Guided reading is an essential part of the school day which is sometimes not given the merit it deserves and the time children need. In addition, sessions can often seem rushed with poor practise creeping in to the way sessions are organised. The Simple View of Reading model puts forward that both word recognition and language comprehension need to be developed if children are to become competent readers (Gough and Tumner, 1986). This means that they are able to decode the words using their phonic knowledge of segmenting and blending sounds, as well as understanding the purpose of texts and deriving meaning from them. For this to occur, sessions need to be structured appropriately to allow time for both of these skills to improve.
The first model appropriate for children working up to Level 2c is the Early model, which takes place over one session and consists of a book introduction, independent reading time then responding to the text. This can easily fit in with the likes of the Biff and Chip books and is more appropriate for lower Key stage 1 generally.
Next is the transitional model which is used for children working up to level 3. Generally two guided sessions will be needed for this model to succeed. The first session focuses on the book introduction, strategy check and allows independent reading time. Whilst children are reading at their own pace, silent reading should be introduced. This is to develop the skills of meaning making when reading independently. This is something that is neglected in some guided reading sessions, where you see one child reading aloud and the others passively watching them. As a result, they are unable to fully engage with the book, which means they are not developing their own decoding skills and can’t fully comprehend the events according to their personal opinion because it is influenced by the session being dominated by group discussion with no time to self-reflect. Because books at this stage are generally longer, it is not possible to read the whole book in one session. Once the children have done some reading in the session they can be asked to read the rest of the book before the second session , where the focus should be on returning to and responding to the text. This is where the group discussion should be held for children to contribute their views on the text and the teacher to ask probing questions related to a specific assessment focus target.
Finally children at level 3B upwards will use the fluent model of guided reading. Here it is not necessary for children to read the text during the guided sessions as they usually have the confidence to decode the words. What is more important is that they discuss the meaning that they make from the text which will form the basis of the group discussion. Therefore the session tends to focus on return to text and response to the text for both fiction and non-fiction texts.
If you were reading Hansel and Gretel, an old favourite from my childhood and wanted to focus on AF3 and gain assessment evidence for the criterion of ‘responses to text show meaning established at a literal level or based on personal speculation’, it may be necessary to ask questions such as What reasons did the stepmother have for evicting Hansel and Gretel from the house? Where is the evidence for this in the text? How do you think the old witch felt when Hansel was apparently not fattening up? Asking these types of questions initially can then prompt further discussion and an interchange of justified opinions.
Feel free to share any other examples of tried and trusted guided reading pedagogy? I would love to hear some.
Ref: Gough, P. B. & Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7, 6-10.
Rose, J. (2006). Independent review of the teaching of early reading. Department for Education and Skills.www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/rosereview/