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Teaching Tips for Teaching Emergent Readers (while Distance Learning)

Updated: Mar 19, 2022

Are you in a rut and tired of trying to teach Guided Reading during Virtual Sessions? Believe me, I understand the pain. Also, depending on the platform you use to meet with students, Guided Reading may not run like it would in person. We use Teams and it is just HARD to do Guided Reading properly. The struggles we have faced include: not being able to listen to students read one on one and students being able to read some words just because someone else in their group Read it and they heard them. This could easily be eliminated by doing one on one meetings but what teacher has time for that every day? I wish I was here to tell you I have the magical answer to solve all your problems but I do not have magical powers (but that would be kind of cool!). What I am here to do is share something that I have been using that has helped some of the kids that are in the very early reading stages. It is also a great strategy to use with preschool kids to introduce them to reading. I have been using it with both groups of kids with SUCCESS! Check out this video tutorial of these Boom Cards™ being used for reading!

Last year a Reading Coach (friend of mine) showed me how she does small groups for emergent readers and especially for students that are struggling. She uses a different approach than Guided Reading so I took her system and made it work virtually (the best I could). Since I incorporated it with some small groups and students I tutor, I saw things "clicking" with the kids and some are now becoming readers. The system focuses on reading, using sight words, using pictures, and using beginning sounds with a lot of repetition. Using this strategy in small groups during class, we would have the students read a book on their level five times softly. If they struggled on a word we could quickly help them with it (quick phonics lesson, or reading strategy help) and then have them continue reading. By the end of reading the book 5 times they would have memorized the sight words and practiced basic reading strategies to read through it. Once they started reading without mistakes on that level we could boost them to the next level. Progress was being made quickly with this approach. I know it isn’t traditional Guided Reading so this was mostly used with students that were getting extra support as another method to help them. AND it was working!

This year an idea popped in my head when Guided Reading was a struggle. Let’s focus on this alternative approach focusing on sight words, basic reading strategies (pictures and sight words) and repetition to help the kindergarteners during Virtual Learning. The kids are loving using these Boom Cards™ Books and even without doing Guided Reading perfectly we are seeing students become readers. I work with a group of 4 year-olds and they are becoming readers too. They love these books and it also boosts their confidence!

I would NEVER suggest replacing Guided Reading with this format but it is a different method and is very helpful for some kids. It is also very useful when we are doing Distance Learning. I love being able to share different strategies that may help other teachers too. So even though I don’t have magical powers to solve all your Guided Reading problems I hope this was magical enough to just give you another strategy that you can try!

I have a free Boom Cards™ Book you can download and try. If it works for you, there are more available! My plan is to add to the collection as the year progresses. Even when we head back to school face to face (or if you are already back) this could be a good resource as extra support for the students that are struggling readers. I know if you are like me, you love finding resources that will help kids that are struggling because we want them all to be able to show success. Helping kids grow and succeed is WHY we are teachers!

Check out this quick video of Boom Cards™ being used by a four year old! They are great for practice at home too!


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