Sunday, July 8, 2012

Guiding Readers Ch. 6 - Guiding Fluent Readers

This is it!  It's officially my turn to host a chapter for our book study with Beth from Thinking of Teaching!  This is my first time hosting and I'm so excited I get to talk to you about this chapter because this is what goes on in my classroom.  All the other chapters were enlightening (this one was too) but this is what I can really take back to my classroom next year and use with the majority of my kiddos.  Fair warning, this is a crazy long post so make sure you've got yourself a snack.

Lori Rog describes fluent readers as "being in a stage that will last for the rest of their lives."  I had never thought about it that way but it's true!  Now you are just guiding them through and not helping them get to another stage of reading but just a more sophisticated text.  One of the main challenges for the readers and teachers at this level is the "fourth-grade reading slump."  For some reason, after third grade many students lose interest in reading.  I thought it was because they had to focus so much on writing (at least in Florida) since they get tested earlier on in the year for writing, that they lose that wave they've been riding.  I didn't realize it was an actual thing though but apparently this phenomenon does exists and no one know why it happens!  Add on to that that boys score lower than girls in literacy assessments and are less likely to read by choice and you've got yourself a challenge my friend.

I always did like a challenge!  I am very lucky in that my interning teacher my senior year taught me to always start the year off with a read aloud that is a series, that way when you snag the kids that are less enthused about reading and they want to continue the story, they can!  There is nothing worse than when a kid gets excited about reading and can't find another book they like as well.  I have had a much success with this, especially with the boys.  The two books I have found they most enjoy are: The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones and The Lightning Thief (try them, you won't be sorry).  I also do the 40 Book Challenge with my kids (from the Book Whisperer) and they really enjoy being able to pick their own book choices and learning about the different genres.  Okay, I'm getting off topic but I had so many text-to-self connections in this chapter and I want to share them all!

You definitely still want to conduct small-group instruction for readers at or beyond grade level for multiple reasons.  You can help them grow in their developmental stage and grow into more sophisticated text and metacognative thinking.  At this stage though, the guided reading groups can be larger (8-10 students), can meet less frequently, and can blend with literature circles or reader's workshop (that's what I planned to do, so glad she confirmed it!). 

When you are matching the reader to a text, it is more difficult now because it depends on the student's background knowledge, vocabulary, interest, and independence.  You'll also find figurative language and descriptive prose that students will take literally when they shouldn't.  The concepts are more abstract and require the reader to read between the lines to interpret them.

Features of the Guided Reading Lesson for Fluent Readers
Before Reading (every student will need a Reader's Toolkit and clipboard for writing)
  • Book introduction
  • Focus on background knowledge
During Reading (make them aware of how their thinking evolves & changes as they read)
  • Silent reading of short sections of text
  • Sticky notes to track thinking and record strategies
After Reading
  • Plenty of discussion of the text & the reading process
  • Oral-reading fluency practice built purposefully into the lesson
  • Revisiting text for critical reading, higher-level thinking
  • Examining writer's craft and literary elements
  • Writing in response to reading
As you can tell, the students at this point are getting the reading process, it's the thinking about what they read that is the main focus here.  The first reading, as before, is meant to get the gist of the passage.  The subsequent readings are for greater fluency, deeper thinking, and more-sophisticated responses.  They begin focusing on critical reading, analyzing author's purpose, bias, point of view, and the writer's craft.  Make sure you have some guiding questions or prompts but in general the students should be generating natural and authentic conversation about the text.

Okay, on to some Lesson Routines! 
  • Coding Connections - Text to Self (T-S), Text to Text (T-T), and Text to World (T-W)
  • 3-H Questions - Types of Questions = Hand, Head, and Heart

This reminded me a lot of what I use in my classroom!  Except we say:

Green Light ? = GO back and find the answer in the text
Yellow Light ? = SLOW DOWN and search!  You need to look in more than one place to get your answer.
Red Light ? = STOP and think.  You will need to use your brain and the clues the author gave you to figure out the answer.  It's not spelled out in your text.

As we learn/review skills we place them next to the light/category they fall under.  Like "Who, What, When, Where" is all Green light questions, but "Another Title" would be red light.  I like going over the types of questions because once we taught this, I never again had a student come up and tell me, "I can't find the answer!"

  • Asking Questions - come up with example questions that would be considered head questions, heart questions, and hand questions.
  • The Inference Equation - What you read + What you know = What you infer
  • Clicks and Clunks - When the text flows and you "get it" it clicks.  When you come to a part that you don't understand or doesn't make sense, it's a clunk.  Show examples of how you might hit a clunk while reading and the strategies you use to make it click!
  • Rainbow Strategy Spots - use different color sticky notes for different strategies (example: wonder = yellow, connection = pink, etc.)
  • Word Solving Strategies - "The brain is not a rule-follower, but a pattern finder."  Use the patterns you know from other words to solve unfamiliar words.  A color-coded list of anchor words representing the most common prefixes and suffixes can be found here (it was just a document off of google, not sure who the creator is but if anyone knows please let tell me and I will give them credit): Nifty Thrifty Fifty.
  • Robot Reading and Opera Reading - using different voices to get out of that monotone robot voice.  Have students use an opera voice when they read the next time.  Some of my student's favorites are: Arnold, Texas Twang ;), Darth Vader, squirrel, and Jamaican. They came up with those on their own too! LOL
  • Active Bookmarks - Strategy based bookmark that requires the reader to reflect on a different action or reading process.  I recreated these from Lori's book!

  • Comprehension Shuffle - a great tool to use for ANY grade!  After reading a section of the text have students select a card at random and answer the comprehension skill on that card.  You can choose which skills to give them based on what your focus it.  Lower grades might only use 4-5 while upper grades will use more.  Directions and all materials you will need are included as well!  Click here to get your copy from the Positive Engagement Project.
The Reading-Writing Connection

I found it very interesting, and spot on, when it said teachers walk a fine line between setting standards for correctness and encouraging risk-taking and experimentation in their writing.  If you want students to write longer stories with more umph to their writing, you need to expect missing letters, punctuation, misspelling, etc.  Agreed!  Let them get "a little messy" and once they've got their idea down, then go back and perfect it.  Don't let that great idea slip away just because of perfectionism the first time.  Let me tell you, my perfectionism requires me to change my product at least 3-5 times before I'm happy with it and I def had some mini-me's in class last year, lol.  And if it is something that they put a lot of heart and effort into, they will also want to make it perfect... eventually.

I loved the lesson routines for this and can't wait to try them!  Like "Notice It! Name It! Try It! and "Gift of a Word."  I'm really excited to incorporate their Literature Response Journals into this reading-writing connection as well.  When they're just writing me a letter about how they feel about their book, they don't realize how many bases they are really covering.  They don't realize how much they are learning and growing!  After the second half of the year I will move from the journals into Kidblog :o)  I also think I'm going to try my hand at Classroom Journals.  I just heard about them and I am in love with the idea!  So I will be creating those shortly to share with y'all.  I'm going to include the Daily 5 (well really 3 - Read to Self, Word Work, and Writing Response) into our routine this year while I'm doing guided reading and after reading this chapter I really felt like a lot of these lesson routines can be included in that along with the must-do's  I'm very excited!

Okay, if you're still here after all of that, I commend you!  You're a trooper!  Make sure you grabbed all the freebies.  In case you missed it, there were about 4 throughout this post, lol.  So now I want to hear from you!  How are you incorporating the reading-writing connection?  Are you like me and pulling a little bit from everything you love or do you have a hard and fast method that you treasure?  Are you as excited as me?!?!  Thanks again for joining me today, it was my first time hosting and I really enjoyed it and appreciate your feedback/love :o)



  1. I can't wait to try comprehension shuffle with my students. I think it will really help them out with comprehension and understanding how and when to go back to the story. Thanks!! I love your site!!

  2. Love these. I was wondering if its okay if I translate these? I have just started blogging so really don't think I'd post them but was wondering if ever (like in a couple of months) I learn to post things if I could (of course giving you credit for it and me just translating)? Thanks

  3. Maria, of course you can repost/translate! Lots of my ideas and crafts are from other wonderful bloggers out there in blogland and I just give them credit for the idea, even if I tweak it. I'm very flattered! Thank you and good luck to you and your site!