An interview of Laura Robb and David L. Harrison, authors of Guided Practice for Reading Growth. Interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

An interview of Laura Robb and David L. Harrison, authors of Guided Practice for Reading Growth. Interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

I’ve known David and Laura for a very long time. Here are links to their bios LINK1, LINK2.  In writing the book Guided Practice for Reading Growth: Texts and Lessons to Improve Fluency, Comprehension and Vocabulary, they had a perfect collaboration. Laura’s years of working with teachers in classrooms and familiarity with the latest research on how middle school children learn, helped her create the kind of lessons teachers need to help their older readers. David’s ability as a writer and poet is unmatched anywhere. He has been the poet laureate for my state (Missouri). He has collaborated with our state’s professional reading journal, The Missouri Reader, to produce two different special issues around how to use poetry in the classroom LINK1, LINK2. That background makes him the perfect candidate to write poems around content area topics needed for this project. The project uses a method I’ve reported on extensively: repeated readings of short text to improve fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. The guru of that method is Tim Rasinski. A good resource for more information on implementing that method is Rasinski and Chesman’s The Megabook of Fluency LINK. My blogs around this topic included the work of Rasinski, LINK, Kraus and Kay LINK, and Litwin LINK.

What Laura and David’s series brings to the table is a ready-to-use, complete program, with lessons designed for students in grades 4-8. The lessons were modified during field testing. They work. Laura and David do an amazing job during the interview of explaining how and why the lessons were written as they are. The series provides short texts for each and every lesson. Most of the content area poems were written by David, especially for this series. The book also includes helpful videos to explain and support the implementation of the lessons.

While visiting sites where reading specialists gather to talk about their craft, I’ve often seen the question raised of what is an effective intervention to use to improve middle school students’ reading. Now I have at least one good answer to that question- Robb & Harrison’s Guided Practice for Reading Growth series. Let us see what Laura and Robb had to say about their book.

Here is a jpg of the book’s cover and a link to use in order to obtain the book, LINK:

Now let’s look at the interview:


  1. What is guided practice? Where does it fit in the curriculum? 05:00
  2. Why did you write this book? 05:00
  • Why do you use the term developing readers? 12:00
  • Who needs guided practice? How did David select topics for poems and short texts? 12:00
  • Why poetry and short texts? 12:00
  • Why are you building background knowledge with videos? 13:50
  • Why do you have students write in notebooks and teachers model with their teacher’s notebook? 13:50
  • Is guided practice enough? What else do all students need? 24:00
  • Do teachers do this all year? How do they choose lessons? 024:00

A very special thanks to Laura and David for doing the interview! There is a lot to unpack.  Looking ahead, I’ll be taking a break for the holidays (Happy Holidays, Everyone!). I am already in the process of getting in contact with more authors. There are many more great books out there to report on. I’m also getting ready for LitCon. LitCon has been changed to virtual this year. I hope some of you can come to my session. You can also come for the session I’m doing in collaboration with Paul Thomas. Both have to do with the efficacy of Reading Recovery. Here is a link to register for the conference. LINK.  Here is a link to additional information about the conference LINK.  (please remember the conference has been changed to a virtual conference this year).

So, Happy Reading and Writing. I’ll end with the thought that using methods like those employed by Laura and David can make learning to read a JOYFUL experience. That is as it should be. I look forward to talking to you soon!

Dr. Sam Bommarito, aka the centrist who uses ideas from all sides to inform his teaching

Copyright 2021 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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