“Guided Reading: Using a teacher-chosen text as the basis for instruction, the teacher works with a small, temporary group of students to develop their processing strategies as they read a variety of increasingly challenging texts”(Guiding Readers and Writers: Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell).
Guided Reading is a researched based instructional approach. Students are flexibly or temporarily grouped. This is a critical difference from traditional grouping practices witnessed in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. In such programs, students might have been labeled or put in “red-birds” or the “blue-jay” group. These groups were often static. Once a student was in a low group they stayed there. These lower performing groups typically received lower-quality instruction and often were not presented with higher order thinking skill questions.
Flexible grouping creates a community within the classroom where all students are readers. Groups are formed and re-formed many times. These data created groups vary in purpose. The goal of guided reading is to provide students in groups with what they need, when they need it by monitoring growth and progress, as well as identifying the appropriate intervention to fulfill our promise for reading growth.
One of the tools utilized to assist teachers in assigning students to a guided reading group is the DRA and DRA2 (Developmental Reading Assessment). This tool allows teachers to identify student’s instructional level with an evaluation of the three components of reading: reading engagement, oral reading fluency, and comprehension. The DRA2 was administered in the 2008/2009 academic year in grades 3-5. It will continue to be administered this academic year. The noticeable difference between the DRA and the DRA2 is the DRA2’s emphasis upon written response to show a student’s comprehension of text. A written response necessitates more rigor and cognitive demands on higher order thinking skills to show comprehension. This assessment provides teachers the benefit of having an excellent measure of reading and not strictly decoding. In addition, this data can assist teachers in identifying which students could benefit from interventions on a targeted reading skill. Likewise, it can be used as a progress monitoring tool to ensure students are making enough progress that they will no longer need an intervention or assistance.
Parents can play a huge supporting role in reading development. A terrific idea is to have a set schedule on school nights for example, when teeth are brushed, children are in their rooms at a set time, and literacy occurs right before sleep. For example, with primary grade students it is great fun to have your child read one of his/her instructionally appropriate books to you and then after you read a book to your child. This is one of my favorite parts of the day that I do myself with my kindergarten daughter. For older students, it might be taking turns reading pages or chapters. Reading is not just about stating the words. Oral language is a big component of literacy. The rich, engaging and fun conversations you can have with children about what you read will be wonderful (Taken from my Blog post Literacy and Home).
Another idea is to put sight words up throughout the home. Take flash cards and stick magnets behind them and post them on the refrigerator as an example. Practice the sight words as a memory game. Take a stick with a string attached to it and a magnet at the end of the string and then play magnet sight word fishing with sight words cards that have paper clips attached to them. A sight word list such as the Dolch Sight Word List or Fry Sight Word List can quickly be found in with a Google search on the computer.