by Astute Hoot
Guiding reading can be daunting, especially with the new instructional shifts and standards. Teachers are asking themselves such questions as: “What text do I use?” “What strategies do I teach?” “How do I keep all students engaged?” “How do I foster rich literary discussions?”
As educators with a combined total of almost 30 years spent in early childhood and special education, we’ve cultivated the following four instructional practices to maximize guided reading time:
Guided Reading Strategies that Work
1) Go beyond the basal. With the implementation of new standards, students are expected to read a balance of authentic literature and informational text. The basal can be used as an anchor text, but it should not stand alone. Provide several authentic, high-quality supplemental texts ranging in complexity and genre to promote a deeper understanding of content. For example, when recently reading Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type in our second-grade reading basal, I incorporated informational texts on cows, farms, farmers, and brought in brochures from a local farm. I also had students read a poem about cows, look through picture books and watch short video clips to see working farms in action.
2) Teach reading strategies in context. Skills and strategies should be taught within the context of high-quality text rather than isolated splinter skills. Explicitly teach each strategy and provide ample practice for students to apply the strategy using authentic text during guided reading lessons and independent practice. As students demonstrate mastery, introduce additional strategies. The goal is for students to integrate and apply multiple strategies to develop deeper meaning of text.
3) Incorporate multi-sensory activities. Work to reach many learning modalities throughout your guided reading lessons by incorporating multi-sensory activities. This increases comprehension and promotes active participation. For example, if reading an informational text about cloud types, use cotton balls to form various clouds (tactile), have groups of students stand up to be individual water droplets and come together to form a cloud (kinesthetic), include pictures of clouds (visual), watch videos of storms so students can hear thunder, wind and rain (auditory).
4) Foster rich literary discussions. Set students up for success for having meaningful conversations about text by planning effective questions that require students to examine the text to find answers. These questions promote engaging conversation. Encourage students to make connections to their own lives, other text and the world around them. Create an anchor chart with sentence stems to provide scaffolds for students who are new to this skill or have language difficulties (e.g., “According the text…”; “From reading I know that…”; “The author stated…”). Utilize other strategies such as Think-Pair-Share and Stop and Jot to allow students time to individually formulate their responses before sharing with the whole group.
We’ve been amazed to see the positive impact of these instructional practices. In addition to increasing student achievement, students are now motivated and confident readers, willing to take risks and engage in conversation.
Do you have a guided reading gem? We’d love to hear about your success with guided reading.