This month we’re delighted to welcome this guest post from Ben Pyne from To The Point Passages. 

Like many teachers around the country, I found myself trawling through the internet one Sunday evening looking for interesting, worthwhile English activities. Two hours later and I had found …very little. Yes, there are some valuable reading comprehensions out there, however I found that many lack real learning focus. I would agree that there is value in almost any kind of reading (I often recommend to parents to allow children read appropriate magazine and newspaper articles), however I wanted something more than just a passage to ‘keep the class busy’. I wanted a clear focus on what they would learn from each specific piece. I hoped to find a set of comprehensions that would include questions encompassing each of the important aspects of English – Comprehension, Vocab, Punctuation, Grammar and Spelling. Realising that there were none, I decided to write my own.

Working as a supply (substitute) teacher in the UK for 2 years helped with this. While it had its ups and downs, one of its great benefits was being able to compare classrooms and see what worked …and what didn’t. My experiences provided me with a basis of what was worthwhile …and what wasn’t. And now working (for the third year in a row) with 5th class in a Meath school, I had a real sense of the level at which reading comprehensions for senior classes should be pitched.

My ‘to-the-point’ passages are just that- to-the-point; short, and focused on driving new vocabulary. Most children will have the entire passage read within 3 minutes. They can then tune in to the questions that follow. Each passage comes with ten questions; 2 comprehension, 2 vocab, 2 punctuation, 2 grammar and 2 spelling.

I began giving them to my class straight after lunch break as a ‘settling down’ activity. As they are designed for the children to complete independently, it gave me a chance to organise my afternoon. At the same time, they provide great learning opportunities and discussions; “What is a semi-colon?”, “What does the word nauseous mean?” and “How do find the root of a word?” are some of the questions that they prompted from my class this year.

If you are teaching in the senior end of the primary school and sometimes struggle, as I did, to know where to start in a subject as vast as English, they may help to give you that clarity. Not to dismiss those of you who might just be looking for some engaging passages to ‘keep the class busy’ – these may also do the job!

Get 25% off ‘to-the-point’ products using the coupon code 25TTP.

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