November 10. 2016
In Guided Reading:
Responsive Teaching Across the Grades, Second Edition, Fountas and Pinnell
emphasize that “small-group instruction is more powerful when nested within a
variety of instructional contexts with varying levels of support,” (Fountas and
Pinnell 2017). You start with high teacher support in shared reading and
interactive read-aloud, and gradually release the control over to the students
through guided reading and independent reading, while book clubs and literature
discussion are woven throughout. The level of support will vary, however,
depending on the demands of the text and the level of control by readers, which
can fluctuate at any point in time.
Fountas and Pinnell recommend five instructional contexts
for reading that will give students five kinds of reading opportunities using
different levels of support. “All play an essential role; they contribute in
different ways to each student’s development as readers, writers, and language
users,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). Interactive
Read-Aloud (high teacher support)
In interactive read-aloud, you start by selecting a
high-quality, short picture book (or occasionally a longer chapter book) so the
students are listening to the story or nonfiction book as you read it to them,
not decoding words and attending to punctuation. While the students listen,
they are engaging systems
of strategic actions for comprehending texts. Interactive read-aloud is usually a
whole-class “interactive” activity intended to spark discussion. So, as you
read, you can stop at specific points in the text and encourage your students
to turn and talk to a partner or respond to the whole group. “Interactive
read-aloud is a way to engage daily in comprehending and articulating their
thinking about age-appropriate material (the level is generally beyond the
instructional reading level of most of the students),” (Fountas and Pinnell
Shared Reading (high
to medium teacher support)
In shared reading, you start by selecting an enlarged text
because, unlike read-aloud, you want the print and other text features to be
visually available to your students. You can choose a wide variety of genres
and formats and offer high teacher support as you did in interactive
read-aloud. First, you read the text aloud to the students while engaging them
in a discussion about it. Then, invite them to read along with you. After the
book has been read in unison several times, the students can read it on their
own or with a partner. “As readers become more proficient, shared reading
continues to offer opportunities for more advanced reading work that students
can do independently,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).
Guided Reading (medium
to low teacher support)
In guided reading, you do not read aloud to the students. This
allows them to have more control of the reading process, as opposed to
interactive read-aloud and shared reading where they had high teacher support.
You choose a high-quality text that is new to them, and in a small-group
setting you provide a carefully planned introduction, and they read it individually.
After they read, you can guide them in a discussion about the meaning of the
text using teaching points based on your observations. Finally, if appropriate,
you can engage in work with words and letters.
Independent Reading (low
Independent reading is all about choice. Your primary role
in independent reading is to provide students with a rich, well-organized
collection of books from which to choose. The texts should be in a variety of
genres and levels of difficulty so all students will be able to find something
they want to read. “Independent reading is placed within a strong instructional
frame, through minilessons to help students apply understandings to their own
reading and learn how to choose books they can enjoy, reading conferences to
support thinking, and group share for further learning and assessment,”
(Fountas and Pinnell 2017).
Discussion (high to low teacher support)
In book clubs (literature discussion), students choose their
own text, but have a limited selection from which to choose. Students then join
a book club group to talk together about the text they chose. Their choices may
not match their competencies, so teachers will have to either read the texts to
them, or provide them with an audio recording. “”The teacher gathers the
students for a discussion, at first providing a higher level of support, but
gradually with lessening support as students take over the discussion,”
(Fountas and Pinnell).
For more information on the different reading contexts to
use in the reading and writing classroom, pick up a copy of Guided Reading, Second Edition. Fountas
and Pinnell describe, in detail, the broader literacy learning context in which
guided reading resides and how these different instructional contexts for
reading lead to stronger writing. “When students engage as readers with a
variety of texts, they are also learning about how to craft texts as writers.
When you help your students read like writers and write like readers, they benefit
greatly from the reading-writing connection,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).
~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Team
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Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades.© 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.