Follow Ann Webley’s five-part plan for APP in guided reading...
You can collect a great deal of information about children’s progress during a guided reading session. The key is to ensure the planning and structure of the session is focused. It is all too easy to ask lots of questions about a text. However, unless those questions are carefully chosen and matched to an overall objective, teachers will not learn anything of use.
I am going to describe how guided reading relates to APP. The 5-part session is planned from strands 5, 7 & 8 of the Primary Framework and assessed through the Assessment Focuses.
• AF1: Use a range of strategies, including accurate decoding of text, to read for meaning.
• AF2: Understand, describe, select or retrieve information, events or ideas from texts and use quotation and reference to text.
• AF3: Deduce, infer or interpret information, events or ideas from texts.
• AF4: Identify and comment on the structure and organisation of texts, including grammatical and presentational features at text level.
• AF5: Explain and comment on writer’s use of language, including grammatical and literary features at word and sentence level.
• AF6: Identify and comment on writer’s purposes and viewpoints and the overall effect of the text on the reader.
• AF7: Relate texts to their social, cultural and historic contexts and literary traditions.
Set up the objectives for a new or continuing text. For example:
Year 4: strand 7 – “Use knowledge of different organisational features to find information effectively” would give an opportunity to assess AF4 (as well as AF2 & 3)
Year 5: strand 7 – “Explore how writers use language for dramatic effect”. This time, AF5 would be the main focus.
Model/remind children of the reading behaviours and strategies they will need in the independent section of the session. These should be related to the main objective but might also include reminders of how to read unfamiliar words and read for meaning. For example:
• The Y4 teacher, reading nonfiction books, might remind children how to find key information by skimming and scanning, in preparation for some quick reading and questioning.
All children read independently - aloud or silently. It is helpful to give children an idea about what you will be asking them to talk about afterwards. For example:
• The Y5 teacher, reading fiction, might ask children to focus on how a particular character changes during the next chapter because they are going to discuss how the author has portrayed this with his use of language.
The children are, therefore, reading with a purpose. While the children read, the teacher will intervene by listening to reading, asking questions and checking understanding. These interventions may link with the overall objective but will also be driven by the point of the text the child is reading at that moment.
Early finishers could write down a question for others to answer. Older children could use sentence fans with question starters which link to the different assessment focuses. (There are many of these available on different internet sites.) Having a set of, for example, AF5- type question starters on the table will allow children to consider that main objective carefully prior to general discussion. This activity must be modelled, of course, but is a very effective use of time.
This is a very important part of the session and provides most of the evidence for APP in reading. Questions and/or discussion must link to the overall objective in order to provide evidence of attainment in a particular Assessment Focus. Careful questioning can move between AFs. For example:
• How do you think Ben was feeling at the start of this chapter? (AF3)
• What words and phrases show you how he had changed by the end? (AF5)
• Why do you think his feelings changed? (AF3)
• If we think about that chapter as a changing colour which gives Ben’s mood, what colour would it be at the start, the middle and the end? How does the author’s choice of language show this? (AF5)
The idea, of course, is for the teacher to gradually step back as children become increasingly confident readers. We might expect more able groups to have discussions among themselves during this part of the session, with the teacher intervening only to keep them on track or extend their thinking.
The plenary reaffirms the learning. If relevant, a follow-up task might be set, linked to the same objective.
There is a wealth of evidence to use to inform filling in the APP sheets for reading. One of the most important of these is the information gained from well structured and tightly focused guided reading sessions.
When carrying out APP, think about…
Assessing pupils in groups
In most groups, certain children are dominant and others remain quiet. Teachers need to be aware of who is showing understanding and who might be simply following a lead. For this reason, it is important to revisit objectives and ensure, through group management, that everyone has the opportunity to speak in order to confirm understanding and progress.
Most teachers organise a carousel of reading related activities for the groups who are not doing guided reading. One of these is usually a followup task, linked to the objective. For example:
• Drawing and labelling based on the text
• Re-reading and discussion with an adult
• Drama or puppet work
Both KS1 and KS2 children can use reading journals for this work, as well as for personal responses to any other reading.
Carefully designed tasks provide evidence for individual (rather than group) understanding, though it is important to be aware of any difficulty caused by writing. The reading objective must be at the forefront.
Recording the evidence
This needs to be quick and simple. I have seen a lot of good practice in many schools.
• Annotated plans. Children are assumed to have achieved the objective and comments are reserved for those who fail or exceed expectations.
• A plain sheet of paper kept in a guided reading file. This gets covered with post-it notes giving a pupil’s name, activity, AF and level.
• Guided reading plans, which include APP statements at the appropriate level along the top.
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