Using Guided Practice with Hesitant Readers

Guided Practice for Reading Growth, Grades 4-8: Texts and Lessons to Improve Fluency, Comprehension, and Vocabulary 
By Laura Robb and David L. Harrison
(Corwin Literacy, 2021 – Learn more)

Review by Jennifer Wirtz

In Guided Practice for Reading Growth, the authors Laura Robb and David L. Harrison bring guided practice to life with lessons and examples that can be used by educators in the real-world classroom.

On page 1, the authors state that “The beauty and benefit of guided practice is that teachers can provide interventions before students dive into long texts.” In my classroom, where the range of skills varies by up to eight grade levels, it has become imperative to find ways to target deficits before diving into novels.

The lessons are applicable to all types of learners and give examples to use as models for students. Lessons focus on improving student reading and vocabulary while engaging them with videos followed by high-interest literature. The lessons are easy to present, easily modified, well organized, and clearly explained. Lessons last anywhere from 15-30 minutes over two to three days.

Lessons to help students bridge reading gaps

At the heart of this text and its lessons is the fact that after years of not reading proficiently, students can take on characteristics that actually prevent growth – things like lacking self-confidence, feeling embarrassed, having difficulty decoding, and having learned the art of fake reading (so others think they can read).

This text is loaded with practical lessons that are designed to target those characteristics in our students so that they can eventually bridge the gaps and become successful readers. I liked that Robb and Harrison included an entire chapter on partner discussion lessons using poetry and another on shared reading lessons with poems and short texts.

Referenced texts provided

All texts are included in the appendix so there is no need to scramble to find additional resources. The book concludes with a section on next steps, which provide helpful insight into the “what next” question teachers always have after incorporating lessons into their day.

The authors have also included helpful strategies to “transfer learning from guided practice to instructional and independent reading.” I’ve already used some lessons with good success, and I am excited to utilize more lessons with both of the reading workshop models my school has adopted.

The Appendix proves to be a great resource as well, including suggested ELA schedules, self-evaluation questions/prompts, lists of books for read-alouds, and guidelines for preplanning and planning discussion lessons.

Overall, Guided Practice for Reading Growth looks like it will be a great resource for my classroom for years to come.

Jennifer Wirtz has been a 6th, 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts teacher at Gemini Middle School in Niles, Illinois for almost two decades. She received a B.A. and a B.S. from Loyola University Chicago and a Masters in Education from DePaul University. She is married to a math teacher and has two young children. See her other MiddleWeb reviews here.

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