So … you’re ready to begin guided reading, but you’re not sure how to structure your guided reading lesson. This post is for you!
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Have you been following along with our guided reading series? I talked about ten reasons guided reading is so important, explained the guided reading levels, and named places to find guided reading texts. Finally, I explained how to form guided reading groups.
Now that your groups are formed – it’s time to think about your lessons. What’s in a guided reading lesson, anyway?
Let’s take a look at two different types of guided reading lessons – a lesson for pre-readers and a lesson for kids who are already reading.
Note: In the video I mention free printable templates you can download. Just scoot down to the bottom of this post to grab them. 🙂
The parts of a guided reading lesson for pre-readers
Yes, you can do a guided reading lesson with kids who aren’t reading yet! Here’s how.
1- Make a teaching point. This will probably be something related to concepts of print – how to hold a book, how to match your voice to one word on the page, how to read from left to right, etc.
2- Do a shared reading of a level A text. Since this group of children isn’t ready to read on their own, you read with them. First read the text aloud. Then invite the students to read along with you, each with their own copy of the book.
3- Ask questions about the text. Believe me, I know how hard it can be to think of questions related to a level A text, but it can be done! Here’s a tip: ask questions about the pictures. You’d be surprised at how many higher level skills (such as making inferences) can come into play here.
4- Do name work (optional). If this group of children is still struggling to read or recognize their names, do name activities. You can make simple name puzzles out of a sentence strip or give each of them a container with the letters of their name. Write their name on a strip and have them match it using the magnetic letters.
5- Do letter work. Most likely, this group needs practice identifying letters and their sounds. Have a system for keeping track of which letters each student needs to learn. Then make sure the letter work is individualized so you’re making the most of this time. One way to do this is to give each child a bag of the letters h/she is working on. The activities you do will depend on whether your students are learning to identify letters or name their sounds.
6- Do a phonological or phonemic awareness activity. Conclude the lesson with rhyming, syllable work, word awareness, or something related to sounds in words.
And there you have it! A whirlwind look at a guided reading lesson for pre-readers. Do keep in mind that the total time should be no more than 15-20 minutes. Each activity is quick and efficient.
The parts of a guided reading lesson for readers
What if your learners are past the pre-reading stage? Here’s what their lesson looks like.
1- Have them re-read familiar texts. Before you get to the table (because you’re likely putting out fires with the rest of your learners, or simply getting them settled), have a plan for the kids at the table who are waiting for you. A smart idea is to have them re-read texts they’ve read before. Simply place books from previous lessons on the table. Your students can re-read to build fluency (and fill that time before you get there).
2- Review sight words. Spend just a minute or two reviewing sight words you’ve previously taught. While I don’t normally recommend flash cards, this is an exception. Put the flash cards on a ring and review as many as possible in 1-2 minutes.
3- Introduce the book. No long-winded introductions, please! Time is precious in a guided reading lessons. One or two sentences will usually suffice. If the text presents some challenging themes or concepts, take another minute or two to build background knowledge.
4- Read the new book. Each student will need his/her own copy of the book. They will all read simultaneously. Yes, it sounds crazy at first because it is. But they will learn to read on their own without listening to the students near them. Some teachers like to make a whisper phone for each student so that kids can focus on their own reading and not be distracted by a neighbor.
As the students are reading, you are listening in and coaching as needed. Remember, the text is slightly harder than what they can read on their own. They should need some help.
5- Discuss the book. Have a set of high and low level questions ready for your discussion. Don’t rely on yourself to think of questions on the fly. There’s no time for that in a guided reading lesson! And planning the questions ahead of time means that you will be able to prepare both basic and challenging questions.
6- Make a teaching point. In advance, choose a teaching point that works for this particular text and level of readers. For example, if you’re reading a level B book with your students, you might teach them that you can use the beginning letter of words as a clue to read them. If you’re reading with students at level J, you might teach them tricks for reading two-syllable words.
7- Teach a new sight word. Quickly introduce a new sight word. You might have students make it with magnetic letters or practice writing (and reading) it on individual dry erase boards. (See post: How to teach sight words.)
8- Do word study or guided writing. When you first start doing guided reading lessons, you may find that there is no time left for #8. But as you get better at making your lessons efficient, you’ll want to save time for word study or guided writing. Word study involves sorting words or pictures, making words, studying spelling patterns, etc. Guided writing is when you guide your students as they write a written response with your help.