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November 25, 2011 Tips on Implementing Guided Reading Lessons By Sharon Taylor
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Teaching all students how to read is a priority in our schools. But how can we accomplish this goal when our classes are made up of students on such diverse levels? Trying to meet the needs of all students can be a challenge to any teacher. Guided reading helps teachers tailor instruction to meet each student’s specific reading needs. Read on as I share some helpful tips on implementing guided reading lessons in your classrooms.



    What Is Guided Reading?

    Guided reading is an approach used by teachers to meet the various instructional needs of all students in the classroom. The goal of guided reading is not to teach a selected book, but to teach students reading strategies they can apply to all books. 

    My guided reading lessons allow me to work with small groups of students at similar levels of development. I use texts that are carefully matched to each group’s unique needs. During my guided reading lessons, I provide instructional support to build reading strategies and increase independence. I have six different guided reading groups in my class. I try to meet with two to three groups a day. Each group is assigned a color and called to meet with me during literacy stations and centers.  I also use a notebook to record student progress. My guided reading lessons generally last 20 to 30 minutes. The goal of my lessons is to help students become confident, proficient readers who love to read.





    Steps for Guided Reading

    Let’s take a look at three steps you need to take to implement a great guided reading lesson in your class.


    Step One

    Determine your objective for the lesson. I teach the same reading strategies using various leveled texts. Here are some of the skills and strategies I use during guided reading instruction:

    • Reading and recognizing sight words
    • Using picture cues
    • Tracking print left to right
    • Making predictions
    • Activating prior knowledge
    • Identifying story elements
    • Retelling
    • Sequencing
    • Phonemic awareness
    • Recognizing concepts of print


    Step Two

    Select reading materials that match the instructional level of your student groups. Visit Scholastic for various leveled books you can use during your guided reading instruction. 


    Step Three

    Plan before-reading, during-reading, and after-reading activities. 




    • Build Background — Look at the cover of the book and ask your students what they think the book will be about. Predicting is a great way to set the purpose for reading. During this time I also use the cover of the book to guide my students in making connections to their own experiences and previous reading.

    • Picture Walk — During the picture walk I guide my students through the text, allowing them to discuss what they see in the pictures. I also discuss and review high frequency words or any vocabulary words I want to focus on.



    • I like to model reading the text first. I allow my students to follow along, using their pointers to point to each word as I read. After I have read the entire text, I allow my students to read it. They read the text to themselves at their own pace. My students love using whisper phones to listen to themselves read. I circulate through the group listening to students as they read. During this time I make observations, provide support, and make notes for future lessons. 



    After reading the text, I do a short mini-lesson with my students. This is the time when I focus on the strategies and/or skills I’ve selected for the lesson.  





    Have these tools handy during guiding reading instruction:


    • Highlighters — Students use highlighters to highlight sight words and other key vocabulary words.


    • Pointers — Pointers help students track print throughout the text.


    • Dry Erase Boards and Markers — Students use dry erase boards and markers to draw and write responses to various questions during guided reading lessons.



    • Magnetic Letters and Board — Students use magnetic boards to spell sight words and do phonemic awareness activities. 



    • Whisper Phones — I have my students practice reading the text to themselves using whisper phones as I work with other students in the group. They love it!




    Further Reading

    Two great books I’ve used as a reference when doing guided reading instruction are Guided Reading: Making It Work and The Next Step in Guiding Reading. I've also found a wealth of instructional resources in Scholastic's guided reading site.


    I would love to hear from you regarding strategies you use during guided reading instruction. Please comment below.




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Susan Cheyney