30th June 2000 at 01:00
PELICAN GUIDED READING AND WRITING. Series editor Wendy Body. Teacher's books by Julie Garnett and Julia Timlin. Longman pound;24.99 for 6 pupil books plus a teacher's book.

"Many teachers still do not understand fully what their role should be in guided reading, while guided writing took place in only a minority of lessons," said Ofsted in its evaluation of the first year of the national literacy strategy.

Pelican's self-styled "complete resource for guided reading and writing at key stage 2" aims to help by providing customised texts (cross-referenced with NLS objectives) for use in guided reading and writing sessions.

The texts - fiction and non-fiction, invariably by excellent and well-known authors - have the double advantage of being the optimum length for this part of the hour, and differentiated at three levels within each pupil book.

The collection of titles is broad. For and Against looks at pros and cons of six different issues, while Let Me Persuade Yo is a lively collection of persuasive writing which will appeal to both boys and girls. Choral and Performance Poetry includes traditional staples alongside more recent favourites, while Letters To Edward (including a response to Edward's complaint about finding half a beetle in his crisps) has the sure-fire appeal of reading other people's letters.

The teacher's guides offer basic, differentiated lesson plans and copymasters for both guided reading and writing from the same texts, along with common-sense advice on the teacher's role. As always, the worksheets will need to be adapted (or binned) depending on the cohort.

This series succeeds principally through the excellent pupil books - a huge time-saver for teachers scrabbling about for suitable texts - but also by making the important link between developing or reinforcing writing skills already introduced through whole class shared writing.

Kevin Harcombe is head of Redlands primary school, Fareham

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