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NYC Helpline: How To: Teach Literacy

Placing Your Students in Guided Reading Groups, Part III Arlyne LeSchack

My previous two articles on this subject described six groups of reading behaviors labeled as follows: Preconventional, Emergent, Developing, Beginning, Expanding and Bridging.

See my articles:

How to Identify Students for Placement in your Guided Reading Groups (Part I) and How to Identify Students for Placement in your Guided Reading Groups (Part II) . These behaviors covered roughly kindergarten and first grade, although in many instances they could apply to students from pre-kindergarten through second grade. This article will describe four more sets of reading behaviors and carry us through the rest of the elementary grades. 

To review, guided reading is one activity within an approach to teaching reading called "Balanced Literacy." The other components of the approach are shared reading, independent reading, shared writing, guided writing and independent writing. These activities are conducted during a 90-120 minute literacy block called "Reading Workshop/Writing Workshop." 

In order to do guided reading effectively your students need to be placed in guided reading groups with similar needs. Assessment needs to be ongoing and the groups need to be flexible. In the early grades you might use ECLAS for your initial assignments, in the upper elementary grades you could use standardized test results and the Grow report analysis. (See my previous articles for an explanation.) In all grades, you should take running records while your students read regularly so you know their reading strengths and weaknesses.

Here is the next set of behaviors labeled Fluent:

  • Uses word structure cues, letter knowledge and context cues appropriately;

  • Uses resources (e.g. dictionary, thesaurus) to increase vocabulary independently;

  • Self-corrects for meaning;

  • Adjusts strategies for type of text;

  • Uses organization of non-fiction/factual text (e.g. titles, indexes, and table of contents) to locate information;

  • Gathers information from graphs, charts, tables and maps with guidance;

  • Reads challenging children's literature;

  • Reads aloud with expression and confidence;

  • Reads silently at a rate appropriate for the complexity of the text;

  • Generates thoughtful oral and written responses in small group literature discussion with guidance;

  • Begins to use new vocabulary in oral and written responses in literature;

  • Summarizes with reference to setting, plot, characters and author's purpose (literary elements);

  • Gains deeper meaning by "reading between the lines" with guidance;

  • Selects, reads and finishes a wide variety of genres;

  • Chooses reading material at an appropriate level;

  • Reads silently for extended periods (30-40 minutes);

  • Evaluates own reading and sets goals with guidance.

Hopefully, by now you have an extensive classroom library. You should have at least a portion of your books leveled to match the needs of your students. Students should know how to select a book at their own level. In addition, you should have part of your library divided up by genre, for example, fiction, biography, science, holidays, plays, mysteries, and author studies. In this case students select books based on their interest. You may want students to have a baggie each, filled with books in his or her own desk or accessible to the student. In the students' baggies would be a combination of books- most at their own independent reading level, but some selected by interest. Students can use these books to read independently as one activity to do while you are working with a guided reading group. For guided reading, you select a book that is just above the students' independent level and present a strategy to help the student read the book within your mini-lesson. For example, for the group with the fluent characteristics listed above you might focus on getting the author's meaning "between the lines."

Here's the next group labeled Proficient:

  • Uses structure and meaning cues;

  • Gathers information from graphs, charts, tables and maps independently;

  • Gains deeper meaning by "reading between the lines" independently;

  • Reads complex children's literature;

  • Reads with expression and confidence;

  • Reads silently at a rate appropriate for the complexity of the text;

  • Integrates non-fiction/factual information with guidance to develop a deeper understanding of a topic;

  • Uses reasons and examples to support ideas and conclusions;

  • Discusses literature with reference to theme, author's purpose and style (literary elements);

  • Uses increasingly complex vocabulary in oral and written responses to literature;
    Generates in-depth written responses to literature;

  • Reads silently for extended periods (30-40 minutes);

  • Sets own goals and identifies strategies to improve reading.

Another way to use this information is to check which behaviors are missing in a particular student or group of students. You may find that they have almost all of these characteristics, but that they can't read silently for extended periods of time. This reading stamina is something they will surely need so you can set out to work on that by using a timer for silent reading and slowly extending the time.

Here is the next set of characteristics labeled Connecting:

  • Begins to gather, analyze and use information from graphs, charts, tables and maps;

  • Begins to evaluate, interpret and analyze reading content critically;

  • Reads complex children's literature and young adult literature;

  • Reads aloud with expression and confidence;

  • Reads silently at a rate appropriate for the complexity of the text;

  • Integrates non-fiction/factual information independently to develop a deeper understanding of a topic;

  • Generates in-depth responses and sustains small group literature discussions;

  • Generates in-depth written responses to literature;

  • Begins to develop criteria for evaluating literature;

  • Reads silently for extended periods (40 minutes or longer);

  • Sets own goals and identifies strategies to improve reading;

  • Seeks recommendations and opinions about literature from others.

For the group with the characteristics listed above, you could use your guided reading lesson time for any of the skills listed that the students are just beginning to do on their own. By now we are in the third or fourth grade, but many fifth graders may still need help in these areas. 

Here is the final group labeled Independent:

  • Perseveres through complex reading tasks;

  • Chooses and comprehends a wide variety of sophisticated materials with ease;

  • Reads for pleasure with ease;

  • Reads silently at a rate appropriate for the complexity of the text;

  • Reads for information and to solve problems with ease;

  • Chooses to evaluate, interpret and analyze content critically;

  • Adds depth to responses to literature by making connections to other reading and experiences;

  • Participates in complex literature discussions;

  • Develops and articulates criteria for evaluating literature;

  • Reads young adult and adult literature;

  • Reads silently for extended periods (40-60 minutes or longer);

  • Seeks recommendations and opinions about literature from others;

  • Pursues a widening community of readers independently.

These are the readers who are ready to read for information and pleasure.

This is the end of my three part series on guided reading. Next month I will focus on strategies you can use to manage your classroom so that you can carry out guided reading and all the other good lessons you have planned. 

Please e-mail me  if you have any questions.

 

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