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It is estimated that one in three children experience significant difficulties in learning to read (Adams, 2990). Research conducted during the past two decades has produced extensive results demonstrating that children who get off to a poor start in reading rarely catch up (Lentz, 1988; Neuman & Dickinson, 2001; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Torgesen, 1998; Whitehurst & Lonigan, 2001); a child who is a poor reader in first grade is 88% more likely to remain a poor reader in fourth grade (Juel, 1988).
Guided Reading

One particular research-based strategy, guided reading, is an important "best practice" associated with today's balanced literacy instruction. It has become one of the most important contemporary reading instructional practices in the U.S. (Fawson & Reutzel, 2000) and accepted as a particularly appropriate strategy for children who are moving toward fluency in the early years of literacy development (Mooney, 1990)
Guided reading is a teaching approach used with all readers, struggling or independent, that has three fundamental purposes: to meet the varying instructional needs of all the students in the classroom, enabling them to greatly expand their reading powers (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001); to teach students to read increasingly difficult texts with understanding and fluency; to construct meaning while using problem-solving strategies to figure out unfamiliar words that deal with complex sentence structures, and understand concepts or ideas not previously encountered. Guided reading involves small groups of students who are at a similar place in their reading development.
  • Guided reading is a key component in your reading program in which a small group of children reads multiple copies of the same text under your guidance.

  • The text is one the children can almost but not quite read on their own, and supports their practice of a reading strategy you want them to acquire.

  • Guided reading stands alongside interactive read aloud, shared reading, independent reading, word study, and writing as one means of helping children acquire the strategies and skills they need to become fluent readers.

  • It provides you with another opportunity to demonstrate what reading is all about-and another opportunity for children to practice.

  • The Essential Elements

    The goal of guided reading is to develop a self-extending system of reading that enables the reader to discover more about the process of reading while reading. As children develop these understandings they self-monitor, search for cues, discover new things about the text, check one source of information against another, confirm their reading, self-correct, and solve new words using multiple sources of information. Throughout this process, the central elements of accuracy, speed, and fluency increase and over time these systems become increasingly automatic. Therefore, the role of the teacher is essential to guided reading. Teachers must know how to prompt and guide students as they work to build this self-extending system.

  • Small-group instruction
  • Students grouped according to need
  • 20-25 minutes in duration
  • Teacher selects the text
  • Lesson has a specific focus
  • Text is introduced
  • Students read silently
  • Teacher/student discussion follows the reading
  • Shared Reading

    Shared Reading is the reading teachers do along with students as they problem solve, think, and talk their way through a piece of text they are reading together. Shared reading provides social supports from the group and provides opportunities for children to participate and behave like a reader.

    Shared Reading

  • Provides an opportunity for children to discover the love of books.
  • Models what a good reader looks and sounds like.
  • Familiarizes children with the language and conventions of books.
  • Allows the children to access information beyond their reading ability.
  • The role of the teacher in Shared Reading is to

  • model
  • coach
  • engage the students in the act of reading
  • show students what good readers do

  • When you model do the students always key in on your instructional focus? How do we ensure that they do? Tell them. Be explicit. Tell them again.

    Writing Workshop

    Kids enjoy classes like shop, gym, and band because there is a premium placed on doing the activity rather than talking about it. Writing workshop embraces that same premise. Lucy Caulkins, director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, has pointed out that the writing workshop is a "generative" time of the day, with kids actively involved in creating their own texts. This is important. Most kids experience school as a series of tasks, dittos, assignments, tests-things that are administered to them. Writing workshop turns the table and puts kids in charge. This requires us to engage in responsive teaching rather than relying on preset lesson plans.

    If you observe a workshop you will watch a roomful of people struck by how much writing kids do. Teachers often begin by bringing students together for a short lesson, and often end the workshop with some kind of share time. But the core of a workshop-the heart-is kids putting words on paper. We need to create an environment where students of varying abilities can coexist side by side and learn from one another. Writing workshop does require a significant teaching shift. The writing workshop does not place the teacher on center stage. Rather, the teacher sets up the structure, allows students plenty of choice, and gets them writing. There are moments when the teacher intervenes to teach something, but the emphasis is more on what they are writing than on what you're teaching.

    JM Literacy Consulting, P. O. Box 5665, Kingwood, TX 77325       Jan Morris 281-701-1433 - Jenny McDaniel 281-299-2682

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