It is no secret that this year I have been trying to create a classroom culture that respects and supports’ my students’ agency in their journey as learners. One of my biggest challenges this year has been figuring out how traditional approaches to reading instruction can fit within a model designed to help students take back ownership […]
By Irene Fountas, Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative Director/Author/Professor The following are some guiding principles from Irene Fountas that may help you get more power in your teaching: Notice the student’s precise reading behaviors. Eliminate ineffective behaviors and help the reader do what proficient readers do. Select a text on which the reader […]
Ο I use an assessment to determine the levels of my students (Assessing Reading Progress: Setting Goals & Monitoring, The most important focus for guided reading success, )
Ο I group my students based on their reading levels or needs (How to group students, How do I find out what my students need? The most valuable resource for literacy instruction)
Ο My groups are made of less than 6 students (Teachers can respond to children’s reading more effectively. Amendum, et al., 2009)
Ο I know the reading behaviors needed for my students to reach their next level (Guided Reading freebies! The most valuable resource for literacy instruction)
Ο I know the text characteristics for all the levels represented in my class (F & P Guided Reading Text Level Descriptions)
Ο I select books based on appropriate text characteristics for each level (Find information for selecting appropriate texts here)
Ο My students reread previous books for the first few minutes of the lesson (The Power of Rereading)
Ο I move students based on the results of the weekly running records (Assessing Reading Progress)
Ο My book introduction allows students to access the text, but leaves them work to do (How to Craft Strong Book Intros for Guided Reading)
Ο I take anecdotal notes while students are reading and note strengths and weaknesses (Observing and Noting Reading Behaviors)
Ο I engage groups in conversations about the text
- Literacy develops best through social interaction and dialogue with others (Dowhower, 1999)
- Teachers should make a shift from asking predetermined questions designed to ensure that the students arrive at the “right” meaning to facilitating conversations that encourage students’ exploratory talk as they arrive at a deeper meaning (Gavelek and Raphael, 1996)
Ο I have a variety of appropriate independent, shared, or project-based activities for the remainder of the class that keep them engaged while I am working with my groups (What does research say about literacy centers?, Powerful resource for small group instruction)
Ο There are no interruptions during my guided reading lessons from the remainder of my class (How do I organize my classroom for small group instruction?, 3 ways to ensure success at small group and center time, Powerful resource for small group instruction)
Ο I make sure when my groups leave the table they are applying what we practiced during guided reading (Critical component for guided reading success)
How’d you do?
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
I was taught in college that to be a teacher reading role model, I should read in front of my students; not just read aloud, but actually sit down and read in front of them so they could see how much reading meant to me. So when I embraced independent reading, I did just that; pulled my […]
For teachers in the lower grades, this is a popular dilemma . In Kindergarten, formal guided reading usually doesn’t begin until around January. (That shouldn’t be a hard fast rule, though. Some young learners will be ready sooner, and if they are..START!) Taking time to front-load important strategies will make the guided reading lessons more meaningful!
According to author Joan Aldrich Knight, these are the 3 earliest strategies before formal guided reading…
Teach students how print works- left to right and top to bottom. During your read aloud model with your finger. When singing familiar songs, write out the lyrics and follow the print with your finger or a pointer.
Students need practice with pointing under each word and there are plenty of fun ways to do it. You can give them fun things to point with like chopsticks, popsicle sticks with eyeballs, fuzzy balls, or gems glued to the tip, or those witch fingernails that come out around Halloween. You can also make lily pads and use a frog to move from pad to pad. Be creative!
Emergent books are full of sight words. The more words students know, they more fluent they will be once they get started with guided reading.
Building a strong foundation will make your guided reading lessons a breeze!
Here’s a great way to celebrate Women’s History Month! Show the video of actress Kierman Shipka read the story The House that Jane Built by Tanya Lee Stone.
This is a true account of Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, who transformed a poor neighborhood in Chicago by opening up her home as a community center.
Here is the video!!
There is also a Teachers Guide AND a Family ActivityGuide!!
Click below to get a copy of either….or BOTH!!!!
This to me is the #1 guide for Literacy instruction! This comprehensive resource contains grade level expectations for interactive read aloud and literature discussions, shared and performance reading, writing about reading, writing, oral visual, and technological communication, and phonics, spelling, and word study. In each of those areas there is information for how to select appropriate texts and appropriate goals for planning your small group instruction. Additionally there is specific information and appropriate goals for each of the reading levels to assist in planning your guided reading lessons.
If you do not already have this resource, it’s a must have for every educator. That is why I am adding it to the Book Club!
You will never plan another small group or guided reading lesson without it!
Check it out on Amazon by clicking here
Think about it….most of the time, your whole group instruction is usually your chance to expose students to grade level standards, strategies, or skills. When you have students who are below grade level, this exposure… although necessary… will pretty much go right over their heads. This in turn will require you to reteach the skill in small group. But meanwhile your whole group will probably include checks for understanding and guided practice…of which your struggling students would not be able to contribute…which effects their confidence…which effects their motivation…which perpetuates their struggle.
What if you used some of your small group lessons to expose your struggling students to upcoming standards, skills, and strategies. You would be building their background in that area- so to speak- which will cause a shift in their position when you introduce it to the class. They will be prepared to contribute during checks for understanding and guided practice with their peers. Imagine their motivation when they have the secret keys before their classmates!!
Motivation is a huge factor for accelerating learning…so try a little pre-instruction intervention…you may find it to be an effective way to bridge the gaps of struggling learners!!
It’s true! For children of ALL ages! Don’t believe me? Check the research listed at the end of this post!
Why is reading aloud such a critical component for reading success??
- Introduces children to genres they may not discover on their own.
- Exposes children to literary vocabulary-which is different from conversational vocabulary- and is vital for reading comprehension.
- Gives children background knowledge, which helps them make sense of what they hear, see, and read.
- Motivates students to read on their own because they see reading as valuable and exciting.
- Gives students something to talk about which also supports reading and writing skills.
- Lets children use their imagination to explore experiences beyond their own.
- Demonstrates what fluent reading sounds like.
Learning to Read and Write (1998)
Becoming a Nation of Readers (1985)
International Reading Association (1985)
Any benefits not listed here? Please leave a comment and share!