Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Seeing it In Action: Blog #4 in the Guided Reading Series

As many of you know, my 2011 teaching resolution has committed me to learning more about guided reading and as I have studied and learned about this teaching structure, I have found myself wanting to see it in action. “Seeing” is a powerful way of learning; however, observing other teachers teach is a luxury we are not often afforded in education. And as a staff developer, it is an even greater luxury for me.

That is why I turned to the internet and spent the better part of one afternoon trawling for videos that would give me the glimpse I needed to better understand. As I watched video after video, I thought carefully about what I had learned from my textbooks and tried to reconcile that information with what I saw on the screen. I listened to the language that teachers used as they transitioned from one segment of the lesson to the next, I paid attention to how long they spent on their introductions and how much time they spent with each reader. I took notes and wrote down questions and as it turned out, I felt like this afternoon was some of the best staff development I had attended in a long time.

Watching the videos gave me a good sense of the “flow” of a guided reading lesson and I thought a lot about the planning that has to go into a guided reading lesson in order for it to be successful. In her guest blog, Leah emphasizes the need to pre-plan. She writes, “Visiting your book room and spending time choosing appropriate books for your student’s guided reading level and interest is key.” As I watched the videos, I could see how some teachers had planned carefully for their instruction and others, well, it looked like they grabbed a book, gathered some students, and read together. Clearly defining what guided reading is NOT is as important a part of my learning as gaining a better sense of what it IS and that is why I have decided to share some of the videos that I watched with you.

When you have an hour or so, get a pad and a pencil and jot down a few of your questions about guided reading. What is it that you want to better understand? Then, watch these videos. What would you emulate in your own guided reading groups? What would you steer clear of completely? At the end of the day, the big question is: How can “seeing it” inform your instruction?

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