been able to access books and practise their phonics and this has had a knock-on effect in their literacy and their writing – we’ve had more children reading this year because they’ve been able to practise their phonics through the books.
Reading Planet has had an extremely positive impact on reading in Key Stage 1 here at St Barnabas. Our children are more positive in their desire to want to read to us and their parents. Parents tell us how excited their children are to read the online books using their iPads and to answer the comprehension questions when they have finished the story. Our Key Stage 1 Reading Attainment & Progress scores are improved and part of this improvement is due to our using the Reading Planet resources and using the online books in our Guided Reading sessions in class.
Stephen Booth, Natalie Barney, Sophie Wyatt, Claire Lowden, St Barnabas CE First and Middle School