I’ve been back with my class after a brief hiatus this week, and as always, my attention has turned to reading.
I’m not a fan of guided reading as I never seem to be able to make it work for the whole class. It has always felt ineffective and unsatisfactory to me, although I’m sure better, more organised teachers than I can make it work well! So I’m back to trying whole class reading again.
We read Fantastic Mr Fox last term, and one of my SEN children picked up a spare copy as I read aloud, always asking what page we were on so he could follow along. It helped him to stay attentive and exposed him to what unfamiliar vocabulary both sounds and looks like. It seemed like this might be a helpful strategy for other children too, so I scrounged up as many copies of Charlotte’s Web as I could find, and we’ve begun our new story.
I chose Charlotte’s Web for several reasons. First, I’m a huge fan of E. B. White. His writing is fantastic and this story is pitched at just the right level for my Year 4 class. It’s a good stretch, but not so far beyond them as to be unreachable. In addition, there are lots of opportunities to learn new vocabulary. We predict what unfamiliar words might mean from the context, then use dictionaries to check if we were right.
This story of love and friendship, loyalty and loss, hope and new beginnings also gives lots of opportunities for the children to develop their inference and empathy skills. We’ll be reflecting on the attributes and feelings of different characters at different points in the story by considering the evidence in the text. We’ll also be using the story to deepen our understanding of how we can follow the ‘golden rule’ that underpins the ethos of our school.
The children and I have been taking it in turns to read aloud and I have particularly enjoyed hearing some of them model how to use tone of voice, pace and fluency to make the story more interesting for their peers. They’ve been captured by Wilbur’s story so far and I’m hopeful that when we meet Charlotte, she will be able to weave her sticky web of friendship, loyalty and a love of words around the hearts and minds of my children too.