Guided Reading Pack
Title: The Fire Eaters Author: David Almond Publisher: Hodder ISBN: 0-340-77383-9
Text Type: Fiction
Suggested place in the curriculum: KS3 – English; History; R.E (Year 7)
Themes / Issues Covered:
A little sentimental in places but not as much as Skellig. Successfully deals with domestic and international crises: dad’s suspected illness; starting school; violent teachers – the strap; Cuban missile crisis and the end of the world. Would be good for introducing younger readers to social, cultural, historical context. Also deals with superstition, God, miracles, our amazing world, love, friendship, class. Useful comparisons could be made between Skellig and McNulty characters.
Summary of Contents
This is the story of Bobby Burns, set near Newcastle in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis. It deals with the personal crises of starting school, a violent teacher, an ill father within the frame of the imminent end of the world. Friendship, romance, miracles, God, and this amazing world are handled sensitively. The Fire Eater McNulty reveals the mental horrors of conflict and links past, present and future.
One exemplar of a guided session based on the text
Title: The Fire Eaters by David Almond Objective: Year 7 Reading 6 To develop active reading approaches to engage with and make sense of texts
Introduction to text Focus is on Chapter One and on narrative hooks. The front cover will have formed the stimulus for the starter activity with pupils making predictions about the content of the novel. The first page or more will have been read with the whole class modelling how to identify different types of narrative hook and the effect on the reader. The guided group would be selected because they need support with identifying narrative hooks or because they need to be challenged in the way that they explain the effects on the reader. Teacher clarifies that the objective is to use a range of approaches or strategies to work out how the writer is ‘hooking’ us and making us want to read on. Check understanding of the hook metaphor. Strategy check Use strategy check cards and strategy check card prompts to remind pupils of what good readers do when they are engaging with and trying to make sense of a text. Remind them that they need to use a range of these to work out how the writer is ‘hooking’ us and making us want to read on. Independent reading and related task Ask pupils to read the rest of Chapter 1 independently. Using the Narrative hook sheet pupils record examples of different types of narrative hook used by the writer. Teacher intervenes where necessary to prompt, question and support. Developing a response Lead a group discussion on narrative hooks used by Almond in the opening chapter. Focus on drawing out an explanation of the effect of the hook on the reader.
Review Narrative hooks very often lead you to consider what might happen. In the starter activity pupils made predictions based on the front cover. In the light of their reading, review whether these predictions are: Probable; Possible; Improbable.
Whole class independent work Pupils to read the rest of chapter one in groups or in pairs and support each other to complete narrative hooks sheet. Pupils need to know that they will be reading out their examples of narrative hooks during the plenary so will need to find as many as possible. They will also need to be able to justify why they think it’s a particular type of hook and what the effect is on the reader. Whole class plenary Independent section of class read out examples of narrative hooks from text one at a time. Rest of class on mini-whiteboards write down what sort of hook they believe it is. Pupils reveal what they thought it was and justify point of view. Teacher prompts discussion on effect on reader and alternative interpretations.
Out of school learning Research on 1962/ Cuban missile crisis – books/ parents/ grandparents/ Internet (www.historychannel.com)