Guided reading offers many advantages as you work with students who need extra help. Your support makes it possible for them to learn from their reading just as your stronger readers are doing. Here are ten specific suggestions for working in guided reading with readers who need extra help:
- Involve them in guided reading every day. The students at the lower end of the achievement continuum are the ones least likely to gain from independent work; they need the most instruction. Carefully selecting texts for them and providing supportive instruction will enable them gradually to tackle more difficult texts.
- Provide appropriate levels of text for them to read. Students can not use effective reading strategies when the texts are too difficult. Use the text gradient to find books that students can read and, at the same time, find interesting.
- Guide them to search for information in the text. As students raise questions during discussion, they may need to confirm their hypotheses with information from the text. Teach them how to search for information in the text to find answers to their questions.
- Emphasize fluency in reading so that language can power the reading process. Many struggling readers read slowly. Reading slowly interferes with comprehension; however, the slower you read, the harder it is to think of the text as conveying meaning. As students read texts at the appropriate level, you may need to teach fluency. Activities like shared reading, choral reading, readers' theater, poetry sharing, and audio books support fluency.
- Give them opportunities to discuss their reading. More than other students, struggling readers need time to talk before reading, while reading, and after reading. The greater their struggle, the more essential the conversation.
- Have them write in connection with reading. Writing is the ideal activity to extend their understanding of what they read; and they learn more about writing at the same time.
- Provide opportunities for silent reading. Silent reading is faster than oral reading. It is also easier to comprehend when reading silently.
- Provide a few minutes of word work at the end of the guided reading lesson. Using magnetic letters, dry-erase boards, or markers and paper, quickly explore principles that will help struggling readers understand how words work (for example, changing letter clusters with the same rime to make new words).
- Be sure that they spend their time reading text. Struggling readers especially need to spend their time actually reading rather than doing all of the extraneous activities that seem to surround reading.
- Introduce them to series books in guided reading lessons. Almost all students in the intermediate grades love series books; they are especially good for students who need extra help because they provide extra practice on easy material.
Adapted from Guiding Readers and Writers by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2001 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.