Teaching Guided Reading
Teaching Guided Reading
by: Adam Waxler
What is guided reading?
What are some guided reading activities?
How about guided reading demonstrations or guided reading lesson plans?
Using guided reading as a teaching strategy has become more and more popular as the emphasis in education continues to focus on how to increasing reading comprehension As a teacher mentor, I often have teachers ask me questions about guided reading similar to those above. However, as with any other reading strategy, increasing reading comprehension depends highly on what the teacher does “before” the reading assignment.
First, though, what is guided reading? Simply put, in guided reading students are placed in small groups with similar reading levels. Children read either silently or aloud to themselves, but they do not read in unison. In early guided reading groups books are chosen based on a 90% accuracy level. Books should also match a child's interests and knowledge base.
Of course, two problems exist. First, to do all that guided reading suggests can be quite challenging and maybe even impossible since kids with similar reading levels do not necessarily have similar interests or knowledge bases. And second, the teacher still needs to tap into and build upon the student’s prior knowledge of the subject matter (before reading) if the teacher truly wants to increase reading comprehension.
A great teaching strategy to overcome these obstacles and improve guided reading instruction is to do a three to five minute book introduction as a scaffold for the first reading of a text.
However, I would not start the guided reading just yet. First, I would take the students on a "picture walk" through the book. The pictures in a book can go a long way towards increasing comprehension. In this particular book, the father often reflects back to his youth when he and his father were interned in the prison camp. This reflecting, however, can create problems for some readers. Fortunately, the illustrator, Chris K. Soentpiet, has drawn pictures in both color and black and white. The color pictures are present day (1972) at the abandoned prison camp. The black and white pictures are during World War II when 10,000 Japanese-Americans were interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in eastern California. The "picture walk" also provides a great opportunity to point out any words that the students may have trouble with. For example, I would certainly point out "Manzanar War Relocation Center" written on a sign in an early illustration in the book. These words come up often and the pictures provide a great opportunity to explain their meaning.
By "walking" through the pictures to introduce the book, a teacher can tap into students' prior knowledge and also have students predict what the text is about. Furthermore, teachers can clear up any comprehension concerns they may have about the book, such as "jumping" back and forth between 1943 to 1972. The "picture walk" will, in turn, increase students' interest in the book and therefore increase students' motivation to learn. This is all done prior to the actual guided reading. Remember, guided reading is a great reading strategy, however, teachers must still activate prior knowledge and clear up any comprehension concerns if they really want to increase reading comprehension and get the most success from their the guided reading.
Copyright 2006 Adam Waxler
About The Author
Adam Waxler is a middle school social studies teacher, teacher mentor, and author of "eTeach: A Teacher Resource for Learning the Strategies of Master Teachers". Learn more about how to increase reading comprehension in his book here: http://www.teaching-teacher.com or check out his blog for free reading comprehension tips here: http://www.teaching-tips-machine.com/blog.
ETeach: A Teacher Resource. A Teacher Resource For Learning The Strategies Of Master Teachers.