Loyola University Maryland

Emerging Scholars

Brandi Whitecotton, Afra A. Hersi, Ph.D.

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Using Guided Reading to Improve African American Readers' Reading Development

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The reading achievement data for African American students’ paints a bleak picture of their performance. The 2007 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP)  reveal persistent underachievement in reading with nearly 60 percent of African America students in the fourth grade reading below basic (Lee, Grigg, Donahue, 2007). Though much has been learned about the ways to enhance literacy learning, educators have often failed to make these methods available to African American students (Daugherty, 1997, Tatum, 2007). Drawing in an action research design, this study explores the influence of small group guided reading instruction, focused on supporting African American students’ reading development. Guided reading is a four step approach to reading instruction taught in small groups as part of a balanced literacy program (Schirmer & Schaffer, 2010). This program was designed to support reader’s development of decoding, fluency and comprehension skills. Purposive sample was utilized to identify five African American students in second grade, who participated in a nine-week small group guided reading intervention. The qualitative data collected included observations of students, reading attitude survey, pre-post assessments, and teacher-running records. The findings suggests teacher mediated instruction (facilitating discussion and modeling reading strategies) was a benefit for a majority of the students in the study. All but one student who participated in the guided reading group improved their reading fluency, comprehension, and motivation. Four of the five students who worked in the group stated that they enjoyed reading with the teacher and were active in the discussion, while one student was a reluctant participant. These findings suggest the potential guided reading has for improving reading development through teacher scaffolded instruction. The author will discuss both the benefits and challenges of implanting guided reading with African American students. The results highlight that African American children enjoy working in a small group with the teacher during reading instruction and that African American students can improve their reading development through the implementation of guided reading instruction.