There is only one way to know if your students are transferring the strategies you teach in guided reading to their reading behaviors, and that is…independent reading!
If you do not have 15-20 minutes in your day for independent reading, find a way to fit it in! And by the way, you need to be available during this time to observe and confer with your students!
What the research says…
Students who read independently become better readers, score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas, and have greater content knowledge than those who do not (Krashen 1993; Cunningham and Stanovich 1991; Stanovich and Cunningham 1993)
Students who do a substantial amount of voluntary reading demonstrate a positive attitude toward reading is upheld in both qualitative and quantitative research (Long and Henderson 1973; Greaney 1980; Hepler and Hickman 1982; Greaney and Hegarty 1987; Reutzel and Hollingsworth 1991; Shapiro and White 1991; Mathewson 1994; Barbieri 1995; Short 1995)
Students’ reading achievement has been shown to correlate with success in school and the amount of independent reading they do (Greaney 1980; Anderson, Fielding and Wilson 1988)
Time spent reading contributes to reading achievement in ways that simply doing worksheets or other activities does not (Allington, 2002; Foorman et al., 2006)
We become more proficient at what we practice (Cullinan 1992)
A few things to consider…
You may need to build the stamina of the students to read for 15-20 minutes at a time, especially if they are new to independent reading. Start with 3-5 minutes if you need to- rather than having 20 minutes where you are redirecting behaviors for 15 of them!
Make sure students have several books they can read independently, in case they lose interest in one or finish before time is up. They should also have one or two books that stretch them a bit in the direction of the next level they are working toward.
Allow students to find a space alone n the room where they can get comfortable or move away from others to focus on reading. Rug squares or pillows would be a good investment. This sends the message that reading is enjoyable and not just a desk and chair activity!
Consider giving students the opportunity for the last few minutes to talk with a partner about what they read. You can even offer a topic for them to discuss like What was something interesting you read? or What made you laugh while you were reading? Or you could have them discuss a skill you are working one like, What did you learn about your character? or Was your book fiction or non fiction? How do you know? This brings in social context of riding and creates accountability for their reading time. At some point students can begin to come up with sharing ideas or questions.
What should YOU do?
Observe: Simply watch reading behaviors of the class as a whole, or individual readers to determine teaching or support needs. Especially when you are introducing things and building stamina. Here is an inventory you can use to note student behaviors during independent reading. You can adjust the form as needed here EngagementInventory
Confer: Listen in to students’ reading while scaffolding, questioning, or checking on specific strategies you’ve taught during your guided reading lessons. How else will you know if they are actually applying the strategies they have learned properly- or at all?? Before leaving each student, tell them 2 things they did well and one thing they should work on…”2 Hugs and a Push” or “2 Glows and a Grow”.
Here are some sample of conferencing forms…click on them to get the PDF