Guided reading lessons are one of the most effective classroom strategies for teaching reading. All areas of fluency and comprehension can be developed in these small groups.
Why should we care so much about how we teach reading?
Statistics show that states can predict how many prison beds they will need in the future by the number of children who fail second grade. More adult males in prison cannot read than those who can. Illiteracy is a poverty and crime predictor.
But a strong reading teacher can potentially change these statistics for his students.
In guided reading we are teaching for strategic actions. We are bringing the teaching to the student, not the curriculum. Teachers pull small, temporary homogenous groups of children to a central location and work with them on strategic reading actions.
A teacher will sit with a targeted group of students and work on a variety of skills, including decoding, vocabulary and fluency. This is a wonderful opportunity to target individual skills as a compliment to class reading comprehension lesson plans.
These lessons are short enough that students can finish a whole book. It is focused on one strategy that all of the students at the table need to know. This means there can be students at different levels working together on the same strategy.
Too much time is wasted thinking guided reading is about putting students into leveled groups and that's it. That is only one way to group kids, but there are specific strategies for guided reading activities at each level.
Small, targeted reading groups help us to meet students where they are at. We make texts and strategies accessible and monitor for growth. When measurable growth is attained, we move on.
We also must remember that no two children will read a text the same way. It is, at heart, an individualized process and comprehension, fluency and prosody are also products of background knowledge.
The text is simply an opportunity to build reading "powers."
It is critical that children are matched to their right text level
for their independent reading time. If the level is too hard, it really
does make the child a worse reader.
One must have resource is The Leveled Book List, shown at the left. This will help you to level a portion of your classroom library (because your whole library should not be leveled) to guide your students in reading lots of books that are just right for them.
The question that always comes up, "What are my other students supposed
to do while I am with a group?" Those students should be immersed in
literacy activities. See a meaningful literacy block for more information.
If the point of teaching reading is to help children grow as
strategic readers, then why do some teachers only do a pre- and
post-test format to make their groups?
This type of assessment in education is the same thing as tracking. In guided reading lessons, there is no place for tracking. We use interval assessments to continually monitor growth.
assessments are only good for a few weeks. During that time there
should be progress monitoring happening in the form of interval
assessments. This keeps the groups fluid and allows for differentiated
growth amongst the students.
There are many activities for guided reading lessons. However, I needed something that I could use on the fly and provided a simple list of leveled questions for each level, A-Z.
That's why I created Easy Guided Reading Cards A-Z.
These are leveled questions based on Bloom's Taxonomy for every guided reading level, as well as questions that work for fiction and non-fiction text.
It's a great guide to have on hand at your teacher table and is written in iBook format, so you can either print it off as a PDF or use it on your tablet.