Guiding Emergent Readers

I was surprised to read in Guiding Readers that some teachers don't think emergent readers are ready for guided readers. Even though they're not reading on their own yet, these kiddos know a lot about reading already: that print contains a message, can role-play reading, read from memory, & can retell something that has been read to them.


Our goal during guided reading lesson is to push these kiddos into reading by themselves. During guided reading, we can focus on letter-naming, retelling, or spaces around words. Carefully choose texts for emergent readers. Look for texts that support their learning:
  • Predictive text, with a repetitive pattern
  • Mostly non-fiction with lots of labels
  • Strong illustration to support 'reading'
  • 1 or 2 short lines per page
The Guided Lesson Routine
  • Before Reading -- Do you begin with a brief introduction & a picture walk? Rog suggests not having kiddos try to make connections at this point, because their conversations tend to go off in all kinds of tangents. (Boy, I've seen this!). Instead, keep the intro brief & then go into the picture walk, making sure you give kiddos the vocabulary they are going to need. 
  • During Reading -- Give kiddos some 'reading manipulatives' (love that term!): 'witch fingers' can help kiddos track word by word. I've had kiddos who just almost refuse to track with their fingers, but I'm betting the 'witch fingers' will be just the trick to get them interested!
         The first reading is a shared experience: echo or choral reading.   
         Only after you are sure kiddos know what is on every page 
        should you have them read independently! At this point, your        
         kiddos are ready to practice reading the book on their own. 
         If you have everyone begin reading at the same time, there is    
         the danger that they start choral reading. To avoid that, stagger    
         their start times or have them use whisper phones.
         I'm done! I always tell my kiddos "You're never done!" (isn't that 
         the truth? lol)..."Go back & read again". 
  • After Reading Routines -- Pass out those reading manipulatives (magnifying glasses, play sunglasses with the lenses removed, star-ended swizzle sticks, for example) & have students hunt for letters, words, or patterns in the text. As much as possible, tie the activity to the text, but don't rule out playing sound games, word or picture sorts, or chanting letters of the alphabet, or do some interactive writing.
Remember that Must-Do? That activitiy we should send our kiddos off to do after the small group session? Here are some choices for those emergent readers....
  • make their own book
  • picture or word sort
  • word or letter hunt
  • alphabet games
  • Elkonin boxes
Rog gives us lots of ideas for areas of focus for the after reading routine and must-dos on pages 35-44. Make sure you check it out! Lots of great ideas!!

As I was reading this chapter, I was thinking of a few of my kiddos. It gave me lots of ideas on how I can more effectively work with them. I found that I do many of the things that Rog suggests (yay for me!), but there are some I can add to make my instruction more effective. Lori has an excellent lesson plan format in the book & I made just a few small changes for my classroom. This lesson plan format that will help me plan out the small group lessons & help me keep my thoughts focused when I'm planning. Just click on the image to grab your own copy!


Thanks to the hosts of the book study. Please stop by to catch up on the previous chapters!