A Guide to Guided Reading
Guided reading lesson plans for teaching reading comprehension are used more and more. You need great ways to use these lessons with your students.
In my school district, all elementary classroom teachers are required to write these type of lesson plans everyday. I love seeing some of the wonderful reading comprehension strategies that the teachers weave into their reading lessons.
Although I am a reading specialist, many of you are much more adept at guided reading than me. In my role, I never actually teach these groups. So I’m going to share some of what I know and some of what I’ve seen from these fabulous teachers.
ELEMENTARY READING PROGRAMS
Many teachers these days are using guided reading as their small group instruction, even in the Reader’s Workshop block.
After students are assessed at particular reading levels, students are grouped according to their independent reading levels.Then you, the teacher, can introduce a book at a slightly higher level. Students receive the support in reading comprehension strategies or phonics lessons that leads them to the next independent and instructional level. Group times usually last 20-30 minutes.
You do need materials, though. All of our elementary schools have “guided reading libraries”. Both fiction and nonfiction leveled books are organized in a central location according to letter levels. We use the
Fountas and Pinnell
With guided reading, keep in mind “flexible groups”. Based on assessments, such as running records and comprehension questions, students move to different groups accordingly. You might also group according to particular needs on particular days.
For example, let’s say you notice several students in different groups all struggling with the same vowel patterns or word endings. You could choose a text that deals with those chunks and create a new group for a time, working on those weaknesses more in depth. So even though guided reading usually deals with levels, you can address other issues, too.
GUIDED READING LESSONS
I’ll go through the basics of a guided reading lesson based upon Fountas and Pinnell’s framework in
The Continuum of Literacy Learning
. Your goal is to support students’ reading towards comprehension and fluency.
1. Introduce the text
Some things you can do are:
Activate prior knowledge and provide any new background information
Give students opportunities to verbally think together and hear/say new language structures.
Have them say or locate words in the text.
Lead students in making connections to other texts, to their experiences, or to the outside world.
Show them the text’s structure, like description or cause and effect.
Use new vocabulary as you help them understand the text.
Help students make predictions based on what they already know.
Discuss the author’s purpose, who the author is and where he comes from, his background, in order to validate the book’s accuracy.
Draw attention to illustrations or other graphics.
2. Read the text
During this stage of the guided reading lesson, you can model or prompt students to use various reading strategies. Students need the guidance to decode words, find or use information, correct or identify errors, summarize, and alter their reading.
Help students develop
in expression and phrasing.
3. Discuss the Meaning
While you observe students read, note their comprehension and what they say about the text.
Guide the students in asking their own questions. Help them verbalize their understanding.
Teach them how to discuss the text’s meaning with each other.
Extend their understanding by teaching them how to question, summarize, restate, and add to each other’s comments.
4. Teach reading strategies
This means that you will go back to text in order to model or reinforce reading strategies or
reading comprehension strategies
Guide them in decoding skills, self-monitoring their reading, summarizing, reading with fluency, reading with purpose in mind, predicting, making connections, inferring, analyzing, and critiquing.
5. Word work
You can do this depending on the need.
Analyze words by studying letter-sound relationships, comparing words by analogy (“If you know ‘boat’ then you know ‘moat’”), and breaking words apart.
This is the time to use magnetic letters, white boards, etc.
6. Extend meaning
You can follow up the reading with writing, drawing, or conversation.
ACTIVE READING STRATEGIES – “WAYS OF THINKING”
When you teach using guided reading, Fountas and Pinnell suggest using a system for thinking in order to strategically process written texts.
1. Thinking Within the Text (solve words, monitor and correct, search for and use information, summarize, maintain fluency, adjust reading)
2. Thinking Beyond the Text (predict, make connections, infer, synthesize to create new understanding)
3.Thinking About the Text (analyze to understand the writer and how the text is constructed, critique)
With your “ways of thinking” goals in mind, you can plan your introductions, help students in their conversations with each other, reinforce strategies they are using, discuss meaning after reading, make specific points after reading, and plan ways to extend the text.
KINDERGARTEN PHONICS and KINDERGARTEN READING ACTIVITIES
Guided reading can have its place in the kindergarten classroom. Our kindergarten teachers must begin using guided reading lesson plans by the second semester.
Beginning readers are learning to read, as opposed to reading to learn. Even with that in mind, always check comprehension with easy books. Retelling and story sequence are 2 skills you can practice in a guided reading lesson.
A guided reading lesson can focus on the kindergarten phonics you are addressing with particular students. Your word work, just as at higher levels, will come from the text the group is reading.
For instance, let’s say you want to address the phonemic awareness skill of segmenting the ending sound, as well as the “-at” pattern. The book you choose has sentences like, ‘Cat runs up”, “Cat runs down”, “Cat runs in”, “Cat runs out”, etc. After discussing the book and predicting the words, you can verbally play some word games to address the ending sound.
Say, “What word am I saying? ‘ca--t”. If I take off the /t/ and put on a /b/, what’s the new word? That’s right! ‘cab’.” Continue with other words you find in the book and other ending sounds.
You can then do a shared reading while pointing to the words. Find the ending sounds, the –at pattern, and discuss how the pictures go with the words.
Then your group can work with magnetic letters on the word “cat”. Change the beginning letters to make new –at words. Change ending letters to make words like “can”, “cab”, and “cap”.
Finally, add sight words to students’ word banks or writing folders.
Some of your kindergarten reading activities can be introduced and reinforced in the guided reading group. You can use picture/letter sorts and matches, white boards, magnetic letters, word cards, or even teach simple word webs. The main thing is to group children according to reading level (even pre-a is a phonological awareness group and you can find books on
And remember to always connect your teaching to the text you are using.
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