Exploring Guided Reading – translating evidence into practice
10 July 2018
What was the issue?
As a class teacher (Year 2/3), I was concerned with the carousel approach to teaching guided reading. I understood its place in the daily timetable but had queries around 3 main areas:
1. Children’s engagement in the sessions (both independently and during focus group time)
2. Children’s opportunities for rich and valuable discussions due to low book band or ability groupings.
3. Effectiveness of the sessions when the children were not reading with a member of staff.
One of the main concerns was ‘what is this style doing for my low attainers?’ and could I do more to support them?
What did I do?
Looking into the research that was currently out there I explored a range of different methods in which to address the key areas as mentioned above. From this I chose to explore whole class guided reading and use the evidence to support my future progression within guided reading. Using a range of research I selected what would work best for me and the children in my class to ensure the best results possible as I did not want this style of guided reading to decrease progress potential.
Does whole class guided reading raise attainment with struggling readers?
For 3 months I taught whole class guided reading to the whole class. The sessions were heavily structured, using cooperative learning strategies and relied upon the children supporting each other within their learning and discussions. We focused on one book for a longer period of time and mainly used picture books where there were many opportunities for inference and exploring the deeper meaning of a word, phrase or picture.
What was the impact?
I understood that to engage with the research fully I had to commit to whole class guided reading only. We did this for the whole term and through weekly observations it was clear to see that the children, particularly those lower attainers, were making progress within their reading in regard to their inference and confidence. In the classroom they were better at engaging with peers and by the end they were independently inferring. Alongside this the lower attainers were still having small group, book banded sessions as they needed to get their reading miles up and still be practising using their strategies. This supported the whole-class approach.
What are the complications?
During the time of the interventions there were also changes happening within my classroom as I was looking into Reading for Pleasure. This was something I took into consideration when measuring the impact. The Reading for Pleasure did have an impact upon the enthusiasm and the blethering of books.
Also some of the children who I was observing were also having alternative interventions such as BRP at the time. This was something that was taken into consideration when measuring their progress. However, the children who I was observing also had BRP last year which made the research more valid as their interventions didn’t change so the style of guided reading was the only variable that changed.
Looking at the research and the outcomes there is a clear improvement in the children’s reading in regard to enthusiasm inference and comprehension this year. The whole-class guided reading approach is beneficial as it incorporates cooperative learning strategies, gives lower attainers access to high quality discussions and also high quality texts that they may not have had access to due to book band limitations. This partnered with Reading for Pleasure and the attitude of the teachers and children across school we can only hope progress will continue at this fast pace. It is also key to not rely heavily upon one approach as it can become rigid and stale. The teacher must find a strategy that works for them and the children in their class whilst also adhering to the schools policy for teaching guided reading.
Guided reading in our setting will be adapted next year based on the research carried out and the findings identified by a range of researchers. A typical guided reading week may look like this:
 See https://researchrichpedagogies.org/research/reading-for-pleasure
 Boosting Reading Potential
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