Butterfly Teacher's Guide - Part 2
TEACHING GUIDE FOR READING AGE EIGHT PLUS
Your pupils have finished The Butterfly Book. They’ve got reading age 8+.
They’re independent readers, ready to read anything – including what they call
Lessons now need to be a mix of
Consolidating their Butterfly knowledge of HOW to read – possibly
revising Lessons 54-62 – and building on their ability to read soft ‘c’
words, soft ‘g’ words, and silent letter words especially. Multi-syllabic
words are not normally a problem – but make sure they do this
methodically, logically, going from left to right. Use the Word List (page
7) for all of this, but don’t slog through every word; there’s normally no
need. As you move on, though, you may want to revert to this whenever
the need arises.
Teaching them The Butterfly Grammar. This is just as straightforward,
and beautifully structured, as The Butterfly Book. You will be moving
them on to mastery of their language. As well as parts of speech, our
children benefit from being taught the tenses of verbs, and how to use
them in sentences and paragraphs (pages 65-105, The Butterfly
Grammar). The text can also be used for dictations.
Reading aloud, increasingly expressively as well as accurately, poems,
and/or, chapter by chapter, or story by story, books like The Wizard of
Oz, or some classic fairy tales by The Brothers Grimm, Perrault, or Hans
Stopping to make sure they understand what they’re reading. Whenever
you introduce them to a new text, start by first putting any words or
expressions that might be unfamiliar on the board. Can they read
them? Spell them? Understand what they mean? Then they’ll be ready
to read them expressively, and answer any comprehension questions
Getting them to write a sentence, with verbs, properly; and a paragraph.
A sentence must have a verb. “Sit!” is a sentence. Sentences must make
Spelling tests and/or dictations.
Ensuring that when they answer questions orally they do so in proper
sentences, with verbs, in the right tenses.
Encouraging them to learn poetry by heart.
NOT encouraging them to use dictionaries: it takes too long in our fast-
NOT encouraging them to do beautiful handwriting. Clarity, not
calligraphy, is what matters in our classes.
Remember, whatever level, and whatever material, you are now using, you will
forever revert to the Butterfly Book principles of HOW to read. You are now
also letting them demonstrate that they can read anything. And that this is
Homework can now be quite creative. Short one-paragraph essays and very
short stories/anecdotes are recommended. Correct spellings, punctuation,
grammar, sentence and paragraph construction etc. are of crucial importance.
Also recommended is learning a poem by heart, to be recited at the next
Here is some general guidance for writing stories:
Avoid the use of and. Encourage pupils to use full stops.
It may be helpful to keep to one tense throughout a story.
Avoid putting ‘would’ and ‘should’ into sentences and verbs ending in
Now, for literature, comprehension, discussion, critical thinking – the sky’s the
limit! (They’ve got reading ages 9+ now.)
With The Junior Butterfly Reader and, with older children, The Advanced
Butterfly Reader, you’re taking them to the higher realms of English (and
indeed any) subject teaching. You are demonstrating that we read unfamiliar
words with reference to their spelling pattern, and understanding them with
reference to their context, as well as their definition. And you are ensuring
that they can identify the principal parts of speech. You are of course
integrating into your introduction to comprehension strands of The Butterfly
Book (how-to-read) teaching, and The Butterfly Grammar, revisiting,
particularly, mastery of verbs in all their tenses. You never let up with the
Butterfly how-to-read approach. You keep giving spelling tests and dictations.
Homework now adds appreciative and critical thinking to creativity. Writing
correctly as well as expressively – and accurately if relating facts – remain of
the utmost importance.
Reading for comprehension. At this stage, and with the material presented in
the Butterfly Reader books, prepare yourself thoroughly beforehand.
Make sure you not only understand, but can also explain, the meaning
and significance of everything that arises in these ultimately high-flying
Prepare also to vary your pace. There’s a lot of material in each lesson to
cover in an hour. There is also much to consider, and comprehend. You
have to keep the pupils focused and engaged. So you have to keep them
moving, quite briskly. But they also need to think and discuss things.
Don’t delay things by directing your pupils to using dictionaries, or to
beautifying their handwriting.
Don’t stop and use a dictionary yourself, for the same reason. Also you
should have mastered your material before the lesson.
Some pupils will be much more articulate and responsive than others.
Ensure that all pupils get their turn, and stay engaged, by picking them
randomly, swiftly, to answer the questions.
If a pupil gives the wrong answer, shake your head with a smile, perhaps
say ‘No’, or ‘Nearly!’ and quickly move on to another pupil. If it helps,
explain why the wrong answer was wrong, and the right answer right.
Avoid explaining things in a laboured manner. The mood of these
classes should be quick and bright.
Include a spelling test and/or a dictation in each lesson.
Start a Junior (or Advanced) Butterfly Reader lesson like this:
Read the title page including the information about the author. What
does the title Poet Laureate mean? Tell them the answer.
Now for the ‘Preparing to read’ section:
For weaker classes -
Copy the ‘Preparing to read’ words on the white board e.g. air- chair-
Instruct the pupils to chorus the words and then ask them what the
spelling pattern is.
For stronger classes -
Ask a pupil to read the words aloud and then ask what the spelling
Ask another pupil to read the first sentence after the list of words. Ask
questions about this sentence e.g. ‘What does severe mean?’ ‘What is a
Ask another pupil to read the other sentence etc.
Make sure the pupils understand the words - especially those in red
which appear in the extract. Get pupils to put the words in context by
using them in their own sentences. This can be done orally.
The ‘Vocabulary’ section:
Randomly ask pupils to read the words and their definitions. If required
stop and give examples of how the words can be used in sentences. For
more complicated words ask the pupils to put them into their own
sentences. Again, this can be done orally. This is to ensure that pupils
can understand the definitions of words and can use them in context.
The ‘Parts of Speech’ section:
This is the point where you may realise that your pupils don’t know what a
noun or a verb is! If so, use the Butterfly Grammar Book as a resource book
and, quickly, do the appropriate lessons. If the pupils do have a sound
knowledge of grammar then ask them to put some of the words given in the
‘Parts of Speech’ box into sentences. This will start to get the pupils writing
expressively. You can also take some words from the ‘Preparing to read’
section and ask the pupils to give you the adjective, the adverb etc. For
example, what part of speech is the word ‘hair’? A noun? What is the
adjective? (It’s ‘hairy’) etc.
Always read the extract to your pupils expressively. This is important.
Stop at certain points to ask questions. Not only will you get them to
demonstrate their understanding of what they’re hearing. It will also
ensure that pupils pay attention and stay focused whilst you are reading
If required, and only after your expressive reading of the text, randomly
pick pupils to read sentences.
Keep asking questions about the extract as you move through it.
As you move through the extract and ask questions you may find that you have
covered many of the comprehension questions! However, make sure that:
You always cover at least the first two questions orally as a whole class.
You can select others for correctly written one-sentence answers.
If you have a class that has difficulty focusing get them to write down
their answers, each in a properly constructed sentence, to the questions.
SET A TIME LIMIT. Allow ten minutes for the first two questions, and go
over the answers. Then set another ten minutes for the next couple of
If you have a strong, articulate, focused class you may want to cover
most of the comprehension questions orally, asking them to write
answers to one or two questions only, before moving on to ‘For
discussion in class’...
For discussion in class:
This section works as a whole class discussion, which you lead, and to
which they freely, but courteously, respond.
Encourage them to speak as they write: in sentences.
Correct any mistakes they make.
The discussion section can also be used as a written activity or it can be
used for a piece of homework. The final question of the first lesson in
The Junior Butterfly Reader, for example, poses an interesting question:
‘Do people look like the person they really are?’ It merits a well-written
paragraph, either in the final ten minutes of the lesson, or as a brief
piece of homework.
Remember this: ‘The more familiar the pupil becomes with the language of
literature, the better he or she will speak, write and respond to the richness of
language itself.’ So says Irina Tyk at the beginning of The Junior Butterfly
Reader. She adds, ‘At all times, freedom of thought and courteous expression
on the part of any pupil should be encouraged. Careless or unsupported
opinion should be discouraged always.’
In addition ....
Many children test us. They want to be controlled, and try us to ensure
that we are in control.
If we fail them, the alternative is that they will vie with each other to
take control. Anarchy results and children suffer.
They are happiest when they are doing well, under our control.
Make sure YOU are in control.
A well controlled class is a happy class.
You are the authority, both as the source of the knowledge and skills
that you are teaching, and as the controller of the class. The children
want and need to respect you as that authority.
Structure and order are inherent in the Butterfly programme, as much in
the conduct of the class as in the Butterfly teaching method.
As well as following the Top Tips -
You can control behaviour by placing the name of a badly behaved child
on one side of the board.
Put a cross, and if need be another cross, by the name for any further
Three crosses against a name (or before this, if you prefer) and you send
the child, accompanied by an assistant, from the room. The child can be
passed to the Butterfly Superviser for reprimands – which might result in the child
returning to class after a five-minute period and a promise to apologise –
quietly – before settling back in class and behaving.
For any persistent, or really bad, misbehaviour tell the child you will
speak to his/her parent – then do so when the parent comes to collect.
Good behaviour can be rewarded with good points. The three children
with the most good points can each be rewarded with a sticker.
Changing a disruptive child’s place in class can help – in the front row, or
in isolation at the back under an assistant’s scrutiny, or away from a
Their behaviour will influence how you seat them at subsequent lessons.
Disruption may be a challenge to your authority, or an act of attention-
seeking. The way you handle it may depend on whether it’s a challenge –
to which you must respond, or attention-seeking – which is sometimes
Low-level disruption should not be tolerated: as well as distracting other
children, it leads inexorably to high-level disruption.
Child can be made to stand outside the class, or be escorted (by
assistant) to Katie to cool off, or be told off etc.
IF EVER YOU LOSE CONTROL OF THE CLASS – send an assistant, or a
responsible child, to fetch help immediately. If this happens, don’t worry about
it, we can deal with it, and re-launch you in the same or another class.
If a child’s behaviour is unacceptable – if ultimately the child will not
accept authority – we are under no obligation to keep the child. We will
call the parent to remove the child, either suspending, or totally
excluding, the child. We have only rarely had to do this. Our approach
has a strong record of success with children with a strong record of
It is an impressive feature of the Butterfly approach that as the children’s
literacy improves, so does their behaviour. Poor behaviour is associated with
poor literacy and there is often a short transition period when a child who has
built up a pattern of poor behaviour continues to behave badly.
Better readers are better behavers. Better behavers are better readers.
We need to do the following:
When the bell rings for break children should be told to
stand behind chairs at desks and
pick up their snacks and
line up at the classroom door.
They should be reminded that they
should not open their snacks until they have arrived in the playground
(or hall if it’s wet)
can’t return to the room until after break.
They should be told that they may spend break
a. in the playground (or hall if it’s wet)
b. visiting toilets
c. helping themselves to water.
Everywhere else is out of bounds.
They should not run in the corridors or on the stairs.
The last child out of the room should close the door.
They should be led directly to the playground (or hall) by the teacher.
The first adult there should check that playground gates are securely
Teachers should circulate among the children as they play, chatting with
them and reminding them to put litter in the bins.
10. When bell is rung again (after 15 minutes) children should
Place any remaining litter in the bins
Pick up any belongings
Line up in class groups in front of their teacher and, led by their
teacher, return to classrooms in an orderly fashion.