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The Importance of Using Multiple Methods of
Reading Instruction

All students are different in personality, ability, style and learning styles. As such, there is no single method, theory, or set of learning materials that can successfully teach all children to read. Teachers must be familiar with a wide range of teaching strategies in order to create a balanced combination that will help all of their students in the classroom, regardless of grade level.

Below are three different strategies that are fun, interesting, and easy to incorporate into your classroom repertoire. They include Guided Reading, Choral Reading, and Readers' Theater. These strategies will provide interesting and alternative strategies for teachers to incorporate the episodes from the AMERICAN MASTERS series into their lesson plans.


What is Guided Reading?
Guided reading is a strategy in which the teacher mentors a child or a small group through the reading of a selection, drawing them into an exploration of the context, the content, and the words. Helping students understand the meaning of a reading passage, book, or novel is the key. The small group, ideally no more than six, should comprise students who are on the same level and need further work in similar reading areas.

The goal of Guided Reading is for students to develop skills to help them read independently, silently, and fluently. In these groups, they learn reading strategies such as looking for context clues, understanding syntax or word structure, and using inference skills, to help them read text that may be unfamiliar to them. In the small group, students can also learn from and support each other.

What reading skills does it help students learn and master?
  • Students become more fluent readers.
  • Students learn reading strategies that help them with more difficult texts.
  • Students learn appropriate questions to ask about a text.
  • It enables students to have a conversation about the text.
  • Students learn to think critically about a book.
  • It encourages students to use their prior knowledge and experience and apply it to the text.

Why is it worth using?
Throughout the school day, it is rare for a teacher to have an extended amount of time to work with individuals on a regular basis. Having a guided reading block as part of the reading time is a perfect way to help students of all reading abilities.

There are many benefits to Guided Reading:
  • Students develop as individual readers while teachers are available for support and scaffolding.
  • Students learn skills and strategies that will allow them to read difficult texts independently.
  • Students experience success in reading for meaning.
  • Students receive more individualized teaching time.
  • Teachers can use good literature to strengthen reading comprehension strategies.

Suggestions and General Tips:
  • Students should be able to decode the selected text accurately about 90 to 95 percent of the time. This way, students can focus on learning the strategies to read for meaning.
  • Students should be able to read the text in class or for homework themselves. During class time, the teacher should read the passage out loud. Think of the students as young musicians: Should a neophyte learn to play the cello by listening to his fellow classmates play or should they listen to Yo-Yo Ma? By listening to a professional, they hear what the cello should sound like when played correctly. The same holds true for reading as well. Students should listen to a teacher who can read fluently and with proper pronunciation and appropriate intonation.
  • Teachers determine Guided Reading groups after assessing the student's individual needs. Running records and teacher observations are two ways to do this. A running record is an individually administered reading assessment that presents a record of a child's reading behavior and performance on a specific text.
  • Choose interesting material.
  • When analyzing a particular paragraph or passage, make an overhead transparency so students can see the text and the teacher can mark it up to point out speaking words, sentences, etc.
  • Read the passage aloud together before starting on reading comprehension activities so that it does not become a lesson on decoding skills.
  • Enlist the help of the school librarian, teaching assistants, reading specialists, parents and even student teachers (college students working on their education degrees) to work with a small group of students on a regular basis.
  • The classroom library should have a wide variety of books at different ability levels, also known as "leveled texts." This is essential because the teacher will need to fit the book to the reading group.


What is Choral Reading?
Choral reading is an interpretive reading of text, often poetry or songs, by a group of voices. Students may read individual lines or stanzas alone, in pairs, or in unison. Choral reading, sometimes called "unison reading," requires repeated readings of a particular passage and it gives practice in oral reading. It is especially well suited to rhymes, poetry, and lyrics. As part of the activity, the teacher also reads to help set the pace, as well as model proper pronunciation. The poems or passages can be "performed" for other students. Ultimately, though, enjoyment and learning should come out of the process of figuring out HOW to perform the poem rather than the performance itself.

What reading skills does it help students learn and master?
  • It helps students learn to decode.
  • It develops effective and fluent read aloud skills.
  • It improves sight vocabulary.
  • It helps students learn to pronounce new words by hearing others reading aloud at the same time.
  • It helps students understand rhythm, meter, patterns, rhymes and characters of a poem.
  • It demonstrates the importance of oral tradition.

Why is it worth using?
Reading aloud effectively and fluently is a very difficult skill. It takes practice to improve. Unfortunately, this is an activity that causes performance anxiety among many students of all ages. By doing a group reading, students can get the practice they need without having to feel anxious or embarrassed about their reading ability.

Suggestions and General Tips:
  • Keep the passage relatively short.
  • Keep it simple - choose material that is on grade level.
  • Select a story or poem that allows students to make the words come alive - passages with interesting sounds, contrasts that can be interpreted by volume and intonation, dialogue or changes in mood.

Tips for students as they are organizing their reading:
  • Alternate slow and fast lines, stanzas and paragraphs.
  • Alternate loud and soft.
  • Alternate high and low voices.
  • Emphasize key words and phrases.
  • Clapping and other sound effects produced by the students add to the dramatic presentation of the reading passage.


What is Reader's Theater?
Reader's Theater allows students to take any piece of literature, analyze it, and adapt it into a script. Originally popular in college courses, Reader's Theater is used as a fun, convenient and effective way to create interest in reading among young children.

There are many variations of this form of minimal theater, but they all share similar traits.
  • No full memorization. Actors/readers use scripts during performance.
  • No full costume. If they are used, they should be partial and suggestive, or neutral and uniform.
  • No full stage sets. If used, they should be simple and suggestive.
  • Narration provides the framework for dramatic action.
What reading skills does it help students learn and master?
  • It helps with decoding and reading fluency.
  • It helps students develop appropriate intonation based on the context of the passage.
  • It improves their understanding of a passage through repeated readings and interpretation.
  • It encourages and requires teamwork.
  • Students learn to relate the information of a text through dialogue rather than pure narration.
  • Students learn to create setting, character, and emotion through their voice and actions.
  • It develops fluency, word recognition, and comprehension by emphasizing expressive reading and repetition.

Why is it worth using?
  • It is a fun way to encourage reading and discussion about literature.
  • Reader's Theater requires students to develop cooperation skills.
  • It simultaneously teaches reading and writing via reading comprehension, creative writing, and speech skills.
  • Reader's Theater is interactive.
  • It is an alternative way for students to respond to literature.

Suggestions and General Tips:
  • Choose texts that are interesting, brief, and have several characters.
  • Allow time for students to rehearse, read, and perform in class.

Tips and suggestions for students to think about:
  • Poise and Focus - make sure all actors stay in character.
  • Characterization and Acting - actors should have a full understanding of the scene and their role in it.
  • Projection and Diction - make sure you can be heard.
  • Pace - don't rush through your scene.

Teachers! We want your comments on these lesson plans. Please E-Mail us.