I loathe guided reading…dull. dull, dull. Or at least I did until I decided it really was time to change things.
The first thing was the name. No more ‘Guided Reading’ instead it became ‘Book Club’. If we are focusing on reading for pleasure then it had to sound like it might possibly be about enjoying books.
And that led to the all important decision to throw away all our guided reading scheme books. A brave decision, but one we really believed would make reading come alive for our children. They have such limited experience of books that it was only right that we shared as many real books with them as possible so they could begin to develop views and opinions about favourite authors and genres. This meant a massive investment from the school budget which is still ongoing as we don’t keep tatty or damaged books, we try to teach the children to look after what they read. I have the joyful job of choosing most of the books we buy (kiddie in sweet shop!!) , but we encourage the classes to choose too and use book vouchers as rewards for competitions like ‘Best Reading Corner’.
It is vital that the children have a special place to read, where they choose to spend time relaxing and reading.
Book Club sessions were still not really working. Most of the children were not learning about reading in a time designated on the timetable for reading. There were lots of low level ‘holding’ activities. The only children who were making progress in the lesson were those reading with the teacher.
I did lots of reading around – Pinterest is a great place to start – and came to the conclusion that, for us, the carousel style of teaching was not working.
There are some really interesting blogs that discuss the merits of using whole class teaching and explain why all the children should have a reading learning objective during the session.
We took this on board across the school. It is easier to plan for to be honest and the children’s learning is evident. We use films and pictures as well as books as it is easier to access for those children who are new to English or EAL or who struggle with the technical aspects of reading. High level questioning is still possible so lots of inference and deduction can be tackled. There are some lovely questions that I enjoy using with KS1 and KS2 which can be found on ‘Teachers Pay Teachers’ called ‘Bloom’s Buttons’. A lovely interactive resource that children can use independently.
Here are some of the films we use…
Reading through some of the blogs from the United States I discovered the idea of a ‘Book Club Basket’. A simple idea – the teacher has a collection of resources that can be used to support the teaching of reading in one box or basket. I bought the staff some resources that were cheap, cheerful and sometimes silly – the sort of thing that can be found in pound shops. The aim was to make the organisation of the session easier, but also to encourage the teachers to make the session more interactive and fun. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest again!
Another simple idea was to give the teachers a ‘Book Club Folder’ with all the key documents in it they need to plan, teach and assess reading. The resources meant that staff would find planning easier and the assessment of the children could easily be handed over and understood by all teachers. Consistency throughout school means transition is easier too.
Here are some of the ideas I collected during my research. I will keep adding to them.