Sally Murphy’s new Teacher Tuesday

Award-winning author and teacher Sally Murphy has begun a new Teacher Tuesday segment on her website. Each week she’ll match one of her books with the curriculum links for a particular year level, starting with Looking Up for Year 3 classrooms.

Why focus on one class level at a time?

To try to make it more useful for teachers, by focusing on specific curriculum needs for that year level. The Australian Curriculum is divided into year levels, so why not target my teaching tips the same way? Of course, the ideas I give can be used to meet other outcomes at other year levels, so teachers can adapt my suggestions to other year levels, or multi-grade classrooms – and I hope they do. I don’t want to be overly prescriptive about which grade each of my book suits but rather to provide a starting point.

How does your teaching experience influence the way you write classroom notes?

Because I’ve moved around a lot of country towns, I have experience teaching at all year levels, from pre-primary to year twelve (and university). I’ve also run countless writing workshops as a visiting author. So my teaching notes tend to be geared towards wanting to make writing and reading fun, and to provide lots of room for the teacher to adapt to their own needs. Because teachers are clever. They don’t want, or need, me to tell them exactly how to run their classes. But they do, I think, appreciate ideas for new ways of approaching things, or new books they can use.

You say on your blog that you just like to see kids enjoying books and that reading should be pleasurable. What are some tips for parents and teachers who want to foster a love of reading?

I really believe that we need to make reading about the joy of the story, the pleasure of the words, and the magic of shared experience much more than anything to do with explicit teaching of skills. There’s so much research that shows that reading for pleasure is a bigger component of literacy success than any other single factor. So, a few tips:

  1. Allow children to choose books to read wherever possible.
  2. Make space for reading for pleasure in the everyday – at school and at home.
  3. Read with kids, not just to them (though that’s important too). Let them see you reading for pleasure, and talk about the books you love.
  4. Join the local library (parents) and utilise your school library (teachers). Don’t make it a chore, or a quick grab a book and run. Instead browse the shelves with your children. Talk about the books you find. Find a comfortable chair and sit together and go through some books so that by the time you leave the library you have already connected with the books.
  5. Above all, emphasise enjoyment over achievement. Even with home readers, the emphasis should be on making the experience pleasurable.

You can find Teacher Tuesday on Sally’s website.

Looking Up can be purchased online or in all good bookstores.

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