– De-constructing the learning process
Quick assessments of the language reading
skill – standardized testing tools with similar levels
of difficulty were used across classes to understand the child’s
reading capability. The assessment was carried out by the
teacher and documented, thus to monitoring progress through
the course of the programme.
The categories were simple:
1. Zero: Able to identify very few (<25%)
of the alphabets in the reader. Near nothing reading ability.
2. Letter (alphabet) readers: These children
do not read a whole word but alphabets in words or alphabets
3. Word readers (can read most simple words
but do not read a sentence as one connected string representing
4. Sentence readers (fluent with sentences
with simple words with all complexities of usage of consonants
and vowel signs) Here the child has a sense of reading a sentence
and a set of sentences that are linked.
5. Paragraph readers (very fluent with at-least
age appropriate reading material)
Conventional teaching follows a slow
progression – from alphabet to word, slowly to simple
sentences and finally to paragraphs. The accelerated reading
programme reverses this process. The new technique starts
with ‘reading’ – (bordering at imitations
of reading, as children do in homes where they are read to
regularly) from the very first day. Children imagine &
wonder trying to make sense of what they see. They stumble,
‘read’, guess what the words may be, try and make
meaning of it – eventually learn to read; provided adults/teachers
do not interfere with criticism or over-enthusiastic assistance.
Adults just need to give a smile of encouragement, nudge the
child towards the answer without actually answering, and ask
an occasional question to help the child correct himself/herself.
The technique is neither complex nor
does it involve expensive teaching material. A set of reading
cards designed with careful content is all that is required.
A fortnightly assessment monitors the child’s progress
or lack of it. The teaching materials include sets of story
cards with illustration, alphabet charts, and a set of alphabet
Teaching/ Learning materials:
Four types of teaching learning materials
I. A bunch of alphabet cards- one card per alphabet, which
children can take home and bring back to the class. (Zero
II. The “kaagunitha” chart – one
chart for each child. This has consonants in the first column
and each row starting with the consonant shows how vowel signs
are added to the consonant to make letters for each sound
such as ka, kaa, ki, kee, ku, koo, kay, kai, ko, kow
III. Lots of sentence cards (about 20-30 sentence cards/20
children class) or papers with 3 line simple sentences without
“gunithakshara” and “otthakshara”.
IV. A set of 45 simple stories printed on separate sheets,
slightly higher degree of difficulty than the simple paragraphs.
Each story has 4 illustrations. Each child gets one set of
story cards. The teacher has the same story card in a bigger
Accelerated Reading Programme Class
Four main activities constitute a class:
1. Reading a 'story'
The teacher begins by showing the illustrations
on the card to the children to trigger their imagination.
The writing in the card is covered using another sheet of
paper. Children begin by guessing the story, interpreting
the illustration in his/her own way. Four or five of them
are given a chance to tell their stories but the teacher makes
no comment on their version. Then the teacher volunteers to
narrate the story using words printed in the story card.
a. The story cards are given to the children
- each child has a story card, and the teacher asks, “Who
would like to read like I do?” and reads the story clearly
but calmly without dramatization. The teacher reads the story
once - loud, pronouncing each word clearly and pointing with
her finger to each word as she reads. Children watch, observe
by pointing their finger on the particular words.
b. Now it is the children's turn to attempt
to read. Some children raise their hands while others don't.
Every one is given a chance. When one reads the others look
at their own cards. The teacher does not correct the child
even if blatant errors are committed. But as the days pass
children mutually begin to correct each other when mistakes
are made. Even the children who were shy to volunteer and
read now ask to read. Once they come forward, they are given
5 minutes to consult their friends and learn. This facilitates
peer learning making way for a unique social reading bond
to be formed in the group. Children with lower reading levels
often try to imitate their teacher or peers while trying to
recall the exact words of the story. Of course, on day one,
the finger is pointing at different places but the children
help each other and learn.
c. A new story is picked up every day
rather than waiting for everyone to 'master' the previous
Teacher ensures that every child reads
the story card
2. Using the Kagunitha chart:
a. The teacher asks the children to listen carefully as she
recites the sequence of sounds derived from consonants and
then asks children to try the corresponding sequence with
other consonants. The children are also asked to read vertically
and horizontally from the Kagunitha chart.
b. The teacher selects some simple words from the story.
A word is said and the children are asked to identify the
alphabets in the Kagunitha chart. Eight to ten words are selected
c. Similarly, a word is given and the children are asked
to find it in the story. This helps in familiarizing with
d. The children who do not know consonants are given a few
(any) alphabet cards to take home so that they can learn to
associate the sound with the shape. Within a few days they
know how to use the Kagunitha chart.
3. Zero level Readers
Readers repeating specific letters are given to children in
the 0 level group. These children are made to identify the
repeated letters and asked to prepare flash individually.
The helps children with no understanding of letters to get
familiarized with the letters.
Children are asked to act out the story choosing characters
of their liking. This kindles the creative quotient and makes
the entire 'learning to read' activity fun and
The class is often composed of children of different age
groups and learning levels. There is a possibility of some
of them not coping well for being irregular to the sessions
or fear of being verbal in a big group might stop them. These
children are grouped together and the teachers plan additional
activities with them after the scheduled daily classes if
found feasible and useful.
The steps detailed above essentially form
a broad framework. The methodology is flexible in nature.
Teachers are given the freedom to modify the steps involved
to suit their need.
Definite Pointers to success
Individual opportunity for each child
Heterogeneous (mix of all reading levels)
class facilitates peer group learning
Free time for children to copy, discuss
& learn from each other
Finger pointing – a must when children
Kagunitha exercise, flashcards important
to reinforce knowledge about alphabets
Noise, chatter, indiscipline in class kindles learning &
creativity; teachers must guarantee a free learning environment.
Teachers must not CORRECT/ ccriticize
Through the programme a set of four
formats are filled in by the teachers.
Format 1: Details the
baseline assessment of all children in the school
Format 2: Classifies
children class-wise in 0 (Zero), L (Letter), W (Word), S (Sentence),
P (Paragraph) reading levels
Format 3: Segregates
children eligible for the programme (0, L, W)
Format 4: Brackets 20
children together to form 1 reading group (combination of
0, L, W level children)
While the first 3 formats are filled
in prior to the programme, the fourth one is subject to change
every fortnight as reading levels are periodically assessed
& updated. Two mid programme assessments (15th card & 30th
card) are carried out to monitor the progress. The final assessment
at the end of the 45th card furnishes the total programme
value indicating the quantum of success and the percentage
change in reading levels of children.