As is required at the end of each quarter, I completed running records on all 22 of my first graders in the past two days. I was astounded by what I discovered!
All but 3.. yes, All. But. 3. of my little friends have already met or exceeded our grade level benchmark/reading level for first grade! Our exit level benchmark is F&P is I/J. I have 19 out of 22 students who are reading at levels J, L, N, and R! Even more importantly, I can see their reading lives unfolding before my eyes.
(Background: My kids ranged from levels A-M in September, with the majority being in levels C-E.)
I no longer believe this "level" is the foundation of my reading instruction, but I have made some HUGE changes this year and was hoping this would happen. I have been reflecting on what I've done this year... or more importantly, what we've done. Here are the things I believe have helped us get here:
*sharing amazing books with children through read alouds
*sharing my reading life with my first graders
*discussions about books (whole group, small group, partners, individually)
*conferring with individuals
*time to read independently EVERY day
*CHOICE about what they read
It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that my professional reflections, my blog and my Twitter friends have helped me become much more intentional and thoughtful about what I'm doing and why. I intend to continue to stand on the shoulders of the literacy experts, too!
Here is what really gets me... I have not met with a single guided reading group since September. Almost 5 months. Instead, I've focused my time on conferring with individuals. When I mentioned this to a colleague today, she was taken aback. She couldn't believe that I had abandoned guided reading! She had lots of questions about what I was doing and why I think it's better than the traditional guided reading we have done for years. I did some explaining, but I think it would be more powerful coming from others!
Please help me by commenting and explaining your rationale! If you are conferring with individuals, why are you doing it? Why do you feel it benefits your readers more than the traditional guided reading format?