The Case for Reading to the Class by @Mroberts90Matt

14/01/15
As I filed into the classroom of the teacher who’d volunteered to share their space for our first staff meeting of 2015, I couldn’t help feel a little robbed of the time I was about to spend in there and how that time could have possibly been used to mark my children’s books, plan effective but exciting lessons or prepare top notch resources. Instead, as with every Tuesday, I am to sit and listen for an hour. Fortunately, as most staff meetings have done to be fair, this one was going to make me question my practice.

Our first staff meeting of the New Year was focused on the children’s reading journey throughout our school. There was a big focus on how the guided reading system was going to change. A discussion of our personal favourite books and books that have wowed the class of course ensued. But then, and quite as a byword, the topic of reading to the class was brought up. Now, in a Year 6 class with a million and one things to get through I could probably count the number of time I had read to the class on one hand (maybe two if I’m being generous).

With this new push, however, I am determined to give it a go – wish me luck…

29/01/15
Well, I’ve been successful thus far in making sure my class have 10 minutes a day where I read to them – and so far it’s proving to be an excellent time in the day.

The vast majority of the children look forward to our Class Read and when I pick the worst place possible to stop when we’re about to discovery something in the story (aren’t I mean?) there’s a collective call of exasperation as if I had almost opened an ancient treasure chest then slammed it shut! It really is a satisfying moment actually. The one period of time in the week where we have Quiet Reading time is a lot quieter and ‘readier’ than before the commencement of the Class Reading so that’s some instant feedback I suppose.

What was interesting was the process of choosing the book in question. I had contested inside myself as to whether I would chose the book, give the children options to chose from or completely open it up to them. In the end I decided to get each child to write one book down they would like to read as a class and committed that i would go along with what they chose as this was not a Reading Ability Booster exercise; it was to instill more joy in reading. The results were mainly three books:
1st Place – Tom Gates
2nd Place – Harry Potter
3rd Place – Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Secretly cursing that they had not chosen Harry Potter (one of my fondest moments in primary school was my Year 6 Teacher reading us Harry Potter as a class) I went with it. Out of the three, it’s the only one I hadn’t read, but I am enjoying it. Sure, it’s not a literary breakthrough in my opinion, but I am enjoying it. And that’s the whole purpose – JOY!

It’ll be difficult to tell if this new practice in my classroom will generate better reading results in the future (although we did have quite a few pleasant surprises in last week’s Assessment Week) but what is noticeable is the children’s desire to read – whether it’s just a novelty or not remains to be seen…
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photo credit: CasualCapture via photopin cc

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