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Guided Reading

  1. Recalibrating the Focus of Teaching Reading to Engagement and Motivation

    Any Volunteers to Read an Engineering Textbook?
    Re-evaluating Text in the Classroom

    We are still in an interesting place in our field when it comes to student assessment and this culture of accountability. Whether we want to admit it or not, there has been some significant changes to our teaching practices. Decisions are being made, top down, bottom up, and even sideways, as everyone searches for the magic pill for what is best for children and teachers.

    Unfortunately these shifts, although well intentioned, have siphoned out the FUN in some of our literacy teaching and learning practices. Yes, F-U-N! FUN! It’s time for an intervention! Bring the fun back! Some of the teaching practices in our elementary schools look like middle and high school classrooms which can cause some of our early learners to sometimes not respond positively to reading and writing.

    Books should be relevant and engaging

    Sometimes, we, educators, are the first contact in exposing our readers to the idea of what it means to be ‘a reader’. We are the initial hook to get our readers excited, engaged and motivated about reading and writing. The next hook is the text that they are presented with to read independently, or shared, or with guidance. Our books should be relevant and engaging to support a reader’s motivation, and their identity as a reader. A variety of texts can help readers identify who they are as a reader. For example, they will begin to identify what genres they enjoy, who is their favorite author? Illustrator? and what do they appreciate about the author’s style of writing that they would like to use in their own writing?

    That is why Flying Start to Literacy has a rich collection of texts that readers will enjoy! You will notice that in this series readers will be exposed to fiction and nonfiction texts that spark their interest in many different areas. Additionally, readers strengthen their oral language and talk deeply about text such as Amazing Salamanders and Salamander Surprise or Clean Energy and Surviving the Earthquake. You can already hear your readers excited voices as they talk about slippery salamanders and rumbling earthquakes!

    So as stated earlier, BRING THE FUN BACK with great books! Once readers see reading as a pleasurable and engaging activity they will read often authentically. Thus, readers will strengthen their literacy processing system and their abilities to talk deeply and write deeply about text.

    Text selection plays an important role in supporting student engagement and motivation.

    With your colleagues, have an in-house audit of your text collections. Then rate them with your own rubric to identify the level of fun your text ignites. Try not to focus on what text are your favorite, and get input from your readers. Take informal anecdotal notes on your readers’ level of enthusiasm during interactive read alouds, shared reading, small group reading and independent reading. Reflect on your collective data and plan accordingly.

  2. Reading - Does that makes sense? No, Really, Does it?

    Text is meaningful We have to explicitly teach them to come to print with the position that this text is meaningful and I, as the reader, need to interact with the text. David E. Rumelhart, a psychologist, developed the Interactive Reading model, which highlights the importance of readers integrating meaning, semantics, syntax (structure) and the visual information as they process text.
  3. Uh oh, not the "R" word... Running Records!

    Records of Reading Behavior

    Going Beyond the Checkmarks and Other Conventions of Running Records to Understand Students' Reading Behaviors.

    You know how when you play the telephone game, you start with one message and by the time you get to the last person the message changed dramatically from the original message. Well, that is what has happened with running records. Running records are an observation tool that has dramatically morphed into an assessment tool. Marie Clay created running records to be used as an observational tool to get a snapshot of how students process text. Clay's book An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (2000) emphasizes that the qualitative data, the analysis of the running record (MSV) is equally as important as the quantitative data (accuracy rate, text level, etc.) to inform instructional decision-making.

    In order to support our readers in strengthening their literacy processing system, we have to take note of what sources of information our readers are using and neglecting. It's the MSV part of the running record that, let's confess, sometimes get neglected.

    'M' for meaning.

    Is the reader using or neglecting meaning?

    Does the student's response make sense?

    'S' for structure.

    Is the reader using or neglecting the structure of English?

    Does the student's response sound right?

    And lastly, 'V' is for visual, the print.

    What visual information is the student attending to or neglecting?

    Does the student's response look right?

    Additionally, we take note of other reading behaviors, such as, is the student monitoring and self-correcting, are they searching for information to help them at point of difficulty or do they skip over the word, appeal to the teacher, and so forth.

    Once we've analyzed our running records we now have juicy and informative qualitative and quantitative data on our readers to guide our instructional decisions. We get to know our readers beyond the text level and have more information to ensure our small group teaching is precise, concise and tailored to students' specific needs. That is why our Flying Start to Literacy resource includes a running record (with MSV :) ) for every text pair in the collection. It's a tool included to support teachers and students as they work together to strengthen each student's literacy processing system.

    Running records is a tool used to observe student reading behaviors to guide instructional decision-making.

    Have a running record analysis party with your colleagues and discuss your readers beyond the text level and focus on MSV, the student's reading behaviors.

  4. Bilingual Education Program Models

    One Way Dual Language

    A dual language program model in which students are Spanish speaking and are learning English as a second language. Most of the One-Way Dual Language programs in Texas are composed of students whose dominant language is Spanish, thus the “one” in the program name. In other parts of the country some One-Way Dual Language programs are composed of students whose dominant language is English and are learning another language.

    View the full article -  Bilingual education program models from Vivian Pratts by clicking the link below...

    Bilingual Education Models, Okapi Educational Publishing

    Vivian Pratts, Education Consultant


  5. July 26-27 Annual Balanced Literacy Symposium 2019


    Featured Speakers include: Matt de la Peña, Maria Nichols, Drs. Yvonne & David Freeman, Dr. Mary Howard

    Developing literate learners means developing literacy and language. It means classrooms filled with students who read, think, talk, and write together as they immerse in a process of making and conveying meaning.

    This two-day balanced literacy symposium offers educators from around the country an opportunity to think together as they construct, refine, and extend their own professional understandings of literacy and language learning.

    Developing classrooms alive with literacy and language invites all voices and perspectives to the conversation as we value and nurture the literate learners we want in our society.

    As educators work with colleagues and other literacy leaders, they will explore ideas such as:

    • What becomes possible when we create and nurture environments where learners think and talk purposefully about books?
    • What is the literacy work that matters for literate learners and what roles do balanced reading and writing approaches play in this learning?
    • How does instruction focused on meaning align with phonics and spelling instruction in a balanced literacy classroom?
    • How does formative assessment support quality literacy instruction in a time of high-stakes testing and standards?
    • How does this work come together in Spanish-speaking classrooms, and in biliteracy and dual language classrooms?
    • How can literacy leaders support classroom teachers to make the most of a learning environment?


    (Sponsored by Okapi Educational Publishing and San Diego County Office of Education)


    Annual Balanced Literacy Symposium

  6. Guided Reading Success: Recognizing high-frequency words

    The key to success for beginning readers is recognizing high-frequency words

    One of the first hurdles a beginning reader must overcome when learning to read is being able to instantly recognize high-frequency words. The 100 most common high-frequency words make up 65 per cent of all written language. If students are to become confident and fluent readers, they need to recognize these words automatically. So how do students acquire this vocabulary? We know from our own experience in the classroom that beginning readers need to read these high-frequency words over and over again so that they are committed to memory and are instantly recognized. Research supports what our experience shows.

    Recently, I was taking a Guided Reading lesson with a group of eager prep students - Jessica, Tom, Danni and Luke. The group was reading a Level 2 book about a girl exploring a park. The students had no problem holding onto the pattern of the text. And, inspired by the engaging photographs, they had lots to say about what the girl was doing and what they liked to do in a park. We were off to a good start.

    We were re-reading the book when all of a sudden Danni’s eyes lit up. She pointed to the word play in the first sentence. “That says play,” Danni said. Then, she pointed to the word play in the second sentence. “And that says play.” It’s always a joy to witness a young reader make a discovery like this - Danni had worked out that she could recognize a word, that she could actually read! The pleasure I got from this small incident was twofold. I was pleased in my role as her teacher. But I was also pleased because I had had a consulting role in the development of the book she was reading. During the publishing process we paid great attention to the supportive features that would assist students as they learned this foundational vocabulary.

    We wrote books in pairs; each pair of books sharing the same high-frequency words but in different sentence structures and text types. We repeated the high-frequency words many times both within each book, and across several books. We made sure that there was a low ratio of unfamiliar words, and those words were highly supported with pictures, and by the pattern and the context. We introduced the high-frequency words gradually and systematically. It is always a great feeling to see a book do what it should – provide systematic support to beginning readers, as well as interest and excite students.


    Guided Reading Success

    Lyn Reggett is a literacy and publishing consultant currently working in the United States and Australia. Lyn began her teaching career in New Zealand where she taught mainly in elementary schools and became one of the first Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders in New Zealand. In the United States she has worked extensively as a consultant in elementary and middle schools particularly in New York City, Seattle, San Diego and Sacramento. In Australia she continues working as a coach, believing that coaches need to be working actively in classrooms, as well as leading professional development sessions. She has been associated with Eleanor Curtain Publishing since 2009, pursuing her interest in, and passion for literacy teaching and learning. She works as part of a talented and dedicated team to develop and produce high quality books for students. One of the joys of her job is to field test this material in schools, where students enlighten and teach her.

    Lyn joins an outstanding lineup of Presenters at the Third Annual Balanced Literacy Symposium.

    For further information and ticketing, see Balanced Literacy Symposium July 2019 

  7. What does Guided Reading look like at Grades 3-5?

    Guided reading Grades 3-5 contains some of the elements of guided reading in the primary Grades (K-2). When working with students at higher Grades (3-5) the teaching approach needs to take into consideration that the texts will:

    • be longer in length
    • have less familiar content
    • become increasingly difficult.

    The teacher’s role is first to support students in developing the strategies and skills to read these texts. And second to teach the students to transfer their increasing knowledge and understanding to texts they will encounter across the curriculum.

    Establishing the strategy focus

    While the teacher may initially introduce the text and establish the focus, most of the reading the students do will be done independently or with the support of a partner. When the students meet with the teacher for their small group lesson, the teacher’s role is to encourage the students to talk about their thinking and prompt them to respond critically to the text. Students in the group are expected to engage in high level discussions with the teacher acting as a facilitator.

    Help students to synthesize

    A graphic organizer for students to use as they read provides a framework for the students to record and keep track of their thinking. The graphic organizer not only holds the students accountable for their independent work, but it is also a very useful tool for the teacher to assess the strategies and skills that have been taught.

    Below is an example of a graphic organizer that could be used for students to track their thinking when comparing and contrasting information within a text.


    Graphic Organizer


    Can students use information they have gathered to form their own opinions about a topic?

  8. Small Group Shared Reading, Grade 1: Vocabulary (Video)

    Join literacy consultant Debra Crouch with a small group of first-graders as they return to the book shared earlier with the whole class--this time for a focused Vocabulary lesson. Lift Off to Literacy is available from Okapi Educational Publishing.

  9. Managing Guided Reading Groups with “Warm” Running Records

    Managing guided reading groups often generates a multitude of questions about flexibility: How do I know which children go in which group? Which books do I use in a particular level? How do I know when my students are ready for the next level?
  10. Guided Reading and Reading Strategies

    Guided reading is a small group opportunity to support readers as they apply known reading strategies. David Hornsby, in A Closer Look at Guided Reading (2000), describes guided reading as a time when “the teacher helps the children use strategies they already know so that they are able to read an unfamiliar text independently, with success.” Those reading strategies have been modeled and demonstrated during whole class read-aloud and shared reading. During guided reading, the intentional use of wait time by the teacher encourages the use of reading strategies. When children are developing as readers, the use of reading strategies is slower and less automatic, meaning students require more time for processing. Teachers who wait when students make an error, rather than immediately giving a correct word or automatically prompting a strategy to try, provide students the opportunity to self-monitor and self-correct. This is when learning to be a strategic reader occurs.

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