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Guided reading: vitamins in your reading diet *Freebie

I did promise.
So even though I really want to talk about these things…
*Fringe (what the what?!)
*Pigphony (like symphony, but pigs. More later)
*Room, which I just finished reading. O.M.G.

I am going to talk about something even more exciting!
Yes, you guessed it! Guided reading!

Guided reading is like vegetables for reading. You need a little bit every day.
For healthy readers, they might need less concentrated doses.
But for struggling unhealthy readers, you gotta hit em hard with consistent amounts.

At our school, guided reading is one of the few consistent initiatives we have – everybody does it, everybody’s been trained in it, everybody has to provide evidence of it.

Space for Guided Reading

Read more about how to organize space for guided reading here!

Structure of a Lesson
There’s a formal lesson plan sheet we have to use to plan every lesson, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to share it. Don’t want to get in trouble!

The important part is it’s done at the student’s instructional reading level – not grade level, necessarily. We work through grade level text all day. This is an 18-minute (approximately) block of time where the kid gets to practice strategies on a text he or she can almost manage.

When appropriate, we start with practicing some high frequency words.
The more able readers don’t really need that.

Then we do a little word work – could be blends, digraphs, syllable patterns, vowel teams, rhyming words, prefixes, suffixes, decoding strategies, even synonyms/antonyms, context clues.

Next, we introduce our focus strategy. I’ve always used “Good readers” statements.
“Good readers stop and think about what’s important from their reading.”
“Good readers read to the end of the word.”
Although, I recently heard “Thoughtful readers.”

We preview the text, plant some language they’ll need, predict words and ideas they expect to encounter, access background knowledge – all that stuff.

Then they read. Independently. Teacher works with individual students, prompting them through the text and recording anecdotal notes.

Afterwards, we praise & reteach.

Read more about planning for guided reading here.

Structure of Groups
I meet with two groups a day. My most struggling group meets with me daily (M-F).
My next most struggling group I see three days a week (M,T,W). Then I see a group on Thursday, a group on Friday, and my highest group meets with me Wednesday during breakfast. They’re actually slightly ahead of the game, so they don’t need as much direct instruction.

Read more about grouping students here!


This is my bee-utiful guided reading binder!

Each group has a divider a plasticky divider.

I keep lesson plans behind the plastic pocket. Then there are individual dividers for each student in the group.  That’s where I keep the running records.

Read more about organizing your binder here!

Inside the kids’ folders, they have a reading level tracker to keep track of their reading levels. I mostly use it with my more struggling (below grade level) groups, to motivate them to work hard during guided reading. They notice when they move up, and they feel proud!

You can get the reading level tracker (and SO MUCH MORE) for free! Just enter your email address below to get freebies and tips for guided reading right in your inbox!

All of these guided reading materials are in my TpT store! Check it out!


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  1. Only in my dreams does my school do guided reading…………. so I am loving this post. Maybe next year when my reading program consultant isn't yelling at me to stop differentiating things, then I can use your amazing information!! Thanks for sharing all of this!!!

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  2. Sounds pretty much like what I do – like almost to a "t". I do have an amazingly awesome parapro who is with me for 30 minutes during Daily 5 so she is able to pull kids to do a reading group, strategy group – whatever I need her for. One thing I need to get better at is organizing my plans/anectdotal notes, etc. in a binder. I SWEAR I plan on doing that this summer. Maybe you'll help me!?!? {hint, hint}

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

  3. Wowza! This was a doozy! Only make your stuff cuter if you want it.
    Guided Reading. Oh my. Will you just die if I tell you we are not allowed to do it this year? And that we can only teach Houghton Mifflin direct instruction for two and a half hours? Because it's true. And it's awful. And it is against everything in me.
    A Teeny Tiny Teacher

  4. I love the way you've organized everything. I have some of those same dividers! Remember, it only needs to be cute if you want it to be. (For me, sometimes I need the cute to motivate me to keep it organized, but clearly, you've got it together anyway!)

    Thanks for sharing how you do it! It's given me lots of ideas. (We JUST got a leveled library and I'm trying to do more with guided reading!)


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