We settled down to our first session. Half an hour where the children could choose to come and sit in front of the whiteboard on the carpet or stay in their place at a table. Only 2 children decided to remain in their seats and soon changed their minds. An e-book version of the book was displayed on the IWB and off we set. The story and style of writing soon drew us in. I read a bit aloud; they were asked to read bits in their heads; we discussed and unpicked and spotted vocabulary and punctuation and generally lost ourselves in the beginning of the story.
I then asked for a volunteer to read a little of the story aloud to the class. The first thumb to chest – I try not to use hands up to stop the flapping and accompanying seal noises – belonged to a usually quiet, not very confident boy who found reading a bit of a struggle. He locked eyes with me and the look of absolute desperation to be chosen to read some of this amazing book aloud to his classmates was overwhelming. I looked at him. He looked at me. I glanced at the next short paragraph on the IWB and thought to myself how much he would struggle to decode some of the words. I looked at him again, but simply could not refuse his eager expression.
I was absolutely blown away by the way the boy read aloud to his classmates. He read with such confidence and expression, and with such obvious delight. When he had finished, he looked at me in amazement. Had he really just done that? I smiled at him and watched him positively glow with pride.
My eyes were opened that morning to how sharing a real book as a whole class rather than sitting in forced little ability-groups sharing insipid group texts from a scheme is what reading in class should be about. I had always known there was a better way than a GR carousel, and for me, there is no going back.
All of my guided reading in Spring and Summer terms this year was done through whole-class sessions. Two, three or four times a week, we all gathered together and enjoyed a good book. We read aloud; we read silently; we discussed and unpicked and predicted. Most of all, though, we just enjoyed sharing some excellent texts together.
So what of progress? Sadly, sharing excellent books together …
Rachel Preece-Dawson in a Year 4/5/6 teacher and English, ICT and Teaching & Learning co-ordinator at a small, rural school. See her blog at rpd1972.wordpress.com or connect with her on twitter @rpd1972.