Friday, 17 March 2017

Class Reading Timeline

This year, I'm teaching the same class as I taught last year. In fact, I started at the school with this class when they were in the final term of Year 4 and they're now in Year 6. There are a couple of downsides to this (it's virtually impossible to come up with anything new to say at Parents' Evening that you haven't already mentioned in the previous five!), but there are also a huge number of positives. We've built up a wonderful shared reading history over the past two years, and I can confidently say that I know their individual reading habits inside out.

Earlier in the year we created individual and family reading histories, and the natural progression was to spend time working together to produce our class reading history or reading timeline. We started by talking about all the books that we'd read together and the shared reading experiences that we'd had. These included author visits from Paul Cookson, Matt Dickinson, Pippa Goodhart and Ali Sparkes, judging various book awards (Peters Book Of The Year and Royal Society Young People's Book Prize) and whole school celebrations of reading. We also looked through our class Twitter feed and at the various interactions we'd had with parents, authors, publishers, etc, about reading.

We then thought about which books or authors had created a big buzz and set off a reading 'chain reaction' around the room. In Year 4, everybody was reading the Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face books by John Dougherty. In Year 5 it was all about the Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan and, so far in Year 6, the most popular books have been the Once family by Morris Gleitzman (he doesn't like to call them a series apparently) and Wonder by RJ Palacio. There's also been a real surge of interest in reading graphic novels this year, caused by one of the pupils enjoying Smile by Raina Telgemeier and then getting all of her friends to read it.


The class split into small groups and planned how they were going display their timeline. Most went with using a long piece of wallpaper and photographs alongside written thoughts and reflections, although one group very keen to produce a PowerPoint. It took a couple of afternoons, but we were all were absolutely delighted with how they turned out. Each group took their finished reading timelines round to show the some of the other classes, and they're all currently on display in the school library.

In terms of impact in the classroom, one of the recommendations from the UKLA Teachers as Readers report was to develop pedagogy which fosters 'inside text talk' (spontaneous, informal and child led) about reading and books, and which supports children in creating 'positive reading identities'. The conversations that took place about books, authors and reading between the groups were an absolute joy to be part of. When you overhear a child explaining to an engrossed group of friends the similarities and differences between The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson and The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, then you know it's been time well spent.

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