Susan Roberts, Reading Specialist
Jefferson County Schools
Reading in the Content
Reading Strategies Materials
Probably the single most important factor
in a child’s initial reading instruction is his
or his teacher. No books, no curriculum, no
computer can replace the enormous value
of good human-to-human teaching.
National Reading Panel
Research (December 2000):
Less than 1/3 of fourth graders are reading
adequately (April 1995)
Now we know that reading must be taught
systematically and explicitly.
Research has been systematically analyzed
and the most effective methods for teaching
reading skills have been identified.
We must have balanced literacy in our
Reading is an enormously complex activity!
TEACHING READING IS ROCKET
Four Blocks Style
Always focused on comprehension
Teachers choose the material and
Students are guided to use reading
All types of reading materials are used
Goals of Guided Reading in Big
to teach comprehension strategies
to teach students how to read and
respond to all types of literature
including content texts
to develop background knowledge and
to provide as much instructional-level
material as possible
to maintain the self-confidence and
motivation of struggling readers
Effective Guided Reading:
In Big Blocks classrooms, the
Guided Reading Block is
approximately 180 minutes per
week and includes the following:
Before beginning a selection, students
access or build prior knowledge
identify the purpose for reading
Students need to begin
thinking about the text before
they begin reading the text.
This time is brief, leaving the
majority of the time for actual
While reading, students must:
question and monitor what they are
reading and thinking about
continue to make connections
continue to set predictions
Students need uninterrupted
periods of time to read and think,
so this phase should be the
longest of any Guided Reading
lesson. For every minute spent
talking about reading (including
before and after), students
should spend at least one minute
(Pearson and Fielding, 1991)
Formats for Grouping Students
Plan for students to participate in
various grouping formats.
Exemplary teachers were found to
teach lessons to the whole class, to
small groups, and to individual students.
(Pressley, Allington, Wharton-McDonald,
Block, and Morrow, 2001)
Guided reading formats should vary
based on the purpose of the lesson.
Whole Group, Multilevel
Instruction (Big Blocks, p.
Partner Reading (Big Blocks, p. 106)
Carefully assign partners.
Decide how often you need to change
Decide where partners will meet.
Decide how to handle absent partners.
Decide how partners will read each selection.
(Variations in partner reading)
Make sure partners have a purpose for
Set a time limit.
Provide a “filler” for partners who finish before
the rest of the class.
Model the expected behavior.
- Partner Reading
– “Take turn days”
– “Ask question days” Variations
– “Sticky note days” Poster
– “You decide days”
Think of reading teams of two carefully
selected partnerships making a
The same concerns apply as with
Each team has an assigned team leader
who ensures that all members
Teams may also need a recorder or a
Three- Ring Circus
(Big Blocks p. 108)
This is a wonderful way to allow
students to read a common selection in
the most efficient way for them. In
three- ring circus, some students read
by themselves, some students read with
partners, and some students read with
you. These groups are not static and
change with the reading selection.
Book Club Groups
(Big Blocks p. 109)
Three to five titles chosen
Titles area connected in some way
Managed choice (book passes)
Groups meet daily to read and
discuss their books
(Big Blocks p. 111)
Like book club books, however, in literature
circles students generally:
Read on their own and only meet in groups
to discuss what was read.
Determine as a group how much to read
Have specific roles they play in the
Choose books connected by genre, author,
theme or topic.
Exemplary classrooms provide:
Conversation about the texts students read
(Allington & Johnston, 2001)
Literate conversations mimic the conversations
real readers in the real world have about real
books they really want to talk about!
Conduct discussions with readers as
conversations – not interrogations.
Model types of connections readers make
(T-S, T-T, T-W).
Arrange for students to have literate
conversations in small groups.
Increase the number of people with
whom your students can have
conversations through use of
“Questioning the Author” and “Oprah
Questioning the Author
We do not just understand what the
author is saying, rather we figure out
what the author means.
If you have you ever found your
students cannot answer the questions
because the passage “didn’t say!” then
you know why students need their
reading guided by a strategy called
“Questioning the Author.”
Planning a QTA Lesson:
The teacher carefully reads the text and
what the important ideas are – what problems
students might have with the ideas
how much of the text to read before stopping
what queries to pose to help students
The teacher’s job is to pose queries that can
help students use what they know to figure out
what the author means.
QTA continues with the teacher telling the
students how much to read and posing both
initiating and follow-up queries.
Figure out what the author means….not just
what he says!
“Oprah Winfrey” Strategy
1. Several students read the same book.
2. Teacher plays the role of Oprah (initially)
and interviews them about their lives and
3. Invite the students to appear on your
4. Arrange chairs and welcome them.
5. Begin with broad questions (tell me a bit
6. What seemed to be the problem?
7. Ask others if they agree with her.
8. You may even ask the audience questions.
When students engage in conversations
about what they have read, their
understanding improves. (Fall, Webb, &
Exemplary classrooms provide:
A balance of question and answer
Ask more open-ended questions:
Is there anything you want to know more
What are you wondering about?
Does this book remind you of anything else
you have read?
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
Did anyone in the story remind you of
someone you know?
Were you surprised by anything in this story?
Think-Along / Think Aloud
Thinking is the essence of reading!
Reading is more than just saying words!
Reading is thinking!
Bookmarks, Sticky Notes, and Highlighters
ERT – Everyone Read To…Find out / Figure
out (Big Blocks p. 116)
Story Maps (Big Blocks p. 150)
T-Charts (Big Blocks p. 111) (graphic p.
Students write an entry from the text in the
left column and respond with their
connections in the right column.
Predicting – Guess Yes or No (Big Blocks p.
GIST (Big Blocks p. 113)
Informational Text Lessons: Use
KWL (Big Blocks p. 122)
Informational Web (Semantic Web) (Big
Blocks p. 119)
Venn diagram (Compare & Contrast) (Big
Blocks p. 118 & 120)
Cause and Effect – Causal Chain (Big Blocks
After reading, students must follow-up
their predictions, connections, and
purpose. They may need to:
identify important information
evaluate or apply the information from the
text to a specific problem or situation
engage in conversations
create a written response to reflect their
The after-reading activity
should be challenging and
move beyond the “right
answer” to the teacher’s
question but not so involved
that it takes longer to respond
than it did to read.
Teachers express anxiety about their
Primary purpose is to improve
comprehension. Other Blocks provide an
appropriate context for skills instructions such
as phonics, grammar, and mechanics.
Round-robin reading is not a part of this
Non-prescriptive – every classroom looks
GOOD-BY ROUND ROBIN By
Dr. Timothy Rasinski and Dr.
Question: What do I do about
worksheets and workbook
…as little as possible
Three criteria for a good
–Must involve some reading and/or
–Majority of my class (75-80%) must
be able to do it
–Students must need work on that skill
Four Blocks Research:
Comprehension is what it’s all about!
Reading comprehension – and how to
teach it – is probably the area of literacy
about which we have the most
knowledge and the most consensus.
It is also probably the area that gets the
least attention in the classroom.
Brain of a Female Adolescent
Never forget, you are
working with an
Brain of a Male Adolescent