Our Guided Reading Go Tos
Guided Reading was one of my favourite lessons when in the classroom. I just loved seeing my students learn to read and also their joy at getting one on one teacher time! I however graduated from Uni where I was (shock horror) taught Round Robin reading and also witnessed it on my pracs. Thankfully in my first year teaching my school treated us to a Guided Reading PD and it gave the whole school the low down about a better way to teach small group reading. Children are encouraged to read individually and independently so there are no comparisons made between reading abilities (as I knew first hand the anxiety this gives some kids). With a goal of reading comprehension and building fluency in a safe environment Guided Reading benefits all readers, even those shy ones who may not like reading in front of others. Texts are at the right level for them and with the help of reading strategies they are able to independently read majority of the text.
From Guided Reading for the younger years to Book Clubs for the older students, I finally felt more confident to teach reading! Learning about levels and running records and the different ways to run small group reading, it really gave our whole school the kick up the backside we needed. We then started the massive task of buying new reading books and levelling all old readers and home readers. Boy it was a job but it was the best thing we did! It made the teaching part so much easier! The progress we saw once we started was amazing and it was then I really saw the importance and benefit of it in the classroom!
Here are some of the most valuable resources we have used while planning, teaching and assessing Guided Reading.
Assessing the most important part of the Guided Reading process as it ensures your students are reading the correct level book and you are teaching the correct reading strategies.. but how do you do it?!
Let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to begin - Sound of Music anyone?) Before you can establish guided reading in your class you need to know what your students know! What is their instructional reading level (90 - 95% accuracy)? What strategies do they use / not use when reading? How well do they comprehend what they read? A running record will provide you with all of this information, and more.
We used the PM Benchmark Running Record Kit (now I have been out of the classroom for three years so there may be something better out by now!) to firstly assess all students at the beginning of the year to place students into group and determine the reading strategies they need. It is hard to have small groups with one reading level but the next best thing is to have similar levels together. We found 5 groups max was the most manageable.
A Guided Reading Folder with all your assessment and planning is essential and helps you keeps track of taught strategies and reading levels.
A class running record profile is placed in the assessment part of file and each time a student successfully reads a level the date is placed in the box. I liked to test each student every couple of weeks, however you would of course make the judgement on whether students need it more often or less than less depending on how they are developing.
Each student also has their own individual running record data sheet. On this I record each time they read a book and their score. I also add it to their graph to show their progress.
During Guided Reading is also a great way to jot down your observations for each child when you listen to the read. To keep track of your students reading progress and the strategies they use when reading we use this individual observation checklist.
The checklist has been broken into different aspects of reading including:
- early reading skills
- word decoding
- self-monitoring & self-correcting
There is also room for you to note down any observations.
Not only does this checklist make your future planning easier (see at a glance the skills your students still need to develop), but it also gives you specific points to include in each child's report
Ok, so you've assessed each student and worked out what their instructional reading level is. In doing the running records you also would have gained an insight into where your students strengths and weaknesses lie. For example do they monitor their reading and correct when appropriate? How do they work out unknown words - by looking at the first letter only? By chunking them into parts? Your students weaknesses become your teaching point/focus for each guided reading group.
We use these planning formats for the week as it allows you to plan for different focus points, reading strategy and comprehension questions for each group all on the one page.
The planning formats allow you to plan by group or strand and also come in an editable format.
These planning sheets work perfectly with our guided reading planning formats which we talk about next.
These Guided Reading Planner Sheets are more for further planning for each reading group. You can extend on the strategies you want to teach and the questions you want to ask as well as recrd some observations. Perfect to keep everything in the one place!
There are 4 different planning sheets available which cater for different number of groups as well as planning for one group at a time or all groups at the same time.
So before you can do the teaching you need to make sure that that you have the classroom strategies to make it work especially if you run your Guided Reading sessions by doing rotations.
By having a display/poster so that each group knows what they should be doing and where they will be going next help to keep things flowing smoothly. We use literacy task cards to help manage your literacy rotation groups. The cards can be used on a reading groups poster, or in a pocket chart to indicate what activities each group will be participating in that day.
We all know that most kiddos will do anything for a reward! That is why we like using these group reward posters during our rotations. We have 6 different posters for you to choose from. You may like to choose your favourite, or alternatively if you teach themes you can choose the a poster to match. The reward posters available include: under the sea (hooked on reading), space (rocketing into reading), dinosaurs (grrrreat reading), jungles (king of the jungle), fairytales (once upon a good book) and community helpers (getting the job done). On each poster you can decide the number of points each group needs to earn before gaining a reward. When starting rotations we like to give the groups the opportunity to earn a point after each rotation, this helps to reinforce the kinds of behaviours we expect during rotations. It also provides us with a chance to redirect unwanted behaviour e.g. "Firemen, during rotations you need to remember to stay in your area and put your hands on your heads when the bell rings. In the next activity I want to see everyone staying seated so that I can give your group a point." As your students become used to rotations you can move to awarding points at the end of all rotations.
Ok so now to the teaching! Students need to learn strategies to help them read and comprehend the texts.
One of our favourite resources for teaching Guided Reading are our Reading Strategy Cards.
These cards explain different reading strategies and gives the teacher examples for how to help students use that strategy in their reading. We would always have one of the cards to refer to during the lesson and would also send the week’s strategy home in each student’s home reading folder as it helps parents teaching the strategy at home too!
Strategies included are: directionality, predicting, picture cues, fluency, predicting words, tracking, sounding out & chunking, reading on, self questioning, word analogy, re-reading, inferring, synthesising (US spelling is included too!), skipping, creating images, summarising, self correction, making connections, prior knowledge and sliding.
This chart has examples of before, during and after questions the students can ask themselves while reading. Lamimate and keep with your guided reading resources or reading response jounrals.
This activity is great to use during Guided Reading or independent reading repsonse activities.
Students choose a question for before, during and after reading to record and answer on their sheet.
While you are reading with one groups we also have heaps of activities for you other students to be doing. Be sure to check out our Literacy section on the website.
We hope this has given you some ideas to use in your class for Guided Reading!