Guided

~Pat Cunningham

http://www.wfu.edu/~cunningh/fourblocks/block1.html

For book club groups, the teacher selects
three or four books, tied together by author, genre, topic or theme.
After reading aloud the first chapter or several pages of each book to the
children or previewing the pictures with them, the teacher has children
indicate their first and second (and third if there are four books) choices for
which book they would like to read. Whenever possible, in choosing
the three or four books, we try to include one that is easier and one that is
harder. If children who are struggling choose the easier book as any of
their choices, they are put in the group that will read this book. If the
more advanced readers choose the harder book for any of their choices, they are
put in that group. (We don't tell the children that some books are harder
and easier!) Each time we do book club groups, the groups change
and while we do consider the reading levels and choices of children when
assigning, the groups all have a range of readers and are not ability groups.

Once book club groups are formed, they
meet regularly to read and discuss the book. The teacher rotates through
the groups giving guidance, support and encouragement. Each day the
groups report to the whole class what has happened or what they have learned in
their book so far.

Here is an example using four
informational books, Cats, Wolves, Sharks and Sea Turtles
by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House). Because cats is
a familiar topic for most children and because there is less text on the pages,
Cats is an easier book than the other three. Sea Turtles is a little
harder than Wolves and Sharks.

The teacher begins the Guided Reading
Block today by telling the children that she has found four wonderful
informational animal books. One at a time, she shows the cover of each
book and lets children tell what they know about each animal and some of their
personal experiences with them. Using only the cover, she gets children
thinking about what they know and about what they might learn. She then
tells the children that they only have this week to spend on these books and
they only have seven of each. They will not all be able to read all four books
but they will read one book and hear about the animals in the books the other
groups are reading.

Next, she hands them an index card and
asks them to write their name and the numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the card. She
then explains that she is going to give them 20
minutes to preview the books--five minutes for each book. At the end of
the 20 minutes, they will return to their seats and write down their first,
second and third choices. She places all the copies of each book in the
four corners of the room. She then divides the class into four random
groups and sends a group to each corner. She sets her timer for five
minutes and tells the children that when the timer sounds, they must move to
the next corner and the next group of books.

For the next 20 minutes, the children are
busily trying to read as much as they can and look at as many pages as they
can. Every time the timer sounds and they have to move, they groan and
complain they haven't had enough time. The teacher sympathizes but tells
them this is not the time to study these books but only to decide which ones
they most want to read.

When the 20 minutes is up, the children
return to their seats to make their choices. It isn't easy! Most
protest that they want to read them all! They have trouble deciding which
is their first choice and which is their second
choice. The teacher tells them not to worry too much about the order of
choices because she can't guarantee they will get their first choice--or even
their second choice. There are only seven copies of each and the groups
need to be about the same size. "I promise I will give you one of
your choices and I will try to give you your first choice but I can't promise
that!"

After school, she looks at all the
cards. First, she looks at the cards of the struggling readers.
Four of her five struggling readers have chosen Cats as one of their choices so
she puts them in the Cats group along with two more able readers who have also
chosen Cats. One struggling reader did not choose Cats but he chose
Sharks as his first choice and she puts him in the Sharks group. Next, she
looks at the choices of her most able readers. Five of these have chosen
Sea Turtles and she puts them along with one fairly able reader in the Sea
Turtles group. She puts the other children in groups according to their
choices and evens out the numbers.

She takes four sheets of chart paper and
heads each with the name of one of the books and the names of the children in
that group. She then divides the chart into three columns and heads them
K-W-L. She stars the name of the child in each group who she has
chosen to do the writing on the KWL chart and be the leader of the group.
She places the charts along with the books in the four corners. She uses
large paper clips to clip together the pages in the last two-thirds of each
book so that students will not read beyond the first ten pages on the first
day.

When the children come in the next
morning, they immediately find their names on the charts and know which book
they will read. Some are disappointed that they didn't get their first
choice. The teacher sympathizes but points out that she was able to give
them one of their choices. She also tells them that she will be able to
keep the books in the room for one more week after this week and they can read
the others during self selected reading if they choose.

At Guided Reading time, the groups go to
their corners and the teacher orients them to how they are going to work for
the next three days. She has done many KWL charts with them so they know
that you brainstorm things you know for the first column and things you want to
learn for the second column. She gives markers to the member of each
group who she has chosen to do the writing and tells the children that the
writer will also be the "teacher" and lead
the group just as she does when they do KWL's
together. She asks them to spend ten minutes putting things they know and
want to learn in the first two columns. She explains that they will then
have 20 minutes to read the pages in the first third of the book and add things
to the L column on the chart. She sets her timer for ten minutes and
circulates encouraging each group to list as much as they can in the first two
columns. When the timer sounds, she tells them to finish writing what
they are writing and then begin reading the book. They will read each
two-page spread to themselves and then list things in the L column before going
to the next two-page spread.

As the groups work, the teacher goes
around and helps them decide what to write so that they don't write everything
in the book and reminds them how she writes the note they tell her when they do
KWL's together. She begins with the Cats group
and spend more time here. Even though there are
three pretty good readers in this group, the four struggling readers need
support and encouragement. She did, of course, make sure to appoint the
writer and "teacher" in this group to be one of the more able readers
and writers.

At the end of 19 minutes, she signals them
that they only have another minute and that they should finish writing what
they are writing on the chart. One group has not gotten to the last
two-page spread and she tells them they can begin there tomorrow and they will
have to "move a little faster." The last ten minutes are spent
with each group sharing with the other three groups what they have learned so
far.

On the next two days, the groups review
what they have learned so far, add a few more questions to the "What they
want to learn" column, read the final two thirds of the book and add to
the "Learn" column. Each day ends with the groups sharing what
they have learned.

On the fifth day, the groups reassemble
for the last time. Their task today is to read everything they have
listed in the "Learn" column and then to each write the three most
interesting things they learned and draw a picture to illustrate their new
knowledge. The teacher gives them a paragraph frame to organize their
writing.

I
learned a lot about ______________. I learned that _______________.
I also learned that_______________. The most interesting thing I learned
was __________________________.

The children work busily to write and
illustrate their paragraphs using both the books and the KWL charts.
Because they know so much about their topic and have the chart and book support
and the frame to help structure their writing, everyone writes good paragraphs.

Samples of children’s writing

Book Club groups are one of the favorite
ways to organize Guided Reading once the children read well enough that you can
find multiple books tied together in some way. It is also crucial that
the teacher has modeled the formats the groups will use, in this example-- KWL
charts and paragraph frames. Most teachers find that the children
participate eagerly in their Book Club groups and that the books they didn't
get to read are the most popular selections during self selected reading the
following week. It is not unusual for children to read all three books
their group didn't read. Because their knowledge of each book is greatly
increased by the sharing, they are often able to read books at a higher level
than they generally can.