Reading Aloud In Science

Sun model (not me)

I’ve been using Reading Reconsidered (Lemov, Driggs, Woolway) a lot with my year 6 class recently. It is an excellent guide to better reading in schools. I’m especially interested in reading in science.

Recently, I read the section on reading aloud. The reasons for using this strategy in class include hearing vocabulary and grammar not used in typical conversation.

I thought: well in science, when I explain ideas to the class, I do use technical vocabulary in science-specific sentences, so reading aloud isn’t as relevant. But I thought I’d better check.

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SATs – the next drama

Nick Gibb on the purpose of the SATs (image from @johntomsett)

For those of us on the front line of Key Stage 2 testing reform – children, parents and teachers – the drama is not yet over. We are in the lull between the tests and the results. But we should be worried. The results are going to be problematic.

Previously, children received a level score – most children received a 3, 4 or 5. Two similarly attaining children in the same class might not get the same level, but they might be consoled that “it was probably really close.”

We can’t say that this summer.

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A Quick, Easy and Effective Reading Activity for Science Classes

I thought I had blogged about my favourite “quick and easy reading activity for science classes” before, but it seems I haven’t! So here is a quick and easy blog about it.

Cooperative Paired Reading Activity Emphasising ‘Questioning the Text’ and Summarising

(It needs a catchier name!)

Two effective evidence-based strategies for improving reading comprehension are ‘questioning the text’ and summarising. This activity lets students practise these strategies aloud in pairs. I like cooperative strategies for reading, because it makes the invisible (silent reading) visible (or is that audible?)


  1. Take a text you want your students to learn from. After using the activity a few times, the text can be more challenging, but start simple.
  2. Put students into pairs (3s if necessary).
  3. Partner A (with the longest hair) reads the first paragraph (including titles etc) aloud. Partner B (shorter hair) listens and then says one of three things:
    • “I wonder…..” Partner B then asks a question about what she has just heard.
    • ” In other words….” Partner B then paraphrases what she has just heard.
    • “Could you read that again please?” If partner B needs to hear it again, she asks.
  4. They swap roles after each paragraph.

That’s it. The teacher can assess by listening in. Students can record the “I wonder…” and “In other words…” if it’s useful. Interesting “I wonder…”s can be selected for class discussion. Your choice.


How to Assess Science Reading in Class

Learning science in a classroom is an anomaly. Once school is over, it is very unusual for professionals or citizens to learn more science in classes. Instead we gain most new knowledge from books, articles and TV.

For professional scientists conferences and conversations are important and lectures may be effective, but reading is the key.

Reading is the cheapest, most accessible and sustainable learning method for citizens or a career in the sciences. 

image (13)
More than 50% of science and technology professionals spend at least 10 hours per week reading at work. (

Yet reading is a forgotten pedagogy in most classrooms.

Continue reading “How to Assess Science Reading in Class”

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