Guided Reading in K-2
Two years ago, we began the journey to teach our guided reading across all grade levels and classes K-5. It has been a journey that has involved much introspection, reflection and understanding about what is best for our children at each stage of reading development. What works well in K-2 will look differently in 3-5th grade.
Kindergarten starts at the very beginning! We work with students in small groups to learn letters and sounds within their names during the Pre-A stage. Students listen to sounds in words and manipulate them much like in the Open Court lessons we are using whole group. Once students know 40 letters and 8 sounds, they are ready to move into level A. That's when guided reading really starts.
Each guided reading lesson is a combination of reading and writing sight words, phonics lessons, writing and reading. In Kindergarten, most students are considered Emergent Readers (A-C). Students start with simple text - one sentence per page. Often they follow a pattern: I like the truck. I like the car. Students point to the words as they read, search for words within text and use the pictures for support. In Level A books, the students work on beginning sounds for the word study portion. In Level B, they work on hearing and identifying ending sounds. And by Level C, they are working on simple CVC (Consonant - Vowel - Consonant) skills such as cat, cap, lap, lad. Students will also apply the skills they have learned in the guided writing portion of the lesson. Students are given dictated sentences to write that relate to the story read and phonics skill taught. Each guided reading lesson takes two days to complete, and then....on to the next book!
Once students have mastered the first three levels of guided reading A-C, they move into the stage of an Early Reader. These students are typically in first grade, but may be found in K and 2nd as well. The lesson is very similar in components to the Emergent Reading level. Early readers are reading texts written on the level D-I. Students are also exposed to new texts every two days where they continue to work on reading and writing sight words, word study and guided writing. But now, students are introduced to the skills needed to self monitor as they read. Once students internalize how to self-monitor, the reading takes off! These are some of the strategies that we want the students to start using:
- Reread and make the first sound.
- What would make sense and look right?
- Check the middle (or end) of the word.
- Cover the ending. Find a part you know.
- Do you know another word that looks like this one?
- Try the other vowel sound.
During the word study portion, students follow a systematic approach to phonics.
- Level D = Digraphs (sh, ch, th) Endings (-s, -ing) Onset/rime
- Level E = Initial blends Onset/rime Endings (-ed, -er)
- Level F = Final blends Onset/rime
- Level G = Initial and final blends Silent e
- Level H & I = Vowel teams ee, ar, ay, oa, or, all, ow (cow) Endings
- Level J+ =Vowel teams ou, ew, ight, aw, ai, oi, ow (low) Make and break a big word
Students at the Early Reading Level should be able to move up a level each month in first grade if they are read to at home, start first grade at level C/D, and come to school regularly. By the end of first grade, on level students will be reading on level I/J.
Most second grade students are in the Transitional Level (J-P). Once you reach this phase, the rapid progress slows down just a bit. That’s because, comprehension is becoming more important the higher the level of text goes. Second grade students who start at level I/J are expected to end the year on a level M.
Reading groups are now planned for three days per book. The first two days include lessons in word study, monitoring, comprehension and vocabulary. Monitoring skills include:
- Asking themselves: Does that make sense?
- Reread and sound the first part.
- Read on. What would make sense?
- Check the middle (or end) of the word.
- Break the word apart.
- Do you know a word with this part in it?
- How can you figure out that word?
Students who may not have mastered all the phonics skills introduced during the Early Readers levels will continue to practice those skills in word study. Other students will work on decoding and writing multisyllabic words. On day three, all students will apply the comprehension skills to a guided writing prompt. In my opinion, this is where the magic happens! Teachers are able to really spot teach and correct students in all areas while they are applying all the skills they have learned throughout the year. And doing it weekly, solidifies understanding.
Hartwood uses the curriculum called Being a Writer as our main framework for writing instruction. On their website, they describe the program: "Being a Writer provides a full year of research-based whole-class writing instruction for grades K–6. Using a workshop model, the Being a Writer program teaches the writing process while developing intrinsic motivation for the craft of writing through immersion in the narrative, informational, and opinion/argumentative writing genres. Instruction encourages students to write regularly with passion and intent as it builds an understanding of and appreciation for the skills and conventions of writing."
Our teachers love it because the instruction always starts with a hook - a mentor text or children's book that gets the children excited and invested. Teachers then model writing with the children on charts, on the whiteboard, or under the document camera. Here you can see Mrs. Spruill teaching a lesson with her second graders on choosing a topic.
The children are taught how to brainstorm thoughts, to write about a topic, to edit and to share their writing with others. They love to share!!!
Finally we have been working on posting more of our writing around the school. I hope that you will come and see them in the hallways!
What's happening at Hartwood?
Phonics has always had a place in reading instruction...but somewhere along the way phonics vs. sight words became a debate. In truth, you need both skill sets in order to read well and fluently. So how do we teach them at Hartwood?
This year we have adopted the Open Court Foundational SKills kits in Stafford County for grades K & 1. Next year, we hope to adopt that program in 2nd grade across the county as well. What does that mean?
Foundational skills are critical as they lay the groundwork for academic and overall future success. Foundational Skills Kits provide research-based instruction and classroom-tested tools to help every student master these essential skills.
Grade K prepares the foundation for reading with phonemic awareness, concepts of print, and the alphabetic principle.
Grade 1 builds upon this foundation with sound-spelling correspondences and spelling strategy development.
Grades 2 and 3 reinforce and expand upon fluency, decoding and encoding(spelling) skills for automatic recognition.
Open Court is a daily instructional routine that introdues students to letter names, letter sounds, and blending the sounds together to decode words when reading as well as when spelling. Students are taught how to listen for sounds...a key ingreadient that is sometimes missing in phonics instruction. Daily poems, rhymes and songs are used to build that "phonemic awareness" or listening for rhymes and sounds. Students are also introduced to sight words as part of the routine and practice those words within the text they read.
In December we were lucky to have Tracey Schuler, an Open Court Consultant, come to Hartwood and model a few lessons in our K and 1 classes. Our teachers were glad to see that they were on the right track in their instruction! The consultant was very complimentary about how well the students seemed to be retaining the new skills. Here are some pictures of the event:
Teachers use the Lion Puppet for engagement and listening skills.
Listening for letter names in a whole group lesson in Kindergarten.
In first grade, we learn the vowel sounds as they are found in the middle of a word. For example, for Ee we learn the sound in Hen and Peck. Watch the kids as they "peck" the floor.
Together we read and spell words....
Finally, we write in our journals.
Phonics, however, is not only taught in whole group and through Open Court. Next, we will look at the way we practice Phonics and Sight words in our Guided Reading groups....
Read Aloud....ah! That's where the magic happens!
Some of my fondest memories as a child were curled up in the lap of my parents or grandmother reading a book. They opend the magical world of Winnie th e Pooh, Ramona the Brave and of course, Charlotte's Web. As a mom, some of the most tender moments were laying in bed reading bedtime stories and Goodnight Moon until I knew it by heart. I read more books about sports and trucks than I care to remember! As my boys got older, the texts got harder. We still read together each night as together we journeyed to Hogwarts and to journeys on the Magic Tree House. As my boys are now teenagers, we don't read together but we have been known to discuss books at the dinner table as they read some of my favorites like To Kill a Mockingbird or Lord of the Flies.
So why is reading aloud so important? I recently came across a great website that was created by Dr. John S. Hutton. His website, http://www.readaloud.org/why.html promotes reading aloud to your child, every day, for 15 minutes. On his site he talks about not only the social and emotional benefits from reading aloud, but also the neurological benefits from birth on. As I skimmed his site, I realized that in this day of digital everything, we may start missing out on the benefits that come from shutting down, turning off and enjoying the quiet moments of reading with our children. As I hemmed and hawed (to use my grandmother's words) about what to put in this post, I decided to just post his words instead.
"There is an easy way to improve your child's chances at school. It will entertain and delight him. It will strengthen the bonds between him and you. And it is virtually free.
Sound too good to be true? Actually, it isn't. The magical method: taking time to read aloud to your child.
In an era of high-stakes testing and education reforms and revolutions, research has repeatedly proved that one simple parenting technique is among the most effective. Children who are read aloud to by parents get a head start in language and literacy skills and go to school better prepared.
"Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emerging literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent," concluded a 2008 review in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
In other words, reading that bedtime story may not only entertain and soothe Johnny, it may also develop his vocabulary, improve his ability to learn to read, and - perhaps most important - foster a lifelong love of books and reading.
Developing that passion for reading is crucial, according to Jim Trelease, author of the best-seller, "The Read-Aloud Handbook." "Every time we read to a child, we're sending a 'pleasure' message to the child's brain," he writes in the "Handbook." "You could even call it a commercial, conditioning the child to associate books and print with pleasure."
This reading "commercial" is critical when competition for a child's attention is so fierce. Between television, movies, the internet, video games and myriad after-school activities, the pleasures of sitting down with a book are often overlooked. In addition, negative experiences with reading - whether frustrations in learning to read or tedious "skill and drill" school assignments - can further turn children off from reading.
That can have long-term consequences. As Mr. Trelease succinctly puts it in his handbook, "Students who read the most, read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest. Conversely, those who don't read much, cannot get better at it."
Reading aloud is, according to the landmark 1985 report "Becoming a Nation of Readers," "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading."
Despite this advice, however, some educators and many parents don't read aloud to children from a young age and thus fail to nurture avid and skilled readers. Indeed, this is especially true for children in low-income families. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, only 48 percent of families below the poverty level read to their preschoolers each day, compared with 64 percent of families whose incomes were at or above the poverty level. Children from low-income families are also less likely to have exposure to print materials.
Groups such as Reach Out and Read (ROR), however, are working to combat this problem. The Boston-based non-profit extols the virtues of reading aloud to parents when children go to their check-ups at the pediatrician's or family physician's office. The group also helps provide reading materials for families of lesser means. And ROR has been remarkably successful: "Studies which examined language in young children found an association between the ROR intervention and statistically significant improvements in preschool language scores, a good predictor of later literacy success," its website reports.
The good news for families is that this sage piece of parenting wisdom is easy to follow. Reading aloud to your child requires only a book - free, with a library card - and your willingness to spend a little quality time with your child. And while the sacrifices to read aloud are few, the benefits are many: Your child may learn to read better, think better, imagine more richly, and become a passionate and lifelong reader. More than these long-term benefits, however, are some more immediate: The pleasures of spending time with your child and sharing the enjoyment of a good book."
To finish this post, I have linked a video: Reading aloud to your Jitterbug. It's a short, but great video about reading with our squirming kids! I hope you enjoy it!
When you think about literacy....what do you think about? Do you remember reading from an old reading book (or basal) where everyone read the same story at the same time? Do you think of phonics sheets and workbook pages? or do you think of listening to a story as your teacher read aloud? Do you think of songs, stories, plays and chants? Do you think about curling up on the floor as you lost yourself in a book and didn't want to stop reading? What about writing stories that you loved abour topics you chose?
For some of us, literacy came easy. We enjoyed every part of it...both at home and at school. For others of us, it was a struggle ... where we worked hard each day and made little progress until something finally clicked. For some, it wasn't something we were interested in...who wants to read stories with talking animals when we could read comic books, or books about fast cars or sports? Motivation was a challenge..and may yet be still.
We have students here at Hartwood who fit into all of these scenarios. Knowing this, it is my hope to make literacy purposeful and engaging enough so that we do feel successful each and every day in at least one part of the literacy circle. Did you know that literacy is not just reading? That is a big part of it for sure, but not the only part. In order to learn to read, we must learn to listen first - sounds, stories, rhymes and rhythms. We will speak in order to form complete sentences, practice new words, communicate with others, share ideas, tell stories, sing songs, chant poems. We will also learn to read when we put a pen in our hands so that we can write - what we think, what we remember, what we wonder, what we notice...
My goal for this blog is to share an aspect of the literacy framework and how we are enhancing the literacy lives of our students each day in grades K-5. Some topics that will be shared in the future include:
- Guided Reading
- Read Aloud
- Poems, chants, songs
- Sight words
- Story telling
- and more!
So glad that you have joined us on this journery @HartwoodReads!