Guided Reading

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   The goal of small group guided reading is “to enable students to become independent readers who comprehend and analyze, problem-solve and self monitor as they read, and choose to read for pleasure and information”.  (Routman, 2000)  

Important Points to Remember:

  • Guided reading groups should be small – no more than 4 struggling readers or 6 average readers.
  • Students should read on their own – no round robin reading!
  • Students should read several books a week during small group guided reading. Resist the urge to “basalize” a book by spending all week on one book. The exception to this is with higher readers who are reading chapter books or longer nonfiction books.
  • Guided reading groups should be flexible, meaning students can easily move from one group to another as they progress.
  • Teachers may also pull “needs-based” guided reading groups of students who have specific reading needs. For instance, students who have difficulty with test-like passages might meet periodically for a few weeks to discuss test-taking strategies, or another group of students having difficulty moving into chapter books might meet to learn how to manage reading these longer texts.

Before Reading

The teacher chooses a focus for the guided reading lesson. This focus is chosen based on the students’ needs as determine by the DRA Focus for Instruction. Options for instructional focus include:
  • decoding strategies (breaking words into chunks, using context clues, etc.)
  • comprehension strategies
  • nonfiction text features
  • retelling in sequence with details
  • reflecting on the most important event
After setting the purpose for the lesson, the teacher establishes background knowledge and introduces new vocabulary. In the younger grades, the group might do a “picture walk” by looking through the book and anticipating the plot and story ideas. The teacher will help the students by pointing out difficult vocabulary, though it is important to save some difficult words for the students to solve themselves. During guided reading the students should be doing the majority of the reading work.

During reading

During small group guided reading, each student should read the book simultaneously with the others. There should be no round robin reading. Each student should do the “work” of figuring out difficult words and comprehending the text on their own. The teacher can monitor students by listening to them whisper read (if they are younger) or by sitting beside them and asking them to whisper read a small section while the others read on their own. A few management techniques for “during reading”:
  • Students should know that when they finish the book or assigned section, they should read it again. This prevents the “I’m done!” announcements that induce stress in the slower readers.
  • Some teachers have their students turn their chairs outward to lessen the noise of students whisper reading. Others use “phonic phones”.
  • Watch for students who seem to be struggling more or reading faster than the others. This may be a sign that this student needs to be moved to another group.
  • Older students might benefit from being given sticky notes to jot down ideas related to the lesson’s focus (i.e. the most important fact on each page, etc.)

After reading

After all the students have had a chance to read the book at least once, pull the group back together to discuss the lesson focus. This might include a discussion of difficult words and how students solved them, or it might focus on comprehension strategies. The teacher might choose to take advantage of a “teachable moment” by discussing strategies she observed students use during the reading. The “after reading” portion might also include a quick phonics lesson or sight word focus as well. Teachers use their best judgement of what the students need based on observations.

Forms and Resources: