Research Papers

Guided Reading Research Paper

Guided reading is one of the trends in literacy promotion that has increasing popularity due to its effectiveness in building the reading power in children. According to Fountas & Pinnell (2017), guided reading is a method developed by instructors to allow the learners develop small reading groups aimed at providing differentiated teaching and enhance the reading proficiency in students (p. 8). Besides, some teachers may implement other approaches, such as reading aloud, in conjunction with guided reading to support the literacy learning of the children. The primary objective of guided reading is to help students across all stages to develop their power of reading through a set of established network of techniques that help them process various texts (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, p. 25). Therefore, guided reading is a teaching approach that needs detailed analysis through primary and secondary researches to provide insights into its effectiveness, perceptions, and implementation by early grade teachers.

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The thoughtful inquiry of Fountas & Pinnell (1996, 2012, 2017) seems to provide a comprehensive definition of the term, “guided reading.” Fountas & Pinnell (1996, p. 25) describes guided reading as a process that involves careful selection of texts by teachers and provision of intensive teaching aimed at improving the reading proficiency of learners. The primary benefit of the guided reading approach is that it provides students with an opportunity to practice independent and proficient processing of multiple texts at different stages, allowing them to better their reading powers. Research by Antonacci (2000, p. 24) supports the claim by demonstrating that a small group of learners, about six to seven students, gains a higher achievement than a larger group when studying. Another research on the early grade students focused on the effectiveness of a small-group intervention of three students on their reading proficiency (Hiebert, Colt, Catoto, & Gury, 1992, p. 546-547). Both studies agree with claims by Fountas and Pinnell (2012, p. 275) that small-group instructions allow teachers to improve the proficiency and balanced literacy among early grade children. However, the earlier researchers seem to provide more comprehensive benefits of small-group interventions than Fountas and Pinnell (2012) owing to the primary data from small groups of children. For instance, guided reading helps create a home-reading habit for students while increasing their reading confidence (Hierbert et al., 1992, p. 567, para. 2). Guided learning promotes balanced literacy while helping children develop their reading powers. Both readings are helpful in creating a foundation in curriculum and instruction by defining the major components of guided reading that teachers ought to implement.

The decisions made by teachers may affect the literacy levels and achievement of the students through the guided reading interventions. Good teachers help their students read fluently by adopting best practices and understanding the ways to employ research-based strategies in improving their specific needs (Antonacci, 2000, p. 21-22). The instructors understand the reading needs of every students hence helping them adopt the best strategies to enhance their fluency and comprehension. Tutors should deploy effective interventions that build the vocabulary of the learners while developing their comprehension when they are at early grade classes. Fountas and Pinnell (2012) shape 12 components of strategic activities necessary for the implementation of guided reading, such as differentiated small-group interventions, short and leveled phrases, monitoring, and selection of appropriate texts (p. 272). Effective teachers are committed to finding new means of implementing the guided reading using the five components as their basis.

The 12 elements presented by Fountas and Pinnell (2012, p. 272) are adequate and agree with Antonacci (2000) argument that presents a different model of characteristics for guided reading. Teachers should implement various components of guided reading, such as proper text selection and dynamic grouping, to enhance the reading powers of the students at their different levels of literacy (Antonacci, 2000, p. 22). Both Fountas and Pinnell (2012) and Antonacci (2000) present the element of diagnosing the needs of students before identifying appropriate groups for them, the former does not consider the dynamic changes of the identified needs. Instructors ought to use dynamic grouping because the comprehension and fluency of every child change as he or she develops the reading abilities (Antonacci, 2000, p. 21). The two studies are complementary and ideal in the study of the topic because they present the primary components that teachers use in improving the reading power of students, resulting in balanced literacy.

According to Richardson (p. 13-14), guided reading for kindergarten children is a primary component of a balanced literacy program that all teachers should embrace. The author introduced multiple literacy procedures that tutors should implement in early grade classes to enhance the development of a child’s narrative, semantic and conceptual knowledge (Richardson, 2009, p. 14). Other researchers also agree with the fact that early literacy is paramount in the future development of a student’s literacy by discussing multiple components of guided reading that include phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension (Romain, Millner, Moss, & Held, 2007, p. 621). However, the two studies provide different study findings on the role of guided reading in balanced literacy owing to changing the perception of the guided reading routines. In all his chapters, Richardson (2009) focuses on various strategies in guided reading that helps a student to develop their literacy from a pre-reader to a fluent reader. Romain et al. (2007, p. 621), on the other hand, discuss the major components, such as letter identification and fluency, that a child develops at different stages. The two studies agree at the end that a teacher should implement guided reading strategies in the early grade classes for better development of reading power in the future. Besides, children’s learning and development occur below the age of 5 years, and this period is the most critical (Pinkham and Neuman, 2012, p. 28). It is logical to start nurturing kids at their tender ages to increase their reading powers.

Benefits of Guided Reading in Early Grades
According to Pinkham and Neuman (2012, p.32), guided reading interventions among kids is helpful in equipping them with literacy skills that improve their academic performance in the future. Moreover, guided reading interventions in early graders increase the academic performance of students in the future while reducing the grade retention as they advance through their educational lives (Pinkham & Neuman, 2012, p.32). Other studies agree with the Pinkman and Neuman’s (2012) findings by indicating that early literacy skills deficit develops with time to a point where they resist intervention of efforts (O’Connor, Bocian, Sanchez, & Beach, 2014, p. 317). It is crucial and essential for children to gain comprehension skills and fluency when they are at grade-level, which necessitates early intervention (Goldstein et al., 2017, p. 90). One can establish a foundation of academic success in kindergarten children by equipping them with the required literacy skills through guided reading. Though the studies differ in the period of implementing guided reading instructions to kids, most of them support that guided reading interventions are necessary for all early graders to help them improve their academic performance in their future.

Guided reading lessons improve the ability of a learner to comprehend a piece of text. According to Ness (2016, p. 60), reading comprehension is the ability of a student to extract and develop the meaning of a particular text after interacting with it. Perfetti and Stafura (2014, p. 22-23) describe reading comprehension as a process that involves a critical analysis of a text beyond its literal meaning and understanding the cognitive dynamics of the passage. Based on the two definitions, reading comprehension is a complex activity that teachers should provide strategies that allow students to think critically to connect and process coherent texts. The two definitions stress that reading comprehension is an active and multidimensional procedure. Therefore, readers should engage their thinking in solving words, establishing the organizations of texts, extract the sense from the paragraphs, and understanding the passages (Ness, 2016, p. 60). Guided reading interventions help early teens in comprehending various passages because the teacher selects different text, introduce passages to students in a way they get the background information, and explains the diverse genres associated with the reading to help them become acquainted with its structure, plot, and vocabulary (Ness, 2016, p. 60). Moreover, guided reading allows the teachers to intervene in specific instances to prompt the readers to think critically (Ness, 2016, p. 60). The study by Ness (2016) presents critical findings that indicate the perception of teachers in reading comprehension. However, the research methodology focuses on a small population and observation time, leading to a limited conclusion on the role benefit of guided reading in enhancing the reading comprehension of kids.

Students gain fluency in reading in the future when their teachers implement guided reading when they are in early grades. Denton, Fletcher, Taylor, Barth, & Vaughn, (2014, p. 285-286) supports that guided reading is beneficial over conventional interventions in that it promotes the fluency of a student when reading by about 31%. Guided response enhances the ability of a learner to read rapidly, clearly, and efficiently (Fountas & Pinnell, 2006, p. 102). Early implementation of guided reading by teachers is beneficial in the future development of a child’s reading power and fluency by helping them adopt proper phrasing, stress on words, intonation, and pausing when reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 2006, p. 102). Through an analysis of the impact of fluency in guided reading, fluency is a skill that students develop through regular practices, and teachers can identify the ability through observations (Stevens et al., 2017, p. 579). The fluency skill enables the students to grasp phrases fast on recognition. The fluency skill also improves confidence among students while reading. Good confidence allows the students to be comfortable and wiliness to read often (Stevens et al., 2017, p. 579). All researchers agree that the provision of guided instructions to early graders when reading improves their fluency and reading power in the future.

The intervention of guided reading in early graders provides children with an opportunity to develop and expand their vocabulary throughout their academic lives. Different researchers have developed multiple ways of relating guided reading to vocabulary development among students. For instance, Bauman (2009, p. 335) uses historical and contemporary dimensions to demonstrate that guided reading instructions allow a reader to gain the word knowledge, leading to the understanding of language. Guided reading provides a long-term foundation for the development of better vocabulary through the selection of appropriate texts that learners can use in their language development (Baumann, 2009, p. 335). Silverman (2007, p. 372) supports that guided reading exposes kids to more words as they acquire new vocabulary that enhances their future reading power. Bauman (2009) and Silverman (2007) draw a common conclusion that early graders benefit from guided reading by getting the opportunity to meet and understand new words that they keep in their oral and reading vocabularies. Besides, the authors agree that the intervention is effective in vocabulary development when a teacher selects new words, pronounces before the class, and explains the meaning to the learners.

Lessons that involve guided reading provide students with the ability to understand and apply phonics and phonemic awareness to the processing of various texts. Phonemic awareness can be defined as the sounds that a child hears in a particular word (Goldstein et al., 2017, p. 89). The author proceeds to state that phonemic awareness constitutes the understanding that phonemes create the words. Commonly, grammars are learned even before the start of learning in the kindergarten. Phonemes mainly centered on the sounds of a language, whether there is a presence of written words or not, implying that phonemes constitute only of sounds (Suggate, 2016, p. 78). The researchers agree that guided reading enhances the phonemic awareness of a child as they learn in small groups.

A teacher can improve a child’s phonemic awareness through guided reading by implementing phoneme isolation, phoneme segmentation, phoneme identification, and phenome blending are among the dominant ways of teaching phonemic awareness (Goldstein et al., 2017, p. 89). Phoneme isolation constitutes learners construing individual sounds in a word, and the process understands its meaning. Phoneme segmentation involves breaking words into their matching sounds or phenome to understanding how to pronounce a new word. Phoneme identification consists in using learner’s knowledge of sounds or phenomes to identify specific sound patterns of the new words to be read. The experience of the sounds is usually developed through years of speaking. For instance, learners would identify the sound /b/ from the word “bed” and “bug” that they already know to help them read the new word “bedbug.” Phoneme blending teaches a learner to create a word by connecting a series of sounds. Goldstein et al. (2017) present a detailed description of the methods of improving phonemic awareness in all stages of a person’s language development through the intervention of guided reading in the early ages.

Multiple researchers agree that guided reading is beneficial in creating motivation and engagement for reading. Learning is a process that is beyond a cognitive process due to its involvement with emotions (Pekrun & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2012, p. 92). Pekrun & Linnenbrink-Garcia, (2012, p. 92) adds that the brain always prioritizes certain emotions while failing to function correctly under certain circumstances. Therefore, emotions that children develop when learning are a determining factor of their ability to read and write. Guided reading provides multiple activities and a reading environment that promote the morale of a child to read (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, p. 25). Motivation, through guided reading, plays a vital role in mediating the engagement of a reader, resulting in the development of a reading routine. The study gap between the authors is the implementation approaches that range from small groups of three readers to procedural identification of texts and reading passages. The studies are helpful in the development of the topic because the researchers provide components of guided reading required to ensure a balanced literacy and reading power in all stages of the child’s academic life.

Disadvantages of Guided Reading Strategies for Early Graders
Adams (2017) argues that strategies that involve too much decoding activities, such as guided reading, may make students to develop poor comprehension skill as they devote too much time and attention to those activities (p. 12). The author refers to a study that aimed at establishing the relationship between periodical interruption of an early grade reader and the comprehension abilities. The outcomes revealed that the poor decoders exhibited better memory of certain words when they read silently and without guided reading instructions (Adams, 2017, p. 12). The studies indicate that students have different reading powers that teachers implementing guided reading interventions should consider. For example, the poor decoders may often focus on individual words during guided reading, making them lose the comprehension powers if a guided reading strategy involves a teacher prompting them to think or pause specific instances (Adams, 2017, p. 12). Adams (2017) study discusses that guided reading is more beneficial to older children owing to their higher decoding skills and little attention to specific words during the reading (Adams, 2017, p. 12-13). However, the study’s findings that some early graders may fail to comprehend the text when they focus on words is logical wrong as some of the students may have high comprehension skills at their reading levels.

Hodgson, Buttle, Conridge, Gibbons, & Robinson (2018) argue that some guided reading instructions, such as the use of synthetic phonics, in early graders may mislead them (p. 2). The study presents some teachers that face challenges on guiding the reading of the students and enhancing their reading powers because some non-words confuse the readers who have the required knowledge (Hodgson et al., 2018, p. 2). The discussions lead to a conclusion that reading is a process that goes beyond phonics, hence guided reading instructions that may emphasize on specific strategies may mislead the students when required to make sense of the text (Hodgson et al., 2018, p. 2). Moreover, the phonics checks are one of the interventions deployed by some teaching who use guided reading that may disadvantage the successful early graders by undermining their confidence while creating negative implications between them and their parents (Hodgson et al., 2018, p. 2). The study reveals significant pitfalls of some of the strategies of the guided reading, such as synthetic phonics. However, the arguments fail to focus on the other measures that a teacher may have to help the successful learners improve their reading powers beyond phonics.

Teachers’ Implementation of Guided Reading Strategies
A significant number of teachers in the United States do not participate in continuous and effective professional development programs aimed at promoting their level of guided reading implementation (Phillips, Rupley, Nichols, Paige, & Rasinski, 2016, p. 13). Teachers in other competing countries, such as South Korea and Finland, have embraced programs for active professional development to help teachers implement guided reading interventions (Phillips et al., 2016, p. 13). Besides, teachers in Finland and other countries take education improvement their responsibility while showing satisfaction in their daily activities than in the United States (Phillips et al., 2016, p. 13). U.S. teachers lack the opportunities to receive continuous professional learning, leading to poor implementation levels of guided reading due to “one-shot” delivery of the development programs (Phillips et al., 2016, p. 14). The study by Phillips et al. (2016) is helpful in gaining the understanding of the teacher perception of the guided reading strategies and the effectiveness of continuous delivery of professional development on the reading levels of students.

According to Phillips et al. (2016, p. 13), teacher implement guided reading strategies in three primary components that include, before, after, and during reading. Before a guided reading class, teachers often begin with an introduction of the lesson by presenting the selected text to the readers. According to Philips et al. (2016), the introduction of a text involves identification of challenging vocabulary, explaining the new terms to the students and connecting the unfamiliar terminologies to the experiences of the readers (p. 13). Moreover, the tutor examines the layout and patterns of the selected text while explaining the critical concepts to the class before reading (Phillips et al., 2016, p. 13). Fountas and Pinnell (2012) are of the view that the teacher should clearly outline the primary objective for reading a book at the end of the introduction discussion (p. 271). The authors describes that pictures are a crucial tool in guiding the students before and after the actual reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 2012, p. 272). A picture walk is an effective means by which the teachers use to help the learners uncover words and others patterns in a book. Fountas and Pinnell (2012) and Phillips et al. (2016, p. 13) agree that before reading, teachers introduce the text in different stages. However, the authors tend to provide different methods of introducing the readers to the text where Phillips et al. (2016, p. 13) focuses on vocabularies while Fountas and Pinnell (2012, p. 271) describe the need of pictures and visuals. The combination of both approaches is ideal because different learners will have diverse ways of gaining interest in the reading.

During reading, teachers allow students to read different texts while monitoring them (Phillips et al., 2016, p. 13). Instructors often implement guided reading strategies in the reading stage by analyzing the students’ use of words, fluency, and comprehension (Phillips et al., 2016, p. 13). Moreover, teachers may prompt the readers to use particular strategies such as using brief comments and questions to engage the students in critical thinking. According to Phillips et al. (2016), teachers deploy the prompt strategies during reading to enhance a reader’s error correction and understanding of specific vocabulary (p. 13). The aim of the author in this level of guided reading implementation is to show the need for the teacher to structure out and demonstrate various strategies that the learners can use to familiarize with the text. Moreover, the author agrees that instructors can scaffold great strategies by selecting new text with distinct vocabulary (Phillips et al., 2016, p. 13). Some of the procedures described by the researcher include the identification of words and images that the learners are familiar with and predicting possible events to follow. At this level, the learners can read by use of images, words and even patterns in the text. The teacher should strictly focus on different strategies employed by the students as they understand and offer help where needed (Richardson, 2009). Phillips et al. (2016) fail to show the role of visuals in helping the students familiarize and comprehend the text, hence presenting an ineffective strategy used by early grade teachers.

After reading involves an instructional dialogue aimed at gathering feedback from the readers regarding the read passage (Phillips et al., 2016, p. 13). The teachers implement the guided reading interventions in leading the students to discuss the events that they witnessed during the reading while expressing the reactions (Phillips et al., 2016, p. 13). The author confirms that the instructional conversation is aimed at expanding the comprehension abilities of the readers. Fountas & Pinnell (1996) agrees with Philips et al. (2016) that the after reading involves a teacher’s feedback that aims at reinforcing the guided reading intervention and its future use (p. 1-2). The two authors differ in the level of implementation of the teachers in the after reading phase. Fountas & Pinnell (1996, p. 1-2) are of the opinion that a teacher that implements guided reading monitors and feedbacks the students on the events of the reading. On the other hand, Phillips et al. (2016) suggest that the professional development programs determine the level that teacher reinforces the strategies to enhance the reading power of the leaners (p. 13-14). Both pieces of research have a common finding that the after reading aims at reinforcing the strategies while presenting different opinions about the teachers’ perceptions on the methods of strengthening the future use due to different research problems.

Understanding of Teachers on Guided Reading
Different teachers across the world use various strategies to improve the reading powers of the students while achieving a balanced literacy through their interventions. Some of the instructors of early graders implement guided reading instructions with a primary goal of enabling the students to use the strategies that they have been taught independently and enhance their comprehension skills on their own (Ness, 2016, p. 60). Therefore, guided reading is used within classroom environment to allow educators to meet their students’ needs by providing effective means of differentiating reading instruction (Ness, 2016, p. 60). The instructors’ understanding of the guided reading is to support their students while enabling them to gain the ability to read silently and independently.

Teachers have the knowledge that guided reading has multiple components and characteristics that consists of small groups of utmost six students frequently meeting throughout the week (Fountas and Pinnell, 2012, p. 272). Tutors aim to improve the accuracy, fluency, and comprehension of the readers by using the group instruction and assessment components (Fountas and Pinnell, 2012, p. 272). These groups enable a teacher to diversify lessons and employ the most suitable ways for their students to learn (Delacruz, 2014, p. 65). For example, students that have difficulties in identifying a theme in a specific excerpt may be grouped into small groups of five or six before providing guided reading instructions. The strategy offers the group the required support to tackle increasingly challenging texts (Delacruz, 2014, p. 65). Early graders can provide evidence of their thinking through oral talk and reading, and even extension writing (Delacruz, 2014, p. 66). Therefore, the researchers demonstrate that the teachers’ understanding of the guided reading instructions is that of a program aimed at helping students with specific difficulties to develop their reading.

Some instructors use motivational instructions during and after guided reading to prompt the students to think critically as they comprehend the text. Delacruz (2014) is of the view that teachers encourage the readers during the text using various methods, such as technological applications and short questions, in attracting their interest. Unmotivated students need unique curriculums like Reading Recovery program to enable them to love reading and become excited about it. Such students can experience distressful and frustrating moments and are likely to be low-achievers in their academic lives. Kim, Bryant, Bryant, & Park (2017) agree that motivation is a critical factor in enhancing the reading power of elementary and early grade children (p. 124). The authors propose the use of videos to record readers and help them develop a higher reading power. Moreover, other tutors encourage their readers by providing them with videos of the text to help them improve their fluency as they imitate the recorded voice (Kim et al., 2017, p. 124). The study is insightful in the ways instructors in different parts of the world use technology to boost the reading confidence of the students while boosting their literacy levels. The significant gap in Kim et al. (2017) study is the lack of alternative methods that teachers implement to enhance reading powers of the disabled children. The combination of Delacruz (2014) and Kim et al. (2017) methods of improving comprehension and fluency of readers may be more useful for the children in the early stages of cognitive development.

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