Though guided reading is a short time with students that seems to fly by, it is filled with many essential elements. It’s truly a time to coach students in their reading. One of the essential elements includes identifying a teaching point as a student reads. It’s easy to let this go and focus on a the many other things that occur during a guided reading lesson, especially if guided reading is new to you and you are busy trying to find you groove. For so long during my first year of implementing guided reading I struggled with balancing it all, but identifying a teaching point is simple and you CAN do it.
Getting Started: The Basics
When a student comes to your table, you may do a few things to “warm up their brains” before reading the text you have for that day. As a student is whisper reading, you will take a running record and/or make anecdotal notes. As you do this, you will be able to identify a teaching point. A teaching point is NOT something that you can truly pre-plan. A good teaching point is one that is identified as a student is reading so that you can take what they did and then coach them through it. You identify the teaching point as you are observing.
Your teaching point will last only 1-2 minutes and will be something new that the student needs to learn, not an already taught skill that he/she needs to be reminded of. For example, as a student is reading you may notice that they are are not decoding silent e words correctly. When they are done reading, you will do a short 1-2 minute explanation of the phonics rule and a model of how to read the word. Then you will let the students find words with that rule in the text and re-read a sentence or two. You may have a teaching point for the whole group if everyone or most are struggling with the same concept. It may serve as a prompt (a reminder) for 1 student, but a teaching point for the other 5 students in the group. Or you may choose to do the teaching point one-on-one with a student as the other students are reading the text a 2nd time. This is a big part of the coaching element of guided reading when you consider the gradual release model.
Types of Teaching Points
Self-monitoring- These teaching points are strategies that you will teach early on–think Pre-A to Level C readers. Most of these are strategies that you want students to know before they move on to the early reader level of guided reading (Levels D-I). Here you are teaching students how to be self-aware of many basic concepts about print. You also are teaching them how to consider more than one MSV (see below) when they are reading text.
Decoding- These teaching points are strategies that you will identify as you observe students reading. You will make a note to yourself so that you know if the mistake is related to the word meaning, the text structure, or it is a visual mistake (commonly referred to as M, S, or V when coding a running record). For our pre-emergent (Level Pre-A), emergent (Levels A-C) and even some early readers (Levels D-I), this is almost always a teaching point.
Fluency– These teaching points are strategies that you will identify as you listen to students reading. You will be able to tell if they are struggling with phrasing, how the text is flowing when they read or they may be struggling with expression, reading with voice inflections and attention to punctuation.
Comprehension– These teaching points are the purpose of reading–to understand. Jan Richardson says, “Comprehension is the most import part of reading and should always be foremost in your mind as you work with your students.” This is when you ask students to retell the story using any framework that you wish, recall something from the text, relate to characters and so on. Most of the time this is done orally.
Guided Reading Resource Cards pictured above are FREE here.
Tracking it All
Since the teaching point isn’t determined until you are “in the moment”, I am always sure to jot it down in my guided reading lesson plan that I keep in my binder. This helps me record both my observations and keep a track of skills that I have taught all in one place. It’s nothing fancy, but helps me have a common place to refer to if I need to do so in the future.
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I love what Jan Richardson says in her book The Next Step in Guided Reading,
“Ask this question, ‘What strategy can I show theses students today that will help them be better readers tomorrow?’ “
Have you mastered identifying a teaching point? It took me a lot of practice to get good at it and I still have SO much more to learn, friends.