Guided Reading. It’s the most wonderful time of the day!
I do love the time of meeting together with small groups of kids to teach them how to read. Kids learn reading through many avenues, but guided reading is one of the best strategies to methodically, purposefully, intentionally teach kids how to read.
Also, in most schools, it is a required part of the literacy block. So let’s do this.
Here are some strategies for beginning and maintaining guided reading. I did the leg work with my kindergarten team. Now you can benefit and run with it!
- Assess: Get a solid handle on their skill level- not just their reading level.
Use whatever assessment system works for you- we always used Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level Assessment- and get a formal reading level for every kid, as soon as you can. Don’t delay! But don’t forget to keep in mind other kinds of assessments that may come in handy. For example, you may have a student who has a really high reading level for the age group, but is missing some foundational skills (rhyming, alliteration, letter sounds). Consider all those assessments when making groups. I always did between 5 to 7 groups, depending on my class size. I never wanted more than six in my group.
2. Schedule: Make a timeline of when you will meet with each group and stick to it.
I know it is hard and things come up, but you have to think of Guided Reading as priority number one in literacy block. Don’t skimp on it. Don’t let it get frittered away. You have to pick a system that works for you. I decided on doing one group per day, and giving it a solid twenty minutes. That meant that I would meet with every group one time per week, plus one on one conferences throughout the week. I also pulled my lower groups occasionally to focus in on them more. If you want a sample daily schedule (FREEBIE!), check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Miz Riz Kindergarten Resources!
3. Gather resources: Books, books, books.
You need books. Texts. Articles. Poems. Big books. This may be the most daunting task. But you will be glad you put in the work on the front end to have a good text in front of your group. First, this is the time to think through your objectives, because that will drive your book selection. Yes, teaching kids how to read is the main objective, but what specific skills are you going to focus on for this specific group on this specific week? To help with this process, my team and I created a set of Guided Reading Recording Sheets for Reading Levels A through N (approximately kindergarten through 3rd grade level). These check off sheets keep you focused on what skills correlate well with each level, and they build upon each other so you don’t miss any skills! Here’s a preview!
4. Follow through: Don’t let guided reading get stolen from you!
Here comes the fun part- actually teaching the lessons you planned! Gather your group, plan for what the other kids will be doing, and get to business teaching them the skill you’re focusing on that day!
Also, follow through by letting kids bring home the books you read or similar books in book bags, so they can read them to their families! Use this book baggie letter to explain the process to parents!
5. Assess as you go: Checklists are a lifesaver.
Don’t just teach it, assess it. Formatively assessing means adjusting as you go. If a student is totally not getting what you’re teaching, jot a note right away on the above Recording Forms. Or if a student is flying through a level and you think it may be time to reassess their level, write yourself a note! You think you will remember, but you won’t! Write everything down as you go, so that you can revisit your notes in the next step!
6. Regroup: Both literally and figuratively.
Literally, don’t keep the same groups all year. Regroup based on skills you find lacking or growing, or based on group dynamics, or based on kids needing fresh faces in their groups. Figuratively, regroup as well. Every few weeks, take a mental step back and really think about how your groups are going. Are some not making the progress you’d like to see? Are some strategies challenging and need to be retaught? It will help a lot if you can take a moment and refocus your energies.
Guided reading is a big task, but it is so worth the time investment. I hope these tips make it a little more enjoyable for you!