Pages

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Starting Guided Reading in Middle School

From reading different blogs and seeing "guided reading" products on Pinterest and TPT, it became apparent to me that there are MANY different interpretations of what guided reading is out in the education world.  From being trained as a literacy coordinator at Lesley University, following the Literacy Collaborative framework, my interpretation of guided reading is homogeneous groups of students reading books at their instructional reading level with teacher-supported text introductions and a facilitated discussion of the text once the text has been read independently by the students in a group.  The goal of guided reading is to work with students at their instructional reading level in groups of students with similar reading abilities to them in order to advance their reading skills.  In order to have productive guided reading groups, all students need to be tested at the beginning, middle, and end of the year using the Benchmark Assessment, so that teachers are able to use current reading levels when forming groups.

At my school, Rice Lake Middle School, we have benchmarked all of our students in grades 5-8.  I am currently team teaching 6th grade Language Arts along with being the literacy coach for the school.  It's an interesting perspective because I can see what it takes to implement guided reading at the individual classroom level in 6th grade, and I also see the big picture of what needed to be done from the literacy coach end in order to get it going for the whole school.

From the literacy coach end, we created a book room for all the Language Arts teachers at the middle school to use.  The book room is leveled I-Z using the Fountas and Pinnell leveling system.  Since our school has no extra space, we also had to get very creative with where our book room was going to be. We eventually settled for knocking a wall out between two closets to create our current book room and had a local builder come in and build custom shelves to fit the space.  A few of my colleagues and I spent countless hours this summer arranging and leveling all of the books.  It was quite the undertaking, but the final product was more than worth it, as you can see below.  The two pictures below the final product show the sorting and leveling we had to do before getting to the final product.

 

Once we had the book room in place for our middle school, the next step was to figure out how we would get all of our student through the benchmark assessment.  The Language Arts teachers really stepped up to the plate with this, each benchmarking all 50-75 of their students.  Once this was completed, the true fun of beginning guided reading began.  At the sixth grade level, we figured out how to use our block schedule in order to create homogenous groups so that each of us would meet with our below grade level readers at least 3 times a week, our at grade level readers 2 times a week, and our above grade level readers 1 time per week.  We are all excited to begin. 

15 comments:

  1. I am so glad that I found your blog! You currently have what my dream job would be!!! Hopefully in the near future it will be possible for me.

    I am in the beginning stages of creating a resource room for the teachers in my building with sets of 6 books that we can use to meet with small groups. I would love to find out more about how you all make this work in your 6th grade classrooms on your campus.

    Miss Klohn
    Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher
    k.e.klohn@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad that you found my blog as well! As we begin guided reading in grades 5-8 and start using the book room (which has sets of 6 books as well), I look forward to blogging about how it's working out in middle school classrooms. Right now, we're getting creative with our grouping and time management, but we all agree that getting students to read at grade level is a top priority and guided reading is the vehicle we're going to use to get there!

      Delete
  2. How are the 7th and 8th grade teachers setting up Guided Reading? I'm assuming they only have about an hour for their instruction - as do I, and I have always struggled with making time for small group instruction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Heather,

      Last year when we knew we were going to move to the Literacy Collaborative framework, we re-structured our schedule from a traditional junior high schedule with 55 minute class periods to a modified block schedule and 90 minute class periods. The teachers split the 90 minutes between Reading Workshop and Writing Workshop. We teach with a minilesson format, so minilessons generally last 10 minutes, leaving 35 minutes to meet with guided reading groups while the rest of the class is working on the minilesson application. It's definitely a little tricky with time management, but we have made guided reading a top priority at our school because we have seen positive results from the small group instruction. I work with teachers 5-8, and with the exception of this year, I've taught 8th grade for 4 years, so I will definitely blog about how the 7th and 8th grade teachers are doing with guided reading as well!

      Delete
  3. Kasey,

    How would I best benchmark my sixth graders so I know what "goals" they need to work on? I have 42 minutes, and no assessments to give them other than the BRI which takes FOREVER to administer. Also, do you have an email I can directly email you to? I live in Spooner over the summer and would absolutely LOVE to connect with you and get some help/ideas for myself. Especially since the CCSS has come out and I am completely alone in designing and implementing new curriculum for myself. Oh I could go on! Thanks-please feel free to email me at erintonnar@hotmail.com

    Thanks a bunch!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Erin!

    Great to hear from you. At Rice Lake we currently use the Fountas and Pinnell "Benchmark Assessment" to see where students fall on a reading level A-Z. The letters match up to a book level, and we test to the highest instructional level so we know where we should be working with them at during Guided Reading. We also use the MAPS assessment for reading which generates a lexile score. If your school did something like this, that would be another way to group students, set goals for them, and work with them at their reading level. Otherwise is neither of these things would work, you could possibly do running records and listen to students read orally to get an idea of what types of goals you could set for them. This wouldn't be ideal, but it would be something. My e-mail is kbkiehl@gmail.com. You can feel free to contact me if you want to know more. You are also more than welcome to meet up with me sometime over the summer at RLMS to see what we have in place and get additional ideas. It stinks that you have only 42 minutes....we have a 90 minute LA block, but we had to fight to change it because last year we had 56 minutes. I'm rambling now :)....great to hear from you!!!

    Kasey

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi there,

    I am looking at this blog for the first time, and I'm intrigued!

    I student taught first grade, so I'm familiar with Fountas & Pinnell, and teaching guided reading. My question is, how do you assess students who exceed the highest level of Fountas & Pinnell?

    I'm going to start guided reading with my 7th & 8th grades this fall, but I'm not sure where to start as far as assessing them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      It's great that you're familiar with F&P. At my middle school we use F&P's Benchmark Assessment to test any students who are reading below a Level Z. We also do the MAPS assessment which assesses lexile range. With our high level 7th and 8th graders who have surpassed a "Z" we try to provide opportunities for them to engage in literature study with other students at their level to have rich discussion about books.

      Delete
    2. Also, as a side note. Whenever we work with small groups of students we are constantly getting formative assessment with our observations. Even students who have gone past the Z level have many things that they could get better at with their reading, we all do!

      Delete
  6. Kasey,
    I teach 6th grade Language Arts and we are trying to implement guided reading at the middle school for the first time this year. I was wondering if you could share how you set up your block schedule for the guided reading? We are on block schedule as well and I was struggling with how to fit in everything we need for reading/writing workshop as well as group work time. Any suggesstions on what has worked for your team? I am trying to gather as much information as I can! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have 90 minute LA class periods. Generally we begin with a Word Study for 5-10 minutes, move to Writing Workshop for 40 minutes, and then to Reading Workshop. There is approximately a 10 minute minilesson with an application for independent reading time for the whole class. While the whole class is working on this, the last 20-25 minutes is used for guided reading.

      Delete
  7. Hi, I would love to see your schedule. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Liz,

      Our students have three cores per day. Math and Language Arts are 90 minutes long, and then Science/Social Studies are 50 minutes and either run A/B day at some grade levels or switch half way through the year in others. In addition to core classes, each student as a 45 minute Band/Choir/Study Hall period and two Avant Garde periods where we put computers, physical education, health, art, tech, foreign language.

      Delete
  8. Kasey,
    I am struggling trying to figure out how I will lead middle school reading groups using 8 to 10 different books. Is this even feasible? I have only read a few of the books myself and prepared questions for them. My 22 sixth graders have one theme and my 42 seventh and eighth graders have a different one. Any suggestions?
    Candace

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Candance,

      My advice is to just start and see how it goes. If possible, see if you can use the same book for a few groups if they are at the same reading level to save yourself a little time at first. The teachers I work with and I have been doing this for two years now and have so many books that we have done. If you put in the time and slowly build your books to use for guided reading, you'd be amazed at how fast your book knowledge will grow. I'm not sure what you're talking about for a theme, but guided reading should really be all about picking a book appropriate for the group you are working with at their instructional reading level. I'm wondering if during a whole class interactive read aloud you could focus more in on the theme requirement?

      Delete