Thursday, May 23, 2013

Best Pracitices in Reading

After reading the chapter, Best Practices in Reading, I connected with five main ideas that either do or could play a role not only in my reading classes but our school community.  The first idea that I naturally found the most interesting was about phonics.  The best practice for teaching phonics is to include the skills in a balanced literacy reading program in kindergarten through second grade.  The suggested practice is to complete the explicit teaching of phonics by the end of second grade and to provide continued instruction only in cases where students are struggling readers behind in their learning.  Once the students have cracked the “code” to reading, they will naturally grow and learn rules just by being exposed to print.  The second idea is that children need to be exposed to read-alouds continuously throughout their schooling.  Just because a child can read for themselves doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy or benefit from someone reading to them. The reader helps them develop by modeling both how to pick out books by exposing them to different genres and authors, and by using the think aloud strategy.  They help students see that reading is a tool for learning.  Another idea to develop and implement for more fluent readers is literature circles.  Literature circles are set up where students pick books that are interesting to them.  They do not all read the same books at the same time.  Small groups are temporarily formed and the students direct the discussions.  The teacher turns into a quiet facilitator who observes and documents the student’s work quietly.  In the beginning of the year the teacher can support and model how to build thinking before, during, and after reading.  Then, as students practice and understand the process, they can begin to break away and lead lit. circles on their own.  Still another area of interest is the six key ingredients for a first grade reading program.  Of the six, I focus on four in my small groups regularly and they include:  shared reading, independent reading at a child’s fluency level, comprehension instruction, and phonics and word study.  Due to time constraints, not much time is spent on read alouds and writing projects.  These areas are left up to the classroom teacher.  Lastly, the strategy that is the most important and fundamental to every school building is creating a literacy-rich environment.  Buildings should be immersed in literacy.  By providing school wide literacy spaces for sharing and displaying written work, developing programs and themes revolving around literacy, and engaging teachers in professional development centered on literacy, students and families are sure to recognize that communities are made stronger through literacy-rich environments.


  1. Hi Beth!

    I have to say I LOVE the name of your blog!! I like your post about best practices in reading. Being a first grade and now Kindergarten teacher it is fun to see the very beginning stages of learning to read. Those phonics skills and the "code" to reading is so important for our young readers to understand. However, I find teaching phonics is sometimes not very engaging or exciting for my young learners. They want to be able to read, but they don't want to put in the work to get there. I completely agree with the read aloud idea too. Every year I tell myself that I am going to get better with my read alouds by coming up with great questions before hand and really using the text to teach the skills we are currently working on. However I think this is still an area I have lots of room to grow. Time gets so filled up with "fitting it all in" that I find myself rushing through something before all my student truly understand the concepts.

    I wish you the best of luck on your journey and I look forward to popping into your blog and seeing what you are up to!

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    1. Welcome Kalin,

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm happy to have your insight into my writing. We both have taught the same grade levels so we can help each other out with best practices. I only teach reading so the best practices article was perfect for me. I know what you mean when you talk about not having time for some of the best practices, especially read alouds. You know, I don't think you need to add a lot of questioning and direction when you read aloud. I'm reading a book called "Readicide" that says we do too much questioning and talking when we read with kids or are providing literature groups. The book relays it back to adults when they read for pleasure; they don't do literature packets that practically kill the joy of reading. I so agree with this, sometimes kids are asked to do so much work when they are reading. Why can't they just enjoy reading for what it is ... for both enjoyment and understanding the world around them. When I read that, I began to let my kids read more for enjoyment and required less discussion. Their progress monitoring fluency scores went up and they loved coming just to read. Good luck trying to find time for read alouds as they are so important in building students love of reading.