Reading is an essential skill all children and adults need in modern society. With guided reading, students improve their reading skills, problem-solving techniques, and learn to read with meaning. The key to successful guided reading is small groups of students reading from carefully selected leveled text.

During the 1960s in New Zealand, Marie Clay and others developed the concept guided reading. In the U.S. Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell enhanced the techniques. With the revised edition of 2016, 20 years of experience was incorporated.

Guided reading is as appropriate today as it was years ago.

What is Guided Reading?

Guided reading is an instructional approach a teacher uses in a small group of students, with the same level of reading skill, to navigate the reading process to where they read independently. These lessons teach students in a guided reading group how to develop reading comprehension.

The leveled text chosen is not too difficult for the small group but challenging enough to improve their reading and still understand what they have read. Text familiar to students is used during the guided reading session. The teacher wants the students to focus on the content, on words they don’t know, understand what they are reading, and improve their problem-solving skills. Students actively participate by reading the text and coming to their conclusions about the content.

Teachers guide the students individually and as a group throughout the reading process. Eventually students tackle processing increasingly challenging texts.

Why Is Guided Reading Important?

The goal of guided reading is for students to read independently and become proficient readers.

  • Students learn to read fluently and to become skilled readers who understand what they are reading, even when reading complex text.
  • Confidently the student can then apply the strategies learned to the new text they are unfamiliar with.
  • Exposure to a variety of genres and text types is an opportunity for students to know what kind of books they prefer to read.
  • Students practice meaningful reading daily and learn to enjoy reading as their word attack skills improve and they understand the content.
  • Guided reading helps the student to develop their comprehension abilities and to improve their thinking process.
  • Guided reading gives teachers the opportunity to observe and guide their students accordingly to the students’ needs and reading level.

What are the Essential Parts of a Guided Reading Lesson?

A guided reading lesson consists of three essential parts:

Anchor or Before Reading Discussion

The anchor or before reading discussion prepares the student for the reading part. Set a clear purpose for the lesson focus so that the small group knows what to focus on when reading the text.

Trigger their background knowledge of what they already know, to connect with new information they will come across during the reading process.

By looking at the front cover of the book, the students can predict what they think will happen.

Guide them to articulate new vocabulary they will come across in the story. Help them to recognize the high frequency words they will find in the story.

Participating in Independent Reading

Independent reading takes up most of the time where the students read the text. The teachers assist individuals as they need it.

Students can read the text a few times during this part of the lesson. Then the small group reads the text together.

The teacher can model good reading skills by reading the text to the students before they start with individual reading. After that, it’s up to the kid to begin reading independently.

Apply or After Reading Discussion

Apply or after reading discussion shows what the students understood about the text they read. Summarizing the text reinforces what they have read.

Students can revisit text to answer questions. They can ask the teacher questions or other members of the small group.

Now is a good time to discuss and compare the outcome of the text with the student predictions during the before-reading discussion.

The teacher gives feedback to the students of what they read and understood. During the after-reading discussion, the teacher can give students tasks related to the text that will enforce their comprehension and accomplish the focus and strategy of the specific guided reading lesson.

What Does A Lesson Look Like?

A guided reading lesson is generally a 15-20 minutes lesson in a small group of 3-6 students. A lesson could develop as follows:

  • Prepare the students by introducing the text to them, and what they should focus on when reading the text.
  • Practice learned sight words. Take a minute for students to practice previously learned words they may come across when reading the text.
  • Read familiar When students read the text they are familiar with; they learn to read fluently.
  • Read silently or out loud. The teacher guides the students while each child reads the complete text.
  • Discuss the text. A discussion of the text shows how much the students understood what they had read.
  • Make one or two teaching points.
  • Revisit the text using comprehension techniques.
  • Allow guided writing. With the rest of the lesson time help students with guided writing related to the text.

Guided reading is not only for students who struggle with reading; it is for all students irrespective of their reading ability. It doesn’t matter at what level the child is, their reading skills will improve.

For More Information

Here are links to interesting articles that will give you more information about guided reading and creating guided reading lesson plans.

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