Our first grade uses Guided Reading as one of the many ways of teaching reading. Please scroll down to get more information on Guided Reading. You may want to hi-lite and print the section: Teaching for Strategies (continues through the rest of this document). My goal is teach your child a variety of strategies that he/she needs to flexibly use, in order to become an effective reader.
What does research say about becoming a successful reader?
Research indicates that if children do not become successful
readers by the end of third grade, it is very difficult for them to catch
up with their peers in later years. Clay (1993) explains that inappropriate
reading habits can be a real stumbling block to higher levels of understanding.
The probability that a child who is a poor reader at the end of first grade
will remain a poor reader at the end of fourth grade is 88% (Juel 1988).
This alarming figure is emphasized in the extensive work of Barr and Parret
(1995), who stress that all children need to learn to read successfully
before the end of third grade. The role of the classroom teacher is a critical
factor in ensuring the success of struggling readers. (Dorn, French, and
What is Guided Reading?
A teacher works with a small group;
Children in the group are similar in their development of a reading process and are able to read about the same level of text.
Teachers introduce the stories and assist children's reading in ways that help to develop independent reading strategies.
Each child reads the whole text.
The goal is for children to read independently and silently.
The emphasis is on reading increasingly challenging books over time.
Children are grouped and regrouped in a dynamic process that involves ongoing observation and assessment. (Fountas and Pinnell,1996)
In first grade, guided reading is a foundation of the literacy curriculum. To sustain forward progress, children needed to take part in guided reading group between three and five days per week in the early stages, reading a new book just about every time the group meets. Beginning books are relatively short (between eight and sixteen pages) so it is possible to build a large collection of books that children have read before, which can be placed in "book boxes" for independent reading. (Fountas and Pinnell,1996)
The ultimate goal of guided reading is to help children learn how to use independent reading strategies successfully.
Individual children make progress at different rates; thus we need to group (and regroup) them for guided reading based on careful observations of how they are apply their skills, and knowledge, and strategies while they are reading and writing. (Dorn, French, Jones 1998)
Since the teacher needs to meet with each group for about
twenty minutes, I could be expected to meet with three to four groups in
a 60-90 min period.
How to Choose a Level:
The rule of thumb is that if the reader, with an introduction and support, cannot read about 90 percent of the words accurately, the text is too difficult. The accuracy here is not a test of the reader but a test of the teachers's selection and introduction of the text. A hard text does not provide an opportunity for smooth problem solving, and meaning to guide the process. The process may break down into individual word calling (or frantic random guessing) that does not make sense and is not productive.
When children solve words using visual information, they need to be able to verify their success using meaning and structure cues. At the same time, they make predictions from language structures and meaning (what the text is likely to say) while checking their predictions against the makeup of the word. Accuracy of reading is not as important as learning the process of using different sources of information, self-monitoring, and cross-checking; the process is too difficult if the text is too hard.
If the texts are extremely difficult, the situation is even more disastrous for the young reader. This can happen when the more inexperienced children are forced into "whole class" reading or into reading basals that contain almost no texts a given group of children can read. In this case, the process completely breaks down and there may be bizarre responses such as "mumble reading." Children may also attempt to read along without looking at the print trying to remember the entire text, or just read along one step behind all the other children with almost no independent processing. The situation for the child would be something like performing in a choir with out knowing the words or music.
The answer is not to eliminate whole class experiences but to use them for activities like shared reading and interactive writing, which are designed for the class community or small group. Nor is it practical or even desirable to teach each child individually. Guided reading takes advantage of social support and allows the teacher to operate efficiently, to work with the tension between ease and challenge that is necessary to support readers' moving forward in their learning.
As children read familiar materials, they learn how to
become successful readers. The familiar context of the story provides opportunities
to apply strategies in an integrated process. With each re-reading, the
child is able to anticipate the textual response more quickly, simultaneously
freeing the brain to focus on attention on constructing higher-level understanding
about the story. (Dorn, French, and Jones, 1998)
Predict and Locate:
As the children gain more control, she can ask them to
predict letters in ending and medial positions as well. As the children
become more competent readers, the introductory discussion can include
conversation about the content, characters, setting, plot, and writing
style. Chose a few new words and direct the child to locate a word based
upon the beginning letter of each word-it must be a word that has a beginning
letter that the children would know -- for example: do not ask the students
to predict and locate a word that begins with 'th' (that) (there) if they
are not yet familiar with the 'th' sound/letter association
Planted Language and Concepts:
Vocabulary is intregal to reading. If children do not
understand the meaning of the words they read, the process becomes meaningless
decoding. No student should ever have to struggle along producing nonsense.
As teachers, we want students to understand a wide range of words. An important
part of comprehending is quick, fluent access to word meanings.
Students Read Selection:
They read softly to themselves rather than in unison or in a chorus, so each reader is processing the whole text.
The reader knows that their job is to keep going, reading as much as they can and solving any problems they have along the way.
The teacher is there to assist if necessary, but a good text selection and a skillful story introduction make it possible for children to read the text with only a few words to solve.
For the teacher, watching the children as they read the text provides a critical source of information. You can observe children's behavior, scan the group, and "listen in" to several readers for a few moments at a time. If older readers are reading silently most of the time you can ask them to read aloud for a few minutes to provide information.
At times it may be necessary to assist children in a bit
of problem solving or to reinforce some behavior that indicates children
are taking on new strategies. Power interactions you have can take place
in the brief interactions you have with individual children or two or three
children during a guided reading lesson.
For emergent readers, you might want to demonstrate concepts about print and letters, such as:
A group of letters make a word (cat).
Words can be made from one or more letters (I, to, can)
A word is the came in reading and writing.
A word with a capital letter is the same as its lowercase form (He, he).
Sounds in words are related to the letters in them (m-a-n).
The letters in words represent sounds.
Words can be short or long.
You may need to show the readers how to:
Add letters to the beginning of a word to make a new word
(h + and = hand).
Add letters to the end of a word to make a new word (sea + t = seat).
Change the first letter of a word to make a new word (car, far).
Change the last letter of a word to make a new word (had, has).
Add endings to make new words (book, books; read, reading).
Use a word they know to solve a new word (my, by).
Change the middle letter to letters to solve new words (cat, cut; chair, cheer).
Add letters or letter clusters to solve new words (it, pit, pitch, pitcher).
Use parts or words they know to figure out words they don't know (tree + play = tray; she + make = shake).
Some words sound the same and look different (sail, sale).
Some words look the same and sound different (read, read; present, present)
Assessment After Guided Reading:
Assessment after guided reading is a combination of checklists, anecdotal records, and running records.
The accuracy rate lets the teacher know whether she is selecting the right books. The text should be neither too easy nor too hard. A good guideline is that the children should be reading with more that 90% accuracy. The point is not accuracy per se but whether the teacher has selected a text in a range that provides opportunities fro effective processing. Stretches of accurate reading mean there are appropriate cues that allow the child to problem solve unfamiliar aspects of the text.
When the text is too hard, children cannot use what they know; the process becomes a struggle and may break down to using only one source of information. The child may stop attending to visual features of print and invent text, or the child may rely on labored sounding that makes it difficult to read for meaning. We all have observed children produce nonsense words when struggling with hard text.
When a text is too hard, it is nonproductive in helping the child become a strategic reader. To become a good reader, the child must sustain effective behavior over long stretches of meaningful text.
Accuracy rate also helps the teacher group children effectively. For example, if a particular text is right for six children, they can work effectively together even though they have differences in the ways they process text.
Finally, the accuracy rate lets the teacher know whether the book introduction and other kinds of support she offered during the first reading were effective. The introduction is especially important in helping children read text independently. High accuracy and self-correction rates indicate that the teaching was helpful to the child's developing independence in reading.
Qualitative analysis involves looking at the reading behavior. The teacher looks for behavior evidence of cue use and evidence of the use of strategies such as cross-checking information and searching for cues. She examines each incorrect attempt and self-correction and hypothesizes about the cues or information sources the child might have been using. In Clay's analysis, cues refer to the sources of information. There are three major categories:
Meaning- The teacher thinks about whether the child's
attempt makes sense up to the point of error. She might think about the
story background, information, from the picture, and meaning in the sentence
in deciding whether the child was probably using meaning as a source.
Structure-Structure refers to the way language works. Some refer to this information source as syntax because unconscious knowledge of the rules of the grammar of the language the reader speaks allows him to eliminate alternatives. Using this implicates knowledge, the reader checks whether the sentence "sounds right."
Visual information- Visual information includes the way the letters and words look. Readers use their knowledge of visual features of words and letters and connect these features to their knowledge of the way words and letters sound when spoken. If the letters in the child's attempt are visually similar to the letters in the word in the text (for example, if it begins with the same letter or has a similar cluster of letters), it is likely that the reader has used visual information.
Readers use all these information sources in an integrated way while reading for meaning. What you are really looking for is an indication of the kinds of strategies the child is using. An important thing to remember about errors is that they are partially correct. They indicate strategic action and provide a window through which the teacher can observe whether the child is activity relating one source of information while reading. The teacher can observe whether the child is actively relating one source of information to another, a behavior that Clay (1991) calls cross checking, because the child is checking one clue against another. The teacher notes cues used, cues neglected, and evidence of cross-checking behavior. She summarizes how the child used cues and the pattern of behaviors that is evident.
Once cues are analyzed, the teacher might think about questions like these:
Does the reader use cues in relation to each other?
Does the reader check information sources against one another?
Does the reader use several sources of cues in an integrated way or rely on only one kind of information?
Does the reader repeat what has been read as if to confirm his reading thus far?
Does the reader reread to search for more information from the sentence or text?
Does the reader make meaningful attempts before appealing to the teacher for help?
Does the reader request help after making an attempt or several attempts?
Does the reader notice when cues do not match?
Does the reader stop at unknown words without actively searching?
Does the reader appeal to the reacher in a dependent way or appeal when appropriate? (that is, when the reader has done what he can)
Does the reader read with phrasing and fluency?
Does the reader make comments or responses in ways that indicate comprehension of the story?
These kinds of behavior (the list above is not exhaustive) provide a description of the child's reading processing system. They will reveal whether the child is using internal strategies, which include:
Self-monitoring. These strategies allow the reader to
confirm whether he is reading the story accurately.
Readers who are reading accurately are consistently using using meaning, structure, and visual information for
confirm their reading. This is not a conscious process, but the internal system tells them whether the
reading makes sense, sounds right, and looks right.
Searching. Searching is an active process in which the reader looks for information that will assist problem
solving in some way. Readers search for and use all kinds of information sources, including meaning, visual
information, and their knowledge of syntax of language.
Self-correcting. This is the reader's ability to notice mismatches, search for further accomplishes a precise
fit with the information already known.
Teaching For Strategies:
Strategies are cognitive actions initiated by the reader to construct meaning from the text. We cannot observe (i.e., in-the-head processes), but we can collect evidence of reading behavior that indicates a child is engaging in mental problem-solving. Children who are employing strategies as they read are engaged in what Clay (1991) refers to as "reading work." From Clay's research with young readers, we know that effective readers are constantly
Predicting upcoming actions.
Using pictures to support meaning.
Anticipating language structures.
Making links to their own personal knowledge.
Monitoring by rereading.
Cross-checking one source of information with another.
Searching to extract further information with another.
Correcting themselves when cues do not match.
Reading fluently and expressively.
Problem-solving flexibility according to different purposes and changing contexts.
All of these processes are brought into play efficiently and automatically by the strategic reader. However, the low-process reader has developed a processing system that is either ineffective or inefficient. In planning the child's literacy program it is critical that the teacher observe and take notice of which strategic operations the child is initiating and which ones she or he is neglecting.
To examine strategic use, the teacher will analyze the running record and look closely at cues that were used or ignored by the reader (see Clay's  Observational Survey for how to use running records; also Johnston 1992). The teacher must determine whether the child employed a strategy to help her actively make predictions based on other information. To that end the teacher examines the running record for evidence of what the child did at the point of difficulty:
Did the child stop at an unknown word and make no attempt?
Did the child appeal for help?
Did the child reread to gather more information?
Did the child articulate the first letter of the problem word?
Was the child using meaning cues (semantics), structural cues (syntax), visual cues (graphophonics), or some combination of these?
Important Reading strategies for beginning readers:
Locating known words in text
Locating unknown words in text
Higher level strategies
Use or multiple cue system
Prompts to Support the Use of Strategies:
To support the control of early reading behaviors:
Read it with your finger.
Did you have enough (or too many) words?
Did it match?
Were there enough words?
Did you run out of words?
Try ___. Would that make sense?
Try ___. Would that sound right?
Do you think it looks like ___?
Can you find ___? (a known or new word)
Read that again and get your mouth ready to say that word.
Check the picture and think what would make sense.
Could it be__________? (Suggest a word to try or give the child two choices)
To support the reader's use of self-monitoring or checking
Were you right?
Where's the tricky word? (after an error)
What did you notice? (after a hesitation or stop)
Why did you stop?
What letter would you expect to see at the beginning? at the end?
Would ___ fit there?
Would ___ make sense?
Do you think it looks like ___?
Could it be ___?
It could be ___, but look at ___.
Check it. Does it look right and sound right to you?
You almost got that. See if you can find out what is wrong.
Try that again.
To support the reader's use of all sources of information:
Check the picture.
Does that makes sense? Does that look right?
Does that sound right?
You said (....). Can we say it that way?
You said (....). Does that make sense?
What's wrong with this? (repeat what the child said)
Try that again and try to think what would make sense.
Try that again and think what would sound right.
Do you know a word like that?
Do you know a word that starts with those letters?
What could you try?
Do you know that might help?
What can you do to help yourself?
To support the reader's self-correction behavior:
That's the hard part! You found it!
What can you do to help yourself?
Can you reread?
I liked the way you worked that out.
What word would make sense?
What word would sound right?
To support phrased, fluent reading:
Can you read this quickly?
Put your words together so it sounds like talking.
To develop fluency, it is helpful to have several readings of the same book or parts of the books.
What if the child makes a mistake?
Let the child read on. The child will either notice the mistake or not notice it. If the mistake makes sense, let the child read on. If the mistake doesn't make sense, use one or more of the prompts listed above. When the child is aware of errors and corrects them independently be sure to praise the child. Say, "I like the way you noticed that wasn't right and you went back and fixed it so that it made sense."
The goal is for children eventually to consider these questions themselves as they use all sources of information in an integrated way to read with phrasing and fluency. The teacher needs to learn to prompt with just the right amount of support. As the child gains more strategic control, the teacher's level of support will lessen. This change over time will enable the child to take over the processing for himself. (Fountas and Pinnell, 1996)