Guided Reading – what’s it for?

Lindsay Pickton

Lindsay Pickton sets the scene for the debate around the purpose and the value of Guided Reading. He will lead a discussion to address the most common concerns and tease out answers to these questions in an interactive seminar at the Oxford University Press English Conference in London on 16th June.

Be honest: Do you look forward to Guided Reading, or does even the thought of it seem wearisome? If you are instantly filled with concerns and criticisms, these are surely founded on professional experience and almost certainly shared by your colleagues. Here are the reservations I come across most frequently:

Niggle number 1: getting stuck

Guided Reading is not the best strategy for helping children with their word-reading development. How do you help a child struggling with an unfamiliar word to apply appropriate strategies when other children are sitting there, waiting? The child you’re helping can be humiliated; the waiting children may be bored, or even anxious about it happening to them too.

Trouble 2: getting through books

It’s also pretty hopeless for getting through a good book. How much text can you feasibly get through in a guided reading session? How long will it take you to read Danny the Champion of the World, or Stig of the Dump in guided reading sessions? Over a term? And is reading a few pages over 20 minutes, while continually stopping to ask questions, really the best way to foster a love of reading?

The third irritation: paperwork

Shouldn’t we be meticulously planning, then scribbling assessment notes while asking as many questions as possible? Questions that deal with inference, authorial technique, text layout, genre conventions…? How do we do this and actually pay attention to the children’s developing interests and abilities?

Finally, the Guided Reading killer: what about the rest of the class?

The tedious business of finding appropriate activities to occupy them so you can lead a group uninterrupted and give Guided Reading half a chance of actually happening. We all know that the preparation of such activities and then the marking they generate are a nightmare.

And yet I love guided reading, and believe it can be one of the most powerful reading strategies available to us. We might, however, have to let go of certain orthodoxies and observances that have sprung up around it, in order to achieve what we’re really after: not just accelerated progress, but a growing love of reading.

Guided Reading – what’s it for? (Part 2)

The ideas discussed at Lindsay’s session will be compiled and shared after the conference on 16th June.

Find out more and book your place: