November 10. 2016

The Importance of Guided Reading Within a Multi-text Approach

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 2017).

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 teacher support)

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).  

Book Clubs/Literature 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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References:

Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades.© 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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