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Independent Reading - Help!

Discussion in 'English' started by VeronicAmb, Aug 5, 2015.

  1. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    It's not often I come on here and ask for help but, literally I have come to a stand still.

    I am currently updating the year 8 curriculum map and one of the units that they will be studying is "the birth of the children's novel" in Victorian Literature. I am thinking of setting this unit as an independent one. Classes will have one short text to study as a class. Then what they have learned in the classroom, they will apply to another text of their choice as part of the independent component. I am HoD, but I do not teach KS3 and despite having taught year 9 this academic year just gone, I haven't taught year 8 in 5-6 years and it has been over a decade since I've taught independent reading as my previous school didn't do it.

    What I need help on is setting the classroom texts as well as the list of them to choice from. We go by sets and I still need something that isn't very long - as we all know, Victorian texts can be pretty lengthy.

    The following are the usual level patterns we see in each set so I'd be grateful if you could nominate a few texts based on the levels. (I did the levels from bottom to top):

    Set 1: 6c-a
    Set 2: 5b-6c
    Set 3: 4c-5c
    Set 4: 3c-3a

    I did teach Alice Adventure's into Wonderland with year 9 second set and a few didn't connect to it as I would've liked, they seemed to find it relatively straightfoward. I was thinking of using it for year 8 top set. Any thoughts on this?
     
  2. fineliner

    fineliner Occasional commenter

    You need to leave this to the teachers who will know their classes better than you do. You could give an example on your outline plan/map and let them take it from there.
     
  3. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    I wanted to do this - believe me, it would save me the hassle. But SLT aren't allowing the free choice anymore. Well they are, but I have to give them a few options for my staff to choose from.
     
  4. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    (I hate setting, especially for reading.)

    You could go to lexile.com, put the levels in there and choose by genre. You might consider challenging your lower sets by providing audiobooks or optional read-alongs.
     
  5. fineliner

    fineliner Occasional commenter

    I take it then that there is no one on that SLT who understands the pedagogy of the subject. Independent reading choices need to arise from discussions between the teacher and the pupil. Do you have any consultancy support you could call in to back up your stance on this? Alternatively, you could make a list of the books in the library that meet the definition and have that as your list - maybe rank them by reading age/diffculty?

    The unit sounds interesting btw - lots of potential.
     
  6. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Short stories?

    The Just So Stories just about sneak in they were written in 1902. I'm sure Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe also wrote short stories. Black Beauty - unabridged. Treasure Island.

    The Open University does a course on Children's Literature. You may get some ideas from there.

    I am intrigued by this thread. The Victorian Novel is my speciality, I know nothing at all about year 8. I am trying to remember which Victorian novels I read when I was younger. I read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights when I was about 12, but I think most 12 year olds today would not be able to cope.
     
  7. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Sorry loves, I don't think I made myself clear - there will be one set text which what I have to set as HoD. However, the 2nd choice of text for the independent study, will be down to the teacher's choice.

    Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights would be too much for year 8. I'm looking at children's Lit in the Victorian era. So authors like Stevenson, Dickens and etc.

    @fineliner - yes you're right. I did have a member of staff from my department move to AHT, but now she's become an Achievement Coordinator which doesn't bode well in my favour! We don't have a lot of Victorian texts in our library, we just have it in our dept stock cupboard. Novels like Dorian Gray, Heart of Darkness etc.

    Thanks for the suggestions though, I will check them out!
     
  8. never_expect_anything

    never_expect_anything Occasional commenter

    I wouldn't class Jane Eyre & Wuthering Heights as children's lit; the intended audience was not children.

    You could do something interesting with fairy tales - although these go back further than the Vvictorian era, they really gained popularity after Grimm published their collection (pre-Victorian, but republished several times) and you've also got Hans Christian Anderson, and other stories like The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Most teens are intrigued by the extreme gory nature of the originals, as they generally only know the Disney-fied versions. You can go into the whole notion of children's literature as a mode of teaching morality.

    Also, depends what you mean by 'Victorian'? Are you referring to the time or the place? i.e. Do you particularly want British authors? If so, Black Beauty, Water Babies & Tom Brown's School Days. If you include American authors, how about the What Katie Did books (a personal favourite of mine!), Little Women and Tom Sawyer?

    I wouldn't worry too much about readability levels, as you can probably get abridged / easy-read version of most books, if your lower ability couldn't cope with the unabridged original...
     
  9. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    I can't stand WH anyway! :p I really detested teaching that to my A2 Lit group a few years ago!

    That sounds like an interesting concept - however, I want this unit to be an in-depth author and text study. But, I want the text to be in novel form, rather than short stories. Although, the Grimm Tales might be good suitability to the lower sets though. So I will defo keep that in mind and email my dept with their feedback.

    I think we'll be looking at time as this unit will be surrounded by the "birth of the children's Victorian novel" - the place will be in context when looking at the author and dependent on the text. I've decided to use Oliver Twist for set 1 and Alice in Wonderland for set 2. Haven't got anything for sets 3 and 4 yet.

    I also believe, SLT wants me to focus on British authors as they want this unit to be taught alongside Victorian England unit in their History lessons, but Tom Sawyer might be good. I do think that'd have to go to top set though. However, I don't want to focus too much on racism that much as, that will be a unit in year 9, called political prose. First set will be taught To Kill a Mockingbird, 2nd Noughts and Crosses - haven't decided on 3 and 4.... Of Mice & Men perhaps haha?

    Would you recommend Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn if I were to choose either for top set year 8? (haven't read either of them)!
     
  10. never_expect_anything

    never_expect_anything Occasional commenter

    Sorry, can't help there. I don't recall reading either in full myself - just remember studying extracts of one or the other (or both) at primary school. I think I read somewhere (can't remember where!) though that Tom Sawyer was an easier read, which was why I suggested it, as you were looking for books for your lower ability learners, so I guess Huck Finn might be more appropriate for top set...

    If you're trying to avoid controversial / political issues, perhaps you should avoid Water Babies! I'm not so sure how Alice in Wonderland really links with life in Victorian England for History, and I guess Black Beauty doesn't either, but Tom Brown's School Days would be a good match for Oliver Twist (though again, I've never read it myself).
     
  11. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Thanks never. I've done the map now, thanks though.

    The theme of the unit is really about the birth of the Victorian novel and childhood - Wonderland is a good fit for that. That is just the main text of course. Other things will surround the novel and of course, their own book they choose will have a greater significance to this unit too.
     

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