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How to Teach Guided Reading

2018-10-18     Heather Mactivity    

How to teach guided reading

Guided reading! Since I became a teacher back in 2005, it seems to have been the scourge of teachers everywhere. How should we teach it? What works best? Why does it take so LONG to plan? Does it even work? Should it replace reading 1:1? Should we teach guided reading in carousels, or as a whole class? Many many questions! Like most things with teaching, you’ve got to ultimately figure out what works best for you and your class, however there has been quite a lot of talk recently about moving over to whole class reading and perhaps abandoning the idea of carousel activities in guided reading.

What are carousel activities for guided reading?

For the uninitiated, this is a way of carrying out guided reading with a range of activities to try to help children read and understand the text, or develop their reading skills in some way.  So for example, one group might read the same (differentiated) book or a chapter of a book with a teacher. You would typically group children in ability groups of 6, and in my school, there were lots of different packs of 6 books to choose from sometimes with teacher notes. Another group would perhaps be changing their library book, another group reading silently, and another group doing some sort of worksheet activity based on the book they had read. Every 15 minutes or so you would rotate. To say it was chaotic was an understatement.  Only the group actually reading with the teacher gained anything at all in the hour, as I would ask questions to help children understand, predict, infer etc, all racing against the clock. The other children would typically be effectively doing “keep them busy” activities whilst I worked with the group reading. I still have nightmares about it now. Does it work? Maybe, if the activities are chosen carefully enough, but it’s a lot of planning and work for something they will only be doing for perhaps 15 minutes a piece, not to mention the extra marking.

Moving to whole class guided reading

So I asked this question on Instagram – should we move to whole class guided reading and what are your experiences of this? Mrsb_teaching had some interesting ideas and tips around this.

She said, “when I was in KS2 I used a chilli challenge differentiation system as throughout the school we had fully embedded a challenge by choice culture – which fitted perfectly when I transferred over to whole class guided reading

I started by breaking down the domains and I did a lot of research (we looked at RIC, read, interpret, choice). At first it was all trial and error. I would take a text and an objective, let’s say retrieval, and differentiate my questions through my chilli challenge. Then the next lesson I would choose a completely different text and look at prediction. I might differentiate through who can use evidence to support their prediction of what they think will happen in the story. Or it might be that the covers/titles are more challenging. I.e. choosing a story with a ‘vague’ title or illustrations. The more I tried whole class, the more I learnt and the better it go. I would definitely say to anyone persevere! It takes time to adjust. The EEF released a document of key objectives linked to the domains that they recommended using for reading. I found it quite a useful read when I was getting going!”

What is RIC?

Going back to RIC – here are some examples of this.

Read – asking factual questions – what is happening, what is the name of the main character. What colour are her shoes. For example.

Interpret – How does X character feel when she saw her dad getting on the train? Why do you think the cows were looking over the fence?

Choice – Why did the author choose to give the main character a squeaky voice?

You might find that some children can only do the Read element, or the Read and Interpret element, but that’s ok.

What are the AFs (Assessment Focuses) for reading?

AF1 Use a range of strategies including accurate decoding of text, to read for meaning
AF2 Understand, describe, select or retrieve information, events or ideas from texts and use quotation and reference to text
AF3 Deduce, infer or interpret information, events or ideas from texts
AF4 Identify and comment on the structure and organisation of texts, including grammatical and presentational features at text level
AF5 Explain and comment on writers’ uses of language, including grammatical and literary features at word and sentence level
AF6 Identify and comment on writers’ purposes and viewpoints and the overall effect of the text on the reader
AF7 Relate texts to their social, cultural and historical contexts and literary traditions

How do other teachers approach guided reading?

We asked the teaching community and had the following responses:-

  • Mihaela said – “45 minutes for whole class reading. I read the text, then explain every sentence and paragraph. Then I read the text again, children follow the lines and read with me(whisper). One lesson we focus on vocabulary in context; the next lesson, questions are differentiated for each ability (the same text). It has helped the LA with their confidence as they see we are all doing the same text.”
  • Natalie said – “I started whole class guided reading in Summer 2 last year and love it! We choose a book that is pitched towards the more able readers in the class and pair these children with the less able readers in class.
    On Monday and Tuesday, we read the text (opportunity to hear children read!) and discuss the text to check comprehension. I use the old AFs (assessment focus) as a guide to ensure I ask a range of questions. On Wednesday, we do vocabulary work as this is a major focus at our school (lots of EAL). Thursday we do a ‘follow up’ task based on what we read earlier in the week – this is differentiated. Then on Friday we have a differentiated task focused on comprehension or another reading skill, which is unrelated to the text we are studying.”

A post in progress…

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Categories: Guided reading, Teacher Tips

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