Guest Post by Melissa Leach, Leach Literacy Training
I won’t pretend that Guided Reading is a NEW thing for y’all…I do however hope to help you think about your teaching at the table in a NEW way!
I want you to picture a Guided Reading lesson with some of your students. They are reading the text, you are listening to readers individually and, as one of them reads for you, they come to a word they don’t know. You can almost hear the brakes squeak as they come to a STOP! Or maybe the student breezes right past the words they just read incorrectly. Can you see it? You know it happens.
Now…I want you to consider this question: Typically, what is your next move?
Be honest. For that kiddo who didn’t know the word and stopped, might you be covering up a part of the word so they can work on decoding? Is your finger starting to slide above it while you start to make the sounds (AKA sounding it out)? What about the student who read a word incorrectly? Are you pointing to the word and drawing the reader’s attention to it?
Repeat after me, folks… GET YOUR FINGER OUT OF THEIR BOOK!
A major tenant of teaching at the Guided Reading table is supporting students in reaching independence! In other words, how will they read when they are alone after this lesson? What strategies will they have when they are not at the Guided Reading table with me? How will they notice their own errors if you are always pointing to them? How will they learn to cover words and decode with that strategy independently if you are always the one doing it?
Maybe you are wondering: When CAN I touch their books? Keep focused on the word THEIR! The students have to hold their own book, point to words, and do the work of figuring out words because it is THEIR reading!
If we keep our finger out of their book, then we have to change the way we support students. Let’s look at some alternatives to pointing to the word.
For a student who doesn’t notice that an error was made in reading, instead of our finger pointing to the word that wasn’t read correctly, what if we said:
- Something wasn’t quite right there? Can you find it?
- You made a mistake. Can you find it?
- See if you can find what’s wrong?
In the bigger picture, does this help students become more independent in the reading they will do, both with you at the table and after the lesson is over? Are we better supporting their ability to independently monitor their own accuracy of reading? Yeppers!
Now, what about the student that just stops and doesn’t know how to decode a word? Instead of touching their book and doing the work for them, could you say:
- Point to the word you’re trying to read.
- What could you try?
- Do you know a part of that word? What is it?
- Cover up the part you know. Look at the part you don’t know.
- Try it.
You may not notice the big difference here, and I admit it is slight, but it is a small thing that will make a BIG difference!
When in doubt, just GET YOUR FINGER OUT OF THEIR BOOK!
Want more prompts to help students do the work and be independent at the table?You can download a copy here: Teacher Prompts for Use In Guided Reading.
Want more tools to help you teach at the Guided Reading table? Head over to my blog, LeachTeach, and take a look around!
Meet the Blogger
Melissa Leach is an international literacy professional developer and consultant. She is owner of Leach’s Literacy Training and a popular presenter for her ability to keep educators laughing and learning. Melissa is passionate about helping educators use best practice literacy instruction in their classroom and has built strong relationships with teachers, administrators, and other leaders in districts across the country. You can find ideas on her blog LeachTeach.blogspot.com or follow her travels on her Facebook page Leach’s Literacy Training or Twitter @LeachLiteracy