Guided Reading has been my passion and my personal endeavor for the last 4 years. I learned about Jan Richardson’s approach to Guided Reading (GR) and I was hooked! Many pieces to the complex task of teaching reading made sense to me, but there were many others that I was still not very clear on. I wanted to learn more about GR and how to effectively implement it in my classroom. When do I model the strategy? What strategy should I model? What are the skills I should focus on at each level, not just the stage?
Around the same time, a good friend of mine introduced me to Daily 5. As I read about this awesome approach to meaningful learning stations, I also learned about the CAFE menu. Both systems developed by The 2 Sisters. I had all this knowledge on my brain and great books to refer to for guidance but it was too much to remember. I decided to simplify my Guided Reading lessons to target the areas that my students needed the most.
I designed a simple lesson plan, which is pretty much the same format for reading stages emergent, early, transitional and fluent. Pre-Reading has a different format that best meets the needs of that level since it mostly focuses on exposing children to reading for the first time.
My school uses STEP as their main assessment tool for reading proficiency. I aligned my lesson plans to Fountas and Pinell levels as well as STEP levels.
This is my detailed lesson plan for Early Readers. The bottom lines (in black boxes) help me guide my instruction. In this example, my students who are working on STEP level 4 need to develop the habit of using more than one strategy to read unknown words, usually they only use sounding out. So, I make this my goal for instruction.
Then of course I look for books that lead to this goal. I identify words that my students wouldn’t be able to read using the strategies that I taught them.
Next I create a book intro that helps my students’ brain focus on the story. In this case, I left part of the intro blank so we can take a picture walk together with my students but I did give them a “focus” on the read-to-find-out section. Important note: Although my kids are working on a accuracy/ decoding skill, all my guided reading lessons always focus on comprehension. My students’ accuracy/ decoding skills will support their comprehension of the book, and thus giving them a “focus” on comprehension is essential in every one of my lessons.
I also note on my lesson plan the behaviors/ skills that I want to notice, encourage, and teach while my students are reading. These are based on the skill that my students are working on at their level and the lesson objective I set out for them. For this lesson, I wanted to push my students to use their cross-checking skills as well as noticing when they make a mistake and then correct it (self-correcting).
The next section is all comprehension. Fountas and Pinell divide this section differently, but it really comes down to the same skills of literal, inferential, and critical thinking questions. I come up with questions for both days of reading and then I facilitate a discussion between my students.
Finally, I focus on the word work skills and writing extension. This happens on the 3rd day of guided reading. This is particularly important for me because it allows me to reinforce skills that are learning in the general curriculum but at the level where each student is. Some of them are still working on CVC words and building sentences, while some others are looking at more complex digraphs. One of the things that I loved about Jan Richardson’s book was the list of words that a teacher could use, however often the sorts required prepping pictures of the words.
I needed something that was easier for me. A set that was ready to go, and required minimal thinking. So I put together some Word Work resources for Emergent and Early, though I am still finishing up transitional and fluent is under works too!
So this is how I came about developing a system that works for me. Do you think this could be helpful for you too? What are some of the challenges you have encounters while learning about/ implementing Guided Reading in your classroom