Interactive Techniques for Guided Reading Instruction

Tired of the same old routines for small group guided reading instruction? Look no further! Let’s explore a hands-on activity to motivate and engage your young readers. We all recognize that guided reading provides teachers with an opportunity for showing children how to read and for supporting them while they are reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). This type of small group, differentiated instruction has become the heart of our balanced and comprehensive literacy programs. However, keeping up levels of student engagement and motivation can be quite a challenge as the school year progresses. Now is the perfect time to try some new techniques in your classroom, adding to your already established routines.

Keep it Or Junk It Activity

A favorite technique among many of my K-3 colleagues is the “Keep it Or Junk It” activity, inspired by Ms. Brouhard’s video lesson on the Teaching Channel. Create and laminate a garbage can and have it taped down to your guided reading table or ready to take out during instruction. Prior to reading, students can briefly conduct a book walk, looking at the titles, words, and illustrations. Students then jot down predictions on sticky notes. You can use the sticky notes you already have in your classroom, or design your own. As the group reads, the teacher encourages students to monitor their predictions, deciding whether to keep their post-its or junk them onto the garbage can. Once “junked,” students should be encouraged to engage in conversations about what changed their minds, referring explicitly to the text as a basis for discussion. This strategy is a favorite among many teachers I have worked with, as it engages students in monitoring their comprehension of various texts.

Try Keep It or Junk It with your K-3 readers. Now is a great time of year for re-visiting guided reading routines and to design new strategies for motivating and engaging all readers. Consult your favorite “go-to” materials for guided reading instruction and consider what kinds of materials could be used to make instruction more hands-on and interactive. One of my favorite resources is Making the Most of Small Groups by Debbie Diller.

I’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite techniques for interactive guided reading?

Dr. Kenneth Kunz is the Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, NJ. He is also a Literacy Professional Developer.

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