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NYC Helpline: How To: Teach Literacy

Identifying Students for Placement in your Guided Reading Groups Part I
Arlyne LeSchack

As promised in my previous article How to Lay the Groundwork for Effective Guided Reading Instruction in your Classroom, I will start to enumerate the reading behaviors that make up the characteristics of possible guided reading groups within your classroom in this article.  In the typical heterogeneously grouped classroom there will probably be three or four guided reading groups functioning at different levels.  Please note these groups should be flexible.  On occasion students may be placed in a different group based on the need for instruction in a specific reading strategy.  In addition, students should be able to move from group to group based on your assessment of their reading improvement.

Since guided reading does not usually start in Pre-K, we will begin with Kindergarten.  Following a model developed by the Jefferson County Public Schools in Golden, Colorado, there are three possible groups that your students may fall in:
  1. Preconventional

  2. Emergent

  3. Developing

Putting students in the correct group facilitates your instruction when they are with you for guided reading and it allows students to work on similar independent literacy activities when it is not their turn with you in guided reading.  Use the  following table of student reading characteristics to help you place students in the different groups.  characteristics of students who fit in the three different groups.  Students may not be at the developing level at the beginning of Kindergarten, but students who exhibit some of these behaviors can be put together in a guided group while the other characteristics can be encouraged.  In other schools, these levels may be shown in first or even second grade classrooms.  You know your students better than anyone. 

Possible guided reading groups and characteristics of students.

Preconventional Emergent Developing
the student ...
  • Holds book and turns pages correctly

  • Shows beginning/end of book or story;

  • Knows some letter names;

  • Recognizes own name in print;

  • Role plays reading behaviors

  • Participates in group reading (books, rhymes, poems and songs)

  • Listens to and responds to literature;

  • Comments on illustrations in books;

  • Begins to choose reading materials (e.g. books, magazines and charts);

  • Shows interest in reading signs, labels and logos (environmental print).

the student ...
  • Pretends to read;
  • Reads top to bottom, left to right and front to back with guidance;
  • Knows most letter names;
  • Demonstrates phonemic awareness through word play;
  • Recognizes some names and words in context;
  • Knows some letter sounds;
  • Matches letters to sounds;
  • Memorizes pattern books, poems and familiar books;
  • Begins to read signs, labels and logos (environmental print);
  • Uses illustrations to tell stories;
  • Begins to make meaningful predictions;
  • Connects books read aloud with own experience with guidance;
  • Participates in reading of familiar books and poems;
  • Demonstrates eagerness to read.     
the student ...
  • Knows most letter sounds;

  • Relies on print and illustrations;

  • Recognizes simple words;

  • Notices own errors (miscues);

  • Uses finger-voice-print matching;

  • Uses initial consonants to read words;

  • Reads books with simple patterns;

  • Begins to read own writing;

  • Makes meaningful predictions;

  • Identifies title and author in literature (text features);

  • Retells main idea in literature;

  • Participates in guided literature discussions;

  • Begins to read independently for short periods (5-10 minutes);

  • Chooses reading materials independently;

  • Sees self as a reader;

  • Shares favorite reading materials with others;

  • Explains why literature is liked/disliked during class discussion with guidance.

To  How to Identify Students for Placement in your Guided Reading Groups Part II

Please e-mail me  if you have any questions.


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