Hi everyone! What are some practical strategies you can use during guided reading to help streamline your lessons and keep students moving forward? Today, I want to share some practical teaching strategies with you that answer that question. I also have included a few freebies, so you can apply these strategies right away.
Strategy #1 Teach Memorable Strategies
I find it important to teach a strategy first, so students have a possible opportunity to apply it as they read. I’ve seen some suggestions to do this after reading, but let’s be real. Kids will forget if they do not get to apply it right away. I probably will forget too, haha! By teaching the strategy before the lesson, students are more likely to remember it and internalize it into their bank of strategies in their mind. You can teach the strategy either by modeling the behavior yourself, or sometimes you can guide students to apply the strategy as shown below. The words in parenthesis below are the actions and the other words are the scripted language. This is from my Chunky Monkey lesson B plan. (Link to free resource with his lesson plan posted below!)
Let’s take a walk through the words in the book. (Find a spot in the book that has a word that would have a familiar chunk in it like –at in the word mat.) Let’s stop at this word. (Point to the word.) Do you see any familiar chunks or parts in the word? (Students respond.) Very good! Now, what’s the sound of the first letter? (Students respond.) Blend them together. (Students blend the word.) Very good! You just used the Chunky Monkey strategy. (Show the anchor chart/poster and discuss it.) When we come to a word we do not know, we can look for chunks we know to help us read the word. (Have students practice the strategy with a few other words in the book.)
Another way to make the strategy memorable is by using a fun character theme. Many of us are familiar with Lips the Fish and Eagle Eyes, but I realized there were other skills to be teaching students that did not have a memorable character or lacked an action-oriented strategy to develop that skill all together. I got creative, and came up with some strategies with fun names. For example, students need to learn to read left-to-right, so now there is the Left-to-right Gecko…and my son helped me name that one, hehe! Love my sweet boy! Matching Moose is another one. This one is simply to teach voice-to-print, so students are matching the words on the page with what they are reading.
Strategy #2 Guide with Prompts
When it comes to teaching students to read, it is important to guide the students to apply a strategy instead of just telling them a word. Have questions handy to prompt students to apply the strategies as they read. It is important to keep what you say to the student very brief, so you don’t interrupt their connection within the text. It’s like you want to be that little voice in their head, so just a simple short question or statement is perfect. Then let them read on.
Strategy #3 Reinforce with Precise Praise
When a student is first learning a strategy and they apply it, it is important to reinforce with some precise praise. Don’t be vague and say, “Good job!” Instead, let’s say you just taught students the Eagle Eye reading strategy. Students were taught to use picture clues to help decode a word. You notice a student just used a picture clue to figure out the word zebra on the page. Instead of offering a simple compliment, be exact. Here are some examples:
“You just used your eagle eyes.”
“You used a picture clue.”
“You used a picture clue to figure out that word.”
If you notice, it does not really say anything about being awesome or doing a good job. The action the student took was what was summed up. This reinforces the student’s behavior. This will help them to acknowledge the action they took, so they can remember to use it for next time. Once a student shows proficiency with a strategy, reinforcement will not be needed. There will be other strategies the student will be newly learning. so those are the ones to focus on with reinforcement.
Strategy #4 Observe and Assess
There is no need to interrupt guided reading constantly with constant formal assessments. (Unless you are just required to do that, which is unfortunately the case way too much.) Performance assessment are your BFF when it comes to guided reading. You are able to keep the guided reading lesson flowing, and glean the information you need on each student. I absolutely have always loved using checklists during guided reading. Honestly, this helped me to focus more on the student’s too! If I just sit there, I will day dream accidentally. I am seriously ADD, so to focus, I need something in my hands. I can’t be the only ADD teacher out there, haha! But with all seriousness, you can get constant information about your students through performance assessments that will help you to group your students, match texts to them better, and know what you need to be reteaching students. Running records are another performance assessment you can use during guided reading too.
Strategy #5 Focus on Targets
From your observations, you can make some notes on what to focus on next time. Did they apply that new strategy you just taught adequately? Maybe you need to reteach it. Did you notice a reading behavior that is a struggle for them? Use that information to select the next strategy you teach them. Does one student in the group seem to be struggling with a strategy that the others are not struggling with at all? Make a note to focus in on prompts for that strategy as that student is reading. Now sticky notes are great for jotting down these ideas, but they can end up being a hot mess pile in no time. I have included some sticky note pages for you to jot down your focuses for your groups and students to keep them organized.
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