From September this year, our four UKS2 classes changed from the typical carousel method of Guided Reading to a whole-class method.
This is a re-blog post originally posted by ?@_MissieBee? and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.
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Why we changed to whole-class
I’ve never been a fan of the carousel method (see my what you could call a “rant” here) so this was a welcome change for me! After experimenting with a few different ways of using carousel and failing to see sufficient impact/progress, I turned to the internet to see what everyone else was doing. My mum (@LMisselle1 – year 6 teacher of… forever) has been using the whole-class method for years, and has always sung its praises; however, I wanted to see how whole-class was approached by others – here’s where @MrsPTeach comes in.
Mrs P’s blog has been a *godsend* throughout this whole process. If you are considering it, you must read these:
- Our solutions to the problems with Guided Reading
- Guided Reading and the new curriculum
- How do whole-class reading lessons work?
- Assessing reading in the 2014 primary curriculum (KS2)
- Whole-class reading FAQs
I presented the idea to our two reading co-ordinators and our HT at the beginning of summer term last year. Our HT agreed we could try it in the two year 5 classes and one year 3/4 class. Instantly, this was so much easier – instead of planning five books in detail for five groups in each class, my partner teacher and I shared the work of planning one book for both classes, which covered us for three weeks. In those three weeks, we studied a book in great detail, allowing all children to access the higher-level questions and hear modelled answers from the HA pupils. We also learnt how to construct a PEE paragraph as a way of constructing a high-level answer.
How it works for us
There are, of course, still a few bumps to be ironed out. But I (and I think the rest of my team) am loving it so far. There are four year 5/6 classes and we all use the same text/stimulus, so planning time and the workload is massively reduced.
Our timetable couldn’t accommodate the two one-hour reading lessons that Mrs P talks about in her blog, so we’ve had to adapt the method to suit us. We have daily 25-minute lessons, with Friday being a ‘reading for pleasure’ session.
The new assessment focuses (again, created by Mrs P) are displayed in all our classrooms and are referred to throughout the lessons: RT (retrieve), I (interpret), C (choice), V (viewpoint), P (perform) and RV (review). The children have already remembered what each “code” means – a lot easier than trying to remember arbitrary numbers and their relevance to the type of question being asked (AF1, AF2, AF3 etc.)
As you can see from these pieces of work, the children write the “assessment code” in the margin next to their answers. I then pink or green these codes depending on whether the children have understood the question/given a sufficient answer or not (this will help us when it comes to our assessment – which “codes” have been “greened” the most in each child’s book?)
I try to mark their GR books every day – it is so easy to mark because every child has answered the same question. A class set of GR books takes me a maximum of 20 minutes to mark. (Funny story – I missed a day once, and a child said, “Oh Miss, why haven’t you marked our books?” I apologised and explained how busy I was last night (marking their other books!) and another child said, “Don’t worry, our Guided Reading books were never marked last year anyway!”)
I can already see an improvement in the way the children are answering the questions now compared to the beginning of the year. Since they’ve realised I’m looking at their books every day, the quality of their writing and presentation has also improved.
Of course, this isn’t the be-all and end-all of teaching reading. We are constantly adapting the way we do things and will continue to do so until we are happy with everything. For me, there are currently two main issues:
1) Resources – it’s fine when we’re doing anything other than a book, as poems/newspapers/articles/reports rarely require much more than one piece of paper between two children. However, when it comes to narrative texts, we do not have enough for one class set (which would work if we rotated plans between the four classes), let alone four class sets.
2) Time – our GR sessions are supposed to be 25 minutes, but it often runs into our English lessons as we get so involved in discussing the text and allowing the children enough time to write developed answers.
Whole-class vs. carousel method
I know the whole-class teaching of reading isn’t for everyone. I’ve had a fair few discussions/debates on Twitter and some people swear by carousel – and if they can make it work for them, great! Here are a few more things I read before convincing my HT/reading coordinator to let us use the whole-class method across the whole of UKS2.