Adventures in Literacy Land: Guided Reading

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

Analyzing Reading Behaviors: A MUST for Every Teacher of Reading

One practice every teacher needs to do is analyze his/her students' reading behaviors. Kid watching can tell us a lot about student understandings. Check out this post to learn more.

How can you tell a student is reading a text that is too hard? What signs do children give that they've met their limit? To learn the "look fors", head over to Comprehension Connection where you'll find this blog post. (it has been relocated to Carla's blog). 

Why Small Group Instruction Can Not Be Ignored

The Situation

Student one transferred into Lincoln Park Elementary in October from Texas. She is in fifth grade and English is her second language. Her reading level is late third and comprehension is a challenge.

Student two has attended Lincoln Park Elementary since kindergarten. He has always struggled with reading. He struggles with spelling and writing. His reading lacks fluency, and decoding unfamiliar words is challenging.

Student three has also attended Lincoln Park Elementary since kindergarten. She is on grade level, has passed state assessments with a score slightly above the cut score. She struggles with attention at times and is being treated for ADHD. She's very inquisitive, and with some modifications in class, she's kept on task. Comprehension can be impacted when the environment is distracting.

The final student joined Lincoln Park Elementary in second grade. He was identified for the talented and gifted program in third grade. He is an avid reader with a rich vocabulary. He's a quiet child, never complains, and keeps busy with independent reading when other work is complete.


5 Reasons to Text in their Hands...EVERYDAY!

5 Reasons to Text in their Hands...EVERYDAY!

Teachers know text is the key.  

Teachers are quick to incorporate Read Alouds, both fiction and non-fiction, into lessons for reading skills, math, science and social studies.  We practice words, but we have to make sure we are practicing words in text. Here are 5 reasons.


If you want a child to be better at piano, you make them practice.  If you want a child to be better at soccer, you make them practice.  If you want to child to be better at dance, you make them practice.  If you want a child to be better at reading, you make them practice.  You would not give them a piece to play on the piano ONCE.  You would not have them kick a soccer ball ONCE.  WHY would you expect a student to become a successful reader with one glance at a book.  Students need to have the books from small group at their disposal to develop comprehension, fluency and expression.  They need practice every day...with new books every day!  I provided each student with a gallon-sized Ziploc(R) bag.  Each day they get give me the oldest book in their bag and they get a new book.  There are always 5 books in their bags.  They need LOTS and LOTS of exposure to text on their level!  Practice makes permanent.

Practice with Known or Familiar Words

Word wall words or sight words CANNOT be learned in isolation.  Well, they can be…but, why would you?  When students are just beginning to connect letters to sounds and sounds to words every connection made clear makes an impact on their learning.  Typically a word or two is repeated in predictable text can not only provide further practice with fluency, students are practicing sight words on every page.  As they become more and more familiar with these books the sight words become easily recognized and 


Responsibility is another key skill for early learners.  Giving them the responsibility of their book baggie allows them to have a part in their learning.  They need to bring the book baggie to the small group table.  They need to make sure their book baggie is put in the proper place.  They need to make sure their books are kept in the baggie.  


Independence is one of the most important skills students can acquire through books.  After a small group lesson students keep the book in their book baggie (a Ziploc® bag with their name).  These bags are kept in a specific place in the room.  When students are finished with their work, they can get their book baggie and sit in the classroom library to read.  They know how, when, and where to read their books and it’s up to them to do it.  


Finally, putting books in the hands EVERYDAY creates a routine of reading.  When the routine is created a love of reading can grow.  Students who know they will read every day and they will be successful every day.  Success feels good…so reading will feel good, too. AND will grow!

Give them the books.  Don't be afraid!  It will make all the difference!


Focusing in on Guided Reading

Hi everyone!  It’s Jennie from JD’s Rockin’ Readers!  As you’ve probably heard by now Adventures in Literacy Land is celebrating its 2nd Birthday!  I’m very proud to say that I have been a part of this blog from the start.  I have gained some great friends over the past couple of years and I am so excited that we have some new bloggers on board this year!

We are talking about ourselves this month and what we feel we do well as teachers.  I thought I would talk just a bit about getting down to the nitty gritty of a Guided Reading Lesson.

I want to share with you today how I teach my Guided Reading Groups in a few short steps.

1.    I have an hour block for centers/guided reading each day.  I follow a mix of Daily 5 and additional centers.
2.    I try to meet with 3 groups a day.  It looks something like this:

Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 1
Group 4
Group 5
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 1
Group 4
Group 5
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
I like to meet with my lowest group every day, my low/middle groups 3x a week and then my highest two groups 2x a week.

3.    When I meet with a group, the first thing that we do is read the book that was read the last time we met.  It’s a reread and I will listen in and often take a running record on one of the students.  I want to make sure that the book is an appropriate instructional level.  After they read it, they put it into their Book Box that they use for Independent/Buddy Reading.

4.    Then, we do some sort of word work skill depending on the level book the students are reading.  This only takes about 3-5 minutes.  I like to make these very quick.

5.    Next, I will do a book introduction and we will take picture walk.  Many times, I will leave the ending as a “surprise” which then gives them a purpose to read.  We discuss important vocabulary words and also locate them in the text.

6.    Then it’s time to read.  This is VERY important.  During our lesson, every student reads the book independently.  We don’t do “round robin” reading.  It is imperative that every student reads the entire book- on their own.  I am there to help and intervene when needed to help them learn independent reading strategies.  I listen in as they read it with a whisper voice.

7.    Finally, since they are all reading at their own pace, they finish at different times.  I tell them to read it again until everyone is finished.  Then we will do some sort of quick comprehension skill.  After that, I keep the book until the next time we read.

I recently updated my Guided Reading Binder.  You can check it out by clicking on the picture!  I use Velcro for the student names so that I can easily change my groups around when I need to!  

You may also be interested in...


3 Easy Ideas to Boost Engagement during Guided Reading

Two years ago this month a group of passionate literacy teachers came together to launch Adventures in Literacy Land.  Our intention was to share ideas with each other and with you, our readers, so that we could learn and grow professionally.

To celebrate our blogging birthday, we will be reintroducing ourselves and sharing a few literacy tips in our areas of interest.  Then, we'll be wrapping up the month with a Big Birthday Giveaway.  Be sure to stop back and enter!

Here's a little bit about me...

I've been teaching for over 20 years, yikes! That makes me (a very young at heart) forty-something. Although I've taught many different grade levels, I'll always consider myself a first grade teacher since most of my years were spent there. However, several years ago I accepted a position as a reading specialist, doing what I love best, teaching children to read. :)

Here's a little bit about my area of interest...

I've always been especially fond of the time I share with students in a small group setting teaching guided reading.  So today I thought I would share a few of my favorite ways to boost student engagement during guided reading.

1.  Brighten Up Your Picture Walks 

Take a picture walk to search for tricky words and preview important vocabulary with these mini-flashlights.  You'll see students' faces light up when you hand them this 'reading' tool!

2.  Replace Lined Notebook Paper with Novelty Notepads

If you are like me, you have a basket full of notepads and sticky notes.  I use them during guided reading lessons to spark a little enthusiasm for writing.  We complete word work activities and written responses on these fun notepads.

(The problem/solution tablet shown in the last frame is from Primary Paradise and will be glued into our interactive notebooks when complete.)

3.  Add Pizazz to Close Reading

Many of my developing readers tend to shut down when reading activities require stamina and deep thinking.  For close reading, we break down the tasks and work through them one step at a time.

The Sticky Note Jot Spots from One Extra Degree are great for digging deeper into the meaning of text.  Students use the bookmarks as a reminder of what they are 'digging' for, then they jot down their thinking on stickies.

I can't tell you how much students look forward to using the highlighters pictured above while they read.  Each color has a different purpose.  You can print the labels for yourself at First Grade Bangs. (The Koala passage is from Mrs. Thompson's Treasures.)
Thanks for celebrating Literacy Land's second birthday with us!  I hope you found a tip or two that you can use with your readers.  Stop back again soon!


Preparing for Your Guiding Reading Routine

Assessments have been completed, daily routines have been established, and positive classroom environment encouraged.  Our reading groups are ready to begin.

You've assessed your students and know what they need. Now what? This post helps you establish your guided reading routine.

Each year that I have sat down to prepare for my guided reading groups, my routine changes a bit.  Maybe I have a new component that I want to add.  Or I have read a professional book that has helped me to grow in my learning.  Possibly my schedule has changed and the time that I have for guided reading is different.  Perhaps my students just need something a little different that what I have offered in the past.  Really...the reasons that our routines change is endless.

But to prepare for a guided reading routine, some things remain the same.  The first thing that I have to think about is time.

Time plays a huge part into the routine that I will establish.  A group that is 20 minutes long looks very different than one of my 30 minute guided reading groups.  And there have been years when my groups were only 10-15 minutes long.

Once my time period is determined, then I can analyze what my students need and compare it to the amount of time that I have.

The components that I include depends on their reading level, phonics skills, phonological awareness skills, and the sight words that they have mastered.

As a school building this year, we decided that more emphasis needed to placed on vocabulary.  My teammate and I chose to hit this skill through nursery rhymes in our guided reading groups.  This changed my routine because now I have to think about how to creatively use my time to hit vocab and phonological awareness at the same time.

Thinking through these challenges take a lot of time.  But I know that once I figure out what I need to hit in each guided reading group, my year is going to run more smoothly.

Once I have the time and skills determined, it is time to devise a plan.  And I mean a lesson plan format.

There are so many plans out there.  And good ones!  I have tried time and time again to use a pre-made format.  But when it comes down to it, my guided reading lesson plan format has to fit the routine that I have established and my teaching style.

One example of this: My guided reading groups occur in the same room as my teammate.  We co-teach for parts of the day.  Our guided reading routine is sooooo similar.  It was not necessarily on purpose but we have taught together for so many years.  I hear things that I really like and they become part of my group and the same occurs with her.  Anyways...I have offered my lesson plan format to her.  But it does not work for her style and mind.

Here is an example of how my formats have changed based on my new learning, time, and needs.

You've assessed your students and know what they need. Now what? This post helps you establish your guided reading routine.
This format was very simple but it had the different components that I wanted to hit at this particular point in my career.  But I had to do a lot of writing when I planned.

You've assessed your students and know what they need. Now what? This post helps you establish your guided reading routine.


This one was created after I read Jan Richardson's book, Next Step In Guided Reading.  But I had to make some changes to her format to meet the needs of my students.  
You've assessed your students and know what they need. Now what? This post helps you establish your guided reading routine.
This is my current format for the year.  It is very similar to the one above.  But we made some changes to our vocabulary instruction and sight word instruction.  We also decided to add a component from the Reading Reflex book that we read over the summer.  I also created some "Putting it Together" sheets that we want to incorporate into our phonics instruction.

All of these changes impact my lesson plan format.  There is a lot on this template when you compare it to my first one!  This allows me to circle, highlight, and fill in blanks.  My routine stays the same throughout the year.  I may delete or add some components along the way.   But as first graders, I have found that this consistent routine helps them and me.  We can expand our learning through complexity of skill and level.

Now that my time is planned, the needs are analyzed, and the template is created, I am ready to begin gathering and organizing my materials for the week.  But that would be another whole post :)

It is amazing the amount of time it takes to plan a 15, 20, or 30 minute part of your day!  I love it!


Guiding Reading: 3 Things I Did Wrong

Summer is in full force for me but the lines between summer vacation and school are very blurred.  Anyone else find this to be true?  My brain is filled with reflection, summer reading, and preparations for the upcoming year.  I am currently reading Creating Cultures of Thinking, Reading Reflex, Summer Reading, and Small Group Reading Instruction (by Beverly Tyner).   All of these books are bringing about some new learning for me and helping me to reflect on old and current practices.
As I read Beverly Tyner's book on a differentiated teaching model for small group, I started thinking how different my current reading groups are to the ones I conducted when I first started teaching.  This reflection led me to realize that there were quite a number of things I did THEN that I would not do NOW.

1. Timing
I remember my small group phonics lessons lasted FOREVER! The efficient, quick, systematic lesson would be all planned out.  Materials would be ready.  And the kids just did not master the skill to the level I thought they should.  So what would I do?  Spend more time on it.  And where did this time come?  It would get stolen from the actual reading of book.  This was not time well spent.  They needed to be reading.
My solution: I started setting a timer for myself.  The phonics lesson would end when the timer went off and we would just revisit the skill the next day.

2. Book levels
There have been a few years in my career where I was very unclear about the books that I needed to use in my guided reading groups.  We have had some basal reader books and I have had some intervention program books.  But looking back, I know these books did not always match the reading level of the student. I now know that these are tools within my toolbox but the need of my student must come before the resources in front of me. 
My solution: I search for the instructional level text that will continue to push that group of learners.  Sometimes this is a book from the leveled book room, a basal guided reading book, a decodable reader, a passage, or a poem.

3. Sight Words
The districts that I have worked in have never had a set group of sight words that need to be mastered by each grade level; therefore, I used the words from the basal program or intervention program that were recommended.  This did not work out well for me.  The gaps were clear and students were at such varying levels of sight word mastery.
My solution:  My building created a document combining many sight words lists.  We can pre-assess our students and support them on a more individual basis.  No more gaps (hopefully).

As I have come to understand reading, learning to read, and the little young brains that I work with, my practices have changed and evolved.  I like the routine that I have right now.  But Ron Ritchhart explains that, "...some might argue that understanding can never be fully complete and absolute."  I know for certain that my routine and practices will change as my understanding continues to grow.


Getting Started with Leveled Literacy Intervention

Hello all! This is Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals. I would like to share with you a little peek into Fountas' and Pinnell's Blue Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) Kit, since I use it most often to support my struggling RtI students compared to the other colored kits.

If you are not familiar with the LLI kits, they are ideal resources to support below grade-level students who are struggling in reading and writing. The kits are used in a small group setting with 3 to 4 students, depending on the grade-level of the students. RtI students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade (Orange, Green & Blue Kits) require groups of 3 students for fidelity of the program, while the 4th grade and 5th grade levels (Red & Gold Kits) allow for 4 students per group.

LLI is scientifically-based and designed to prevent literacy difficulties. The program (along with teacher guidance, of course) provides students opportunities to extend comprehension through discussions and writing, to learn and apply phonics and word solving skills, to increase vocabulary and processing strategies, as well as improve fluency and phrasing through rereading. Since the groupings are so intimate in size, I'm easily able to model appropriate reading behaviors, in addition to prompt for and reinforce effective reading strategies. Fidelity of the program definitely correlates to student success. I have seen much growth in my students' reading abilities, since I began using LLI in the early Fall.

The majority of the students I service are in grades 2nd and 3rd, which is why I use the Blue Kit most often. It encompasses guided reading Levels C through N. There are 120 lessons. Each lesson has 4 colored copies to use while in group and 6 black and white copies of each book for students to take home for additional reading practice. Canvas bags are available to keep the Take-Home books in good condition. In addition, a Prompting Guide and the resource book When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works are accessible in this kit.
The Prompting Guide supplies a variety of prompts for each targeted reading behavior. A few prompting categories and examples are below.
  • Early Reading Behaviors "Say it slowly and move your finger under the word.", "Show me____ (a high frequency word) on this page.", "Point to each word as you read."
  • Using Information "Can the picture help you think about this part of the story?", "You said____. Does that sound right?", "Are you thinking about what will happen next?"
  • Solving Words "Get your mouth ready for the first sound.", "Cover the last part of the word.", "Look at the middle of the word.", "Do you know a word that starts with those letters?"
  • Monitoring and Correcting "Why did you stop?", "Does the word you said look like the word on the page?", "It has to makes sense and go with the letters.", "Where is the tricky part?"
  • General Problem-Solving "That won't help you.  This will help you .", "Try that again.", "Try it another way.", "Think about what you know." "What can you do?"
  • Maintaining Fluency "Listen to me read.  Can you read it like that?", "Make a full stop at the period.", "Make your voice go up when you see a question mark.", "Take a short pause when you see a comma (or dash)."
The lessons are 30 minutes in length (45 minutes in length for the Red & Gold Kits). There is a nice variety of fiction and nonfiction texts for the students to read. For each set of 10 lessons, there are 5 instructional texts and 5 independent texts. The routine for the lessons alternate depending on the lesson number. Odd-numbered lessons consist of Rereading Books (5 mins), Phonics/Word Work (5 mins), introduction of New Book at the instructional level (15 mins) and additional Letter/Word Work (5 mins), if time permits. Even-numbered lessons consist of Rereading Books and Assessment of the instructional text (5 mins), Phonics/Word Work (5 mins), Writing About Reading (15 mins) and introduction of New Book at the independent level (5 mins).

Rereading Books and Assessment:

At the start of each group, students are required to reread the new instructional-level book and independent-level books from the previous lesson or lessons. During this time, you *listen in* while the students softly read, which allows you to support them with any needed prompting. This is when the prompting guide becomes very handy. Keep in mind, there is absolutely NO "Round Robin" reading, as was common before research confirmed it as a very unproductive use of time. Not all of the students in the small group need the same prompting, so students taking turns to read aloud while peers wait for a turn is an ineffective strategy.

Moving on...Face it, most struggling readers are unmotivated to read, which is why they're struggling in the first place. It's such a viscous cycle. Don't you agree? Well, for those slightly unmotivated students, sometimes a little *magical touch* is needed to spark interest. I have trinkets available for my students to use when reading, including whisper phones, "eye-lighters", sock puppets, hand pointers, magnifying glasses and holiday-themed knickknacks. In addition, I supply fix-up strategy book marks as a visual support for students.


In regards to the Assessment portion of the lesson, only one or two students' reading is coded using running records on a particular day, so students being assessed must rotate throughout the week. I take running records weekly for each of my students because they are well below grade level. I then alter my teaching and prompting based on the students' running record miscues. The instructional-level text from the previous day's lesson is used. Fountas and Pinnell have a (paid-subscription) Literacy Online Resources site containing all of the lessons' materials, including running record forms for each instructional-level text. I pull up the running record form for the lesson being assessed and code the students' reading behaviors on notebook paper using the Coding and Scoring form below. Cute binders from Target keep my running records organized. In order to help save beautiful trees, I do not print the copies of the running record forms.

Phonics/Word Work:

During this portion of the lesson, students are explicitly and systematically instructed on how language works. The LLI kits provide an Alphabet and Consonant Cluster Linking Chart, poems, letter & word games, and lists of suggested words that can be documented on anchor charts with students. Magnetic letters with cookie trays, beads with pipe cleaners, letter stamps with ink pads, flyswatters and paint strips of various colors are also available in my room to assist in our work work activities. In addition, I often use iPad Apps to boost interest in recording the words being taught. Some easy-to-use Apps include Screen Chomp, ABC Magnetic Letters, Doodle Buddy and ShowMe. However, on occasion the students participate in QR Code activities focused on the phonics skill being practiced. In that case, they use the SCAN App. :)

New Book:

When introducing the new instructional-level book, students are provided the gist of the story. They are also given the opportunity to *walk~through* the text with guidance looking for tricky words, new vocabulary, language structures and important text features when necessary. Previewing the text should only take about 3 or 4 minutes. It's very similar to the routines of Jan Richardson's guided reading routines. As mentioned in the Rereading Books section, teachers use the prompting guide while *listening in* on the students during this portion of the lesson, too. (Remember, NO "Round Robin" reading!) Once the students have been given time to read the book in its entirety, a group discussion takes place referring the students back into the text to support their answers to questions asked.


LLI involves students extending their understanding of texts through writing in 3 forms: Interactive, Dictated and Independent. They record their writing in My Writing Book. The writing books are available in yellow, purple and red. There is no particular reason for the colors for the exception of allowing for some student choice. Giving *choice* to students is always a good thing! On a side note, in the Red and Gold kits dedicated to the upper grades, the writing books are different and provide a word study portion.

Interactive Writing:

During interactive writing, students compose a text with the teacher. I ask students to write words or parts of words on the board as I offer guidance and support. The students LOVE participating in interactive writing!

Dictated Writing:

My little ones often have trouble with dictated writing because they miss some of the spoken words in their writing. I generally use some sort of manipulative such as beads, holiday-themed erasers, buttons, etc. to support students in counting the number of spoken words needed in the dictated sentences. It supports 1:1 correspondence of spoken and written words. We count out the manipulative together as I dictate the sentence. The students must then make sure to have as many words in their sentence as beads/erasers/buttons in front of them. For instance, a student writing the sentence "The boy walked to the park with his friend." would need 9 counters in front of him or her.

Independent Writing:

Independent writing may take several different forms depending on the students' needs. Students may write lists, labels for pictures, sentences, paragraphs, etc. On days the students are required to write independently, I often supply them with graphic organizers or response activities to guide them in responding to their texts. Those organizers or responses are then placed into their writing books. The writing books become a keep-sake for them and a place to document their growth throughout the year. If you're interested in fiction and nonfiction guided writing ideas for Levels A-I and J+, click the poster below. :)

Well, there you have it...a little peek into the F&P Leveled Literacy Intervention Blue Kit. Do you use the LLI kits with your students? I'd love to hear your story, if you do! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

P.S. Thank you to the following graphic artists for the backgrounds, clip art and fonts! :)

Welcome again to guest blogger Colleen from Literacy Loving Gals!  She has been her before, and we are excited to have her join us again for this guest post!