Let’s talk guided reading! Two words that can change your entire reading program. Given the role that guided reading plays in the classroom, this is not a subject that can be covered in one blog post. A successful and effective guided reading program takes time to setup and organize in order for it to run as smoothly as possible. For that reason, this series will be split up into THREE parts.
- Organizing your guided reading program and schedule
- Types of relevant texts and books that can be used during guided reading
- Before, during and after activities that you can do during you reading sessions
For starters, when people hear “guided reading”, there is a misconception that guided reading is only useful in primary grades. However, in reality, it is an important teaching strategy and program in junior grades too. Personally, I have done guided reading in Grade 2 and all the way up to Grade 6. There are many ways that you can adapt your program, expectations and reading focus between each grade level.
I will start by saying that I don’t typically start my guided reading program until mid-October. It is important to spend the first few weeks of school getting to know your students and completing diagnostic reading assessments in order to determine their reading levels. This information is important because it will allow you to form guided reading groups that target a group of students with similar strengths and needs. Whatever reading assessment tool your school board uses to assess reading is what you will use to assess students during that first month of school. In my board, English teachers use the DRA kit, while French teachers use the Alpha-Jeunes kit.
Once you have collected all of this data, you will start completing any organizational sheets you might need to run your program. Pictured below are the sheets that I use and that are included in my French Guided Reading Package. Here is a list of important planning sheets you will need to setup your program:
- A year long reading assessment tracking sheet
- Guided reading groups
- Guided reading schedule
- Guided reading checklist (FREE checklist included at the end of this post)
- Reading strategies you wish to work on with each group on a monthly basis
- List of texts you could use with your groups (this will be covered in Part 2 of this series)
Having these sheets completed before you start your program helps keep your sessions organized and will prevent you from scrambling at the last minute or postponing working with a group indefinitely.
Here are a few of the most common questions I get about the way I run my guided reading program:
How do I group my students?
I start the year with diagnostic reading assessments. In my school board we use Alpha-Jeunes to assess reading levels in primary (CASI in junior grades). Once that is done, I use the data and what I know about my students to form my guided reading groups. I group students based on similar strengths and needs so that each group can work on a specific strategy that is relevant to their needs. Each group usually has 4 or 5 students. Anything more than 5 would cut into the time you would be giving to each student. There have also been instances where students’ reading levels have significantly improved. In that case, you might need to reconfigure the groups by bumping one students into another group.
How often do I read with each group?
I usually read with each group once or twice a week. I like to set a realistic goal when scheduling my guided reading. Though it would be great to read 3 times a week with each group, it is not always feasible. We can’t always guarantee that this will work and I prefer keeping a consistent schedule that I can commit to rather than always changing on the fly. I do prioritize some groups over others in the sense that my lowest reading level group will read with me twice a week.
When do you do guided reading?
I run my guided reading sessions during our Daily 5 or 5 au quotidien workshops. I have 5 centers that students rotate from and a sixth one dedicated to guided reading. I will pull one group to read with me while the other groups are at their 5 au quotidien rotation. Each center is 20 minutes long. After the 20 minute mark, students move on to the next station and I read with my second group. Even though our “5 au quotidien” is scheduled for 60 minutes and I could technically squeeze in 3 reading groups, I prefer to limit it to two groups to ensure that each group gets the full 20 minutes and a few extra minutes to get organized and gather their belongings.
What kind of reading strategies do you focus on?
The reading strategies you choose to focus on will depend on your group’s needs. You know your group best. However, here are some examples of reading strategies that you can work on: concepts of print, fluidity, using visual clues for understanding, decoding, reading comprehension, making predictions, summarizing, inferring, making connections and so much more! I would personally use the free guided reading checklist and make a note of the things that a group still needs to work on. You can then use this information to shift your focus.
Where do you find your texts or books?
I will be covering this in Part 2 of this blog series so make sure you don’t miss that one!
If you are interested in learning more about what is included in my Guided Reading Package, click the picture below. The package is very comprehensive and includes everything you need to setup your guided reading program (texts are not included – but I will share a few recommendations in the next part of this series), including before, during and after activities.
In the meantime, here is a FREE checklist from my Guided Reading Package that I use during my reading sessions. You don’t need to use one for every reader and every time you read with a group but it is a great way to track their progress over time and a quick way to assess their reading.
If you found this useful, make sure to check out PART 2 of this guided reading series. I will be sharing my TOP 4 French texts or books that I like to use during guided reading. These suggestions will be useful to anyone who teaches French reading.
If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will be sure to address them in a future blog post!