Guided Reading: Getting to Know Your Readers First
Before you start a guided reading program, there are a few things you’ll want to have set up in order to make the best use of your time and save your sanity!
One really important piece is to have your other students very well trained in being independent. They need to know what to do and how to do it. And most of all, they need to know not to bother you.
Later in the blog series (next, actually), I’ll share some ideas about how to make this part of your guided reading program very effective!
The other really important piece is to get to know your students as readers before you attempt to guide them into any reading strategy acquisition. This means that you know their instructional reading level, yes, but it’s almost more important to know what reading behaviors kids demonstrate as they read.
For example, does your reader still reread every 3-4 words? Does your reader have great comprehension but poor decoding skills? Does your reader use the first two letters of a word and then guess at the rest? Does your reader choose random details and think that’s the main idea of the whole reading? Those are all reading behaviors that kids have.
The only way to grow your readers is to know how they think when they read, and how they problem-solve when they are stuck.
There are a few ways to do this.
1. Use a reading assessment designed to help you identify students’ instructional level and notice and document their reading behaviors. This could be something like DRA, iStation, or another commercial program.
2. If you do not have access to an assessment kit (they can be pricey!), you can still get to know your readers! Here’s what I would do.
Go to Readworks and set up a free account. Click on “Find articles.” Download one passage at each lexile level range. Download this too – it’s a Lexile Level Correlation Chart and it’ll help you figure out what reading levels students are on based on their lexile levels.
Download a running record form and a comprehension rubric. I actually have included one in my Guided Reading Freebie and my Rolling Out Guided Reading product on TPT.
Call up one student and pull out a grade level passage (unless you have information or reason to think that this student is well above or well below grade level. Go with your instincts on grade level to start with!).
Provide the student with the passage and take out one copy of your Reading Behavior Record. Have the student read to you and mark his/her errors on the record. For more information about how to score Reading Behavior Records, grab my Rolling Out Guided Reading product!
The biggest thing to focus on during this time is the student’s reading behaviors. Does the student…
– reread frequently?
– reread to correct a miscue?
– use appropriate decoding skills?
Make sure to complete the portion where the student retells the text so you can use the comprehension rubric to figure out what they are doing well and what they need to work on.
If the student is 95% and above in accuracy, and has a comprehension score of 10 or above, you can move up a level. If the student is below 90% in accuracy, and/or has a comprehension score below 7, it’s a good idea to move down a level.
Once you’ve identified all of your students’ levels, it’s time to group them! I take a piece of paper and divide it into six or eight squares. I label each square with a level and start adding students’ names to the boxes.
Then I can combine squares into a group if I need to. I’d recommend between 3-5 students in each group. You can do 6 if it’s needed for your kids or class, of course, but ideally, it’ll be fewer than 5.
These groups are not set in stone. You can adjust them at any time, in order to have kids work with other students on similar strategies, or if a student changes level before other students in his/her group do.
Decide how many sessions of guided reading you’re going to have each day.
Schedule your needier groups more frequently. A group far below grade level might need to work with you every day. Groups who are above grade level may do well with just one session a week.
Prepare your schedule – write it down! That’s the way we make things real and hold ourselves accountable. You can always change it if you decide you need to!
I recommend posting the schedule on the wall so you can easily build the expectation with students that you’ll meet with them regularly.
Check out the post next week to learn about what the rest of your class is doing while you’re working with guided reading groups!
Be sure to check back every Sunday for these informative posts. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I included lots of information and tips to help you get rolling or to spice up your guided reading! Getting to Know Your Readers First What Are the Other Kids Doing? Organizing Your Guided Reading Binder Preparing Your Space for Guided Reading Planning for Guided Reading How Do I Know What to Teach? Monitoring Progress in Guided Reading How to Build Reading Strategies Guided Reading: Make it Fun!
What about resources for ELLs?