Guided reading: teachers speak up




Piercey, Nicole

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Guided reading is a common component of literacy instruction in elementary classrooms. The purpose of this research was to examine multiple areas of guided reading from the perspective of teachers who were using guided reading in their classrooms. Knowledge and beliefs, grouping, management and organization, dialogue, and assessment issues were the five instructional topics of guided reading that were investigated using a mixed methods approach. The research was carried out in a single school division located in northern Alberta and involved Kindergarten – Grade 3 language arts teachers. Survey data collected from 27 respondents were analyzed using an interpretational focus. The data were coded and categorized using the five identified instructional topics as a framework. Common themes and patterns of response were identified for each instructional topic. The survey findings were then used to generate a focus group agenda. The transcripts of three focus group sessions that involved 16 teacher participants were also analyzed using an interpretational focus. The findings of the study suggested that guided reading is an important component of early language arts instruction for the teachers who participated in this research. Two types of guided reading instruction were identified: a small group guided reading approach (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996) and a Four Blocks approach to guided reading (Cunningham, Hall, & Defee, 1991). The teacher participants identified a wide variety of goals and purposes in using guided reading. The grouping practices of the teachers shared some similarities and many teachers indicated that they used a variety of sources of information to determine students’ placement in guided reading groups. Repeatedly, the survey and focus group participants communicated how their guided reading instruction was affected by their perceptions of differences among students and classes as affecting their guided reading instruction. The teachers indicated that their continuous attempts to maintain balance and focus during guided reading instruction also affected their organization and management. The teachers’ responses to survey items and focus group questions that addressed dialogue also focused on maintaining balance and focus during guided reading instruction. The teachers also discussed how they used dialogue for instructional purposes and commented on their ability to maintain balance and focus during the discussions during guided reading lessons. Many teachers indicated that they used running records to inform their guided reading instruction. Various other assessment tools that are consistent with an assessment for learning focus were also identified by the teacher participants. Overall, many of the findings suggested that individual teachers have adapted their guided reading practices to such an extent that they are no longer consistent with a single guided reading approach. The findings of the research indicated a need for teachers the have opportunities to engage in reflective activities with respect to their guided reading practices.



guided reading, knowledge and beliefs, assessment for learning, grouping, dialogue, organization and management, running records, Four Blocks