This summer, we hope to write more posts about how we actually teach reading, writing, and math in our classrooms….which is a workshop approach! We just implemented guided math into our classrooms this past year, however, we have used guided reading and writing workshop for several years.
Today we are starting with Guided Reading!
I have implemented guided reading in my classroom since my first year of teaching. At my first school I taught at, fresh out of college, I had no clue what guided reading was. I remember being asked the question, “what is guided reading?” in an interview for a kindergarten position. Having NO CLUE what the principal was talking about I made up some answer which was completely inaccurate and laughable. I can only image what the other teachers in the the interview and the principal were thinking! The principal then asked me, “what do the other students do when you are with guided reading groups?” I had a little bit more of background knowledge about literacy centers to answer this question….and believe it or not….I ended up getting the teaching position!
My lack of knowledge about quality literacy instruction got a MAJOR wakeup call my first year of teaching. My college classes did not prepare me for implementing guided reading or teaching through a workshop approach! To this day, I am so grateful to the literacy coach that was assigned to our school, but especially assigned to help the new teachers, like yours truly, become more knowledgeable and effective with teaching reading. The literacy coach came into my classroom to model small group guided reading lessons, worked with me to create meaningful and engaging activities for the other students to be working on. Although at the time I felt frustrated because it seemed like I had someone watching my every move…I am now so grateful for those opportunities because I learned so much!
Note to new teachers: DO NOT be shy/embarrassed/think you know everything….take advantage of the people and resources offering their help!
At another school I taught at, the reading specialist played an instrumental role of helping me implement guided reading and a reading workshop approach with older students. In both schools that I taught at, the principals supported and encouraged the staff to participate in book talks. Since I was a shy new teacher, I never felt comfortable sharing any of my thoughts aloud at these meetings, however I was soaking up all the knowledge of the veteran teachers around me! I was also lucky enough to attend several conferences and workshops to help me learn more about how to teach reading.
On my own time, I have filled my bookshelves with teaching resource books written by all the guided reading gurus. When we moved into our new house, I was lucky enough to be able to have one room to call my own. It was agreed that I could “do whatever I wanted to it.” I initially named it my “meditation room,” painted it a really pretty purple color, and filled it with serene pictures, art, and inspiration. Hah! What a laugh!
Within months, my meditation room became the storage/junk room.
However, one of my favorite parts of my meditation/junk/storage room is my Ikea bookshelf that is stacked with books!
My favorite “teacher books”:
Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell
Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency: Thinking, Talking, and Writing About Reading, K-8 by Foutas and Pinnell.
Guiding Readers and Writers: Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy by Fountas and Pinnell.
Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need to teach Reading Well by Reggie Routman.
On Solid Ground: Strategies for Teaching Reading K-3 by Sharon Taberski.
Nine years later…I can confidently say that I “know what guided reading is.” In fact, I have learned enough about it to now to help OTHER teachers implement guided reading into their classrooms. My district has asked me to serve on committees to mentor new teachers and initiate new programs…and I love it! I love being able to share what I have learned about what works in my classroom, in the hopes of inspiring you implement something new into your classroom!
So, I hope that you learn some new ideas about guided reading from this post…and become a guided reading guru! In our school, we are really fortunate to have a pretty extensive guided reading school library, which one teacher in our building organized into the Fountas and Pinnell reading levels A-V.
Each baggie has about 6-7 copies of the same book and teachers simply “check out” the baggie that they are using.
In my own classroom, I have a guided reading library. My district uses the Macmillan/McGraw-Hill
Reading series, which provides every teacher with their own set of guided reading leveled texts.
For my third grade classroom, I have leveled texts from K-R. There are six copies of the same book title…a just right book for every guided reading group! I organized the books into baskets, according to their level, so that I can easily pick out a book for a guided reading group.
*** If you are looking for ways to gather multiple copies of the same text, click on the image below!!***
My guided reading table has all the “must have’s” for a guided reading group:
-Enough copies of the book for every student
-Pencils and sticky notes for the students to write their thoughts and connections
-My teacher reading binder that has my anecdotal notes, reading conference notes, running records, and other information about guided reading and literature groups
-A table that allows everyone to be facing each other
-Eager readers and guided reading guru :)
Behind my guided reading table, I have a bookshelf with all my guided reading materials: my reading binder, my guided reading “goodies,” and one bin for every group that I am working with.
Each bin holds all three different books: a book that we just finished reading, a book that we are currently reading, and a book that we will be reading next. This is just how I stay organized and how I plan the books that we are reading.
Speaking of groups, I use a fun and interactive bulletin board display to organize my guided reading groups.
I have tried MANY different ways to group my students for guided reading groups….and I finally found one that I love! I have one poster for each reading group. Students write the title of the book we are reading on a sticky note and place the sticky note on the poster. I then have a sticky note (or better yet, a picture!) of each student in the group. I place the names of the readers under the spot it says “readers.” This easily helps me keep my groups flexible! Anytime a child is switching groups, I just pull off their picture and stick it to a different group.
I love how the focus is on the book that each group is reading and NOT what LEVEL the books are!!! When I call students to the back table, I do not say “Green Group!” or call each individual name. Instead, I call out the name of the book that they are reading!
I also have several different ways to document how my guided reading groups are flexible and constantly changing.
One way I keep track of my ever changing groups throughout the year by using a guided reading groups tracking sheeting, a color coded guided reading group display (which stays in my reading binder and on my bulletin board display) and each student also has a guided reading log. This is where I take notes about what we did during the guided reading group and the title and level of the book that was read.
I have more in depth assessment tools that I also use, which are part of my reading binder.
I just began informal reading conferences with all my readers a few years ago. I love them! I learned about reading conferences by reading about them in Reggie’s book. I have learned so much about my students by individually meeting with them.
DURING this actual guided reading group, Nicole and I like to use lots of goodies to help motivate our students!
Our stash of reading manipulatives: beach balls (for comprehension, not play!!), magnetic letters, magnetic trays, Wikki Sticks, highlighters, sticky notes (of course!), puzzle pieces, stickers/awards, good readers strategy cards, pointers, visualizing manipulatives…wow…lots!
For the students who are guided reading levels L or higher, the focus of the group discussion (after the reading) is all about comprehension. Again, we love to use sticky notes with our students! Our sticky notes metacognition cards teach students to think as they are reading. We TELL them all the time “good readers THINK when the are reading,” but this actually shows them HOW to do that! For adult readers, that is automatic. But for young children, we need to explicitly teach them to think about their reading.
These good readers are sharing their vivid visualizations after their reading.
Another guided reading goodie…an incentive to get my students excited to meet with other students and I about READING! I pass out their guided reading licenses at the beginning of the year…right after I meet with every child in their guided reading group for the very first time. This shows the students that guided reading is a FUN thing to do and working with the teacher at the “reading table” is a privilege for ALL students…not just the struggling/low ones! :)
If you are interested in learning more about Guided Reading, please check out my resource below.
Below is a preview of the file:
This 120+ page file is filled with everything that you need to become the guided reading guru at your school! This resource is ideal for kindergarten through 5th grade!
* Fun, engaging resources for your students during guided reading groups
* Information about grouping students and examples of how to group students for guided reading
* Information and examples of how to conduct reading conferences, anecdotal records, and running records
* Resources to explain exactly what guided reading is and how to implement it effectively in your classroom
* Examples of guided reading schedule and grouping
* Ideas for how to include a home-school connection
* Pictures of how to implements some of the ideas presented in the file
This file includes effective and innovative posters to display for grouping your students
Click HERE to purchase Become a Guided Reading Guru on Teachers pay Teachers.
Save 10% by purchasing Become a Guided Reading Guru directly on my website.
**** The Guided Reading Guru file is also part of my Guided Reading Binder Resource. Learn more about that resource by clicking HERE.***
So where are your thoughts on guided reading? How/where did you learn all that you know? Any other suggestions? Or, are you still learning? What are you struggling with? Share your thoughts with us!