Guided Reading

UDL 3.2 UDL 5.3

In Guided Reading, the teacher provides targeted reading instruction to students placed in small, temporary groups based on current reading abilities. A teacher forms groups using student benchmark assessments (e.g., student reading levels and observations), and identifies specific target skills for each group (e.g. phonics, using context clues, identifying key details). Then, the teacher meets with each group to teach targeted skills while reading and analyzing an engaging, instructional level text (e.g., one level higher than their independent reading level). While the teacher is working with a group, the other students work on an independent reading task that supports or maintains a previously learned skill. As students' reading skills advance, they are placed into groups that correspond with their new reading level.

Implementation Tips

Form Guided Reading Groups
Conduct formal assessments to identify student strengths and areas of need. Use this information to determine student groupings (e.g., assign groups based on target skill, reading level). Place no more than 4-5 students in a group.
Focus on One Target Skill
Help students practice a skill with intention by explicitly teaching only one target skill per session based on each group's collective area of need. Some common foundational reading skills include: defining new words, asking questions, coding recurring words and themes, etc. Check out this article from [[|Edutopia]] for a more comprehensive list.
Guided Reading Lesson Structure
Introduce the text to prepare the group for what they will read. Show a few pictures to engage student interest and to highlight how pictures are used to support comprehension. Ask students to read the text aloud (choral reading or turn-taking), and coach, prompt, and question students as needed. Next, explicitly teach a skill (e.g., rereading to search for meaning). Let students apply the skill and then provide time for students to reflect on the text and lesson together.
Establish A Routine
Meet with each group at least once per week for 15-20 minutes. If available, use a kidney-shaped table for Guided Reading to easily hear and interact with each participant. Maintain a folder for each group with the observations and assessment notes for each session. For a sample observation sheet with leveled reading behaviors to support, click [[ | here ]].
Independent Work for Non-Group Members
Set up reading activities (e.g., independent reading, decoding tasks) or literacy stations for the other students to participate in while leading a Guided Reading group session. This routine will create more focused time supporting groups while engaging the class in other meaningful literary activities.
Text Selection
Select texts that are slightly above students’ independent reading abilities (e.g., texts students can read with 90-95% accuracy) to make the text accessible for students, and to provide learning opportunities with minimal frustration.
Providing Enough Copies
Check school Book Rooms or classroom libraries to source texts, making sure to provide enough copies for each participant. Collaborate with other teachers to create sets of leveled Guided Reading books if pre-made sets of leveled texts are not available.
Prompts and Cues
Encourage students to "make sense" of the print by prompting reflection of what was just read rather than correcting an oral reading error. Wait until the student completes the sentence or section, then gently tap the miscued area on the page. Verbally prompt the student to re-evaluate the printed word and encourage them to try again (e.g., "Let's try this word again.", "Does that sound right?").
Acknowledge successful application of specific reading skills during Guided Reading lessons (e.g., "What a great strategy! When you didn't know the word, you re-read the sentence and thought about what sounded right.") This will also help remind other students to employ good reading strategies.


Lower Grades
A teacher begins a Guided Reading group with an introduction (e.g., “This book is about a boy who visits a grocery store. Each page introduces an item that he sees.”) The teacher asks questions to engage prior knowledge, such as, “Have you ever been to a supermarket? What did you see?” Students briefly share their responses, then begin reading the text aloud. As students take turns reading the text, the teacher listens and provides supportive prompts as students decode. After, the teacher highlights the importance of noticing when patterns change. Students reread the ending of the book to determine the pattern change.
Upper Grades
To support students who are demonstrating difficulty remembering details and sustaining attention to meaning, a teacher prompts a Guided Reading group to practice summarizing after each section of a mini-chapter book. Students record their summaries on a sticky note and are provided with an outline to help support their responses when necessary (e.g., “Somebody (Character), Wanted to (Goal), But (Problem), So (Attempt to solve), Then (Resolution)”). After, students share their responses to check for understanding. The teacher invites students to relate the text to other books to promote text connections and inspire text interpretations.

Related Strategies