Updated: Mar 5, 2022
What is Guided Reading? Guided reading is an instructional practice that allows a teacher to work one on one with students to help them grow as readers. Teachers work with small groups of students that need support with similar strategies or are on similar reading levels. It is important to preselect text and plan guided reading lessons in advance. Texts that are selected need to be geared towards the reading strategy you want students to practice and normally on their instructional level. Books should give students a little challenge so you have opportunities to support them as they are reading. In my opinion, Guided Reading is one of the most impactful instructional practices a teacher can use to help students grow as readers. It is important for teachers to meet with each reading group once a day and the lowest group twice a day, if possible.
During guided reading, a teacher conducts a very quick book introduction. Then they model a reading strategy or skill they want the children to practice. The teacher should model the strategy from a different text than the one the students will be reading. Then the students will each have a book they will read independently. It is important to teach the students to read softly and focus on their book since all the students will be reading at once. I also like the students to start at different times to avoid one student listening and repeating what another student reads. While the students are reading independently the teacher listens in to one student at a time. This one-on-one opportunity allows the teacher to provide immediate feedback and support as needed. The teacher and student can also celebrate small successes together. While listening to each student read it is important to take anecdotal notes. This data will help plan new guided reading lessons and allow the teacher to really tell when a student is ready to move to another group.
After the teacher listens to each student read, the teacher can conduct a quick book discussion and word work activity. I like to pick a word or phonics skill from the book and have the students practice it. This takes some time to preplan, but I always have letter tiles and white boards to allow for some quick word work practice. One quick word work practice activity my kids enjoy is "mix it and fix it". I provide them a word and they have to spell it with letter tiles. Then I mix them up and they have to fix the word again. Each time they spell and say the word.
One thing I noticed in Guided Reading was kids were showing growth and doing a great job, but then when I tested them they couldn’t answer the questions provided. My solution was to make sure I used question stems from the assessment we used and I asked that type of question for every book we read. Then when it was time to assess the students, they were comfortable with the question types and their growth started to show even more.
I have seen Guided Reading conducted in different ways and I think one of the main things is to make sure you are listening to kids read individually and giving immediate support and feedback. Don’t popcorn or choral read because this can actually hurt students' progress. I am guilty of this from when I first started teaching, but I won’t go back to this now that I know better! Another important thing to remember with every form of guided reading is to look at student progress and move them to a new group when they are ready. You can do a quick running record or base this move from your anecdotal notes and observations. If we wait for every student in a group to be ready to move we will be holding some kids back longer than needed. Groups should be fluid to meet each student's individual needs.
Guided Reading at a Glance
Select a book
Look for Reading Strategy Being Taught and Book Level
Plan Lesson (including Word Work)
Brief Book Intro
Introduce Reading Strategy
Model Strategy (using a different book)
Kids Read Independently
Teacher Provides Support and Feedback
Teacher Takes Anecdotal Notes
Book Discussion/Question Stems
Word Work Activity
More Resources for Guided Reading:
Literacy Center Activities (Also Used for Guided Reading Word Work)