When it comes to a guided reading lesson (or a reading small group lesson), there are many ways to approach it. Some people pull one group a day, and some people, see all of their groups each day. Some teachers use a one-day lesson template and others use a two-day lesson template. Basically, everyone has their own way of doing things, which I totally understand, but there are three things that we should all avoid during a guided reading lesson.
1. Only Using Leveled Books
In the past, guided reading was associated with leveled books pretty exclusively. With the science of reading, we’ve learned that this isn’t the best reading instruction practice. While leveled readers have their place in reading small groups, we need to begin with decodable books instead.
Using decodable readers gives students the opportunity to practice their phonics skills in a text that is aligned to a certain skill. Decodables also encourage students to attend to the text they are reading, instead of merely looking at the pictures to help them decode words.
2. Skipping Word Work
We have all been there! I know that I have. I am pressed for time, I only have thirteen minutes with my group instead of my normal twenty minutes, and I cannot get through the full lesson like I would prefer. Something has to be skipped.
It cannot be word work. Giving students time to explicitly practice working with letters, sounds, and words is an important pillar when it comes to literacy instruction. Phonological awareness is a key to learning to read. Doing word work during your guided reading time allows you to coach students through their work and monitor how they are growing in this skill.
3. Creating Word-Callers
To prevent creating word-callers, we must teach young readers how to decode words by attending to the text carefully. Sometimes students will just look at the beginning of the word and guess the word based on the beginning sound. We don’t want them to do this, we want them to look at each letter and make every sound in the word.
After students make every sound in a word, we want them to blend the sounds together. They will probably blend them together slowly at first, and then faster as they keep practicing. Blending the sounds together helps them read the word.
Then, we want them to use meaning and syntax to cross-check. This is not always a one-and-done thing. They may sound it out, cross-check, go back to the word and sound it out, then cross-check again before they land on a word that is correct. This will lead to students understanding what they’ve read and comprehend it.
To help your students to remember to attend to the text carefully, I have some FREE Prompting Posters for you to grab. You can hang the posters behind your teacher table and use the small helper cards for personal reminders for your students. Get them HERE!
We all start somewhere, learn as we go, and continue to grow in our teaching practice! Learning more and more about best literacy practices helps us create a rich literacy environment for our little learners. What do you think you might change about your reading small groups lesson?