Sunday, October 16, 2016

6 Guided Reading Tips That Work!

Guided Reading.

When you're new at it, it can be challenging. 
Even when you're NOT new at it. 
Primary teachers are constantly looking for that secret that will help our guided reading groups go more smoothly.

We dream of having students who:
♥ Come to the table RIGHT when we call them
♥ Are ready to learn and not talk about how grandma is coming to visit
♥ Look at the teacher or point to the text
♥ Are excited to learn and meet their goals!

Well, I may not have all the answers, but I can give you a few tips that have worked wonders for me...

1. Be Explicit About Your Expectations

Never assume your students know what you expect during guided reading.
Tell them. 
Show them.
Model for them.
Praise and reward them.
Repeat the above often.

A visual like the one below is a good thing to refer to often.
Class Rules Posters and Activity Sheets

2. Reward Them!

The minute they see you are rewarding students for following your expectations during guided reading, they will sit up tall and try to impress.

I'm not talking about repeated trips to the treasure box.
Keep it simple.
I like to give tally marks each time I see students following the expectations listed on the poster.
I tape down seasonal notepad papers where I can quickly give tallies. 
Notice the notepad papers are alternately taped as apples and pumpkins.
I will talk about that later.

The tallies look like this:

An alternative to this is to start each student with 5 tallies and the goal is to keep them.
Either way, at the end of your group time, students with 5 tallies (or whatever number of tallies works for you) get to move their clip up. 
Here you could use whatever simple reward you use in your classroom.
My students work hard to move their clips up on the clip chart so this works for me.
Something to note:
Don't waste precious instruction time commenting each time you make a tally.
Just give tallies when they are doing the right thing.
They know what they are doing right.
Other students see it too and will try to do the same.
Make them responsible for their learning behaviors.
Once in a while it is important to comment on good behavior, 
but if there is too much teacher talk, you lose instruction time.

3. Have Everything Ready

As soon as you are searching for materials while students are ready at your table, you've lost them.
The time you spend getting materials organized and ready is time very well spent.
Grab and teach!
Some materials I use during guided reading instruction:

4. Use Targeted Instruction

Not all students need to same instruction.
Just like not all sick people need the same treatment from the doctor.
1. Test
2. Review the data
3. Determine your students' individual literacy needs
 4. Group them
5. Target instruction according to their needs

I use a Targeted Guided Reading Plan to help keep myself focused on each group's needs:

When I target my instruction to their needs, it's like writing a prescription...
Just for them!
So I'm careful to make sure what I plan is exactly what they need based on the testing data.
If my testing data is not complete or doesn't tell me what I need, 
then I need to find different testing materials.
We use DIBELS tesing, sight word testing, and comprehension testing that comes with our Houghton Mifflin Reading series.
From the above testing, I can determine their level for:

♥ Phonemic Awareness Skills
♥ Sight Words
♥ Word Attack Skills
♥ Blending Whole Words
♥ Automaticity with Blending certain sounds
♥ Reading Fluency
♥ Reading Sight Words in Text
♥ Long Vowels, Short Vowels, Blends, Digraphs, etc. within Text
♥ Retell
♥ Comprehension Skills

Here's an example of targeting instruction. One of my groups is still working on Phonemic Awareness Skills. I have 4 small sticky notes taped down in the middle of my table that I use every day with them. 
This is noted in their Targeted Reading Plan.
I prompt with:
"Say trap." (as I sweep under the 4 sticky note boxes)
(they say trap)
"Sound." (they say the 4 sounds as I point to each box)

You may like:

5. Keep Teacher Voice to a Minimum

The more you talk, the less time they have in text.
That's what we want, right?
More time in text.
Keep your prompts and instruction to a minimum.
Example 1:
Remember the apples and pumpkins I taped on the table?
I use those to quickly call on students to read.
I say:
And I do it quickly in a flow so their fingers don't move from the text and 
they don't even have time to look up at me.
The flow is important.
Keep the flow going and keep them reading.

Example 2:
When we are reading from charts or focus boards, I give quick prompts like
Quick prompts give more time for staying engaged with the lesson and 
less time to look away and get disengaged.
See 13 second video below of an example with a vowel discrimination lesson:

I use the same prompts when a word is missed while students are reading text.
If there is hesitation before a word or a word is missed, I prompt with 
Students know they are to sound the word out.
These prompts are taught early on in the year.

You might like:

6. Use Must Do May Do Instead of Rotating Reading Centers

Don't waste your precious guided reading instruction time with rotating centers.
I've blogged about this a lot.
That's because I'm a true believer in using every minute of guided reading instruction time to its fullest.
Stopping students from working at centers, or turning wheels or moving names on pocket charts is stopping the flow and wasting precious guided reading instruction time.

Keep them working at their seats and just call up your group.
At each group's table, have a list of Must Do Activities and May Do Activities 
and include all materials in a handy tub.
Students work through their differentiated materials while you are teaching.
No wasted time and they complete their work on their own time.
See this blog for more information about 

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