ReadingStrategiesTeaching

Guided Reading Strategies

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Guided Reading – It’s not new, but it still works! You have a small group of students, you give them a challenging text, and you support them as they read through it.

Over the years guided reading has taken on various coats and appearances, but we know one thing for sure. It works.

Guided reading works because…

  • It puts the reading process into the hands of the students.
  • Guided reading puts the learners near the teacher.
  • The readers receive feedback on their learning immediately.
  • They try out the teacher’s feedback.

However, not all guided reading methods work the same! Some methods of guided reading really work better than others.

Here are four ways to transform stagnant guided reading lessons into next generation guided reading.

 

Transform your guided reading with these 4 strategies! #elachatClick To Tweet

1. Skip Whole Class Lessons

Just be done with the whole class lesson…at least for many of your lessons. Why?

Struggling students don’t get much from whole class lessons. The pacing doesn’t meet their unique needs. One student didn’t get a confusion clarified. Another student wasn’t affirmed during the practice. Whole class lessons suffer for many reasons.

Accelerated students don’t need whole class lessons at length and in detail. For them, just explain, model in read alouds, model in shared reading (which is the most important reading strategy read here to see why), and they’re off!

Move the direct instruction into your guided reading. Extend the guided reading time from 10-15 minutes to 20 minutes. Follow this simple template:

  • Spend the first 5 minutes using a task card that allows you to explicitly teach a skill or strategy.
  • Use a second task card to let students apply what you just taught.
  • Then move into a text for the remaining 15 minutes.
  • Scaffold students with questions to assess the skill while they read.

That will give you way more impact for your time!

 

Guided Reading gives you more impact for your time! #elachatClick To Tweet

2. Stop Talking & Telling

It’s guided reading, not show and tell. That means stop telling them what to do. Telling creates dependence. It also creates unhappy teachers (read about How to Be A Happier Teacher).

The purpose of guided reading is to create independent readers. We want readers who can fluently apply the reading process – on their own.

Guided reading is their chance to apply the reading process with your support nearby. It is also a time for students to receive scaffolding on a text that is at their instructional reading level (get a free reading level chart here).

Follow these steps to empower your readers to use their strategies:

  • Give them the text. Tell them to use what they know – use what you’ve taught them.
  • Don’t give them a full overview of the text. Good readers, adult readers, don’t pick up books and get a full overview. They use strategies.
  • If they don’t know what to do with the text, great! Now you know what to teach them tomorrow…reading strategies.
  • Then listen to them work through the text. Listen to their connections, questions, and predictions. 
  • During the reading, your role is to guide not read for them.
  • Help them become independent readers. Help them use what you’ve taught.

You can’t do these things by constantly telling young readers what to do. Guided them. That’s why it’s guided reading.

 

Guided Reading is at its best when the teacher stops telling. #elachatClick To Tweet

3. Embed Reciprocal Teaching Strategies

The research is clear – reciprocal teaching is one of the strongest strategies to produce student learning. It makes sense to guide students through the reciprocal process (see more about effective instruction).

With your guidance, students will internalize four strategies that all good readers use:

  1. Predict – what do you think will happen next?
  2. Clarify – what part gave you a hard time?
  3. Question – what questions do you have before and after reading this?
  4. Summarize – can you tell what that was mostly about?

You can help students lead their own reciprocal reading groups. You can guide students through these four strategies during guided reading. Take turns letting each student predict, clarify, question, and summarize.

Only a few weeks is needed (depending on age). Then students can use these strategies with peers without your support. The ultimate aim would be for independent readers to use these reading strategies.

4. Focus on Inferential Thinking

Yes, it is difficult. Most students can tell you the literal meaning of what they read. They can literally retell the details. But inferential thinking is more challenging.

Read about this awesome making inferences test prep strategy!

Predicting, inferring, and drawing conclusions require students to think beyond the text. What better time is there for students to be asked tough inferential questions than right there in your guided reading group?

Too many questions are focused on word meaning and literal recall. This is the time to let students practice the tough comprehension skills. You are there to support. With your help, they will build these skills!

 

What questions do you have about Guided Reading? Explore more ideas and tips by clicking the articles below.

These four guided reading strategies will increase your teaching impact.
  • Is this ever used at the secondary level. I have an administrator who is completely devoted to guided reading elementary model, despite nothing in blog posts like this other than assumptions and theory. Is there research backed guided reading at the secondary level that you know of?

    • Great question…a lot of reading instruction is so driven by theory, and I don’t know why. That’s also why educators can become so dogmatic in regards to a certain reading instruction approach. The strategies I mentioned here are supported by so many studies. I think a post on the research base would be in order. Here are four studies you might find helpful.

      For Reciprocal Strategies there’s Tarchi & Pinto, 2016 and there’s McAllum, 2014.

      For student talk in guided reading, there’s Skidmore, Perez, & Arnfield, 2003 and there’s Wammack, 2012. That’s a start. What do you think?

      • I will comb those studies over for sure. Thanks. I guess I am dogmatic in my own right, because I feel that at the 8th grade level exposing the students to 4 group read novels is a set of real world skills in their own right that the students need to develop proficiency in for the subsequent 8 years time schooling that follow. Thanks again.

        • You make a great point. Don’t you think so much of ELA instruction can be complicated as is? Add to that the challenges of changing instructional approaches. I know it can be tough.

          I’m interested in hearing if there will be an implementation of guided reading at your middle school. If so, I wonder what aspects you’ll use and what impact there will be. Please update us!