Tool for the Field: Helping a Child with Guided Silent Reading


This tool will help structure a pre-reading session in which you work with a student who is preparing to begin a silent reading assignment.


1.  Preparation

Read the assigned selection. Before you meet with the student, familiarize yourself with the selection the student will be reading. Read the selection and identify ideas you think might be of interest to the student. Circle words that are likely to be new words to the student—the teacher may tell you the new vocabulary words ahead of time, or the selection itself may include a list of new vocabulary words.

Prepare to help with new vocabulary. Check your understanding of the new vocabulary words’ meanings to be sure you’re familiar with the way they’re used in the reading selection. Plan how you will help the student figure out the definitions of the new vocabulary words that he or she doesn’t know.

2.  Pre-reading Activities

Ask what the student knows about the subject of the reading. Ask the student to look at the title of the reading with you. Ask what the title suggests (or says) the reading will be about. Ask questions to see what the student’s experience with the subject has been. Mention one or two of the ideas in the reading that you think might spark the student’s interest.

Do a text walk-through with the student. Do a brief “walk-through” of the text with the student to look at some of the text features, such as headings, graphs, and photos. Talk with the student about what these features tell him or her about the subject of the selection.

Ask the student about vocabulary words you’ve identified as important. Talk with the student about what the new words mean. Encourage the student to look at parts of the word for clues to their meaning. Show pictures or objects to illustrate the word meanings if that is practical. To the greatest extent possible, help the student figure the meaning out, rather than telling the student the meaning.

Set up a signal for the student to use to ask or tell you something. When the student is ready to begin reading, agree on a signal, such as a “time out” hand sign or some other simple signal, that the student can use to ask for your help or tell you about something new he or she learned.

3.  During-reading Monitoring

Be available to respond to the student’s signal. Without hovering over the student—and perhaps distracting the student from the reading—remain close so you can give help if it’s needed. Listen attentively if the student wants to point out something interesting, but ensure that the large majority of the student’s time is spent in reading. If the student is making notes to answer questions about the reading, offer advice about where to look for answers. You could, for example, suggest that a student re-read a particular paragraph where the answer is found.

4.  After-reading Reflection and Review

Ask the student to reflect on the reading. The teacher or the text might have review questions that you have been asked to have the student answer or that you and the student are to discuss. Even if you do not have review questions to use, ask the student to tell you some of the things he or she learned or found especially interesting in the reading.