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Whole Class Guided Reading

The approach in a nutshell:

Instead of guided reading groups and a carousel of activities, pupils have three reading lessons per week as a whole class. These lessons:

  • Are built around the teacher reading high-quality and challenging texts, which are dissected by the class through high-level questioning and discussion
  • Include a range of activities – not all of which have to have a written outcome – that enable pupils to develop their vocabulary and comprehension skills
  • Do not require you to group pupils by ability

Why is this better than guided reading?

  • Pupils are regularly immersed in high-quality children's literature 
  • Pupils are able to improve speaking and listening skills, as well as developing comprehension skills 
  • More time is given to modelling skills rather than just assessing ability
  • Reduced workload as teachers do not need to plan and resource a carousel of guided reading activities
  • Behaviour for learning is improved as all pupils are engaged in the lesson

How it works

  1. The teacher selects a high-quality piece of children's literature or non-fiction text that will challenge all pupils. It should be at a level beyond that at which they can read independently, as specified in the English National Curriculum. The text can be linked to a relevant topic and used to benefit other subjects, e.g. humanities and science
  2. The learning objective for the session is the same for all pupils. Pupils will have access to the same activities and levels of questioning but with differing levels of support provided depending on pupil needs
  3. The teacher reads the text to the class, modelling fluency, intonation and comprehension, and pupils follow the text with their own copy
  4. The teacher uses skilful questioning and discussion to help pupils get to grips with new vocabulary and develop their understanding of the text
  5. Pupils work on activities that help them to develop their comprehension of the text. Depending on the activity, pupils may work in mixed-ability groups, pairs or by themselves. Activities do not always need a written outcome, for example you may use drama to help children explore a character through role play, debates or freeze frames
  6. The teacher makes assessments at the end of the lesson to inform planning of future sessions

Discrete reading sessions should last no more than 30 minutes, to ensure pupils remain engaged and to make a distinction between these sessions and English lessons.

Listening to pupils read

As an agreed whole school approach, staff avoid selecting individual children to read aloud during whole-class reading. 'Cold reading' an unfamiliar, difficult text can be a negative experience for pupils who are developing their confidence. Instead, we take opportunities to listen to individuals reading after they have read and modelled good practice. For example, they may:

  • Ask pupils to work in pairs/groups to read dialogue within a text
  • Provide opportunities for performance reading or drama
  • Engage in echo reading, modelling fluent reading of a short segment and asking the pupil to repeat the segment.

 

Assessment

Assessments are used to inform future teaching and learning and record how well each pupil has understood the text, the progress they've made, and what additional teaching is required to move him/her on. These records can then form part of the evidence when completing statutory teacher assessment.

 

“Each time we open a book with children it is an opportunity to walk into a new world together, to explore the inner workings of great literary minds and, as their guide, to point out to the children the sights and sounds that could so easily be missed by the untrained eye. These reading journeys are by far the most enjoyable aspect of my day...”

 

 

Whole-class reading sessions also mean that children of all attainment bands are immersed in the same high-quality literature and the discussions that these texts promote.

At Eastcroft Park, we believe the following seven points are crucial for effective whole class reading:

1. All children should be in mixed-attainment pairs, so as to allow for frequent, paired discussion

It is essential that less confident readers are exposed to the high-quality reasoning of more confident readers and become part of these discussions.

2. The text chosen should provide a clear challenge for all members of the class

A good rule of thumb is that the text chosen should be between 12 and 18 months beyond the reach of higher attaining readers; that is to say, beyond the reach of their independent reading of it and comprehending of it.

3. When reading, the teacher should model good use of intonation, movement, volume and expression

Children will pick up good reading styles from teachers’ performances. Eventually, they will start to emulate you in their own performances.

4. Teachers should be actively monitoring pace, so as to ensure high levels of engagement throughout the lesson

Reading and listening to reading for long periods of time can be mentally taxing for some children. Interspersing longer stints of reading with paired discussions/independent follow-up tasks can help with this.

5. Teachers should use targeted and open-ended questioning

Targeted questioning is not only good for Assessment for Learning but also a good way to ensure all children engage with the lesson – if they don’t know who will be asked to provide a response then they are more likely to consider the question and make good use of their talking partner.

6. When discussing literature, the teacher should model, and expect from children, high-quality responses with evidence and explanations provided to support

Children need to be able to say a response before they can write one; developing this skill at primary is vital for success at secondary. Teachers model and encourage children to make good use of sentence stems (eg," The author has used the word ___________ to suggest ____________ , as the word ________ has connotations of __________" )

7. All follow-up tasks should be carefully thought out so as to provide challenge for all children and support for those who need it

A follow-up task is a good way for children to reflect on what they have read and an opportunity for the teacher to observe/assess the individual understanding of a piece.

Eastcroft Park reading policy

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