While watching Cheryl Gascoyne deliver a brilliant session on the merits of guided reading, I had an epiphany. Guided reading is a process that in elementary schools has been used to effectively teach children how to read. I used this process in my own classroom a number of years ago and I can attest to its success. The Collaborative Response Model is a parallel process but on a grander scheme.
First, teachers use assessments to gain an understanding of what level students are reading. They then determine groupings from the assessment. It is intended that those groupings be focused on building a skill rather than just grouping for a level as indicated in the assessment. After students are arranged in groups, teachers work with small groups on the targeted skills and the rest of the children work in small groups on independent skills to build their reading repertoire. While this sounds relatively straightforward, there are many complexities that pose challenges for teachers in conducting this process with expert precision.
The Collaborative Response Model resembles the guided reading process in a number of ways. The use of assessment data to inform and identify areas of strength and challenges is an essential element of the collaborative response model. Think about the process, not just in terms of providing reading instruction, but to design and implement supports regardless of the concern. We identify a students’ needs through the use of benchmark and diagnostic assessment data, viewed through the lens of a teachers’ expertise and judgement based on their relationship with that student then we examine a number of possible strategies or supports that could be provided to allow that student to grow.
In the Collaborative Response Model the possible interventions, supports and strategies are articulated through a school’s pyramid of intervention or as we prefer to call it now, the continuum of supports. This continuum is developed over time, examining expert practices in the school, vetted by current research and amalgamated for easy access and usability. In guided reading, teachers have access to a plethora of strategies and supports through their resources and expertise.
One critical difference between the guided reading process and the Collaborative Response Model is rather than a single teacher working in isolation to determine groups and supports, there is a team who can navigate and support one another through the decision making process to determine what supports and strategies are needed to ensure a child’s success. This critical difference is the component that drives the Collaborative Response Model and allows for, not only the growth of students but the building of capacity of each member of the team.