Do you like Marmite? You either grinned and licked your lips or you grimaced and shuddered, “NO!”, thinking of that brown sticky goo that belongs in the depths of the bin. I’d expect similar reactions if I asked you, “Do you like teaching Guided Reading through a carousel?”
When I hear the word ‘carousel’ used in the same sentence as reading, the hairs on my neck stand on end! Okay, that was a tad dramatic but reading is such an incredible and life-changing skill, so why are we stuck teaching it in a mundane way? I think the era of carousel activities is coming to an end, just like the 90s did. We may miss it but it might just be time to move on (S Club 7 you are still my fav!). I want to share with you a style of teaching reading that transformed my practice in the most wonderful way: WHOLE CLASS GUIDED READING.
Let’s get to it; here’s my Recipe for Whole Class Reading.
Enthusiasm (and lots of it!) – It might be tough at first, teaching in this new way, but persevere because you WILL get there.
Your Key Stage Objectives – These are the areas that your children will need to cover. Think about what your children need to achieve in reading.
Map out your planning – Plan reading just as you would Maths and Writing. Consider what objectives you plan to cover each week over the course of the half term. Aim for around 1 1⁄2 - 2 hours a week (if it helps I teach 3 writing and 2 reading sessions)
A quality text – Your possibilities are endless! You could choose an excerpt, a picture book, a front cover, a blurb, a web article, a leaflet or a poem!
The Step by Step gUIDE
I rave about teaching this way! Like so many things in teaching, this is not something that will suddenly just work overnight (if it does, let me know your secret!). I invested time in delivering reading to a whole class. I can still remember the first session I delivered; it was a bit of a shambles! But I am so glad I stuck with it because it got better and better.
Break down your lesson just as you would any other.
1. What’s the objective? What do you want the children to achieve? Remember, keep it manageable and keep it specific so that YOU know what you want the children to learn. Rather than ‘to improve comprehension’ try ‘to develop prediction skills.'
2. How are you going to hook them in? Is there a video that links to your chosen text or could you role play as a character that needs help with inference/retrieval? Can the children become reading detectives?
3. What’s the activity? Rather than just give out a set of comprehension questions, create a quiz show where the children work in pairs or small groups to test each other's retrieval skills. To develop this further, the children could create their own questions in response to reading or how about sequencing a story through a comic strip? Be creative!
4. How can you differentiate? Differentiate by outcome, by the style of questions given. In previous teaching years I used a ‘Chilli Challenge’ differentiation approach across most subjects. The children had a choice of mild, spicy and hot activities depending on where they thought their level of understanding lay. Work mixed ability, work in ability, differentiate by the text type given or by the quantity of texts given depending on the needs of your learners.
Instead of stopping for 30 minutes a day, extend your Maths or Writing session, and use the saved time for 2 hours of quality reading teaching a week. Instead of gathering your 7 children together and trying to remember where you read up to last week, introduce a new book or text every session! Do the children all need a copy? NO! Have the text on the visualiser, photocopy the page from the book or get the eBook on the iPads! Let’s instil excitement and enthusiasm in our young readers!