Showing posts with label Guided Reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guided Reading. Show all posts

Friday, April 6, 2018

Guided Reading Tips

So a while ago I posted about Guided Reading. I always meant to have a follow up post, but somehow, never got back to it. 

guided reading tips for teachers

Small Group Instruction or Guided Reading

You will often hear the term "small group instruction" or "guided reading". I wanted to clearly explain the differences between the two. Small Group Instruction is a format. It's an idea that we deliver content using smaller groups to reach more students. Guided Reading is an intentional, data driven form of instruction. Guided reading is done in the small group instruction format.Guided Reading is NOT a program. It's a best practice of education that fits into the Balanced Literacy Model. 

Guided Reading Strategies

During your guided reading groups, you want to be sure to use a variety of scaffolded reading strategies. 
 I want to spend some time discussing what kind of scaffolded reading strategies you could use during your guided reading time.

Scaffolded Reading Strategies

Echo Reading 

The teacher will introduce echo reading and how it sounds. Once children are comfortable with the method of echo reading, the teachers goal is to decide how much of the text to read each time before pausing for the children to echo it back. In this strategy, I recommend chunking the text.  During this strategy, students should track with their fingers. 

Choral Reading

This is often called "unison reading". Students are reading at the same time as the teacher. The teacher is modeling correct phrasing, annotation and expression. Students are tracking with their finger while reading. Research suggests that students should choral read at the first or second exposure to a text, but should eventually be able to whisper read. 

Whisper Read

Students are reading at the same time but not at the same rate. The teacher will listen in or take a running record on one student at a time. The biggest mistake about using this strategy, is not using this strategy! Students who are always asked to choral read and never given the opportunity to read out loud for their teacher are going to have gaps created in their instruction. I like to work through each level of support depending on my students ability. Once your students are whisper reading consistently, have them remove their fingers. Tracking is helpful in Kindergarten and early first grade, but tracking can slow their fluency as they begin to read harder texts. 

The biggest take away about scaffolded reading strategies is that we should be using ALL of them. Students will need more support at different times. As educators, we have to use our own judgement for when to give support and when to let them fly. My biggest advice, is try to give students the opportunity to whisper read each day. Even your kindergarten babies! They can do it!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Reading Intervention In the Upper Grades

Reading Intervention in Upper Elementary


 Hey Friends! This last year, I switched to fourth grade. My group of students were on a variety of reading abilities. How I did ran my reading intervention  groups for fourth grade  literally made all of the difference in my students progress. My schedule was so jammed tight just like all of you. I knew I had to fit in intervention and had no IDEA how. My schedule felt so blocked and I was determined to figure out a way to have a separate intervention time. This is the BEST I could come up with. For me, the BEST intervention happens at a separate time than our regular reading block. I believe that intervention does not replace the guided reading instruction and they should be done cohesively. 

I would switch off between reading and math intervention, depending on my students needs. To start, I assess my students with running records to determine their instructional reading level. Once I determine their level and independent weaknesses, I determine which section the student would benefit the most from out of our intervention binder.  If I believe the students have a phonics deficiency, than I use this screener to pinpoint exactly where it is.  We had a variety of needs, like most of you. Some students needed to focus on word work and decoding strategies while others needed straight comprehension skills.  I also focus on each component of reading so that my students are able to continuously practice those skills. Even in the upper grades, students need to be able to understand why they are doing what they are doing. By teaching the five components of reading, you are giving students the foundation they need in order to be successful readers.

4th grade reading intervention

When students struggle with fluency, there are so many ways provided to practice. Through activities like "I Say, You Point" students practice difficult vocabulary/sight words in isolation. Fluency is so important because it helps students transition from just word recognition to comprehension. Once students can read the word accurately, with the correct expression and rate, they are able to cognitively begin to sink deeper into the meaning of the words within the text. Students have to be able to read words accurately, quickly and with expression in order to move on the next phase. That's why the Read It Right activities are so helpful. They give students the opportunity to practice similar words that they will come across in text.

One of the biggest struggles in third and  fourth grade, was getting students to think while read and activate their self monitoring strategies.  This is why I firmly believe it is imperative that we teach self monitoring strategies from the primary grades on up. 


Vocabulary is probably one of the most skipped over components of reading. We often feel like once students are strong with phonics, decoding and fluency, then comprehension will naturally follow. However, we are forgetting that if students do not understand or have a deep connection to a word, they can not apply the comprehension strategies.  Research suggests that students need 12 organic interactions with a word before they truly understand it. So how to we increase our instruction in vocabulary while still hitting the other components? The first step is EASY. When you are teaching phonics strategies, do NOT just focus on the phonics feature. Be sure to address the words meaning and how it relates to every day life. Do not JUST teach vocabulary in isolation. Embed vocabulary in everything you do. 

Another way to increase vocabulary is to model for students how to use different words. I write down three or four words that I use ALL the time. I purposely think of DIFFERENT words or synonyms that mean the same thing to use instead. By showing students a technique for using different words, students can actually apply this idea. Students probably have four to five words that they use over and over each day, encourage them to make their own "replacement list". 

Struggling reader tips

My students enjoy playing a game called "Word Detective". Students are given a card and have to offer clues to their partner in order for their partner to be able to determine the word. 

Vocabulary activities

Figurative language is a skill that naturally opens the door to teaching vocabulary. 

What seems like an activity focus on spelling, can easily transition into a vocabulary experience. Encourage students to use different words in different scenarios. 

We had to really dive deep into the comprehension strategies and take apart the standards. 

I essentially need to reteach my student how to THINK while reading. Through interactive read alouds, guided reading and intervention time, I focused on explicitly teaching my students how to reading was thinking. Students need to understand the difference between word calling and reading at this stage. Often, they think because they can read such large words, that they are successful readers. As teachers, we need to continue to explicitly teach them so that they can take their awesome word calling skills and dive so deep into the text that they get lost.

Comprehension Anchor Charts 

Visual aides are so helpful even in a small group setting. There are several  ways to use these anchor charts. You could display them while teaching or have students create a guided reading or intervention notebook. They could keep the anchor charts to refer back to. This way, they always have a reference point if they need to refresh their memory,

 So how do you get your students so deep into a text that they are LOST in it? How to you motivate those readers that are struggling? The key is your intervention time. You see, presenting the material in a different and engaging way is a #GAMECHANGER! 

The FIRST thing I teach my students is to always visualize themselves in the story as they are reading. How would YOU feel if this EVENT was happening to YOU? Has this ever happened to YOU? How did YOU feel? If students can make connections or thinking about how they can relate to the story, the comprehension will increase automatically. I taught my students how to fall in love with reading.  This encouraged the lower students to WANT to read and by wanting to read, their readability will increase.

    Here's a glance inside my guided reading lesson plans I used during guided reading time. I wanted this time to be different than intervention so that my students aren't bored and look forward to coming to see me! I needed standards based plans that I could easily use with each individual group's instructional reading level. These plans are written for a third grade level. I purposely schedule my intervention time separate from my guided reading time. Intervention is not an extension of guided reading.

Now we will take a tour of the  fourth grade intervention binder

Each section has an anchor chart to review before teaching the skill.

We included passages levels N-P in this binder and are working on adding more!
Assessment is KEY to any instructional program, so we've included assessments for you to track your students progress.

 Teacher tips and instructional guides are included so that ANYONE can use these binders. We often have our paras or parent volunteers use the binders with one or two students.

I've included data sheets after each section so that you can track your students progress over time. 

Click below to see our Fourth Grade  Reading Intervention Binder

Here's a look inside our Fifth Grade Reading Intervention Binder

Click the image below to check out our Fifth Grade Reading Intervention

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Guided Reading Activities

Hey friends!

A few of my friends have asked me about Guided Reading and why I think it is a necessity to any ELEMENTARY Classroom. Yes, I just said Elementary. That means Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. In first grade, students progress through so many levels, it's important to keep track of their development. Throughout the primary grades, foundation of a students literacy development is set. In the upper grades, students are making the switch from learning to read to reading to learn. The students will dive into deeper texts with more complex concepts.Students in the upper grades still need the teachers support to understand and break down these difficult texts. Guided reading gives teachers the chance to do that. Piggy backing off my post from yesterday on  fostering a love of reading, giving students the chance to read REAL books through guided reading will help with that process.

The first step to Guided Reading is Assessment. 

I'm a huge fan of Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment . This kit is very targeted to be able to show you specific patterns the students make while reading.  To begin, you need to determine a starting level.  Use the last known independent reading level and start there. You can also use other forms of a benchmark assessment of course, F&P is just my favorite. The program is through and follows the literacy continuum. 

Running Records Assessment

Once you have determined where to start, begin to take a running record on your students. You can grab a free running record here. To do this, you need a running record calculator. I found an app called "Running Record Calculator". This is very helpful because it automatically calculates the time and errors for you as you enter the information.  

What is the purpose of a running record?

Well, there are several. We are trying to determine the students independent reading level, keep a record of errors over a period of time, and make instructional decisions about each student in order to guide their instruction. Oral Running Records are how teachers can plan their instruction. 
 Running records should be 100 words at least for a true assessment. In the upper grades, I'd recommend using a text with 250 words.  Depending on the students reading level, depends on how often you should assess them. You can read more about that here.

Steps to take a running record

*Record the number of words you are assessing in the running record.
*Remind the student they will not read the entire book orally.
*Make a notation if the student has read the book before.
*As the student reads, place a check mark over the words he/she reads correctly.
*If a word is missed, record the word the student says above the word. Pay attention to the readers behavior when making errors.
*Try to intervene as little as possible, the goal is to see how much the student can do on their own.
*Analyze the running record or the point of it is useless 

What is the difference between an error and a self correction?

An error is a word that is read incorrectly, omitted, or inserted. A self correction is a word that is first read incorrectly, but immediately corrected. Self Corrections do not count as errors.

What does count as an error?
If a student reads the word incorrect, it counts as an error. If the student omits or skips a word, that would could as an error as well. When a student inserts a word that is not in the text, that counts as an error.  If the student repeats the a word, that does not count as an error. You can use the guide below to help keep on track. Click here to download the file. 

Error Rate:
Error Rate is shown as a ratio. Use the formula below to find the error rate.
Total words / Total errors = Error rate 

Accuracy Rate:
Accuracy rate is shown as a percentage. You can calculate the accuracy rate using this formula:
(Total words read
Total errors) / Total words read x 100 = Accuracy rate 

To identify the miscues, we use  Meaning (M), Structure (S), and Visual (V).

Running Record Analysis

One  purpose of the running record is to see a pattern in the students errors. Are they pausing before they get to certain vowel patterns? Do they re-read when they get to words with inflectional endings? Do they understand vocabulary words? One of the most common types of errors in reading comes when students do not self monitor. Students should recognize when something doesn't sound right or that they've made an error. Someone once asked me "Ashley, is this grade level appropriate?". ABSOLUTELY. YES.  Kindergarten and First Grade teachers SHOULD be teaching self monitoring strategies.

I always taught my students to go back and reread a sentence and ask themselves "Does this sound right or make sense?".  This self monitoring strategy will pay off in the long run. I've taught the little kids all the way to the big kids about self monitoring. If students do not understand or recognize that they made an error or mistake, they are not thinking while reading.

I use these posters to help aide in my instruction with self monitoring.
Students who are self monitoring should have a self correction rate of 1:4 or less. That means that the student is correcting one out of every four words they are reading.

Word Work Strategies for Guided Reading

Word work is an important part of guided reading. Students need to practice reading, spelling and the meaning of the words they come across in different text that they will encounter.  Through word sorts, the teacher can show students how to sort the words by the sounds they make. We can also teach students what the words mean and ask students to identify synonyms and antonyms.  Students can also practice spelling these words. That way, we are not teaching phonics, spelling or vocabulary in isolation. Through word work, we are teaching all of these skills in one strike. Research suggest that students need 12 authentic experiences with a word before they truly understand it. Through word work in guided reading, you are providing your students with authentic experiences every single day. I start EACH lesson off with a word work activity.

Word Sorts for Upper Grades are pictured below

Word Sorts for Primary Grades

Guided Reading Structure

Each lesson starts off with a hands on approach to word work. Word sorts, word hunts, stretching words (decoding practice) and building words are all examples of how I start off my lessons. I want the phonics skill to be evident to anyone who walks into my room. Next, I have a fluency component. This is usually just a quick poem that I can embed elements of poetry in slowly throughout the year. Next, we start with our leveled reader. I want to pull out any phonics skill or vocabulary words BEFORE reading. I introduce the book by providing my students background knowledge about the story and preparing them to make connections. We do this EVERY SINGLE TIME we are introduced a new book. Next, we take a book walk to observe the pictures. I ask questions like "What do you notice in this photograph?". I want my students to hear me using that strong academic vocabulary. I want to make sure EACH guided reading lesson hits all five components of reading.  After we take a book walk, I want to be sure to set a purpose for reading. This is one of the most missed steps in guided reading. Sometimes, we just say "start reading until you get to page 6". I encourage you to think about that for a second. By setting a purpose for reading, you are preparing the students to think while they read. They should generate questions as they read.  

Stay tuned for the next part of our series on Guided Reading. I will focus on grouping, text selection, more comprehension and scheduling on the next post!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

How to Make Your Students Fall In Love With Reading

Hey Friends! Sometimes in the crazy chaos life world of the classroom we forget the purpose of why we are there. Is it to make our students have the most AR points in the school? Is it to get the best prize in the school? No. The reason the students are there is to develop a love of learning and master the standards set by the state that you live in.  So how do you do both? How do you make sure that students make the progress on the districts program that they've purchased, master the standards AND love to read?

Create A Warm and Desirable Space

Creating a classroom library can be challenging. Research suggests that we should focus on creating a space that is inviting to the students and comfortable. For my library, I used a teal shag rug. It's lasted for nearly four years! The space was open so that I could always see the students and monitor what they were doing. The library was colorful so the students were engaged with the browsing process. You can read more about how I manage my classroom library here.

 Let Children Decide What To Read

I have my books organized by theme. I do this for a very specific reason. Fountas and Pinnell ( as well as many other reading researchers) suggest that in order to create a classroom library that fosters a love of reading, we should sort our books by theme rather than level. This allows students to "explore" books by their interest.  Children can then explore books that are appealing to them. Books that they desire to read and not books that they have to read or feel like they have to read because of a certain level.

Teachers should teach students how to pick a "just right book". First, students should look for a book that looks appealing to them or sparks their interest. Students should look for a book that they WANT to read. Next students should read the first page of the book and determine if the book is too difficult or too easy for them. If the student has a hard time reading more than five words, the student should pick a different book. In the primary grades, I would let me students browse through harder books. I would tell them "Browse for a bit, then find a keeper". This way, they are still exploring the books they WANT and then moving onto a just right book at the end.

  Independent reading shouldn't be something students have to do, it should be something they want to do. We do this by fostering a love of reading and peaking a students interests. If a student is very interested in sharks, find books about sharks. No matter the age .  For example, this book is for older readers.

I have an extensive classroom library and while it drives my husband crazy every time we (he) packs it up,  the students love it. The purpose for this is that we never know what books our students will like. When parents tell me "Johnny doesn't like to read", I try to respond with, "He hasn't found the right book yet".  When kids find the "right" book, it makes all the difference! For example, as a mom, I didn't particularly want my kids reading books like "Captain Underpants" and stuff like that, however, a child that "doesn't like to read", was READING. So I had to learn, to let go, and let it be. 

By building relationships with your students and discovering their interests,  you will  be able to determine what kind of books are right for that particular student. Creating a large classroom library is an important key to making this all work because you just never know what interest your  students will have. 
 I know this can be expensive. We are thrift store junkies! My family loves to hunt for books for the classroom with me. We hit up garage sales, thrift stores, Goodwill, and teachers who are leaving the profession for books. I have a list of common high interest books here

These library labels are easy to manage and ink friendly.

I do keep a separate guided reading section of my library. This is mostly for me and instructional purposes.  This allows students to read on their instructional level during guided reading time.

Display Books Around The Classroom

Displaying books around the classroom will peak students interest in what the books are about. I change these books out often and specifically use books at at different in culture and theme. This way, students are naturally curious about the topic before they ever start to read it! It's a win- win!

Read Aloud to Students

As a first grade and second grade teacher, I read to my students all the time!  When I moved to fourth grade, I wasn't sure if they would "like" to be read to, but, I wanted to make them like it. HA! It worked! The older kids STILL want to be read to. They loved it just as much as the younger kids. I was able to pick more complex text and with advance story lines. Through read aloud, you have the opportunity to model for students how to read while thinking AND get students excited about the text.  Select texts on purpose that purposely relate to the skill or standard you are teaching. Read them with enthusiasm, you are on a stage! Be careful not just to read a book to read a book, remember to always set a purpose for the reading.  One skill that is typically apparent in every book we read is making connections. The students like hearing about our real life experiences and getting to know us outside of the classroom. Through connections in read alouds, students are able to see a different side of their teacher. This is a very powerful teachable moment.
The important idea is that elementary students K-5 still need to be read to. The idea that this strategy for just K-2 is just not supported by research. Reading aloud allows you to teach a standard, while helping students develop a love of reading.

By peaking students interest, finding the right books, modeling how fun reading can be and creating an inviting space for students to read in, you will have readers who WANT to read in no time!

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