“…the challenge for teachers is to understand what is going on before their eyes,
as reading and writing come together to influence each other.”
— Marie Clay
Reading and writing are reciprocal processes and aligning them within our Guided Reading lessons is extremely supportive for struggling readers. For example, to support learning to read letters in print, we work on forming letters in writing. Writing high frequency words provides another pathway to knowing them automatically in reading. Using Elkonin boxes reinforces how to go from sound to letter while writing and do the same slow, left-to-right check of letter to sound while reading.
As children grow in independence as readers, we also shift the level of independence of their writing in Guided Reading. Interactive writing allows us to introduce children to writing meaningful text even when they can only contribute one letter or a period. In dictated guided writing, we ensure that young readers get lots of practice with the high frequency words and letter/sound combinations they are learning in reading. When we generate messages together in negotiated guided writing, we make use of children’s oral language and the ownership that their increased involvement brings. Independent writing in guided reading lessons allows our more advanced struggling readers to link their work in comprehension in reading with responses in writing, while still supporting them with strategies to accurately execute what they compose.
The writing we do in Guided Reading does not replace other writing that students are doing throughout the day, in writer’s workshop or in content studies. Instead, it better prepares them to understand how to use their reading to support their writing, and vice versa. Many struggling readers find their way into reading through writing, as the whole process is slowed down, they can use their oral language to support them, and they take pride in producing their own stories.