In my last blog, I addressed the importance of guided reading. With this blog, I want to take a deeper look at guided reading and analyze an interesting and quite informative video I found on Youtube that shows day one of a guided reading lesson. (The video is posted below.)
It would be best to watch the video before reading on!
At the beginning of the lesson, Kaaren, the second grade teacher in the video, sets the purpose of the guided reading experience by saying, “When we infer, we use clues from the text, or the author, and we combine it with our schema, things we already know…” As I have stated in previous blogs, setting the purpose for any reading experience is important because it frames the lesson, focusing the student’s attention to the strategy under consideration. Then, she gives a quick synopsis about the book, The Lonely Giant, before addressing some difficult words. She highlights the words knitting, thrust, and great, focusing on the initial sounds of each and explaining what these words mean. Personally, instead of giving the students the meaning of these words, I would have encouraged them to use context clues, background knowledge, and the illustrations to aid in decoding and understanding them in the context of authentic reading. These words may be challenging, but they would be quite manageable with a little bit guidance provided by the teacher if needed. As the students read, Kaaren provides individual assistance when it is needed, directing students back to the text and asking, “What would make sense?” Additionally, she models making an inference before she requires her students to do so, which is extremely important. Modeling a reading strategy before requiring students to do so allows them to directly see how it works and how it supports their reading and comprehension. After they read a few pages “silently”, they stop and make an inference as a group, inferring that the giant probably feels angry and upset. Kaaren asks, “When we are trying to get someone’s attention, how does it feel when they don’t notice?” This is a great connection to the student’s past experiences, encouraging them to make a deeper connection to the book. After the students read a few more pages, Kaaren states, “This time I am going to ask you to do your own inferring.” Then the students have the opportunity to write their own inferences, applying what they learned to their own reading. As the guided reading session comes to a close, Kaaren briefly sets the purpose for the next day and sends the students on their way.
Overall, this was a great example of a guided reading lesson. The teacher defined the purpose, modeled the reading strategy, asked guiding questions, scaffolded thinking, and provided assistance when needed. Additionally, the students gradually made inferences on their own by using context cues and their own background knowledge. The one thing I would add, however, would be to connect the whole experience to the student’s independent reading outside of guided reading. As Sharon Taberski in On Solid Ground: Strategies for Teaching Reading K-3 (2000) explains, “Before I disband [guided reading groups], I remind the children that when they read by themselves, whether at home or in school, they should use the strategy they’ve been working on (in combination with others) is the need arises” (pg. 113). In order for guided reading to be effective, the strategies learned must be transferred over to independent reading. As educators, we want our students to apply what they learn in class to their independent reading experiences.