Recently I’ve noticed a trend. A small swell of teachers who are saying that guided reading doesn’t work and that teaching reading comprehension to whole classes is a much more effective way to teach reading. As an advocate of guided reading, I struggle to agree with teachers who are dropping it. When given the time and resources, and when taught by a skilled practitioner, I believe that guided reading is the best approach that we have of meeting the learning needs of all young readers. Today’s blog post from our Primary English Associate, Lynne Burns supports this view. Like me, Lynne is experienced enough to remember teaching reading before the widespread introduction of guided reading in the late 1990s. In this heartfelt article she pleads the case for the use of guided reading and the use of both scheme and real books as we open-up the world of reading to children.
When I first started teaching, far more years ago then I care to remember, it was before the introduction of Guided Reading. I used to teach reading by listening to each child read one to one at least twice a week, which was equivalent to spending over a day a week teaching reading. Except, of course, I wasn’t really teaching reading and I definitely wasn’t promoting a love of books. There was rarely, if ever, time to share a whole book with a child. The children usually read one or two pages to me while I corrected any decoding errors. If there was time, I might ask them a couple of questions about the part of the book they had read. The books the children read were dull, old fashioned reading scheme books; books that I would never have dreamt of reading to the whole class or using as a text in my English lessons. But this was just the way things were done and I was too inexperienced to do otherwise.