Sunday, June 24, 2012

Guiding Readers Ch. 2

Do you like how I just posted my ch. 1 response this morning. Like, 30 minutes ago? Now you get a picture of how I survived my graduate degree.

So onto ch. 2, The Guided Reading Lesson Sequence. Initial thoughts:

Right off the bat I am struck by the author's insistence that GR be used as a tool to differentiate instruction for your students. The anti-establishment part of my ego r-e-e-e-a-a-l-l-y loves this. Always looking for an opportunity to buck the system.

Just kidding.

Well, not really.

I'll tell you why: Very often teachers are given these prescribed curriculum that we teach to our whole class. Somewhere in the lesson there is a little paragraph about "differentiating for learners" or "enhancing the lesson" or (my personal favorite) "for extra practice". I do realize that teaching is a lot less work on the skeletal base if we are given something to guide the lesson, but I do love to take lessons apart and fix them up to what I think my kiddos really need.

When it comes to interventions, especially, we (in my district) are given prescribed lessons or frameworks to work with. It's all good and fine if your students need those particular skill sets, but why on earth should I bother with Sound Boxes if what my kiddos really need is learning how to read for understanding and meaning?

This chapter starts out with saying that GR is one the best tools we have for differentiating. Hooray!!

Backwards Designing GR lessons:
I appreciate how the author plans a GR lesson by looking at the goal first. Find your destination before starting on your journey, and then map out how your are going to get there.

Use of Texts:
It's hard to break out of the "leveled GR book" mold. I love how the author suggests using brochures, excerpts, even recipes! What about seed packets, instruction sheets for games, Magic or Pokemon cards? I like the idea of just using the first chapter or two in a book for GR lessons, and then letting the kids take off on their own for the rest of the book. Talk about an opportunity for setting a purpose for reading!

I have always struggled with using longer books for GR. Now I see understand why this has been difficult.

Front-loading (or pre-teaching):
I love teaching vocab, and front-loading kids with new words and meanings before starting a book is a great way to do it. My preferred method of teaching new words is to give the word a motion, and then practice saying it in several silly voices while doing the motion. We also add the new words to an interesting word journal.

Follow-through Activities:
I really like having the students dig into the text a little deeper by making activities specific to the text for independent work. A smart teacher could create activities for D5 that are frameworks for using with many different texts. This eliminates "busy work" in one swipe. Oh, the possibilities! I am imagining drawing, writing, role playing, extended thinking!

I talk too much. And I know some of you do, too. This is a great section on only really saying what needs to be said to guide and instruct, and then putting those listening ears on.

I was really hoping this book would come with magic words to eliminate the interruptions from other kiddos during a GR lessons. But let's be completely honest here: there are groups of kids that no matter how well you teach, practice, teach and practice what they are to do while you are working with a small group they will continue to come and seek you out. You can spend weeks (months) teaching and practicing expectations  and they will still ask to go potty ("It's an EMERGENCY"), ask for a band-aid ("I'm BLEEDING"), wonder what's next ("I;m DONE), and on and on and on. I have had years where my students never interrupted GR, and instead problem solved on their own or with a peer. But I have also had years where we literally spent months practicing independent work and learning expectations only to have continual interruptions still happening in April. This year we even made a chart together of "Emergencies" and "Non-emergencies", which they had to consult before coming up to me. The only reasons they could some and interrupt is if they a) were bleeding more than a band-aid could help b) throwing up or c) about to have a bathroom accident.

If you think the chart worked completely, you would be wrong. If you think it kept the kiddos from interrupting my GR lessons, you would be really wrong. If you think you can count on kids always coming to you with the ability to self-regulate, work independently and problem solve, you would be so wrong you might never be right about anything ever again. Because how can you teach kids to work independently if they aren't equipped to do it yet? 

This year I finally made a stop sign that I would hold up when I saw a little one heading towards me. It was an act of desperation, and constructed only after "Tell it to the hand" stopped working.

Deep breath. I had a rough year. Sometimes even Gail and Joan can't help you.

Praise and Prompt:
The one thing I make sure to add at the end of every GR session (or conferring session) is the P & P, the Praise and Prompt. What did they do well? Where are you working on next with him/her?

That's it for Ch. 2. If you are still reading this, kudos to you!!


  1. Wow...this post is awesome. Maybe I won't even write mine, I'll just direct people here! LOL, we have a lot of the same thoughts and I totally agree with you about how important it is to differentiate for the kids in our rooms, not by what the program says to do next. Good for you for wanting to "buck the system"!!
    And thanks for linking up!
    Thinking of Teaching

  2. Wow, nicely done!! :) Yay for differentiation! :) I too agree that the interuptions never stop... funny how you say that even Gail and Joan can't help you... I LAUGHED OUT LOUD!! Loved this post! I plan to post Ch. 2 either later tonight or in the morning :)
    Oh-- new follower too!
    Tori's Teacher Tips

  3. I was thinking about your comment about interruptions. You could assign a "student teacher" as one of the weekly class jobs. When other students have a teacher question during small group times, they can ask the "student teacher." I have not tried this idea, but I will this year. If you try it, I would love to hear how it works for you. -MG