Do you have questions about guided reading? Today we’re sharing an overview of the practice – with answers to your most frequently asked questions!
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Have you been following along with our balanced literacy series? This Reading Mama and I are talking about each element of a balanced reading program.
So far we’ve answered these questions …
Today we’re covering a big one – guided reading. What is it, and what are the best practices for making it work in your classroom?
Let’s dive in!
What is guided reading?
Guided reading is a instructional approach that involves a teacher working with a small group of readers. During the lesson, the teacher provides a text that students can read with support, coaching the learners as they use problem-solving strategies to read the text. The ultimate goal is independent reading.
What are some features of guided reading?
- The teacher meets with groups of 3-6 students.
- The groups are flexible and fluid; they change based on ongoing assessment.
- Children are grouped according to reading level.
- During the lesson, the students read a text that is slightly harder than what they can read without support.
- The teacher coaches students as they read.
What does a guided reading lesson look like?
It varies based on reading level, but here’s a general structure for a 15-20 minute lesson.
- Students re-read familiar texts for several minutes. This is a great way to promote fluency!
- For just a minute or so, the students practice previously learned sight words.
- The teacher introduces the text.
- The students read the text out loud or silently while the teacher coaches. They do not take turns reading; instead, each child reads the text in its entirety.
- The teacher leads a discussion of the text.
- The teacher makes 1-2 teaching points.
- If time allows, students do a few minutes of word work or guided writing.
What is the rest of the class doing?
Ah, yes – the million dollar question! Teachers handle this different ways. Here are some possibilities:
- Have the students do independent reading or partner reading.
- Let students choose from the Daily 5 options.
- Have children work at literacy centers.
How are guided reading and strategy groups different?
Both types of instruction allow you to meet with small groups for focused teaching. The difference is that strategy groups can be groups of children at different reading levels. You’ve grouped them for work toward a particular goal – such as fluency, comprehension, or word solving. You might have each of them bring their own text to the table when you meet.
Wait! I have more questions!
Guided reading is a huge topic. We’ll cover it in depth in our upcoming online course, Teaching Every Reader. For now, you can grab a printable that answers the most frequently asked questions.
Also check out the recommend books at the end of this post!
Guided Reading, by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, is the comprehensive guide for teaching guided reading in K-8. Warning – this book is giant, and has a price tag to match. If you’re the type of person who loves to read about education, you will love pouring over this one. But if you’re looking for something more focused, check out the next book.
The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading, by Jan Richardson, is for everyone who wants to do guided reading but has so many questions they don’t know where to begin. She walks you through a lesson template for each reading level, with specific examples of teaching points, word work, guided writing, and more. Seriously – this book is a gold mine. One caveat – her goals are lofty. Start small!
Making the Most of Small Groups, by Debbie Diller, is another gem. I absolutely love how she covers everything – from what to teach to how to manage assessments at the beginning of the year. This is a nice balance to Richardson’s book, because she helps you set reasonable expectations for how many groups you can meet with each day. This is extremely practical and highly recommended!
Literacy Work Stations, also by Debbie Diller, will help you design meaningful literacy stations that will keep your students engaged while you’re meeting with small groups. Tired of spending all weekend updating your centers? This book will show you how to use the same framework all year, keeping your centers fresh without burning yourself out.
Check out the rest of our balanced literacy series!
Stock image via iStock.
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