One aspect of our Augmented Learning Study Program is providing small group academic instruction that would be seen in schools. In this time of virtual learning, we want our learners to have an opportunity to learn in groups from each other – as COVID safely as they can.
One challenge we have worked on is making an inclusive guided reading experience for our first graders who use and do not use devices. As I’ve written about before in teaching Joey to read – it can be extremely tiring for him to read the words on the page and then find them on his device. If we measured his ability to read and comprehend through his output on his device we would continue to see him reading at a beginning kindergarten level. And yet, Joey consistently recognizes many of the words from the dulce list through first grade. He is also able to match sentences from a guided reading text to their picture – demonstrating reading comprehension.
So how do we make that a group activity?
In using the Jan Richardson guided reading plans, we start with word work. Instead of each child having their own set of magnetic letters and a dry erase board to write down the word, I present the word to the group. The group reads it and spells it. Then I ask Joey to take one of the letters and hide it from us. The other group member must guess what letter Joey stole from us. This is identical to the game Richardson’s reading plan recommends – “what’s missing” except that instead of the teacher stealing the letter, it’s the student. I also let Joey mix up the letters and have the other student put them back in order. The other student then writes the word down without looking at Joey is able to tell us if the student was correct or not.
This also gives us an opportunity to work with sounds – looking at words that have the same initial or ending sound, or the same middle or vowel sounds. Although Joey cannot produce the sounds as he reads, he is able to point to an alphabet chart to select the sound he predicts will be at the end, beginning, or middle of the word in question.
We then do a book introduction to the text, highlighting words on Joey’s device as well as words the other student needs to know. We discuss the characters and setting, and then give the direction, “You read with your big reading voice, Joey will read with his eyes, and we will all read together.” I point to the words as we read the text so that Joey can follow along. After we have read and discussed the text, both group members are given sentences from the text and asked to match those sentences with pictures.
Although this does not look like a traditional Jan Richardson guided reading group, the components are the same – word work, book introduction, reading, comprehension work, and then any follow up activities. This allows Joey to have a grade-level guided reading experience as he would if schools were open, holding him to the same expectations as the students around him. It also allows the other students in the group to see that he is able to read and comprehend just like they do – even though they cannot hear him read the words allowed. They may use their voices and he can use his eyes, but we are all active and working.