CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 39 . . . . June 8, 2012
Guiding Readers: Making the Most of the 18-Minute Guided Reading Lesson.
Lori Jamison Rog.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2012.
168 pp., trade pbk., $24.95.
Review by Susan Barnabe.
Why 18 minutes? That time frame initially arose out of a need to organize my literacy block into 20-minute segments. I would set a timer at 18 minutes to provide two minutes of transition time from one group to the next. As it turned out, 18 minutes was a serendipitous period of time. It is long enough for some sustained reading-by both the guided reading group and the independent learners-without depleting the limited attention spans of younger students.
Eighteen minutes is...the length of a coffee break (if you’re not a teacher), the length of a sitcom without commercials, the length of time it takes to walk 1000 paces. The 18-minute time frame has received increasing attention recently with the renowned TED conference, in which prominent thinkers and leaders in a variety of fields related to technology, entertainment, or design have 18 minutes to deliver speeches on their most important ideas. gain, why 18 minutes? Eighteen minutes is considered long enough to be serious, yet short enough to hold listeners’ attention.
This text should come with a caution: Do not read this book unless you will teach a student, group or class within 72 hours. Lori Jamison Rog writes in such a persuasive and detailed manner that you feel you are observing her in the classroom. Following this professional development, you will want to rush in and begin at once. Rog tells us how to teach what we are told to teach. This is present in her earlier books as well as in her previous book, Guided Reading Basics (Pembroke, 2003). The teaching strategies, tips and procedures are well conceived and pertinent for guiding students.
The subtitle, Making the Most of the 18-Minute Guided Reading Lesson, may give reason to pause. Guided reading is more than 18 minutes for students in their daily literacy instruction. Further discussion states that the 18 minutes per group allows her time to guide readers within the instructional setting. Rog continues with discussion that 18 minutes does not allow for much time with a text and that she creates the additional time by creating sequences of three or more guided reading lessons with each text. This allows an extended experience for the readers to reread, discuss, work through the print and develop thinking. It allows more efficient planning and continuity in learning within the classroom.
In her initial chapter, Guiding Reading: What We Know Now, Rog comments on the shift in interpretation of Guided Reading. Rog’s reflections now emphasize support during reading but incorporate skill and strategy work and look at planning more carefully and with specific instructional goals prior to, rather than during, the student’s reading. The instruction should align the goals/components to support the other and establish independent routines of reading/writing and the student’s accountability for must do tasks. The instructor develops experience in choosing a range of texts for instruction rather than relying on “leveled” material. Instruction extends time for literate conversations of students and revisits text over two to three lessons.
The author discusses the fact that there are many classroom teachers whose instruction has always consisted of the “guided reading” component, but, for some, the idea of “small-group” instruction has burst back into classrooms where it had been discontinued for some time. The coming of guided reading into classrooms and its implementation has been the content of many professional development sessions.
While the strong principles have remained, guided reading has been interpreted differently to practitioners. The author shares reflection on her previous writing and explains that it is not Guided-Reading we are attempting to deliver within our instruction, but we are guiding readers through our instruction.
Rog discusses views on harmonizing the literacy block, independent reading and writing, Just-Right Reading, i.e. independent, instructional and frustration levels, levelling and a common sense discussion regarding their use and need for teacher sensitivity and savvy of these instructional materials. She also includes Time for talk that is, student talk, and digging deeper into texts.
Finally, in this chapter alone, Rog discusses Reading It Again, Revisiting texts and the Reading –Writing Connections which all elicit a collection of discussion topics for teachers’ personal reflection, professional learning communities and supervision dialogue.
Chapter Two provides preparation for the guided reading lesson sequence initiating with learning goals, finding the right text and text introduction and “The Three P’s Book Introduction” consisting of preview, purpose and prior knowledge.
All of the above is included on a black-line master as a Day 1,2, and 3 format complete with a Must do follow-up for the student. A must do routine allows the student to work independently or with a partner where they practice the learning completed during the teacher supported lesson. The student must do the activity before moving on. Rog’s Day 1-3 format consists of Day 1: Text Introduction and First Draft reading, Day 2: Dipping back into the text and Day 3: Think Beyond the Words. The author completes the chapter with a how-to discussion of tips, tools and techniques.
Subsequent chapters 3-6 provide a plethora of teaching ideas, strategies and discussion for guiding emergent, early, developing and fluent readers. The chapters are well supported with black-line masters used in instruction and independent student response.
As in other chapters, Chapter Seven, Guiding Struggling Readers in Upper Grades, provides research, discussion and interpretation into practical classroom talk and scenarios. This chapter discusses types of struggling readers, choosing appropriate materials, assessment and age appropriate lesson routines and practical strategies for student support and instruction in breaking down text for understanding.
Moving on to the Non-fiction connection in Chapter Eight, Rog discusses the fact that reading non- fiction requires comprehension demands of fiction reading, but she notes there are some additional challenges: Non-fiction may be more “dense” or information laden text. Non-fiction may be written in an unfamiliar format to readers who are accustomed to stories. The range of visual presentations in non-fiction is not read in a linear form and may have various attention points and vocabulary that may be unfamiliar.
Included is a guided reading lesson with informational texts. It contains a fourth P to book introduction, pre-teaching key vocabulary or concepts. Rog includes engaging activities and strategies for learners that include coding, reader responses and interactive writing forms that require student decisions and responses.
Chapter Nine: Functional Reading is the reading we do all day, every day. How do we help students navigate these texts? This chapter provides examples and discussion on following directions, reading maps and brochures and reading a website for instructional focus. Unfortunately, the samples here appeared murky in their printing but do not hinder in providing an idea of materials one could develop or obtain for appropriate material collection. Again, a sample lesson guided reading lesson plan with functional text form is provided with learning goals, book introduction, day plan and a must do.
Although the initial warning given at the beginning of this review is still relevant, Lori Rog’s Guiding Reading should also be considered as a good summer read for classroom practitioners in their annual retreat and reflection prior to their return to the classroom. It will refresh you, confirm your instructional insights and practices and will have you running back to your classroom for more. This volume is replete with strategies and organization for literacy instruction throughout the grades. It provides a wealth of information and discussion starters for pre-service instruction whole-school professional development and a reference for all those who value the precious time spent on literacy instruction.
Susan Barnabe, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is a retired teacher and certified reading clinician.
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