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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles:
Teach Early Childhood Literacy
Conducting Guided Reading Lessons
Miriam Bissu

Guided reading lessons teach specific reading skills and strategies that are being covered in shared reading lessons. In a guided reading lesson the teacher has the opportunity to work more closely with individual children to demonstrate the use of reading strategies good readers use. The students are given the opportunity to practice these strategies in a small, more comfortable setting with the support of others. In addition, the text is carefully selected to present some challenges to the student without being overwhelming. Children should be able to read the selection with about 90% accuracy. (See companion article, How to.Group for Guided Reading on informal reading assessments and grouping.)

You can use the format below to get started in your guided reading program.

Preview the book or text:

  • Match the level of difficulty to your students.
  • Look for support in the text and the pictures.
  • Look for difficult words, ideas, and obstacles to comprehension.
  • Prepare strategies to help students overcome obstacles.
  • Divide the text into chunks to facilitate decoding and comprehension.
  • Be prepared to set a purpose for reading each chunk.
  • Prepare questions about the text that will guide the students to re-tell the important events of the story.
  • Prepare strategies to elicit responses to the text.
  • Prepare to teach the elements of the story: setting, plot, characterization, and genre.

Introduce the text to the children: (Approximate time: 10 min.)

  • Show the book or selection to the students. Discuss the covers and predict what the book will be about.
  • Read the title. Ask how the title supports the predictions made. Allow the children to revise their predictions. 
  • Read the names of the author and illustrator. Discuss the role of each in writing the book.
  • Allow the children to browse or walk through the book with you and take note of the setting, characters, and clues to what the plot of the book will be. 
  • In talking about the book try to use vocabulary that appears in the book. This will help the children decode the word when they come across it.
  • Have the children anticipate what the more difficult words in the text will look like. Ask them what sounds they will hear, have them stretch out the words, and record the sounds on a dry erase board or chart. Leave the words on display so children can refer back as needed. 

First Reading of the text: (Approximate time: 20 min.)

  • Ask the children to read on their own while you observe one or two students.
  • Tell them to read to page. 
  • Set a purpose for reading. "Read to find out how."
  • As the students read, observe them one at a time to determine their ability to read the material.
  • Observe which strategies they are using or not using in their reading. 
  • After each chunk is read, discuss the strategies the children used.
  • Ask the children to use these same strategies as they go on in the text.
  • Allow the children to respond verbally to what they have read and encourage them to connect to the text.
  • Ask them to make predictions about the text. Ask why they think these events will occur.
  • Have students relate back to the text to substantiate their responses.
  • Discuss possible written responses and/or illustrations they can work on during the next reading period.

Re-reading the text: (Approximate time: 20 min.)

The next time you meet with the group you will ask them to:

  • Re-read the text on their own while you observe them once again to determine how they are using the strategies you have taught. 
  • Discuss the literary elements of the story.
  • Ask comprehension questions about the text. 
  • Have children find parts of the text to read aloud which support their responses.
  • Record discussion points on chart paper that can serve as a reminder to them when they are writing their responses later on.
  • Prepare the children to write responses on their own which relate to the discussion that has taken place.
  • Encourage children to illustrate their writing about the book they have completed.

You will probably find it helpful to look at the article, Managing Guided Reading Groups on the previous pages as well as Kathy Granas' article, Thinking Through Planning Your Curriculum

Teaching guided reading has its difficulties. If you feel unsuccessful at first, be patient and keep at it. It will begin to flow more easily as time goes on. I hope you will find this and related articles helpful. 


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