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Critical Reflection:

The planning and implementation of this four-lesson teaching intervention provided me with
rich learning in relation to guided reading and explicit comprehension strategy instruction.
Firstly, in planning my targeted intervention programme, I considered the research evidence
for teaching reading comprehension strategies to ensure I provided an evidence-based
intervention to address the learning needs of my students. Research supports the teaching of a
few comprehension strategies (between 5 and 9) through explicit instruction involving
teacher modelling and explanation, as well as providing students with adequate scaffolded
practice (Pressley, 2008). Research also indicates the lack of explicit comprehension
instruction as a fundamental cause of poor comprehension in our students (Pressley, 2006).
Dymock and Nicholson (2012) selected five research-based strategies, known as the High 5!
Comprehension strategies. These include Activating background knowledge, Questioning,
Analysing text structure, Creating mental images and Summarising (Dymock & Nicholson,
2012). I selected the main strategy of analysing narrative text structure. Both the Literacy
Learning Progressions (MOE, 2010) and the Reading and Writing Standards for Years 1-8
(MOE, 2015) support the value of narrative text structure knowledge in relation to reading
comprehension. The Literacy Learning Progressions (MOE, 2010) explicitly indicate that
students after three years at school, will utilize a variety of comprehension strategies, and by
the end of Year 4 will be able to identify the key ideas and summarise texts through the use of
their knowledge regarding text structure. However, Dymock (2007) proposes that this
strategy should be used along with other High 5! Strategies, thus I also utilised Activating
Background Knowledge, Questioning, and Creating a Mental Image in Lessons 1 and 2, as
well as Summarising in Lesson 3. I planned to introduce summarising in the third lesson, as
Pearson and Duke (2002) propose that this is a more difficult strategy.
The implementation of my lessons highlighted the effectiveness of activating students
background knowledge to both the content and text structure. This not only engaged the
students, but also provided them with key insight into the elements of the story web. Starting
with their experiences provided a meaningful, relevant context for learning, which is an
essential aspect of effective, culturally responsive teaching and learning (Bishop &
Berryman, 2006; Macfarlane, 2004) and aligns with the constructivist view that students are
able to construct knowledge as their old and new knowledge interacts (Barker, 2010).
Furthermore, it is in accordance with the CORE model of teaching (Calfee & Patrick, 1995),
which encourages teachers to connect their students to the text through the activation of
their prior knowledge not only at the start of the lesson, but throughout (Nicholson &
Dymock, 2007). Although this was the case, I feel that I could have been more explicit in
highlighting activation of background knowledge, as a comprehension strategy the students
can utilize to better understand texts. On reflection, I was also less successful in explicitly
identifying Questioning and Creating a Mental Image as comprehension strategies.
Comparatively, the Analysis of Text Structure was clearly indicated as a comprehension
strategy, and supported by focusing their attention on this aspect of learning through
provision of a clear purpose for reading. Thus, explicitly highlighting each strategy utilized is
an aspect I will consider and look to improve in my future teaching of guided reading.
The comprehensive planning process I underwent ensured that I knew the text content and the
questions to be asked at each stage of reading, which served to provide me with confidence
and ensured the flow of each lesson was maintained. On reflection, this teaching intervention
highlighted comprehensive planning and knowledge of the text content as integral to effective

literacy instruction, which is supported by current research (Dymock, 2013). Moreover, the
questions I developed in my lesson plans further served to maintain the students interest and
encourage deep learning. My knowledge and understanding of the texts, as well as my own
lesson plans enabled me to effectively teach in the moment, which literature indicates is
quite a sophisticated skill, as it requires responsiveness to the students and ones own
observations in order to facilitate a deep discussion (Fountas & Pinnell, 2013). Ultimately,
this teaching intervention portrayed my planning and questioning as key areas of strength in
relation to teaching guided reading, and thus key aspects I will draw upon as a Beginning
Teacher.
In addition, my lessons provided fundamental insight into the importance of providing waittime to enable students to gather their thinking and formulate responses, which is supported
by research as a key element of effective guided reading instruction (Dymock, 2013). There
were a couple of occasions when I did not provide hesitant students with the wait-time they
required, but instead instantly moved on to the next student. As a consequence of not being
provided with the opportunity to contribute their ideas, I observed these specific students
withdrawing from the lesson and was then required to re-engage them. Thus, it is evident that
this was a key weakness in relation to my pedagogical practice, and an aspect requiring
development. Further critical reflection on my teaching enabled me to identify several
reasons contributing to this action, including being presented with the excitement of the other
students who wanted to provide me with their answers, the pressure of time, feeling rushed to
complete the lesson, as well as the knowledge that maintaining flow is important. In general,
my planning was very optimistic in terms of the content to cover in one lesson, especially
considering that dedicating such an extended period of time on the guided reading of one
group is not the mentor teachers usual practice, the latter involving 5-15 minute sessions.
This also resulted in not having time for the independent practice tasks I had planned for the
students to complete at the end of each lesson, which forms a key part of explicit strategy
instruction and thus may have affected their achievements (Dymock & Nicholson, 2012).
However, this raised for me a fundamental question in relation to time management: As a
future teacher, how will I structure and manage to ensure that students are provided with
sufficient guided-reading instruction time? In order to explore this further, I will discuss and
observe the guided reading programmes of other teachers at this school during the final week,
as well as in my second practicum school. The possible solutions I have already formulated
include teaching the comprehension strategies in a general manner to the whole class, and
then integrating it into guided reading, or spending 30 minutes with one specific group, and
only 10 minutes with others per day.
Moreover, this teaching intervention increased my understanding of the importance of the
pedagogical practice of classroom management in terms of being able to teach individual
reading groups effectively, which is supported by research highlighting it as one of the key
characteristics of effective teachers of literacy (Pressley et al., 2001). During my third lesson,
the noise level of the rest of the class was also a bit of a challenge, and although I taught the
lesson, it was clear by the end of it that the students were not able to focus and engage as they
had in the previous lessons. This experience has reinforced the necessity of firmly
establishing classroom management and routines in the first weeks of term one when I have
my own class, in order to ensure that I am managing student learning.
Finally, although my teaching intervention focused on comprehension strategy instruction,
my student group also has significant learning needs in relation to decoding. I am very aware
that I will need to develop my own pedagogical content knowledge in relation to the teaching

of decoding, as it can significantly hinder students educational outcomes (Nordstrom et al.,


2015). In order to develop this area of my practice, I plan to research and examine the
literature on effective decoding instruction, as well as completing a teaching inquiry in this
area during my next practicum.
Ultimately, this teaching intervention has opened my eyes to the possibilities and potential of
effective guided reading instruction, ignited my passion to become an effective teacher of
literacy, as well as portraying that high-quality, highly effective implementation of guided
reading involves a process of self-reflection (Fountas & Pinnell, 2013, p. 280).

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