Support for guided lessons
The huge demands that guided reading places on the teacher, particularly in terms of preparation are, research tells us, outweighed by its benefits as a teaching method. Still, it's easy to forget this when you are up late planning a guided reading lesson for the next morning.
Then there's the worry about what the rest of the class will be doing when you are with your guided group. What will keep all those under-achievers on task when you can't be there to give them attention?
It seems ambitious, but publishers are now offering support for guided lessons. The excellent Text Connections 11-14 presents a way to use guided reading in class, develop effective reading strategies and have structured preparation for the reading paper in the key stage 3 tests.
This resource is aimed at all KS3 abilities and can be used for shared, group, guided and individual reading. Organised around sets of three thematically linked texts taken from fiction and non-fiction, it has an attractive pupils' book and comprehensive teacher's file, which includes practice reading tests and short and medium-term plans matching framework objectives and Qualifications and Curriculum Authority assessment focuses.
From Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist to sailor Ellen MacArthur's website; Nelson Mandela's autobiography to Narinder Dhami's Bend It Like Beckham - across the 45 well selected texts there is much to appeal to both able and less keen readers.
Interactive versions of every extract mean that texts can be focused on for discussion on the big screen. High quality annotations are available in the teacher's file for photocopying, but on the CD-Rom they also come with colour coding and margin notes that can be turned on and off. Imaginative and thoughtful, Text Connections 11-14 is an essential resource for KS3, which will have benefits well into KS4.
Another useful resource, Guided Reading, focuses on using guided reading during the teaching of class novels across six-week schemes of work. Here, differentiation is at the heart of the materials, which offer support for the teaching of seven novels for Year 7 and eight for Year 8.
Novels written by old favourites - Philip Pullman, Anthony Horowitz and Michael Morpurgo - sit alongside popular titles by writers such as Benjamin Zephaniah and Adeline Yen Mah.
Strengths here are that while teachers can use up to six different novels at once (depending on whether the class is set or mixed ability), teaching still comes from one reading plan. The student booklets accompanying each novel structure reading and pupils can work through activities independently during the guided reading section of the lesson. The teacher's file contains advice on setting up guided reading in the classroom, medium and short-term plans and photocopiable resource sheets.
Several exemplar guided reading lesson plans are included for key points or chapters in the novel, although there is still planning for the teacher to do for guided sessions.
One option presenting a much simpler way of delivering guided reading around class novels may be Guided Reading Packs from the National Association for the Teaching of English (Nate). Offering a down-to-earth approach to guided reading, this pack offers a valuable touchstone with a text rather than a fully planned unit.
This basic foundation pack contains photocopiable worksheets and prompt sheets for pupils to structure their own reading. Nate also offers four text-centred packs, including guided reading lesson plans, for four popular texts: Two Weeks with the Queen, Flour Babies, Kensuke's Kingdom and The Nature of the Beast.
While complementing the National Literacy Strategy, this pack uses a different guided reading lesson sequence, which may not suit those already used to the NLS recommended structure. It stays away from close attention to word and sentence-level work, looking for the "broader vision of what it means to be truly literate".
Unfortunately, some of its own resources, such as the generic writing frame reading journals, fail to take a place in this broader vision.
Rachel Kitley is head of English at Kingsbury High School, London
Text Connections 11-14
Pearson Longman, Pupils' Book pound;8.95, Teacher's File pound;49.99, CD-Rom pound;75+VAT
Badger Publishing , Year 7 and Year 8 Teacher File with copymasters pound;49 each year. Packs of novels from pound;29.94
Guided Reading Packs: Introduction and Resources