March is reading month! Throughout the month on the IEE Blog, Jamie Klebe (one of our awesome Targeted Learning Coaches!) is providing a “Balcony View of Reading” to explore what really works in terms of reading. Throughout this series, Jamie will discuss different reading topics and provide tips and strategies you can use in your classroom.
Be sure to check out the earlier installments of this series:
Guided Reading – It’s Not Just for K-3 Anymore!
In her article, “The Myth of Learn to Read/Read to Learn,” renowned literacy expert, Laura Robb argues that we must continue Guided Reading instruction into grades 4-8. For many years, the misconception has reigned that once students reach fourth grade, they experience a shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Brain researchers have recently debunked the theory of “The Fourth Grade Shift.” As a result, literacy experts are advocating for the continuation of Guided Reading into upper elementary and middle school. Robb states:
In grades 4–8, expectations for learners dramatically change. Teachers expect students to apply the sight-word and decoding skills, supposedly gained in the earlier grades, to new and challenging content-area information. However, many kids need more practice with these basic skills. They also need continued emphasis and instruction on interpreting and comprehending what they read.
Robb offers the following suggestions for what to teach during Guided Reading.
In Grades 4–8:
- Build vocabulary by teaching roots, stems, prefixes, etc.
- Teach students how to decode multi-syllable words.
- Show students how to set purposes for reading.
- Build background knowledge for students.
- Teach the structure and parts of content textbooks.
- Model and have students practice these strategies: predicting, questioning, making inferences, retelling, synthesizing and summarizing, and choosing essential details.
- Teach fix-up strategies such as self-monitoring, rereading, close reading, thinking aloud, and questioning the author.
- Build knowledge of the structure and elements of literary genres such as mystery, biography, other nonfiction, and more.
- Show how to connect texts to self, friends, and community and world issues.
- Analyze and compare texts to find common themes.
- Reserve time for daily independent reading.
For more information on the how and the why of Guided Reading, consult Fountas & Pinnell in their article, “Guided Reading: The Romance and the Reality.”
In the article, Fountas and Pinnell detail the structure of a Guided Reading lesson and the complex processes involved in “thinking within a text, about a text, and beyond a text.” They invite us to “Pause & Ponder,” to take a balcony view, to reflect on our Guided Reading lessons and to ask ourselves, “What have I taught the readers how to do today that they will be able to do with other texts?” In the end, that’s what it’s all about.
Thanks for joining me on the balcony!