For example, if the book is about turkeys, a teacher could activate prior knowledge by asking students what they already know about turkeys (you can simply accept responses and make it an oral conversation, or you may wish to record responses and make a list or a spider-graph to record responses). Next, the teacher uses the responses to draw interest toward the text about to be read. The teacher may also wish to follow student responses with a personal experience with the subject. My students always love to hear my story as a young child growing up on a farm that not only had cows, horses, pigs, and sheep, but thousands of turkeys! I show them a old clip of when my brother put me in a pen with the turkeys. The clip shows me running from the turkeys while the mercilessly chase me wherever I go. After the video, I show a turkey feather that I kept from my childhood days on that farm.
Another simple, but effective way to introduce a book is to take a “Picture Walk.” The picture walk is a time for students to discuss pictures, make predictions, front-load vocabulary, and fill conceptual gaps.
To begin the picture walk, the teacher holds one copy of the text for students to view. As she turns the pages one-by-one, she asks questions such as “What is this a picture of?” “What is happening in this picture?” “What clues about the story do you think this picture is giving us?” “What word(s) can you use to describe this picture?” “What picture do you think will be on the next page?”
During the picture walk the teacher should implant vocabulary that is found in the book. For example, if a page contains the word brown, the teacher might say on that particular page, “Yes. It is a bear. He looks like a brown bear to me.” If the word snout is found on the page, the teacher might say, “I think the bear on this page has a huge snout!” “Do you know what a snout is?”
Following the introduction, the teacher passes each student a copy of the guided reading book and invites students to point at each word as s/he reads the story. During this reading, the teacher models good reading behaviors such as tracking print, phrasing, inflection, etc. as students follow or read along.
Next, the group turns back to the cover and reads together as a group (choral reading). During this time, the teacher guides, observes and supports. Following this reading, the students re-read independently as the teacher focuses on one student at a time. Following, the students should re-read the book at least one more time. One way to accomplish this is to have a basket of book-buddies (stuffed animal pets) available for the students to read the story to in the classroom library, at another table, or other location in the room, and then return back to the reading table when that task is completed. This will allow the teacher to keep one or two students at the table that may need additional scaffolding.
Reflect and Respond
Following the reading, it is a time to reflect and respond to the text and the strategies used to read the text.