________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 11 . . . . January 25, 2008


Guided Listening; A Framework for Using Read-Aloud and Other Oral language Experiences to Build Comprehension Skills and Help Students Record, Share, Value, and Interpret Ideas.

Lisa Donohue.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2007.
160 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-55138-219-7.

Subject Headings:
Oral reading-Study and teaching (Elementary).
Reading comprehension-Study and teaching (Elementary).


Review by Kristen Ferguson.

**** /4


Guided Listening is not an “add-on,” not simply something to add into your instructional day.  Guided Listening allows you to take instructional activities that are already in place and make them more successful, purposeful, and focused.  Every teacher reads aloud to the class, and every teacher allows time in the day for independent reading. Guided Listening allows these two activities to become purposefully connected.

     Read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading are balanced literacy strategies with which most teachers are familiar. Implementing all the balanced literacy strategies so that they are purposeful and connected, however, is not an easy task. How can teachers use balanced literacy strategies and make meaningful connections for students so students can apply these skills while reading on their own? In Guided Listening, Lisa Donohue presents an effective model of connecting read alouds and independent reading. If the purpose of a read aloud is to model fluent reading, including the use of metacognitive strategies, then a read aloud should allow students to practice these strategies and to apply them on their own during independent reading. This is the premise of Donohue’s Guided Listening: listening strategies become reading strategies.

     Donohue identifies seven metacognitive strategies that good readers use: making inferences, making predictions, determining important information, making connections, visualizing, asking questions, and synthesizing. To support teachers in teaching these seven different strategies, Guided Listening devotes one chapter to each strategy and includes many graphic organizers and blackline masters for each of the seven strategies. Each organizer worksheet is divided into two sections on one sheet: the top half is “today I listened to the book,” and the bottom half is “today I read the book.” The students complete “today I listened to the book” during the read aloud portion of the guided listening lesson and the “today I read a book”section during independent reading. Using the same graphic organizer for both the read aloud and independent reading allows students to transfer their newly acquired skills to their independent reading. The last chapter consists of rubrics for assessing each of the seven strategies as well as class checklists for the student worksheets. 

     Donohue’s guided listening lesson model consists of seven sections: introducing the strategy, introducing the organizer, modeling the strategy, reviewing the text, reviewing the strategy, practicing, and assessing. First, the teacher decides on an appropriate metacognitive strategy to teach the students, introduces the strategy, and also introduces an appropriate graphic organizer for the students to use during the guided listening lesson. Thus, students are aware of what they are to listen for during the read aloud and know how they are going to record their information before the read aloud even starts. Then, during the read aloud portion of the guided listening lesson, the teacher reads the text, pausing during the reading to model the strategy and also allowing students to share their thinking. After the read aloud, the students share both their thinking and what they have recorded on their graphic organizer with their peers. The teacher then quickly reviews the strategy. Later, during independent reading time, the students apply the same strategy that was used during the guided listening lesson to their independent reading texts. The students complete the same graphic organizer for their independent reading texts that they did for the guided listening lesson. The graphic organizers are then handed into the teacher for assessment. Teachers can use the results of these assessments to create groups based on needs for guided reading, to determine the need for further instruction, as well as to report on student progress.

     Guided Listening makes it easy for teachers to connect their read alouds to independent reading so that teachers are supporting children towards independence in reading. The sheer abundance of excellent blackline masters to support each of the metagcognitive strategies make this text a superb resource for teachers. Guided Listening provides teachers with enough guided listening activities for a school year. In addition, Guided Listening can be used in any grade or repeated in subsequent grades since the depth and criteria for the metacognitive strategies would vary from grade to grade. The rubrics and checklists provided in the last chapter also give teachers a fast and easy way to assess student work and record the class’ progress. 

     The concept of a guided listening lesson is a such a simple one: make read alouds purposeful and connected by having students apply the skills the teacher models during read alouds to the students’ own independent reading. Guided Listening left me thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” However, I am glad that Lisa Donohue did and has provided teachers with such an outstanding model and time-saving resource. Guided Listening is recommended for principals, literacy consultants, new teachers and veteran teachers alike, trying to make balanced literacy work in their schools.

Highly Recommended.

Kristen Ferguson teaches Language Arts at the Faculty of Education at Nipissing University and is a doctoral student in Education at York University.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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