While at Pleasant View Elementary, I also taught a group of 4th graders who were reading on a late 2nd grade/early 3rd grade level. The focus for the lesson was inferring about characters– something these students needed to practice with support. The teachers and I chose the book, The Magic Fish, because it had such strong characters. As I began the lesson, the children had heard of inference and said it was a kind of prediction.
I created a simple graphic organizer for them to use while reading. We talked about the main characters using the cover, title page, and what they already knew (their background knowledge). One student knew the story and had read the book in the past, so his schema was especially strong! But we were doing deeper comprehension work, so I wasn’t concerned.
After I introduced the book and told them how far I wanted them to read (about 1/2 the book), I asked each to choose a character and jot down on the organizer what they already knew about that character. Interestingly, the boys both chose the fisherman, and the girl in my group asked if she could think about the fisherman and the wife. Hallelujah! She differentiated for herself. I love when that happens!
As the students read independently, I listened to each read and conferred with him/her for a few moments before moving to the next. I checked for their understanding and reminded them to jot down the words from the book that told them something about that character. If they made an inference (which they often did), I labeled it as such, and said, “You just inferred something about the character that wasn’t in the book. Jot it down.”
After they read, they shared their thinking with the group. They did a great job, especially considering that this lesson took place from 3-3:20 PM and the buses came at 3:25. Teachers there told me that they think that adding the structure of the simple graphic organizer helped guide the children’s thinking and created an opportunity for success. That’s what guided reading is all about in my mind. Guiding students to the place where they can be successful readers with just a bit of support from the teacher.
Here are photos of what we did together: