December 22, 2012

Guided Reading Update

1, 2, 3....BREATHE!  That's how I feel after "making it" to Christmas break this year.  Therefore, I am just getting around to another post after WAY too long!

We have come to find out at RLMS that incorporating guided reading into a middle school classroom can be a bit tricky at time, but the payback that we're already seeing makes it worth it.  We have several factors working against us, the first factor is time.  At the elementary level in our district the literacy block stretches a two and a half hour time span.  At the middle school level, we have 90 minutes with each group of Language Arts students daily.  There is really no flexibility with this either since students travel to different teachers for their classes throughout the day.  Within that 90 minutes, teachers fit in a writing minilesson with independent writing time for students and a reading minilesson with independent reading/guided reading.

With the 6th grade team of Language Arts teachers that I work with, we schedule our groups at an exact time that we all stick to and each see five or more groups per week.  I have been a YA novel/non-fiction reading machine these past couple of weeks.  I will admit that I have a much stronger love for writing than reading.  It has been really good for me to be reading every night.  I surprisingly have even developed a strong appreciation for reading non-fiction texts, something I used to despise.  Check out some of my pictures below, documenting the organizational systems I have been using for guided reading and what types of information I've been learning about my students so far...

I started to keep a place to put handouts that I like to use during guided reading.  I have found KWL charts to be helpful for non-fiction books that we read across several days.  In addition, I've been using Chapter Grids with boxes to write summaries for each chapter of a book for students to be able to remember and keep track of what we've read when reading a text that takes us several guided reading sessions.

Using the separate book boxes for each group has really helped me stay organized.  If students check out a book to take home and read, I fill out a check-out sheet and place it right in that group's box so I can track books.  I also have gotten a white board (I guess it's actually a silver board :)) to use for word work and to introduce vocabulary during the text introduction.



Having all my guided reading supplies within an arm's reach has really come in handy for me so far.  I never have to get up to go find a supply and waste valuable guided reading time.

I always keep my guided reading binder with my guided reading lesson plans and anecdotal notes right with me during guided reading lessons.  I have found it helpful to flip open to the lesson plan and leave it open throughout the lesson and take out the anecdotal notes to place on a clip board so that I can move the clipboard around as I'm checking in with each student during the reading of the text.

This is the instructional level expectations chart from Fountas and Pinnell that we use to determine if students are below, at, or above grade level.  This also dictates which students receive a reading intervention outside of guided reading in the classroom and how often students receive guided reading throughout the week.

This is the lesson planning template that I use when planning my guided reading lessons.  It covers the text introduction, where I plan out what the challenges of the specific text are and how I will address these with the students to make the text more accessible to them as they are reading.  I also plan out how I will break the text apart over several days.

On the back of the lesson planning template, I plan out how I will discuss and re-visit the text by selecting questions that hit within, beyond, and about the text.  I also plan out how I will model a reading processing strategy surrounding the text, word work, and any extension activities.

Above are a few samples of the note taking template I've been trying out for guided reading.  Vertically, it lists the names of the students in the group.  Horizontally, the first column is for notes on students' fluency, the second column is for notes on students comprehension for within, beyond, and about the text, and the third column is for any notes relating to word work.  This template has been working really well so far.  I am able to get down a lot of information about my students during each guided reading session.  Looking back over my notes, in a few short weeks I can already see the trends that are beginning to develop and ways that my guided reading students are improving their reading.  It also helps me to know what to teach for surrounding reading to the group or to individual students.

If you are a middle school teacher interested in getting guided reading going in your classroom, please don't hesitate to ask any questions.  The most eye-opening part of starting guided reading this year in my own groups and then also when I'm coaching the 12 LA teachers in my school are that each student is SUCH a unique reader.  Each student has strengths and weaknesses as a reader that need to be unraveled and worked on in a small group setting.  

Students who are below level readers get the opportunity to access a book at their level and have rich conversation around text instead of "faking" like they know what is going on to fit in.  Students who are above grade level are being challenged by reading books at their instructional level and having conversations with their peers at that same instructional level.  I've been reading up on ZPD, and guided reading seems to match this educational theory perfectly because as teachers, we are working with students at their highest instructional reading level, providing scaffolds that we gradually remove and then selecting texts that match the readers' progress as we go.  It's a BEAUTIFUL thing!  I'm so excited to see the positive results that guided reading has on our students at RLMS because the LA teachers are working their butts off to make the guided reading experience worthwhile and beneficial to readers at all levels!

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! :)

Kasey

19 comments :

  1. While you are meeting with your guided reading group, what is the rest of the class doing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great question! I think a lot of people wonder that, especially in the middle school classroom. Our Reading Workshop block starts off with a reading minilesson which takes about ten minutes. The minilesson focuses the students' independent reading and challenges them to apply the minilesson to their independent reading book. So to make a long story short, students are reading their independent reading books and working on the minilesson application. There is a lot of set-up and routines that have to be developed at the beginning of the year to get the timing and make this possible, but once the system is worked out, there is not better way that I can think of to service the whole class and small groups of learners at the same time!

      Delete
    2. This makes sense. Since all students are reading independently, how do you perform guided reading to a small group that includes many students who are all at different places in the book?

      Delete
    3. Hey Katie,

      So what would happen once independent reading is established is that I would pull a group of students for guided reading. I generally meet with my lower groups of students more frequently and my highest groups only one time per week. I have books selected for each guided reading group. Essentially, each student has an independent reading book that they read when they do not have guided reading and a guided reading book that they read when they are being pulled for the small group guided reading instruction. Each day their group is pulled we start and stop on the same page so we can discuss together.

      Delete
  2. Hi Kasey,
    I am actually a high school English teacher who will be teaching 9th, 10th, and 11th grade 2-hour blocks next year. I will have English language learners from the basic to the high intermediate level. At any rate, I'd like to implement guided reading in my classroom, but there's really no precedent set for guided reading at the high school level. I've looked extensively at your blog, and there's a good deal that I can adapt for my needs. THANK YOU!

    I have an actual question, though. Have you done a post on your guided reading BINDER? I have seen many elementary teachers who have a guided reading binder, and I absolutely love the idea and would LOVE to create and use one. However, I haven't found a comprehensive tutorial on exactly what to put in and exactly what works for other people.

    Any help you could offer me would be AWESOME!!

    Thanks,
    Katie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Katie,

      Your question is really neat, and it makes me excited that as a high school teacher you've recognized the need for your students to have guided reading. I get a ton of e-mails about how to get guided reading going. Because of this, I'm definitely going to do a couple of blog posts on how to get guided reading going. The high school in my district is actually going to use pieces of the LC framework next year in their English classes, and we have found that the information out there for high school is limited. I'll be excited to share on my blog next year the challenges and successes we have with trying out different literacy techniques in the high school classroom.

      I love getting ideas for blog posts, and I'm just finishing up summer school guided reading so I'd be happy to do a blog post soon with pictures of my guided reading binder from the summer school sessions. I also have two items in my TpT store that would really help with getting guided reading and your guided reading binder set up. I really think that although they are intended for middle school, they would still be appropriate for using at the high school level. The first link is a freebie and the second link is a paid product. Thanks for reading my blog and giving me ideas for new posts! :) Good luck to you as you embark on this exciting journey!

      Kasey

      http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-Observations-Note-Taking-Template-425714

      http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-Organizational-Tools-462843

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much for the info! Sorry, but I have one more question. What do you do for the kids who are reading independently as an accountability measure? In other words, how do you know that they're actually reading,and how do you keep track of that?
      Thanks again!
      Katie

      Delete
    3. That's a good question as well! I can't stress the importance of developing strong classroom routines from the very beginning of the school year. There should be an anchor chart that you create with your students toward the beginning of the year that outlines what the expectations are during guided reading. In addition, I generally do a "status of the class" before I start with my guided reading books and record what each student is reading and what page they're starting from each day. It's a really quick and easy way to track if students are sticking with the same book and making progress through the book. Also, other students hear what books each other are reading and this encourages some friendly conversation and ideas for what to read next. Each day I teach a reading minilesson and at the end of the lesson there is always some sort of application where students must apply the minilesson to their independent reading book. The application might be a thinkmark, putting post-it notes into their book about a certain topic, an exit slip, or writing a reading response into their Reader's Notebooks. I check their applications frequently and grade them to make sure students are keeping up in this respect as well. I hope this helps answer your question about accountability! On another side-note I think that having students keep a Reading List throughout the year and getting them to self-reflect orally and in writing on their reading habits is helpful as well. The ultimate goal of independent reading is to get students to find books that they LIKE and to encourage them to enjoy reading and learn to love it.

      Delete
  3. I have attempted to implement a reading workshop with my 6th graders this year instead of using the basal textbook. We are doing great with independent reading, a little vocabulary (that I have them pull from the book they are reading and discuss in groups), and our read aloud each day is producing some awesome thinking and discussions.

    I have conferred with each student twice. Yep- that's all!

    I'm wanting to do some kind of guided reading with them in small groups, plus some intervention with my lowest ones who need work with sight words and phonics. Yikes!

    Do you do anything special with your students who need decoding skills?

    And I love the idea of a chapter summary grid!! Great idea-I'm going to make one for my kids!

    Shannon
    http://www.irunreadteach.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shannon,

      I love that you're departing from the basal reader and exposing your students to actual literature that will get them interested and love reading. Something to keep in mind with your lower level students is that they need to be reading books, too, just at their level. If your school would be willing to invest in a leveled library/book room, that would be most ideal, but if they're not, then I would try to pull together texts that are at the level of your lowest readers to work from. I would highly recommend Fountas and Pinnell's Continuum of LIteracy Learning. Within the continuum, there is a guided reading section that breaks down each level of reader and provides questions and word work activities appropriate for that reading level. I use it daily, and it is a gift!

      I also have some great ideas for improving fluency, which is something students below grade level always could improve to become better readers. Check out this blog post for the tips:

      http://middleschoolteachertoliteracycoach.blogspot.com/2013/08/5-strategies-to-improve-reading-fluency.html

      Thanks so much for your comment; lots of good ideas!

      Kasey

      Delete
  4. Hi :) I just found your blog and it's awesome. My question is, "when do you take down the observational notes during GR" I find that I want to keep the comprehension conversations going and then look down and I haven't taken down any notes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an awesome question. I'm glad you've found my blog, too. After I've done the text introduction and students begin reading independently, I listen to students read from where they are at in the text one person at a time. Before I move from one student to the next during this portion of the lesson, I take time to jot down anecdotal notes. Also, it is not natural at first to jot down anecdotal notes during the comprehension conversation, but if you stay committed to it, it gets easier. You're completely right though: the most important thing is staying committed and engaged with students. If I have to run the conversation too much though and am not able to think and process, I know that I am doing too much talking and the students need to do more. I hope this helps a little! It is always going to be a challenge and somedays will be easier than others, but having that anecdotal data is so helpful in the long run.

      Delete
  5. Hello again. Thanks for telling us to ask away because you've inspired me to consider guided reading in my 6th grade classroom, and I'm working out where to begin.
    Firstly, how do you assess their levels? I asked a colleague today how they did it in elementary and they said it was a one-to-one test that took anywhere between 15-30 minutes per child: I have 53 students so wondering how on earth it would be manageable.
    Next - the groupings. How do you determine them? I take it they are close to each other in level, but just how close? Or do you do mixed-level groupings and focus your questions according to who you're asking?
    Any insights you could give would be fab.
    I got my hands on the F&P continuum (a tome) so at least I've got one part of the puzzle in hand. Would love to get the prompting guide but given I'm in Vietnam, that might take a little more time...
    Thanks as always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Abena,

      We use Fountas and Pinnell's Benchmark Assessment to find students' guided reading levels. Your colleague is correct in that it's a one-to-one test that can take as little as 15 minutes, but can take longer depending on how close you start testing to where you end having to go up or down to find the students' highest instructional level. We are lucky in our district in the respect that we have support from our administration and district to complete the testing for our students. We get two sub days outside of our classroom to be able to test students all day. We use STAR reading as our universal screener and start testing our lowest scoring students first as we feel these are the students it's most important to understand as readers. Over the two days that we're out of the classroom, we keep working our way up to get as many students benchmarked as possible. This is done right at the beginning of the school year. From there, we use study hall and some prep time to finish up our students. Every teacher in our school has 50-60 students to test. The 8th grade teachers have 75-85. The positive though for 8th grade is a large majority of the students are already "Z" level, so we don't have to test them.

      The groups are made based on students' benchmark levels. We also have a book room that is F&P leveled with hundreds of fiction and nonfiction book titles. This is also helpful because with our intervention students we use LLI from Fountas and Pinnell. Therefore, our diagnostic testing, book room, and intervention system all aligns and is super nice. This is a huge financial investment in resources, professional development, and time for a district, but it's completely worth it.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for that comprehensive response and sorry to ask another, but what do you do with those above Z? Most of our students would be there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still hold guided reading groups for those students with Z level texts. These would be novels. The format of these becomes more literature circle-like, but I still like to do guided reading and be asking the rich questions and assigning reading response dealing with the book they're reading.

      Delete
    2. That's great for the Z levellers, but I'm a bit lost with what to do with those (possibly well) above Z, in terms of guided reading. My background includes a lot of high school, so I guess I'm questioning whether I should be doing more with my 6th graders than I am (or have traditionally done).
      We don't have state testing in the UK, or any of the international schools I've worked at, but external progress tests (such as MAP or FFS) indicate good progress.
      All my groups read novels in lit circles, and maybe that's enough. Perhaps once they reach Z level, I accept they'll be fine reading, responding and discussing without additional interventions. Beyond that, it's preparing them for particular types of reading-related academic testing I guess...
      Thanks for all the advice for those behind though - it's really helpful and you are great at explaining where your ideas come from.

      Delete
    3. I think you're in the right line of thinking. Once students are beyond Z level, they are considered and should be treated like adult readers. We do have a Z+ area in our book room that I pull from when I do guided reading for students reading at a Z+. I agree with what you said about trusting them as readers. You most definitely can! Having literature circles for them is the best thing you can do ultimately. I would just continue to monitor their interactions and questioning with one another while discussing text and not be afraid to step in and lift the conversation in order to take the thinking to the next level. After all, at that level it becomes less about the book and more about where the students are taking the book. Thanks so much for your thoughts! It sounds like you have a group of major smarties!

      Delete
    4. Not so much 'smarties' as 'very focused and determined';Carol Dweck would love these guys ;p
      Thanks for helping me work out my ideas and approach.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...