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August 30, 2016

Guided Reading: Part 1, Getting Set Up

By Shari Carter
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Children have always come to school with a range of literacy experiences and abilities. Teachers continue to struggle daily as they attempt to meet the needs of all their learners. A one-size-fits-all model of teaching will never meet this varied range and, in fact, there is evidence that providing students with the same reading instruction can actually be detrimental to student achievement.

     

    Differentiation

    Differentiated instruction is matching instruction to the different needs of learners in a given classroom. The range of instructional needs within one classroom is vast. In order to accommodate these instructional needs, teachers need to provide small group, differentiated instruction. In a differentiated classroom, students are given many opportunities to practice and reinforce reading skills by participating in whole and small group activities. Students are given many opportunities to practice, demonstrate, and extend learning independent of the teacher during independent literacy centers. Teachers will also provide explicit instruction based on student need at the teacher-led table — and guided reading provides a perfect platform for differentiation. 

     

    What Is Guided Reading?

    Guided reading is a differentiated approach to teaching reading. It is done in small groups with the goal of preparing students to become independent readers. Guided reading gives teachers the opportunity to observe students as they read texts at their own instructional levels.

    Although there are many different definitions of guided reading, Burkins & Croft (2010) identify these common elements:

    1. Working with small groups

    2. Matching student reading ability to text levels

    3. Giving everyone in the group the same text

    4. Introducing the text

    5. Listening to individuals read

    6. Prompting students to integrate their reading processes

    7. Engaging students in conversations about the text

    Before Getting Started

    • Level Your Classroom Library

    Don’t feel like you have to level each and every book you own? You are still going to want those books you read aloud organized in a manner that will make it easy for you to access when it comes time to share them with your students. I still have many of my books sorted by theme. In the primary grades, we often sort this way. Additionally, I do not put my favorite/special titles into our leveled library; my youngest learners are total book lovers and our shared books get a little worn out and tired-looking after time.

    The leveling process can be overwhelming, but is a necessary element to guided reading and differentiated instruction. For years, I have used Scholastic Book Wizard to level my books, but when Scholastic came out with the Book Wizard mobile app, it was a total game changer for me! Instead of having to sit at my desk entering in titles, now I can walk around my classroom and scan each barcode with my phone. One more great thing about this app is that it is FREE — yes, I said free! My leveling days just got easier and I am always impressed by the number of books that are in the Book Wizard database. 

    • Setting Up Your Classroom

    There are many things to consider when setting up your classroom for guided reading, but nothing is more important than the teacher table. This is the area where you will be teaching differentiated reading lessons to your students and it is critical. Even though I teach kindergarten and it is rarely quiet in our classroom, it is very important to put the teacher table in a location that gets the least traffic and is somewhat less noisy than other places in your room.

    You’ll want to keep your groups to six or fewer for the most effective delivery of instruction. Kidney-shaped tables are perfect for kids to sit around and for teachers to easily watch and help their students. If you don’t have a kidney-shaped table, don’t let that stop you. Put two trapezoid-shaped tables together, leaving a little gap and you can sit right in the middle of the two.

    • Organizing Materials

    There are so many materials that are needed during guided reading. You’ll want to make sure you create an area by your teacher table to store all the items you will need during your lessons. The last thing you want to do is to have to leave your group to go locate the item you need. Being organized is critical and single every minute you have with each group is precious! I also love having my word wall close to my teacher table. It is a great resource and all my students have to do is look up to see the words they need. Here are a couple of pictures of how I have organized my teacher table and materials. I changed my setup for this year and I just love that all I have to do is spin around in my little rolly chair, and everything my students and I will need is right there at my fingertips!

     

    Great Reads to Get You Started!

    Whether you are a novice or seasoned teacher, there are two books you must add to your professional library. The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson has been my guided reading “bible” for years! I just love her work and her simple tips and advice were exactly what I needed to finally have the courage to begin guided reading groups with my students.

    When I was presenting on guided reading at the International Literacy Association conference this summer, I was elated to find out that Richardson had come out with a follow-up book to The Next Step. But what was even more exciting was that she was actually doing a book signing just steps away from where I was presenting. To say I was thrilled to meet her, is a TOTAL understatement! My literacy program has been a success because of the work of Richardson. Her books provide clear and practical suggestions for helping children become better readers. I purchased her new book that day and can tell you that it’s just as good as her first one! I would highly recommend you take a look at The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading. The Assess-Decide-Guide framework she introduces is just what I needed to support my little students in their reading development. 

    Stay Tuned for Part 2…

    I hope this post has been helpful and that you will take a moment to read my follow-up post, "Guided Reading: Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader, Part 2." The post will go live in two weeks and will address assessment, grouping, leveled books, and management strategies. 

    I’d love to hear all about your favorite guided reading tips and strategies. Please take a moment to comment and share your ideas for all to learn from and enjoy. Thank you so much! :)

    Don't forget to subscribe to my blog on Scholastic Top Teaching if you would like to get my latest posts delivered right to your inbox. 

    Thanks for reading, have fun with your kiddos, and I’ll see you here next time!

    Have a fantastic day!

    Shari 

     

     

    Check out my other blog posts!

    Children have always come to school with a range of literacy experiences and abilities. Teachers continue to struggle daily as they attempt to meet the needs of all their learners. A one-size-fits-all model of teaching will never meet this varied range and, in fact, there is evidence that providing students with the same reading instruction can actually be detrimental to student achievement.

     

    Differentiation

    Differentiated instruction is matching instruction to the different needs of learners in a given classroom. The range of instructional needs within one classroom is vast. In order to accommodate these instructional needs, teachers need to provide small group, differentiated instruction. In a differentiated classroom, students are given many opportunities to practice and reinforce reading skills by participating in whole and small group activities. Students are given many opportunities to practice, demonstrate, and extend learning independent of the teacher during independent literacy centers. Teachers will also provide explicit instruction based on student need at the teacher-led table — and guided reading provides a perfect platform for differentiation. 

     

    What Is Guided Reading?

    Guided reading is a differentiated approach to teaching reading. It is done in small groups with the goal of preparing students to become independent readers. Guided reading gives teachers the opportunity to observe students as they read texts at their own instructional levels.

    Although there are many different definitions of guided reading, Burkins & Croft (2010) identify these common elements:

    1. Working with small groups

    2. Matching student reading ability to text levels

    3. Giving everyone in the group the same text

    4. Introducing the text

    5. Listening to individuals read

    6. Prompting students to integrate their reading processes

    7. Engaging students in conversations about the text

    Before Getting Started

    • Level Your Classroom Library

    Don’t feel like you have to level each and every book you own? You are still going to want those books you read aloud organized in a manner that will make it easy for you to access when it comes time to share them with your students. I still have many of my books sorted by theme. In the primary grades, we often sort this way. Additionally, I do not put my favorite/special titles into our leveled library; my youngest learners are total book lovers and our shared books get a little worn out and tired-looking after time.

    The leveling process can be overwhelming, but is a necessary element to guided reading and differentiated instruction. For years, I have used Scholastic Book Wizard to level my books, but when Scholastic came out with the Book Wizard mobile app, it was a total game changer for me! Instead of having to sit at my desk entering in titles, now I can walk around my classroom and scan each barcode with my phone. One more great thing about this app is that it is FREE — yes, I said free! My leveling days just got easier and I am always impressed by the number of books that are in the Book Wizard database. 

    • Setting Up Your Classroom

    There are many things to consider when setting up your classroom for guided reading, but nothing is more important than the teacher table. This is the area where you will be teaching differentiated reading lessons to your students and it is critical. Even though I teach kindergarten and it is rarely quiet in our classroom, it is very important to put the teacher table in a location that gets the least traffic and is somewhat less noisy than other places in your room.

    You’ll want to keep your groups to six or fewer for the most effective delivery of instruction. Kidney-shaped tables are perfect for kids to sit around and for teachers to easily watch and help their students. If you don’t have a kidney-shaped table, don’t let that stop you. Put two trapezoid-shaped tables together, leaving a little gap and you can sit right in the middle of the two.

    • Organizing Materials

    There are so many materials that are needed during guided reading. You’ll want to make sure you create an area by your teacher table to store all the items you will need during your lessons. The last thing you want to do is to have to leave your group to go locate the item you need. Being organized is critical and single every minute you have with each group is precious! I also love having my word wall close to my teacher table. It is a great resource and all my students have to do is look up to see the words they need. Here are a couple of pictures of how I have organized my teacher table and materials. I changed my setup for this year and I just love that all I have to do is spin around in my little rolly chair, and everything my students and I will need is right there at my fingertips!

     

    Great Reads to Get You Started!

    Whether you are a novice or seasoned teacher, there are two books you must add to your professional library. The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson has been my guided reading “bible” for years! I just love her work and her simple tips and advice were exactly what I needed to finally have the courage to begin guided reading groups with my students.

    When I was presenting on guided reading at the International Literacy Association conference this summer, I was elated to find out that Richardson had come out with a follow-up book to The Next Step. But what was even more exciting was that she was actually doing a book signing just steps away from where I was presenting. To say I was thrilled to meet her, is a TOTAL understatement! My literacy program has been a success because of the work of Richardson. Her books provide clear and practical suggestions for helping children become better readers. I purchased her new book that day and can tell you that it’s just as good as her first one! I would highly recommend you take a look at The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading. The Assess-Decide-Guide framework she introduces is just what I needed to support my little students in their reading development. 

    Stay Tuned for Part 2…

    I hope this post has been helpful and that you will take a moment to read my follow-up post, "Guided Reading: Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader, Part 2." The post will go live in two weeks and will address assessment, grouping, leveled books, and management strategies. 

    I’d love to hear all about your favorite guided reading tips and strategies. Please take a moment to comment and share your ideas for all to learn from and enjoy. Thank you so much! :)

    Don't forget to subscribe to my blog on Scholastic Top Teaching if you would like to get my latest posts delivered right to your inbox. 

    Thanks for reading, have fun with your kiddos, and I’ll see you here next time!

    Have a fantastic day!

    Shari 

     

     

    Check out my other blog posts!

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