Guided reading provides a perfect opportunity to support students as they reflect on the text. Sometimes I find myself focusing too much on the accuracy of the reading. It is important to prompt students to fix their errors and problem solve unknown words, but it is equally if not even more important to use teaching moments to help them understand what they are reading. After all, comprehension should be at the heart of reading. Fountas and Pinnell tell us, “Readers are always actively working to construct meaning, so comprehending is an ongoing process rather than simply the outcome or product of reading” (Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency, 2006).
Have you found that some students struggle to tell you what they read in their own words? Stop, Think, and Paraphrase (STP) is a terrific tool to help these students. For more about this teaching strategy and other great ones for improving comprehension, see Chapter 7 in Jan Richardson’s book The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading.
Here are the steps to use STP:
Step 1: Have students read a page in their new book, then cover the page and prompt them to retell what they just read in their own words. Offer support and scaffolding.
Step 2: Hand out STP cards (ours are part of the Comprehension Box Set) and ask each student to STP to themselves after they read a page.
Step 3: Place one or two sticky notes on random pages of each student’s book. After students read a page, have them write a short note paraphrasing what they read on the sticky notes (level K or higher). Take a look below at one student’s STP writing about Penguins: Flightless Birds of the Sea.
Here’s a video of a group of second graders reading the same book. Watch how I help one student really think about the important idea on the page. This takes practice!