Cool Cats for Guided Reading

Guided reading, in the past, has been one of those subjects which wasn’t always taught well. Lots of training and observing of each other put that right, and I know now that the situation has changed. We invest a lot of time into planning our guided reading and ensuring that our questioning challenges the children. However, since changing to the new curriculum, I’ve found planning my reading really difficult. The objectives manage to be both vague and enormous at the same time, and talk a great deal in year 4 about attitudes. Now clearly, promoting and fostering a love of reading is crucial in getting children to read, I know that, and it’s great be able to have the opportunity to encourage children in this way. But does this mean that, at the end of the year, I can just say that my children enjoy reading and be done with it? Of course not. But the lack of specific objectives is a little unnerving. I know that, in no time at all, I’ll be dreaming up weird and wonderful ways to cover these objectives that the children enjoy, but at the moment, I’ll admit it’s tough.

Take this week, for example. I’m going to be working on “preparing poems to read aloud and to perform, showing understanding through intonation, tone, volume and action”. To me, there is one way to work on this objective – get some poems, read them aloud and perform them! So that’s what we’ll be doing. But it just somehow feels a little bit alien. I’m used to having a group at a time, dutifully listening to a couple of them read so I can assess their skills at reading aloud, and then use a combination of discussions and written answers to work on objectives to assess their skills of recall, inference and deduction. Sitting down and having a chat about a poem and then prancing around in baseball caps and shades just seems all too easy!

Having done some poetry performance before, it clearly is an area which we need to work on, as the children have been incredibly self-conscious. Feeling self-aware is something that is really hard to overcome; I suppose the more we do,the happier the children become. I’ve taken a controversial decision to use “Cool Cat” by Mike Jubb with my lowest attaining children. It’s a rap from the view of a cat, and I have to say, I love it. While sitting here in my kitchen, I was having a whale of a time rapping it and doing what can only be described as some Gangsta Moves. I’m planning on getting the hats and shades out of the dressing up box to add to the effect. For me, that sounds like a great way to spend a lesson. But will the children agree? I’m not so sure!! Perhaps I have just found our focus for the rest of the year. If I continue to build the children’s confidence in their reading skills, develop their intonation and ability to read in front of their peers, then I’ll know they have succeeded. I’m forever telling my children to sit down, calm down, be quiet and behave sensibly. In guided reading, that’s not what I want any more. If my children can break all of the rules, if they can stand up, be excited, be loud and play the fool, then I’ll know my job is done!


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