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NYC Helpline: How To: Teach Literacy
Conducting a Guided Reading Lesson Allison Demas

The point of guided reading is to reinforce skills and strategies previously taught in shared reading lessons, and to assess how well the students are using them.

Two very important components of guided reading are the students and your books. You must know both very well. The books for guided reading need to match the students’ abilities. They can be neither too easy nor too hard. They must be “just right” to present a successful reading experience and a challenge to use reading strategies.

Before you even present the book, you should do two things. First, you need to assess and group your students. The students should be grouped by common need. Groups should consist of no more than six children (I personally work with four at the most).

Second, you should introduce any words in the text which might present a problem for the students. I write them on a wipe off board. I also review any spelling patterns which may appear in the book.

Then I present the book. As a group we look at the pictures and discuss what might be occurring in the story. I present necessary vocabulary through the natural course of the conversation. Generally, the more detailed the book the less detailed my introduction.

Before I ask the students to read I ask them to review a few of the strategies we’ve learned. (“What can we do when we come to a word we don’t know?”)

I give the students a focus depending upon their abilities. For example, I might ask them to point to each word as they read, to cross check meaning and visual cues, attend to the punctuation and make sure they read in a fluent manner.

Then I ask the students to read the book on their own. I listen to one child at a time. I make notations of the errors the students make. I also keep track of the strategies the students use successfully. If a student is stuck on a word I suggest strategies that the student can use to help him/her solve it. (“Do you see any little words in that big word?”)

After the guided reading lesson, before we meet the rest of the students for a share session, we have our own small share session. I point out what I noticed students doing to help themselves and I have the student explain what they did. The students would then be invited to share with the whole class.

When the guided reading lesson is over you need to analyze your notes. These notes provide information for regrouping students according to need. In other words, you are reassessing for future shared reading lessons.

There are several articles on TeachersNetwork.org that address guided reading. If you go to our search page and type "guided reading" you'll find them all.


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