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Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of January 29th

posted Jan 29, 2017, 1:45 PM by Courtney Richardson

Guided Reading at Intermediate Levels

A reading coach asked me to explain why intermediate teachers should do guided reading.  Her fifth-grade teachers only want to do literature circles. I believe intermediate and middle school classes should have both guided reading and literature circles. Many teachers already see the value of literature circles, so let me share three reasons why guided reading is important.

1. Genre - Literature circles primarily use novels/fiction. Research shows that children in grades 4-8 need more strategies for comprehending informational text. I recommend teachers use short nonfiction passages and poetry during guided reading with the emphasis on teaching them how to navigate complex texts. While the teacher is working with a guided reading group, the rest of the class can read novels to prepare for literature circles.

2. Scaffolding - The format of guided reading allows the teacher to differentiate support based on student needs. Even when six kids are in the same literature circle or guided reading group, they will need different levels of support. The beauty of guided reading is that the teacher can provide on-the-spot scaffolding to target the specific needs of individual students. The teacher also utilizes the power of the gradual release model. As the lesson progresses over two or three days, the teacher sees student growth, reduces his/her support, and moves on to a more challenging strategy focus or text.

3. Results - Guided reading works. When teachers try it, they see how powerful it is. I've witnessed this again and again. Deb Rosenow, a former 5th grade teacher who is now a district literacy coach in Chattanooga, TN, was reluctant to use guided reading with her advanced readers. She believed literature circles were all they needed. When she administered end-of-year benchmark testing, however, she was surprised to discover that the only students who did not show growth were her advanced readers. The following year, all her students received guided reading and literature circles, and everyone made progress.