Tag Archives: reading

Verdict on Whole Class Guided Reading by @Mroberts90Matt

So, just over 4 months ago, I set on a new journey in Guided Reading – Whole Class Guided Reading. I shared my initial thoughts back then on what I considered the pros and cons of this, and other approaches I had experiences that can be seen here. As I have gone along with this approach, I have noticed a few things which have really added to this method:

1. Keep the Groups but Keep them Mixed

At the start, I reflected a lot on what would be best. Should I completely disband Guided Reading groups? If not, do I keep them differentiated to be able to focus certain levels of questions or mix them up? As I continued I decided to keep the previous groups we had for Guided Reading which were differentiated – mainly so that the groups didn’t feel a complete change. In hindsight however I think that was the wrong choice. I think it is important to keep GR groups so that you can focus discussion and questioning in a smaller group setting but making them mixed ability is the way forward. This enables support for the lower attainers by accessing higher levels of questioning and discussion with their peers. Also, those with a greater depth of understanding can develop this through explanation and discussion of their thoughts with their peers as they coach them.

2. Vary the Activities

So when we were presented with the idea of Whole Class Guided Reading, I was given the idea that a lot of the Whole Class model could focus on discussing questions focusing on different strands in Reading (such as prediction, summary and comparison) and children should be able to model answers. As such, this was pretty much all I did. It was great to start with and it definitely had an impact – however, it did become stale after a couple of weeks. So I began to realise that Whole Class Guided Reading should be seen as engaging as any other session (duh – I know right) and whilst a lot of the engagement should come from a stellar text (we used Wonder – the kids LOVED it) you do need to put in some variety of activities. I probably won’t make it every other session – but maybe once a week or so throw in something to make the text come even more alive. Some examples can be found in this document (which I didn’t create) List of Possible Whole Class GR Activities

Some others are below:

In the back of your books, write three open questions you would like to ask any of August’s guides (Charlotte, Julian and Jack) about their first impressions of August.1

3. Go with the Flow

I think Whole Class Guided Reading has such a potential to unlock thoughts and imagination across the class. However, as we have gone through discussion and drawn ideas from all the class, a number of answers have been given that have taken things in a different direction. We have gone into in-depth comparisons between August/Summer and Beauty and the Beast, we have also delved into the genetics behind colour-blindness (one of my party tricks) as a result of the discussions going in their flow. One thing that I would take away for Whole Class Guided Reading is be ready for the discussion to take a different direction – I find it exhilarating and the children find it engaging when the discussion is at a high-level but has evolved over questions and thoughts from the children…and because it is ‘Whole-Class’, these ideas can come from anyone about the same text.

Back in February I said I would not change my effective, well-planned carousel – Guided Reading, I had it cracked. However, I am of the opinion that I will not be changing my Whole Class Guided Reading – unless something else comes along that looks better/is forced upon me but hey – that’s teaching!

 

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Initial Thoughts on Whole Class Guided Reading @Mroberts90Matt

So, a few days into a new journey for me. Guided reading at my school setting has been quite transient over the past few years I’ve been teaching there. I will list the various ways it has been implemented and consider the pros and cons of each. Over the 2 1/2 years I have tried three different styles of delivering Guided Reading and to hear anyone’s thoughts on the various styles would be much appreciated!

1 hour focus session a week

This was a style of Guided Reading I had never seen before and I doubt I will ever see again. Simply put, this style entails splitting the whole class into 4/5 groups once a week for an hour. Within that hour, all the TAs available in that Phase Group were pooled together so that each group would have a focus for a whole hour. So let’s have a look at this…unique style:

+Far more time to explore a text with a supporting adult

+More time to try and integrate more drama-based activities to enhance understanding of text

– Not every child is read with by the class teacher, only one group

– Only one GR session a week per child

– Highly reliant on all additional adults being available

– Requires a lot of different learning spaces to make most of benefits

Carousel Guided Reading

This is the regular version of Guided Reading. The Dairy Milk, the Ready Salted, the Kit Kat classic if you will. Wherever you’ve seen Guided Reading, this is probably the style you’ve seen implemented. Put simply, the class are split once again into around 5 groups and each day for 20-30 mins (depending on how long it takes your kids to actually figure out where they’re sitting and which daily activity they’re on) each group is undertaking a different activity and complete all of them in a week. Once again, benefits and negatives include:

+ An opportunity for a variety of challenges

+ Chn (in theory) become more independent

+ Teacher gets to work with everyone at some point in focused reading once a week

– Differentiation is a nightmare

– Chn from other groups will interrupt you when in discussion with focus group

– Due to different texts in each group, some do not access higher level texts

– Depending on the age and independence of your age group, setting up and settling can be tedious

Whole Class Guided Reading

This is the new craze that seems to be sweeping the Twitterverse. Quite a few Literacy leads (including my own) are raving about whole class guided reading. This is the reason why I am going to be trying it out this half term. The premise as far as I understand it is the class are introduced to the text/chapter/section all together (perhaps with a hook) to engage. Then they all read independently and the teacher moves to work with a focus group during the next section whilst the rest answer a variety of questions on the section they are working on and this lasts over 2-4 days depending on the Year Group. Once again, benefits and negatives are:

+All engage with higher level vocab from a higher level text

+Opportunity for all chn to access deeper thinking through peer discussion

+Less workload in terms of differentiation

+All chn receive some level of input from class teacher every day

+Less need for ‘set-up’ time

-Perhaps less of a chance for a variety of activities (but depends on how it’s implemented)

-Harder to integrate speaking and listening activities which the teacher can monitor and assess with it being a whole class task

By by non-exhaustive thinking, Whole Class Guided Reading should be the more effective method but many will have their opinions and other benefits and negatives to add (or maybe take away). Half our staff are trialling Carousel with One Text for All and half are trialling Whole Class with One Text for All. I had set up my carousel really effectively so I was a little reluctant but we were meant to trial as a Year Group and my Year 6 partner is the English Lead so I had little choice! However the class seem to be enjoying it so far!

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

Teacher Voice Weekly Poll w/b 12th January 2015

Two weeks in a row!! Good start!!!

Last week’s results were not very conclusive as only two educators voted. The poll for writing LO’s is still open so please follow the link here to be forwarded there when you’re done here…

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This week is focused on a blog post I want to publish this week and will hopefully find the time. Simply, it is about the teacher reading to the class, is it worth it, is there time and the best practice in which to do it. Therefore, as I feel this has been one of the biggest barriers for me, the question is focused on whether you have time to read to your class. Of course, there is the generic response “we should MAKE time” but as a reflex response, do you really have time? I suppose this is more focused to Primary teachers but if any Secondary colleagues wish to add their vote then by all means do so!

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