How to: Accelerate Progress with Guided Reading
By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager
More haste, less speed. It’s a well-known fact of life. But what about when you’re faced with a class full of primary children and a school-led directive on guided reading? All of a sudden the pressure of time and need to address mixed abilities compounds… and in my experience, it can leave you with an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach as to how you can possibly fit this in to the timetable, in a meaningful way that the children will also enjoy…
After giving the weekly reading carousel a good go (and going a bit dizzy in the process), I decided to go back to basics. Instead of treating ‘guided reading’ as a lesson in its own right, I looked at ‘reading’ as an activity that children should be encouraged to discover and enjoy… which led me straight to exploring how I could use group story time.
After lunch or at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. I was trying to regain some flexibility in the daily structure which meant that I could adapt to how the class was behaving. A key success factor in converting a group story into a guided reading exercise came from taking a short quiz at the end of the book. If you’re not sure where to start, there’s quite a choice of book quizzes (independently validated and matched to book reading level) available for free at: www.takethequiz.co.uk
By doing a quiz as a group exercise at the end of the book, you can unpick and unpack key elements of the story without removing the fun part of reading for the children. Simply read the book as normal, which the children naturally enjoy – then take a short quiz at the end which you can use to encourage group discussion and delve further into specific parts.
For schools that already benefit from the Accelerated Reader programme, you can take this process a step further by creating a group reading account and formally tracking the class progress in terms of number of words read, total points awarded and the running correct percentage. In the same way you’d use these elements to reward and motivate readers individually, you can encourage the class to work together during group story and quiz time – or on a school-wide basis even introduce a millionaires’ club challenge between classes!
Guided reading is an excellent approach for reading development, but at the same time we know it can be labour intensive and challenging. Getting back to basics and putting the fun back into group story time with quizzes can accelerate progress in a positive way… now make haste and visit www.takethequiz.co.uk to get started!
Strategic Education Manager
Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.