Despite working for Kid Castle for over two years, I had minimal exposure to our reading programme. Having helped out once or twice near the beginning of my contract, it was truly a faded memory of books and computers. However back in action with schools finally open for in person classes, my schedule saw some major changes including two days doing i-Reading Castle. Ready for the change, it was necessary to brush up and get prepared.
i-Reading Castle is an additional English “class” offered by Kid Castle and students are required to pay extra if they would like to join. Not all schools offer it unfortunately but the lucky ones that do will have a mini library attached to where the classrooms are. The shelves are lined with books, all colour coded based on the series they belong to that also corresponds with the difficulty. Each student has their own folder that includes a list of books according to the level of the student. The students will select a book from this list to do for the class. The class time is 1.5 hours and you will have at least one other Chinese co-teacher with you.
Once the student has gone ahead and found the book on the shelves, they will log in to the online “vocabulary learning program” which will take them through the new vocabulary they will need for the book they are reading. There will be a variety of exercises to test and apply the new vocabulary before going on to listen to a CD of the book so the students can follow as it is read to them.
Following the reading, the students will now need to use the vocabulary and make their own sentences. Once this is completed, I will need to check their spelling and grammar and give them feedback before they move on to the last writing stage, the reading report. There are a few types of worksheets that the students can do at this point, such as a brainstorm or a summary. Following completion of the worksheet, it is discussion time.
This is the last part where I sit down with the student one-on-one and we discuss their completed worksheet as well as the book in general. When it comes to the book I ask for a verbal summary (depending on their English capability I can use the book/ pictures to guide this). I will ask follow up questions based on the information they give as well as certain points based on the book, for example – why do you think character x did this? If you were character x, what would you do?
I like to get the student to read the worksheet out loud before I mark it and give them feedback. Lastly, depending on their ability again, I like to give them extension questions based on themes from the book. For example, one of my students read a book about elephants being able to fly but then losing their wings so we spoke about whether she would like to try flying and where she would go. This part shows a lot about the student’s personality which I love!
Finally, the students must complete an online quiz where they will have some comprehensive checking questions on their book. I was quite impressed by the range of activities and testing of the students’ knowledge and understanding of what they have read. I like the idea of learning English through reading, I think it is an interesting change to the classroom and can inspire them to read further and apply these skills beyond i-Reading Castle.