Guided reading is a strategy where teachers scaffold their student’s effort to comprehend text. This strategy can be adapted to any age level. Teaching this strategy properly will result in a students’ retention of a large volume of text. The procedure itself involves students reading the text severally times, sharing ideas from the text with peers and class, listening to the ideas of others, and finally evaluating the ideas. Performing guided reading resultsin multiple exposure to the text using high order thinking skills which helps students retain knowledge.
The procedure should begin by determining a developmentally appropriate length of text to be read silently. Prior to reading the teacher should engage the class in some sort of activity or discussion that encourages students to make predictions about what they will read. The teacher should decide on a time when students should be finished and tell students they will be responsible to share at least one fact from the reading. Once that time is reached the teacher than asks students to close their books and share a fact from the reading. The teacher than records the students’ facts verbatim on the white-board, or overhead. It is important that every student is encouraged to share at least one fact from the reading. During this process the teacher can add facts to the board as well, even facts that aren’t completely accurate. Eventually the board will be full of facts, some of them untrue, in no order whatsoever.
After the class has submitted there facts, it is time to determine whether or not the facts given by students were indeed accurate. For this part of the lesson, the teacher asks the class to make any corrections or additions to the facts listed. Soon students will be discussing specific aspects of the text trying to determine if the facts should remain, or be altered somehow. The teacher should refrain from making corrections to facts at this point. Once students cannot add anything else tell them that they have not included all of the important facts, or that there are still corrections that can be made, then allow them to return to their text for a few minutes and then make corrections and additions. Repeat another session of adding and amending facts once student have another opportunity to read.
Now that the board is full of facts that have been corrected, the final step is for students to organize the information. Ask them to think of three categories that each fact will fit in. There assignment will be to list each fact into separate categories. Students will then work and think critically to determine how students can categorize the board full of facts. Another variation that I have tried with my students is to have students prioritize the facts. I ask them to choose the 5 most important facts, and then have them rationalize their decisions during group discussion. Once that has occurred I encourage the class to form a consensus which usually results in a lively discussion, because students like to disagree with each other.
This procedure is effective for many reasons. Primarily, because it gives students a purpose to read, and exposes them to the text multiple times – each time for the same purpose, to to find facts, or to amend an existing fact. The process itself scaffolds their comprehension, because students are not simply told to read the section and expected to have retained the facts without having a purpose for reading in the first place. The procedure goes beyond the literal understanding of a text when students divide the facts into categories, or prioritize them. These tasks require analyzing, and evaluating the text. Students make judgments and are encouraged to support their opinions.
It is never enough to simply ask a student to read. Give them a purpose! Use strategies such as guided reading to insure students have been exposed to the information several times. Guided Reading can enhance a students understanding of text, and teach students valuable effective reading habits as well.