Within its first decade, ALTA recognised that students were reading only when they attended class, often because outside of class there was no one able to help them when they got stuck on a word or they preferred not to share with others that they had difficulty reading. Just as children in school need support from home to become literate, so too adults need to practise the skills taught in class.
In 2002, the Reading Circle was set up to provide this support for ALTA students. At first, students were invited to bring what they wanted to read, but few did so. As such, ALTA established a Reading Circle library with novels, short stories, biographies and factual books on topics of adult interest, but simplified to differing reading levels. ALTA labels all Reading Circle material according to ALTA’s four literacy levels to make it easy for reading guides to borrow what their students can and want to read.
From an informal start, Reading Circles have become more structured to enable guides and students to make the most of the limited time. The Guided Reading approach was introduced in 2012 with the help of literacy specialist Wallis Wyke, who had used the Guided Reading Approach for five years at schools throughout the Cayman Islands working directly with students as well as training teachers.
Some of the ALTA Reading Circle venues also offer students the opportunity to learn computer skills and use the internet with the help of the Reading Circle guides.
Unlike other ALTA options, students can attend Reading Circle as well as a literacy level and most students continue at their regular ALTA class.
Reading Circle can replace ALTA instruction: