It (is) possible to teach children the reading skills and strategies to get through texts while also guiding them towards independence, intention, and joy as readers."

Growing Readers (2004) Kathy Collins. Stenhouse Publishers.

'To Guide Or Not To Guide: Developing A Balanced Reading Programme.' 

Our connection to the dream

After formulating our dream as a group, we decided to investigate the Passion, Power and Potential of Quarry Bay School children. We then used this data to identify children's reading needs and plan how we could best develop the teaching and learning of reading in our school. 

 

'Do Quarry Bay School children have Passion, Power and Potential within reading?'

Initially, we wanted a broad overview of children's attitudes to reading, confidence using the reading strategies and understanding of the importance of reading. To do this, we developed a Google survey to provide quantitative data from which we could identify key trends. We felt that this survey was most suitable for Years 3-6  and data from Years 1 and 2 would be better collected through verbal conferencing. We then used this data to establish an area for further research.

 

 

 

Introduction

In order to better understand the changes in our practice through this project, it's important to firstly identify the methods we currently use to teach reading within our own classrooms.

 

At the start of this project, reading was taught in the following ways:

 

  • Reading strategies are taught at the discretion of each year group based on the whole school curriculum map.
  • Children have daily guided reading sessions.
  • Children are grouped for guided reading based on their instructional reading level using PROBE assessment.  
  • Texts for guided reading sessions are teacher chosen and reading level specific. 
  • The groupings of children will change based upon children's progress and changes in their instructional reading level throughout the year.
  • Each group will work with the teacher once a week on a specific focus.
  • Children complete follow-up independent tasks to practise and consolidate their previous day's guided learning.
  • The focus strategy on average lasts a period of 4 - 6 weeks. 
  • Each reading strategy is taught once per year.
  • The explicit teaching of reading skills such as fluency, intonation, pace, word study, and stamina are left to be taught at the teachers discretion.

 

 

Current Practice 

To better understand Quarry Bay students' current passion, power and potential for reading, we chose to complete a survey with two classes in Years 3-6.

Here are the graphs for the key results from the survey which directed our case study. To view all data, please refer to the graphs at the back of the book.

Passion 

Power

Power

To get a deeper insight into the reading habits of children at Quarry Bay School, we also decided to complete a reading conference with two children from Years 1-6.

 

Here is an example of one of the surveys completed with a child in Year 1. To view the remaining data, please refer to the surveys at the back of the book.

Year 1

From our research, it was evident that Quarry Bay School children were very passsionate and confident readers.

 

This year there has been a whole school focus on the explicit modelling and teaching of the reading strategies. Although the quantitative data suggested that children were lacking confidence with certain reading strategies, we felt this issue was already being addressed within the school and therefore would not be the focus of our action. 

 

Through the qualitative data it was clear that children in Years 1-6 were not transferring taught reading strategies within their independent reading. Therefore, as a first step, we decided to include the element of children's choice within reading sessions to allow children to make connections in using taught strategies in both their home and school reading.

 

Ideas on how to incorporate choice within reading sessions:

BYOB: Bring Your Own Book

Asking children to bring their own reading text to their small group instruction session.

Choose From Two

Offering a reading group a choice from 2 teacher selected texts to give them ownership.

Free Readers

Ask children to bring their free reading book to a reading session and give reminders during free reading to implement recently taught strategy.

CAFE strategy

Allow children the opportunity to select books themselves for the class book corner/reading area.

 

Key Findings from Research

The following quotes were key ideas we took from our reading around the topics of small group instructions, guided reading and developing a balanced literacy programme that helped us to identify the focus for our project.

 

"In many cases, guided reading has become prescriptive and regimented, even though guided reading lessons should be responsive to the needs of particular groups of readers (Fountas and Pinnell, 1996), because sound reading instruction is all about knowing how individual students interact with text (Clay 1991, 1993, 2005a, 2005b)." 

Preventing Misguided Reading: New  Strategies for Guided Reading Teachers (2010) Jan Miller Burkins and Melody Croft. Corwin Press; 2nd edition.

 

"I believe that we primary grade teachers have a dual challenge. We need to teach children how to read, but we also need to teach them how to fall in love with reading. We need to teach children the skills and strategies that strong readers use, but we also need to teach them the reading habits they will keep long after they leave our classrooms. Many of us have found that the independent reading workshop is a component in our teaching of reading that allows us to meet this challenge. The independent reading workshop makes it possible to teach children the reading skills and strategies to get through texts while also guiding them towards independence, intention, and joy as readers."

Growing Readers (2004) Kathy Collins. Stenhouse Publishers.

 

Key Readings

As part of our research, we attended the Literacy Conference at Hong Kong International School on January 24th 2015.

 

At the conference, we chose to attend Kathy Collins' session on 'Small Group Instruction that Sticks' to learn new approaches to the teaching of reading.

 

The session focus was on creating mini courses of study and inquiries for small groups so that children's learning is long lasting and more likely to be transferred in an ongoing way into their independent work.  This was relevant to us due to our initial findings that children were not using taught strategies when reading independently.

 

The session covered:

- An introduction to types of small group work

(Guided Reading, Strategy Lessons, Balanced Literacy Components, Interventions, Check-In Groups, Assessment Groups)

- How to create tailored courses of study for small groups

- Possible topics for small group instruction

- Draft plans for mini courses of study

 

After having attended this seminar, and along with our findings and key readings, we decided that the focus for our action that would most impact children's development of reading would be:

 

'To Guide Or Not To Guide: Developing A Balanced Reading Programme.'

 

Key Findings from Literacy Conference

Defining Small Group Instruction

Guided Reading

- Grouped on instructional reading level

- Flexible groupings

- Text: teacher chosen

 

Strategy Lessons

- Explicit teaching of strategies

- Grouped by strategy need

- Text: teacher or child chosen

 

Balanced Literacy Components

- Read aloud to teach

- Shared reading

- Word study

- Writing

- Interactive

 

Mini-lessons

- Whole class

- Strategy specific

- Fast paced, 10 minute sessions

 

Interventions

- For children who have shown specific difficulty within reading

- Tailored support to meet specific need(s)

 

 

Using our research to develop a balanced reading program, we have implemented the following to improve the reading provision for children in our classes.

 

Reading is now taught in the following ways:

  • Reading strategies are explicitly taught through guided reading, strategy lessons and whole class mini-lessons.
  • Children have a daily reading workshop where reading is taught using a range of approaches and will not necessarily look the same from day to day.
  • Children are grouped for guided reading based on their instructional reading level using PROBE assessment.  
  • Children are grouped for strategy lessons based upon their strategy needs following teacher assessment. This could be formative assessment by the teacher during a strategy lesson or in the use of the strategy across the curriculum.
  • For mini-lessons, the whole class participates and the teacher will closely monitor progress within the session to identify any children who may need to be pulled out for additional support or extension.
  • Texts for guided reading are both teacher and child chosen.
  • The groupings of children within reading will constantly change. This can be based on children's progress, changes in their instructional reading level throughout the year based on PROBE assessment, their understanding and application of strategies as well as particular skills that require additional practice.

What does our practice look like now?

  • Children will work with the teacher to be supported and extended as and when needed. This will be identified through a range of ongoing teacher assessments.
  • Reading strategies will now be taught in a spiral structure, ensuring children have the opportunity to revisit reading strategies and build up their understanding throughout the year.
  • The explicit teaching of reading skills such as fluency, intonation, pace, word study, and stamina are planned for and taught during quiet reading and Learning Centre sessions.

 

 

What does our practice look like now?

Example Lesson Plans

 

The purpose of this planning document, adapted from the example provided by Kathy Collins as part of her ‘Small Group Instruction that Sticks’ workshop, is to demonstrate how reading lessons can look different to the traditional guided reading format followed by many teachers and schools.

 

One emphasis, in Kathy Collin’s workshop, is that reading lessons should not follow the same format day after day and children should not be expecting a set lesson whenever they ‘do reading’.  This planner shows a short sequence of lessons for teaching the strategy ‘Asking Questions’.

 

Within the sequence of lessons, there are elements of whole group teaching, independent practice and focus group work. There will also be the need for some teacher modelling, shared reading experience, paired discussions and independent application of the taught strategy.  The idea is that the children’s understanding of the strategy will be built up over the course of the lessons and children will be targeted to receive focus support and extension as needed.

 

This planner could be adapted to suit different kinds of small group instruction, as demonstrated in the second example.

Please click on the planner above to see a larger version.

Please click on the planner above to see a larger version.

Please find the remaining quantitative data in the following pages.

Please find the remaining qualitative data in the following pages.

Please find the remaining qualitative data in the following pages.

Please find the remaining qualitative data in the following pages.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 2

Year 3

Year 3