Monday, March 17, 2014

Guided reading, Part I!

My first year teaching, I hated reading groups. I loathed them. Everywhere I had student taught or done observations, they used a combination of a basal and guided reading. My school pretty much uses only guided reading. We have Trophies basal books, but most people do not use them anymore. We have a wondeful selection of guided reading books at our school that we can pull from. Anyways, my second year I took a graduate level reading course that focused on guided reading. Our county offers it and our principal is wonderful about letting everyone take it their second year teaching. We then moved to using the Jan Richardson model for our reading groups. If you haven't read here book, it's a really wonderful resource! It's called The Next Step in Guided Reading. You can click here to find it on Amazon. I've witnessed her teach guided reading lessons on 3 occasions and she is able to get sooo much in that 20 minutes! I try, but I just can't go that fast!

Even after really getting a better understanding of how guided reading should look in my classroom, I was struggling with having a wide spread of levels in my room. My kids often range from a DRA 3 all the way up to a DRA 38! I was finding it impossible to meet the needs of each student when the group was focusing on 4 different levels! So the third year, my teammate and I started combining our classes for reading groups. I would have 4 groups of kids and she would have 4 groups of kids and they would be mixed from my class and hers. It worked so much better! We had a great thing going and our kids were making wonderful progress! 

Unfortunately, she left me and moved to New Jersey. I couldn't even fathom going back to teaching guided reading just within my classroom again. Lucky for me, a new teacher moved in and one of my other teammates changed classrooms so the 3 of us were able to pool all of our students! This is our third year doing it this way and it's been wonderful. We each take 3 different levels and are better able to target the skills those students need. It takes a lot of trust and communication with your co-workers to do it this way. We take detailed notes, 2 running records a week, 2 comprehension grades a week, and consistently run reading groups 4 days each week. We have to collaborate with our ESOL teachers and Title I teacher to make sure that we are able to see every student each day. Our students make wonderful progress with this format. Right now we have students who have gone from a DRA 8 to a DRA 18 already! I love watching them develop as readers as the year goes on! 

So how does guided reading look in your classrooms? Do you solely guided reading or do you incorporate a basal as well? Next time I'll be sharing how I organize my guided reading binder with my notes, scores, and running records and will have a freebie for you! :)


  1. Mrs. H, you are on the right track with your guided reading. You and your grade partners have worked out a system that works quite well and will refine itself as you all move through this year and the next. Dr. Richardson is a great role will take practice to reach her level...she has been teaching for a long will get there. Having a range of reading levels is a big challenge. Do your students have independent reading time? This will give them an opportunity to read to fit their interests.

    In teaching children to read, it is important to pass on a love of reading. Do you do read alouds so you can model strategies out loud for them? Do you do read alouds so that they can learn about the writing process and the connection of reading and writing? Also this will give the students an opportunity to see how real authors put together books. This could lead to guided writing...a kind of partnership.

    Thank you for being a teacher!

    1. MaryAnne, thank you for your comment! I use Daily 5 during my reading center time and CAFE strategies for my read alouds. I also use a mentor text with each writing piece we publish. I have a high ESL population so I try really hard to help them make connections! I know my teaching and process is much better than it was 6 years ago when I started but there's always something we can do, add, or change to help the students progress!