What is whole-class guided reading?
Let me relay a scenario to you: You’re just sitting down to read a chapter with a group of children who have very little interest in it. Each page is read out painstakingly slowly, whilst the rest of your class disperse into chaos on the all important ‘Reading Carousel’. What a way to start each and every day!
If that situation is commonplace in your class then keep reading.
Teachers have forever tried to reinvent Guided Reading (GR) and ultimately always come back to, ‘Oh, I know! Why don’t I read with a group and the rest of my class can work on a variety of tasks around the classroom!’
Whole Class Guided Reading
Mornings will always be disrupted in primary schools – assemblies, visitors, DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time) time – and it all adds up! I didn’t want to go through this year doing the same thing I’ve done every year. I didn’t want to commit to the planning of GR to have it go down the drain, sometimes because I want to do something less banal. So I found whole-class guided reading (WCGR) – it really wasn’t that difficult (a quick search engine and you’re off!)
You’ve probably heard about WCGR already, but I wanted to share with you the way that my class now undertake WCGR and what a profound effect that this has had on my children. Context: We have GR every morning from 9-9.30. Each week is focused on 1 chapter of the same book.
Monday and Tuesday
We begin the week by looking at a variety of vocabulary, around 12 words over two days.
- The children are introduced to the word on my trusty PowerPoint and thus ensues a race to find the word in the dictionary. A fun task for them leads to me being able to tick off the fact that they are able to confidently use a dictionary.
- The winning pair then take great pride in reading out the definition for everyone else. The children write down the word and the definition, and then come up with their most creative sentence to consolidate their understanding of each word.
- Here’s the twist: The words ALL come from the chapter that we are about to read! I tend to choose words that they either won’t know or that they could benefit from using in their work.
Tip: This was an incredibly slow process at the beginning of the year, with the children completing only two words in the first session. Now, I have to pull as many words up as possible to keep the work going over the two sessions!
Now, don’t panic about what I am about to say.
- On Wednesdays, we read the chapter. I say ‘we’, I mean ‘I’. Yes, you read right, I read a whole chapter to my class whilst they follow along in their books.
- ‘What’s the point?’ I hear you ask! The point is that some of my children wouldn’t engage with this text because it’s too difficult, some of my children aren’t read to at home, some of my children are dyslexic, some of my children would benefit from hearing intonation and expression being used… I could literally go on and on but I’ve got to stick to a word count!
- Surplus to this, my class fire their hands up when they hear a word that they covered in the vocabulary sessions – a surefire way of me checking that they are listening.
On a Thursday, the children write a summary of what they have read without looking back in the text. Most detailed gets a Dojo Point. That’s it.
We move our GR lesson to the Literacy slot to cope with the amount of time needed.
Answer the questions
- The children complete a comprehension (about eight questions) based on four pages of out class text.
- The questions are not simple. When writing them, I endeavour to use ‘How might…’ type questions to promote inference and provoke their inner investigator!
And then we start all over again the following week.
And the outcome?
My children love reading our class text. It’s pitched high. No one is left behind. No differentiation, no deviation.
And the biggest product? I enjoy teaching Guided Reading!