In guided reading, the teacher guides small groups of students in reading short, carefully chosen texts in order to build independence, fluency, comprehension skills, and problem-solving strategies. The teacher often begins by introducing the text and modeling a particular strategy. Then students read to themselves in quiet voices as the teacher listens in, noting strategies and obstacles, and cuing individual students as needed. Students then discuss content, and share problem-solving strategies. Guided-reading materials usually become increasingly challenging and are often read more than once. The teacher regularly observes and assesses students' changing needs, and adjusts groupings accordingly. Guided reading allows a teacher to provide different levels of support, depending on the needs of the students.
It is widely accepted that successful reading requires all readers to understand and integrate the four
cueing systems so that each cue is used to reinforce and check the others. It is important that
teachers help young readers become aware of how the various cueing systems are used in order to
gain meaning from text and support their growth through reading and writing activities. There is a
need, when focussing on cueing systems, to figure out on which cues the learners are over-relying and
those which are not being given enough attention. Teachers analyze the data they have recorded,
looking for patterns in the cues the student makes use of, and the strategies he/she has in place.
Knowledgeable teachers must make these judgements based on evidence of student-learning.
Guiding questions such as, "To what extent is the imbalance restricting or inhibiting
comprehension?" and "Are students effectively able to use information from the cueing systems?"
may assist teachers in this decision-making process.
This section addresses reading strategies to support both word identification and comprehension.
Effective readers make use of comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading.
Traditionally, classroom activities have often emphasized "after reading" experiences. These activities
have been used to assess comprehension rather than as instruction to support children's development
of comprehension strategies. More attention should be given to "before" and "during" activities.
"After reading" activities should refer children to the text for such purposes as extracting and
organizing information, confirming opinions, clarifying understandings, and integrating knowledge
with other texts and experiences.
Teaching for Strategies at the Eemergent/Early Developing Levels
Teacher Talk to Facilitate the Strategy
Readers at emergent level use one-to-one matching to help control visual attention to print.
"Point and read."
"Did it match?"
Reading is supported to make sense. This is the semantic cue system.
"Are you thinking about what's happening in the story while you're reading?"
"You said _____. Does that make sense?"
"Where can you look?"
Structure is the knowledge of how language works. This is the syntactic cue system.
"You said _____. Does that sound right?"
"Do we say it that way?"
This is the understanding and using the sound/symbol relationship of language.
"What would you expect to see at the beginning? At the end?"
"Do we say it that way?"
Self-correcting is the process of going back and accurately rereading text when it is not making sense. Self-correction does not take place unless there is an error.
"I like the way you fixed that."
"You made a mistake. Can you fix it?"
Cross-checking is checking one cue system against another.
"It could be ____ but look at ____." (For example, it could be Cyclops but look at the "m".)
"Check it! See if what you read looks right (or looks right and makes sense or sounds right and makes sense)."
"Could it be _____?" (Teacher inserts two possible words that need to be confirmed using meaning and structure first, then checks on graphophonics.)
Searching is integrating all cue systems.
"There is something wrong. Can you find it?"
"How did you know? Is there any other way we could know?"
"Where else can you look?"
Self-monitoring is the student's ability to monitor his/her own reading by rereading.
"Why did you stop?" (when student hesitates)
"What did you notice?"
"I like the way you did that, but can you find the hard part?"
"Are you right: (after correct or incorrect words) How did you know?"
"Try that again."
Stopping at a New Word
This strategy allows the student to problem solve.
"What could you try?"
"Do you know a word that starts like that?"
"Is there a part of the word that can help you?"
"What are you going to do?"
"Go back and reread, think about the story and start to say the word."
Fluency and Phrasing
Reading is like talking. Encourage students to read text naturally, pausing appropriately with intonation.
"Can you read this quickly?"
"Put them all together so that is sounds like talking."
"Read the punctuation."
Guided Reading, grades 3-6
by Linda Hoyt
Teachers in grades 3-6 are challenged by a wide range of achievement levels, demanding content, and pressure to meet state standards. Guided reading is designed to make teaching easier, to increase student achievement and to empower learners with the tools they need for lifelong success in reading. Because of its emphasis on small groups, guided reading allows teachers in grades 3-6 to see learners as individuals, improves the links between teaching and assessment, and ensures that learning will be deep rather than superficial.
Teach Reading Strategies In refining guided reading for use in grades 3-6, it is helpful to remember that the purpose of guided reading at this level is to enlarge each student's repertoire of effective reading strategies. With this emphasis, the text serves a vehicle for practicing a strategy and the students are constantly reminded that the goal is to learn the strategy well enough that they can use it independently while reading in the content areas or during self-selected reading. They practice the strategy while you are there to coach and then move into independent reading with the goal of consciously attempting to apply the target strategy. The next meeting of the group would then focus on reflections about the content of the reading as well as a review of the target strategy. A significant difference in guided reading for grades 3-6 is that the teacher does not attempt to hear learners read the entire text. The teacher provides explicit instruction, offers support for independence and then monitors for understanding.
Monitor Time With Text- They need to read during guided reading! In guided reading, there is a fine balance between teacher input and student reading. It is vital that caution be taken to ensure that guided reading sessions are filled with lots of reading. Time with text must be carefully monitored so that teacher input does not overshadow time spent actually reading and discussing texts. While the teaching of the strategy and building of context for independence are critical, it is also essential that round robin reading be avoided. Round robin reading has been found to actually reduce reading time and detract from comprehension (Opitz, 2002).
How do you manage guided independent reading? Members of a guided group are asked to read passages to themselves to ensure that all learners take responsibility for reading. Silent processing produces the best comprehension so silent reading is critically important. Since reading rates differ even among groups with similar achievement levels, it is helpful to provide a task for students who finish reading before the group is ready to discuss. You might set the stage with comments such as: "Please read pages 41-44 silently. While you are reading, I will be coming around to listen to individuals. If you finish reading before I give the signal to begin the discussion, please review this section to look for passages which offer the strongest descriptors."
Grouping Guided reading groups are flexible. Students are gathered together in temporary groups based upon a shared need. Groups might be formed to work on using bold face headings in informational texts, to practice defining main ideas, to better utilize text structure in fiction, to work on a reading standard such as inferential reasoning, to practice making better book choices for independent reading, or to collaborate during the reading of a novel. It is important not to fall into the trap of assuming that group members must read at the same level to make a good group. When groups are temporary and flexible, there may be times when achievement level is the best criteria for grouping... there may also be times when learners of varying achievement levels make an excellent group because they share a need for instruction in a particular strategy.
Frequency of Meetings Frequency of guided reading group meetings varies with the needs of each group. Vulnerable students who need a great deal of support may need to meet four or five times a week while other students may be best supported by two or three guided reading sessions a week. In the upper grades, it is important to remember that you don't need to guide the students through every page in a text. With the goal of making a teaching point and providing practice and coaching, you might meet about chapter 1 in a novel, have students read chapters 2-3 independently, then meet again for chapter 4. If a group is working on bold face headings, they might meet to make predictions using bold face headings in a newsmagazine, read the text independently and then meet on another day to discuss how closely their predictions matched the actual content of each bolded section. Remember: The purpose is to build strategies which empower readers with tools for independent reading, not to get them through a text.
How Long Should the Guided Reading Lesson Last with Grades 3-6? Timing is personal and dependent upon each of your groups. In general, I try to aim for 10-15 minutes per group. This gives me time to teach a strategy, provide quiet reading while I listen to individuals and assess, and then to conduct a brief discussion of the strategy and how well it worked while they read. Occasionally a group needs more time. If that happens try to be flexible and don't be hard on yourself if you don't get to see all of the groups you had planning to see that day. Take it slow and be prepared for surprises... remember that your job isn't to listen to every word of the text but rather to teach a strategy, assess its use and build the expectation that the students will use the strategy independently across the curriculum.
Which Texts to Use? I like to offer a wide range of texts for guided reading. Novels, newspapers, computer manuals, textbooks, articles from National Geographic for Kids, short stories, poems, selections from basals, resources related to content area studies and comic books can all have a place in guided reading. Guided reading is a great way to use the resources you have readily available as well as expose your students to a wide range of genre.
Guided Reading to Scaffold Content Guided reading can also be a time to scaffold challenging content. If I know that a few students are likely to find our next science unit to be challenging, I might pull them together as a guided reading group to frontload concepts and vocabulary of the unit. I would give them hands on experiences related to the unit, involve them in discussions using the content specific vocabulary, and try to build a knowledge base on the topic. During this time, I might also involve them in reading a text related to our unit of study that is easier than the text we will use for research. Students also benefit from engaging in personal writing about the topic to make meaningful use of vocabulary which will be addressed in the unit. Guided reading focused on scaffolding content allows the group to explore related information, build prior knowledge and vocabulary, read about the topic in "just right" reading material, and prepare to participate fully in class. When guided reading becomes a preview of content, it enables even the most challenged learners to participate fully.
But What About the Rest of Them? A common query focuses on ways to keep the classroom running smoothly while the teacher meets with small groups. While there are clearly lots of ways to organize for guided reading, my favorite strategy is simple. Have the class engage in independent reading! While students are reading independently, you can quietly pull groups to the side for guided reading. You don't need time consuming centers or complicated management systems and you know at a glance who is on task while you do your important work with the small group. If your groups are 10-15 minutes in length, you can often see two guided reading groups during a 30 minute independent reading session.
Steps in the Process of Guided Reading
Preparation A wide range of text forms are suitable for guided reading - stories, poems, articles, reports, recounts, descriptions, instructions, explanations, arguments, extracts from magazines or newspapers, picture books, cross curricula texts, extracts from novels.
The teacher should:
plan how the text should be introduced
plan the learning intentions and the success criteria (share these with the students)
think about the questions that will encourage the students to think critically and discuss issues/ideas
think about the follow up activity that will extend the reading of the text
plan something for those who finish first eg other books on the topic to read/browse, maps to explore, a dictionary, a thesaurus
think about purposeful activities for the rest of the class.
Introducing the Text This will vary depending on the text selected. The discussion may be based on:
student's recent experiences
a particular theme or topic
the opening sentence(s)
Students should be encouraged to:
plan and ask questions
make predictions about the text to be read
discuss their expectations of the text
Reading the text Students read the text silently to themselves. The teacher observes the students as they read, noting problems or difficulties that need to be followed up later.
Responding to and discussing the text
This is a very important step. The discussion should not be rushed. The discussion should not be just a question and answer session.
The students and the teacher:
reflect on their predictions.
consider different points of view
clarify any difficulties with vocabulary
ask questions - allow time for students to think and answer questions
examine text features and language structures
validate points by returning to the text
return and discuss the purpose for reading, the learning intentions/success criteria.
References such as dictionaries, thesauri and atlases should always be available.
Follow up Follow up activities to extend students' understanding of the text may be valuable. However, the reading and the discussion may be enough in itself.
An effective guided reading session gives the teacher the opportunity to:
observe and find out about the skills the students are using or need to develop
decide how successful the lesson was in developing close reading skills
plan further lessons based on the needs and interests of the students.
Guided Reading with Info Texts
by Linda Hoyt
Warm Up: This is a time to skim/scan and preview the text... or reflect on previous reading
Activate Prior Knowledge: What key concepts/ideas need to be brought to a conscious level? How might you built interest in the reading? How might you activate vocabulary? What are the attributes of an article? How can you tell this is an article and not a story?
Interaction: Emphasize independent or paired reading. Use oral reading judiciously.
Reflection: What are the most important ideas? What was especially interesting? How did we do at using the strategy from the mini-lesson?
Language Study: (Consider word word, grammar, syllabication, parts of speech or other standards related connection you could make in the text)