Research behind guided reading the four blocks way
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Research Behind Guided Reading the Four Blocks Way. James W. Cunningham Professor Emeritus, UNC-Chapel Hill. The Four Main Issues in Teaching Guided Reading:. The need for reading comprehension instruction The kind of comprehension instruction that is best

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Research Behind Guided Reading the Four Blocks Way

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Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

Research Behind Guided Reading the Four Blocks Way

James W. Cunningham

Professor Emeritus,

UNC-Chapel Hill


The four main issues in teaching guided reading

The Four Main Issues in Teaching Guided Reading:

  • The need for reading comprehension instruction

  • The kind of comprehension instruction that is best

  • The need for differentiated reading instruction

  • The kind of differentiation that is best


The need for reading comprehension instruction

The Need for Reading Comprehension Instruction


Lack of comprehension instruction

Lack of Comprehension Instruction

Durkin, D. (1978-1979). What classroom observations reveal about reading comprehension instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 14, 481-533.


Lack of comprehension instruction1

Lack of Comprehension Instruction

Pressley, M., Wharton-McDonald, R., Mistretta-Hampston, J., & Echevarria, M. (1998). Literacy instruction in 10 fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms in upstate New York. Scientific Studies of Reading, 2, 159-194.


Lack of comprehension instruction2

Lack of Comprehension Instruction

Practice of comprehension strategies but virtually no instruction in strategy use (p. 170).

we were struck by the almost complete absence of direct instruction about comprehension strategies. (p. 172)

we observed only rare instances of explicit comprehension instruction. Indeed, the situation still seems to be much as Durkin described, with a great deal of testing of comprehension but very little teaching of it. (p. 187)


Lack of comprehension instruction3

Lack of Comprehension Instruction

there was little evidence that students were being taught to self-regulate comprehension processes as they read . . . . (p. 187)

In general, students were provided with opportunities to practice comprehension strategies but were not actually taught the strategies themselves or the utility of applying them. (p. 187)


Lack of comprehension instruction4

Lack of Comprehension Instruction

Pearson, P. D. (2002). American reading instruction since 1967. In N. B. Smith, American reading instruction (special edition; pp. 419-486). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

Strategy instruction was another casualty [of whole language]. . . . [D]irect advice from teachers about how to summarize what one has read, how to use text structure to infer relations among ideas, how to distinguish fact from opinion, how to determine the central thread of a story . . . were virtually nonexistent in the [whole language/literature-based] basals (p. 455)


Lack of comprehension instruction5

Lack of Comprehension Instruction

RAND Reading Study Group. (2002). Reading for understanding: Toward an R&D program in reading comprehension. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.


Inadequate growth in reading comprehension

Inadequate Growth in Reading Comprehension


National assessment of educational progress reading

National Assessment of Educational Progress-Reading

Donahue, P. L., Voelkl, K. E., Campbell, J. R., & Mazzeo, J. (1999). NAEP 1998 reading report card for the nation. Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics.


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

[In fourth grade] in 1998, the percentages of students performing at or above the Basic level of reading achievement were 62 percent; the percentages who performed at or above the Proficient level were 31 percent; and the percentages who performed at the highest achievement level, Advanced, were 7 percent. (Executive Summary)


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

At grade 4 [in 1998], no significant changes since 1994 or 1992 were observed in the percentages of students attaining any of the reading achievement levels. (Executive Summary)


Naep reading 2003

NAEP-Reading 2003

Donahue, P. L., Daane, M. C., &Grigg, W. S. (2003, November). The nations report card: Reading highlights 2003. Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Statistics. (nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/main2003/2004452.asp)


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

The average fourth-grade score in 2003 was not found to differ significantly from that in 1992. (Introduction)


Do we need more reading comprehension instruction

Do We Need More Reading Comprehension Instruction?

  • Yes, because research indicates that there is a serious lack of reading comprehension instruction now

  • Yes, because research indicates that there is inadequate growth in reading comprehension now


A tough question for the administrator who advocates guided reading in leveled groups

A Tough Question for the Administrator Who Advocates Guided Reading in Leveled Groups

Since there is a documented need for more reading comprehension instruction, and since the high-stakes reading tests are all comprehension tests, how come you want us to put so little emphasis on comprehension during guided reading and so much emphasis on oral reading fluency?


The kind of comprehension instruction that is best

The Kind of Comprehension Instruction That is Best


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

National Reading Panel (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction: Reports of the subgroups (National Institute of Health Pub. No. 00-4754). Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Research supports teaching the most effective comprehension strategies

Research Supports Teaching the Most Effective Comprehension Strategies

  • monitoring comprehension

  • using graphic and semantic organizers

  • answering questions

  • generating questions

  • recognizing story structure

  • summarizing


Research supports teaching the most effective comprehension strategies1

Research Supports Teaching the Most Effective Comprehension Strategies

  • using prior knowledge

  • using mental imagery


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

Duke, N. K., & Pearson, P. D. (2002). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension. In A. E. Farstrup & S. J. Samuels (Eds.), What research has to say about reading instruction (3rd ed.; pp. 205-242). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


Research supports teaching the most effective comprehension strategies2

Research Supports Teaching the Most Effective Comprehension Strategies

  • prediction/activation of prior knowledge

  • think-alouds (which includes monitoring comprehension)

  • using text structure

  • using/constructing visual representations (including graphic organizers and imagery)

  • summarization

  • answering questions/questioning


Both the nrp and the duke pearson reviews support

Both the NRP and the Duke & Pearson Reviews Support:

  • explicit teaching

  • teacher modeling and thinking aloud about the strategy

  • guided practice with the strategy

  • support for students applying the strategy independently

  • some use of cooperative learning groups

  • some lessons that combine comprehension strategies


The need for differentiation in guided reading instruction

The Need for Differentiation in Guided Reading Instruction


Undifferentiated reading instruction

Undifferentiated Reading Instruction

Pearson, P. D. (2002). American reading instruction since 1967. In N. B. Smith, American reading instruction (special edition; pp. 419-486). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


Undifferentiated reading instruction1

Undifferentiated Reading Instruction

[In California] Whole language got conflated with whole-class instruction . . . . (p. 451)


Undifferentiated reading instruction2

Undifferentiated Reading Instruction

Cunningham, P. M., & Cunningham, J. W. Does research support whole-class reading instruction? (Trends), Educational Leadership, 1985, 43, 88-89.

We concluded, No, it doesnt.


The kind of differentiation that is best

The Kind of Differentiation That is Best


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

Pat Cunningham and Dottie Hall developed the Four Blocks during the 1989-1990 school year in one first-grade teachers classroom


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

The Four Blocks was developed in opposition to several whole language trends that had recently arrived from California

  • It taught phonics directly and systematically out of context

  • It taught first-graders how to spell high-frequency words correctly

  • It differentiated reading instruction


The first four blocks publication

The First Four-Blocks Publication

Cunningham, P. M., Hall, D. P. & Defee, M. (1991). Nonability grouped, multilevel instruction: A year in a first grade classroom. The Reading Teacher, 44, 566-571.


The original name of the four blocks

The Original Name of the Four Blocks

multilevel, multimethod reading instruction


What is the opposite of multilevel multimethod reading instruction

What is the opposite of multilevel, multimethod reading instruction?

Single-level, single-method reading instruction or undifferentiated reading instruction

(In other words, undifferentiated reading instruction is the opposite of the Four Blocks)


The four blocks

The Four Blocks

The Four Blocks is differentiated reading instruction consisting of multiple methods that are each taught at multiple levels to maximize the success of children who perform below, at, and above grade level; who learn differently; and, who have different needs in reading


What does research say about grouping for reading instruction

What Does Research Say About Grouping for Reading Instruction?


Research on undifferentiated reading instruction

Research on Undifferentiated Reading Instruction

Paratore, J. R., & Indrisano, R. (2003). Grouping for instruction in literacy. In J. Flood, D. Lapp, J. R. Squire, & J. M. Jensen (Eds.), Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts (2nd ed.; pp. 566-572). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.


Research on undifferentiated reading instruction1

Research on Undifferentiated Reading Instruction

many studies have examined the effects of [small group] ability grouping versus no grouping at all, or whole-class instruction. [They] found conclusive results favoring [small group] ability grouping over no grouping at all . . . . (p. 566)


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

Since research says that small-group ability grouping is more effective than undifferentiated reading instruction, why doesnt the Four Blocks include leveled grouping?

Because Pat and Dottie were determined to do differentiation without the downside


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

Remember that, in the summer and fall of 1989, when Pat and Dottie first developed the Four Blocks, they did not include grouping by level, even though they were helping a first-grade teacher improve her program. (That first-grade teacher had always had four small ability groups every year for the 16 years she had taught.)


Research behind guided reading the four blocks way

Since differentiation is so obviously necessary given the different needs and levels of children in any grade, why was it largely abandoned during the 1985-1996 period in American reading instruction?

Differentiation was not abandoned because it is a bad idea, but because the ways schools had differentiated had often been bad ideas.


Differentiation has a downside if

Differentiation has a downside if:

  • It undermines student self-efficacy (self-confidence)

  • It leads to tracking (grouping across classes)

  • It relies on students doing a significant proportion of independent work


Undermining students self efficacy

Undermining Students Self-Efficacy

students placed in low-achieving [small] groups often experience low self-esteem and negative attitudes toward reading and learning . . . . (Paratore & Indrisano, 2003, page 566)


Cunningham s law 51

Cunninghams Law #51

Elementary schools which mandate that guided reading be taught in small leveled groups will face strong pressure to track for reading instruction in the intermediate grades.


Tracking students across class grouping by ability or level

Tracking Students (Across-Class Grouping by Ability or Level)

Good, T. L., & Marshall, S. (1984). Do students learn more in heterogeneous or homogeneous groups? In P. L. Peterson, L. C. Wilkinson, & M. Hallinan (Eds.), The social context of instruction: Group organization and group processes (pp. 15-38). New York: Academic Press.


Tracking students across class grouping by ability or level1

Tracking Students (Across-Class Grouping by Ability or Level)

a consistent pattern of deprivation for low students [occurred] in schools that practice tracking (Good & Marshall, 1984, page 25)


Tracking students across class grouping by ability or level2

Tracking Students (Across-Class Grouping by Ability or Level)

In the elementary grades, tracking increases the achievement gap without raising overall achievement.


Increasing the proportion of time students work independently

Increasing the Proportion of Time Students Work Independently

Cunninghams Law #52: The more a school or classroom claims to have differentiated instruction, the more the children are expected to work alone, teaching themselves the curriculum


Increasing the proportion of time students work independently1

Increasing the Proportion of Time Students Work Independently

Rosenshine, B. (1983). Teaching functions in instructional programs. Elementary School Journal, 83, 335-351.


Increasing the proportion of time students work independently2

Increasing the Proportion of Time Students Work Independently

Rosenshine reviewed the research on independent work and concluded that the larger proportion of time students spend working alone, the less they learn


Research supporting multilevel reading instruction

Research Supporting Multilevel Reading Instruction

Pressley, M., Allington, R. L., Wharton-McDonald, R., Block, C. C., & Morrow, L. M. (2001). Learning to read: Lessons from exemplary first-grade classrooms. New York: Guilford.


Research supporting multilevel reading instruction1

Research Supporting Multilevel Reading Instruction

[Exemplary first-grade] teachers did not report using grouping by achievement . . . . Likewise, these teachers did not report relying on whole-class basal reader lessons but, instead, reported using a mixture of large- and small-group instructional plans as well as side-by-side reading and writing opportunities . . . . Instead of round-robin reading, . . . these teachers reported flexible use of grouping and variety in the kinds of reading done by students . . . . (p. 39) [emphasis added]


Guided reading the four blocks way is research based because

Guided Reading the Four-Blocks Way is Research-Based Because:

  • It teaches reading comprehension, not just oral reading fluency

  • It teaches the major comprehension strategies supported by research, the way research supports teaching them

  • The instruction is differentiated

  • The differentiation lacks the downside of grouping students by reading level


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