Guided reading / independent reading.......how different should the levels in the books used be?

(15 Posts)
hels71 Tue 05-Mar-13 08:23:12

Hi
A quick question for you. DDs school do not do any 1:1 reading (unless a helpful parent volunteers, so DDs class get none.) They say all their reading is taught and assessed through guided reading. She is in Reception in a mixed R/1 class.

She is bringing home purple band books (ORT 8ish) and can read them with no problems, and can answer various questions about the story along the lines of what happened, who did, why did they do/say that, what do you think will happen, why is this writing big, how do you think they feel, what word could we us instead of said etc then what level of book would be appropriate for them to be using in guided reading to enable them to progress in reading?

Just want to get some views, ideally from teachers before I go in a be "that parent!"...

(I am actually a teacher although have only been doing PPA cover since DD was born. I know what type of books I would have used for my classes when I had one but know things change......also I have never had reception so it may be different for younger children?)

Thanks.

(I do actually volunteer in the school before anyone comments on that but parents are not allowed to be with their child's class...)

learnandsay Tue 05-Mar-13 09:24:41

I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly. Your daughter is in Reception and reading ORT stage 8 purple books and you want what? A harder book level? Why not ask the teacher what she thinks your daughter needs to work on. It might remind her accidentally to move your daughter up. But if she's at purple already it doesn't sound like the teacher is slow in that regard, anyway.

DeWe Tue 05-Mar-13 09:25:26

I think as long as guided reading is challenging them to investigate the book, it can be quite a level down. My dd1 in year 1 read the Harry Potter series up to what they had written at that point (either 5 or 6 I can't remember) and other similar standard books. However they did only guided reading in that year (changed this policy since then) and her group was reading ORTlevel 5-6. I mentioned this to the teacher, hoping she'd say "well, it's a bit easy for all of them and we'll move on quickly" but unfortunately this wasn't the case.

However they really learnt to investigate into the book. That the book was easy to read was, in some ways, helpful because they could really investigate thoroughly. And she got a lot out of it which she was then ready to apply to much more difficult books when she got into year 2.

hels71 Tue 05-Mar-13 10:14:32

I do not have a problem with the books she is on at home...she is on those by the way because I went in in September and got her onto the right books. She moves up simply because the TA who changes their books goes through the list of each level and moves them when they have done them all. Not because a teacher ever hears her read at her level. No-one at school has heard her read her reading book since the start of October.

At her level of reading however she should be learning certain skills including using non fiction. Her guided reading group use ORT stage 3 books. I do not think that this is allowing her to make progress form where she is. All children should be making progress from their level......even if that is higher than average for their year. But it seems to me that there is a school of thought that says ah well, they can read so let us leave them to coast while we get the others reading, rather than allowing all children to progress. Lack of progress in reading was actually highlighted in the last Ofsted report..

When I was teaching I would sometimes go down a level or two to teach specific reading skills but never 5 levels down.....

I was just wondering how normal this is (I have asked the school I work in and they also think it is not right but wanted to get a wider picture before going in)

learnandsay Tue 05-Mar-13 10:47:53

Even if every school in the country has a better system than yours does (and your school's system does sound a bit disorganised) I can't see how that's going to help you.

I'm sure the simplest solution would be to ask if your daughter can do guided reading with Y2. If they say yes then your problem is solved without much effort.

christinarossetti Tue 05-Mar-13 10:56:10

Do you have a parent consultation evening coming up or could you make an appointment to see the teacher anyway?

In your position, I would remark on the disparity between your dd's home readers and the guided reading books and say just what you've said her re your concerns re limited opportunity to progress.

If the teacher responded to your feedback in Sept, then she may well now.

There should be no need to go into Y2 I wouldn't think. There may well be other reception children on purple or above book bands and there will definitely be Y1s so she should be able to be with a more appropriate group for guided reading in a Y1 and YR mixed class.

learnandsay Tue 05-Mar-13 11:03:12

It sounds like the mum is saying that she went into the school last September and told them which reading books to give her daughter, and that's the reason why her daughter is reading purple books (not because the school system works properly.) Is that right, OP? I think that's what you said.

So, unless other mums went in and told the school what reading books their children need there may well not be some, a few (or any) other YR children reading purple or above. In fact, if the school system is as disorganised as it sounds then there might be many children reading the wrong books for all kinds of reasons. If it half as messed up as it's being reported here then the head teacher/deputy and literacy co ordinator are going to have to sort it out. I can't see how one of the mums is going to fix it.

christinarossetti Tue 05-Mar-13 11:22:49

To answer your question, OP, it doesn't sound very usual for reception teachers/NNs to never hear children read individually (very unusual, I would say) nor does the 'system' for putting children up a level seem particularly well thought out.

Although if you specific concern is your dd's guided reading book level, her needs should be able to be accommodated within a Y1/YR class.

You do need to go in and speak to the teacher though. You don't come across as one of 'those mums' because you're very clear about what you see to be the problem.

teta Tue 05-Mar-13 12:15:34

I don't think this school sounds abnormal-my childrens school is run along these lines.Individual reading is always done with parent helpers and yes children are not moved on unless they have read all the books at their particular level or through parental intervention.My ds's teacher last year [mixed reception/year 1]was very happy though,to check levels when asked and always moved him up.Loads of other kids languished on the lower levels for ages.I think in this case,just ask the teacher whether there is a more advanced group.If you have no joy take it up with the literacy coordinator or the Headmaster.There are worst things to be than being called one of 'those' parents [being a parent that leaves everything up to the school and hasn't a clue whats going on is one].

survivingwinter Tue 05-Mar-13 12:16:45

My dd is in a mixed yrs class and they are able to stream the children into groups according to reading ability rather than yr gp. I would say your dd needs to be reading with yr 1 pupils rather than reception at that level and guided reading should be a BB ahead of what she reads at home. I also work in a school at this is what happens there too.

learnandsay Tue 05-Mar-13 12:30:17

teta,

"Loads of other kids languished on the lower levels for ages" (languished because they couldn't read harder books or because they weren't given them?)

Is this a guess or were you a parent helper in the class and you actually saw this happening? I can't believe it's "normal" for teachers to have no idea what their children are capable of reading. It just doesn't make sense. I can see how a teacher and a mum might disagree. But for teachers to have no idea what stage literacy is at in their class? The only way I can imagine that would be if the turnover of teachers in that class is extremely high.

teta Tue 05-Mar-13 12:38:19

No its not a guess.This was really happening-i was a parent helper.Though, to her credit some of the helpers were retired teachers and would ask her to check levels from time to time.I also would say if such a child was finding the books too easy and she was happy to listen.I think she just had too much to do in the half a week she was teaching.Obviously,the children were on set levels,so the teacher did have an idea of what they were reading but often not what they were fully capable of.

hels71 Tue 05-Mar-13 22:21:42

Thanks for the replies. Got a letter today saying parents evenings in the last week of term so I will be asking questions.
She is doing guided reading with some year 1...
I just need to be convinced that using ORT stage 3 books is allowing her to develop her reading skills properly......
Her take home books are fine...

learnandsay Tue 05-Mar-13 23:16:10

Some of the ORT stage 3 non fiction books that we had, one on frogs, one on sharks, one on growing herbs, and so forth I found pretty impressive, imaginative and well written. I suppose it's not so much what the book is about and what stage it has been written for but what you do with it in class. (In real life an advertising campaign might not have a lot of complicated text or imagery but it can still be brilliant.) (Sometimes simple really is good.)

hels71 Wed 06-Mar-13 08:23:38

Non of the books she has mentioned so far have been non fiction.......

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