Differentiated Reading Instruction in Third Grade

By: Arleigh Giroux and Lesley Miyagawa, Third Grade East Teachers
Third grade teachers have been leading a pilot reading program intended to provide responsive instruction that elevates each learner's abilities. 
How do we meet the reading needs of a third grader? 
Given that third grade readers fall on a spectrum of reading levels, the expertise of each member of our teaching team is vital in meeting the needs of all our readers. At the beginning of February, we began the pilot of a program designed to give our students more time with instruction specific to their readiness. For this pilot, students from both classes are combined and then divided into specific groups. While we’re still in the early phases of the pilot and collecting data to measure the impact, you can read below to learn more about the different groups. 

What does Reader’s Workshop look like? 
Reader’s Workshop is a program from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Center. Currently, third graders are in a Character Study unit. During mini-lessons they learn how to take notes to mark important things their character said or did and to use these notes to develop a big idea about a character or a prediction about the character. In addition to developing note-taking strategies, students also complete re-tellings, or chapter summaries, of their reading assignments. Students are extremely busy during the workshop period! They meet with a teacher in a small group 2-3 times a week. All of this is preparation for the Book Club discussion at the end of the week with students who are reading the same texts.

What is the Question and Answer Relationship? 
Question and Answer Relationship (QAR) provides a structure for teaching three essential reading comprehension strategies: locating information, detecting text structure and organization, and determining when an inference is needed and how to make it. These strategies are organized into four types of questions to be asked before, during, and after students’ reading. The types are: 
  • Right There Questions: These are literal questions whose answers can be found in the text. Often the words used in the question are the same words found in the text.
  • Think and Search Questions: The questions ask readers to collect information from more than one part of the text and pull it together to answer the question.
  • Author and You: These questions are based on information found in the text, but ask the reader to relate the question to their own experience. Although the answer does not lie directly in the text, the student must have read it in order to answer the question.
  • On My Own: These questions do not require the students to have read the passage. Readers rely on their background or prior knowledge to answer the question. Source:  (Question-Answer Relationship (QAR) | Classroom Strategies | Reading Rockets)
During a QAR session students read or listen to a passage. Then the teacher asks one type of a QAR question and students discuss or write their answers and how they found them. Sometimes a teacher guides the answer process and sometimes students do it independently. 

What is the OG Method? 
The Orton-Gillingham (OG) method is a multisensory structured approach to teaching reading and spelling. Each session aims to engage specific parts of the brain to make connections between them: Broca’s area for phonological awareness and spelling; Wernicke’s area for oral language comprehension; and the occipital lobe for visual awareness or recognizing what they are seeing. Each session begins with a quick write of the alphabet to warm up the brain. Then the teacher begins a review of previously taught letters, sounds and words for reading and spelling. Students have a card with a letter or vowel pattern printed on it. Students say the name of the letter, the sound it makes, and a key word aloud, while using their fingers to write the letter on the table or a textured plastic mat. For example, students might say, “T-H thumb /th/, t-h this /th/” while they write “th” with their fingers. This is repeated with about 10 different letters or vowel patterns. This process of using touch, seeing and hearing senses (kinesthetic, visual, and auditory) is repeated for reviewing words and sentences as well as introducing new information.


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