Some Harsh Words About “Guided Reading”

A reading teacher commented on the Internet: “The situation in the local public schools is getting worse. This year they switched to Guided Reading. Take a look at Pinnell & Fountas. This is a perfect example of ‘how not to teach reading.'”
Curious, I asked a teacher in Chicago what she knows about Guided Reading. Here’s her indignant response:
“HA!!! Fountas and Pinnell!!!!! They created Guided Reading (I think). These are two women who are obvious whole language experts. They publish their stuff at Heinemann.
Let me explain how Guided Reading goes. You know, Bruce, in a whole language classroom, students are never allowed to do round-robin reading. In other words, they never get to read out loud. It is the forbidden fruit.
So here is your typical Guided Reading period….There are two or three teachers in the room at one time. Each teacher has a group of four or five kids at a time. You give out these cheap little books to the kids. You do a “picture walk” explaining page by page what is happening in the story. You ask the kids to make predictions from the pictures as to what they think the story is about. You do things like make them point out to you, page by page, where all the punctuation is. You talk about periods, exclamation points, and question marks.
Then you ask all the kids in the group to read out loud at their own speed. You now have five kids reading loud and each one is on a different page according to their speed. The teacher is supposed to be listening to all five kids at the same time. I can’t describe how insane this is. The whole thing lasts 15 minutes. Then, you take another group for another 15 minutes and do the same thing.
The books they read are leveled books. They have no story line. These books are for idiots. They only contain the Dolch words the kids have memorized. These kids are NOT really reading, but if you didn’t know better, you would think they are.
Kids in grades 1 and 2 are only supposed to learn 150 Dolch words per year. Those same 150 Dolch words are repeated over and over again in these books. And they have the nerve to tell me that I ‘drill and kill’?????
The best part of this is something Fountas and Pinnell call ‘running records.’ You put a ‘fresh read’ in front of a kid and as they read, you are writing check marks over each word they read correctly. Now…if they get a word wrong, you make a different mark. This goes on and on. I have always refused to do these running records. They are a waste of time, but I have observed teachers doing this with kids who just can’t memorize those darn Dolch words. It is awful for the kid because he sees all those awful check marks over each and every word. I have literally pulled kids away from teachers who do this. This is why many of my ESL students tell me they feel stupid.
I could go on and on. Kids who read get knocked down in scores because of something they call ‘fluency’. According to these idiots, if a kid isn’t reading with feeling or emotion in his voice, he gets a low score. Sometimes, he fails for the year. Also, if a kid can’t ‘retell’ these idiotic stories from beginning to end, he’s deemed a failure.
If you think whole language is fun for kids, you are wrong. Their self-esteem is knocked down time and time again in these classrooms.
I still teach Flesch phonics with my ESL kids (and other kids who I find can’t read). I’ve had so much success and I won’t stop, but my principal wants me to sit in these rooms and do nothing. They are stopping ESL teachers from teaching spoken English to immigrant students, and they don’t want these kids to read in English either. That’s the truth!
These politicians have figured out that they can make money in education now and they are using poor and immigrant children as scapegoats. This is really disgusting. I just try to save them one kid at a time. The administrators hate me and I do phonics right in front of them now. They can all go stand on their heads for all I care. I KNOW I am doing the right thing.”
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Some Harsh Words About “Guided Reading”
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