Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More than Guided Reading

I reread More than Guided Reading by Cathy Mere this summer with my kindergarten lens and it was worth every moment. When I finished rereading this book, I felt like shouting, "I'm getting off the freight train!" I teach two sections of classes, alternating every other day. To make things manageable for me and trying to make more time for each group I wanted to work with I organized four guided reading groups. This made a couple of group sizes at 7. What was I didn't really work that well to be quite honest. So, I reorganized to better arrange my groups and made five groups per class, equalling ten guided reading groups. I was worried about keeping things equitable, so I met with each one and then started over. It worked, the children learned, it wasn't comfortable.

These things were more unsettling to me. First, not all of my students were ready for guided reading. They needed letter recognition and language play for a couple of ideas. My lower readers needed to see me more. They already have an unfortunate attendance plan. My higher readers could see me more and soar further, quicker. I know our mini lessons and shared reading was helping. I really spent the year feeling I was on a merry go round or a roller coaster.

More than Guided Reading supports guided reading when the time is right for children. We know not all kindergarten students come to school ready to learn to read right away, nor should they. Cathy urges teachers to be more intentional with their teaching during read alouds and shared reading. She writes quite a bit about a well thought out organized classroom library to help students navigate through as readers. She finds balance through the use of conferencing with students and thinking about their conversation to help with growth. I went shopping for books she recommends to use during focus lessons with kindergarten students and will share those this week. Cathy provides language for reading strategies to help students understand what they are working on, essentially taking ownership. She encourages student choice during independent reading time. She urges looking at the student's needs through assessment and then meeting with them as needed and for a series of days in a row to help growth. When I read this book the first time, it changed my will change my classroom again. Thanks for helping teachers find balance, Cathy.


  1. Thanks for the post! I am always looking for more information on using guided reading in kindergarten. I am looking forward to picking up this book. You might like The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson. It has a lot of great ideas to use with those students that are still struggling with letter and sound identification. Jonelle Bell

  2. Mandy, I so enjoyed reading your thoughtful reflection of the book. I sometimes have to be reminded of keeping the balance myself. Within the literacy framework we are fortunate to have so many levels of support for young learners. Knowing where they are as learners helps to make those decisions, but feeling the pressure of equity, as you mentioned, can be daunting. It's just not easy.

    Writing the book was such a learning experience, but also a bit scary to put my thoughts out there in cement for the world. (I'm just not a cement thinker.) I do hear so many teachers who are overwhelmed by their reading instruction but it seems it always goes back to time and number of groups (outside pressures), when we should really be asking about children and shifts in learning. Thank you again for sharing your thinking about it. I'm truly honored.