As I was reading chapters one and two, I kept a few notes in my journal. I was resisting the overwhelming urge to highlight in this book. It is, after all, a library book. I will be honest though, by chapter three I couldn't resist any longer. I HAD to highlight a few things that stood out to me. If you feel the same as you are reading, highlight to your heart's content. We will beg forgiveness later.
While I was reading the first two chapters, nothing startling came to mind. However, I did find myself wondering about YOUR classrooms. I rarely get to come into your room while you are teaching, so I am generally unaware of your routines and how much of the Guided Reading program you already use. I would like you to fill me in on what you are already using.
- How much of the program do you feel like you are currently comfortable with and utilize weekly?
- Are any of you using Interactive Writing?
- Do you have a solid hour for reading within your day? I noticed this was what the authors recommended, but I am not sure this works the "real world" of BISD.
I will admit that I had a misconception about the small group part of guided reading. I was surprised to find that during the reading of the book, the students read it alone and the teacher listens in. I don't know why that surprised me since I observed a teacher at Westside doing this very thing. I think it just contradicted the way I taught first grade years ago. I will admit back then I did a LOT of round robin reading. I never felt like it was effective, but it was the only way I knew how to teach reading. It is interesting that the round robin way of doing things really doesn't have a place within guided reading.
It was helpful to be reminded by the authors that reading and writing are COMPLEMENTARY. So often, we separate the two when really they will both be more successful if we look for ways to integrate them.
- What are you doing for writing? Do you tend to separate reading from writing?
- Can you think of ways to incorporate the two together?
Finally we get to the part we need to know! What makes a comprehensive guided reading program? The eight components the authors listed: Reading aloud, shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, shared writing, writing workshop, and independent writing are all strategies that we must focus on integrating into your classroom.
I found it interesting that I have learned about each one of these components separately, but I have never thought about how together they create a comprehensive reading program. I feel certain that you are probably utilizing many of these in your classrooms now. Doesn't it feel good to find out you are doing something right? My prediction is that the parts you are not currently using, you have probably tried before, but as the education pendulum swung to something else, they fell to the wayside.
Finally, my favorite quote (and the one I think is most relevant to us right now) was, "Each educator has to find his own point of entry into the framework" (42). So, what will be your point of entry? Pick one of the eight components to guided reading and give it a try in your classroom next week. We will come back next week and share what worked or didn't work. I look forward to hearing what you will try! If I can be of assistance, just let me know!