Guided Reading and Why it’s Important – an Action Research Masters Project becomes an ITunes App

Tue, Oct 8, 2013

Distance Learning, Uncategorized

By Debbie Tanner

Guided reading is one of those new buzzwords in education today, although the biggest advocates for guided reading have been bringing it forward for many years. In a nutshell, guided reading is about teaching students strategies for comprehending increasingly complex texts. There are two important components to guided reading. One is finding text that is on an appropriate level for the students and the second is being able to choose a text that illustrates the strategies for comprehension. Finding the appropriate leveled book is fairly easy.

There are many strategies for leveling books including a lexile level which is generated by Scholastic publishing and guided reading levels from Fountas and Pinnell. Each of these has assessment pieces that can help identify students’ reading levels. Many card catalog software pieces can identify reading levels, but finding a place to search for books based on skills is more elusive. Although any book that a teacher loves can be used to teach virtually any skill, some books lend themselves more to different skills than others.

This year in Palm Beach County, our district chose to buy a set of books from Scholastic that are considered a guided reading set. There are 26 levels (A-Z) and at each level, there are 35 titles. That’s almost 1000 titles to choose from. I found just looking at this set of books was completely overwhelming. How would I ever be able to figure out what books would be right for which kids? A well versed librarian would certainly helpful but what if a teacher is in a bookstore looking for new books? Or what if you found a great deal for books at online site that you want to take advantage of? I couldn’t find anywhere where I could get a comprehensive list of books that I could find based on the skills you could teach with them.

As part of my master’s degree program through Walden University, we were encouraged to do action research. Basically, we were encouraged to find problems at our school level and try to come up with strategies to solve them. So I thought I could create a searchable database for books. I did a little research and chose Filemaker software, which has the benefit of being cross platform (you can use it on either Windows or Apple) and has a feature where you can upload the file to a portable device, like an ipad or iphone via a free app. However, after I got the file finished, I realized that the two-step process of downloading both an app AND a file was probably too cumbersome got most people, so I hired an app designer to turn it into a stand alone app. The app, called the Booksearch is currently available on Itunes for ipad, iphone, and ipod and gives teachers a resource for finding books to teach guided reading. You can read more about it at www.thebooksearch.net.


Debbie is a school librarian at a public Montessori school in Delray Beach, FL. Before she was the librarian, she was a classroom teacher for 22 years. She is certified in elementary education, ESL, and gifted education. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Change and Technological Innovation from Walden University and received her bachelor’s degree from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC. She is also Nationally Board Certified.

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