A Recipe for Guided Reading-Powerful Teaching of Reading

Article excerpt

Guided Reading is a tried and tested approach to the teaching of reading ... just like Grandma's cake recipe that still works after decades.


1. An understanding of how a Balanced Literacy Program operates.

2. A wide range of texts at appropriate levels for instruction.

3. Classroom organisation that allows the teacher to work intensively with small groups.

4. Ability to group students homogeneously for guided reading to accommodate children's ongoing changing needs (this often requires moving students between groups).

5. An environment that supports individuals within a community of learners.

6. Accurate and current running records for each student including the miscue analysis, retell and comprehension responses.

7. A repertoire of assessment practices that assess comprehension, reading strategies and fluency.

8. A system for recording and monitoring progress of all students.



1. Assessment--What does this child know now and need to know next? Assess students' point of need; this is more than the instructional level! Analyse a running record and look at the miscue analysis--what errors are they consistently making? Consider the level of comprehension displayed by the student after the reading event. Do you need to focus on inferential meaning or evaluative connections? What strategies are they using? Are they the most efficient strategies they could be using while gaining meaning?

2. Grouping--How can I meet the needs of each child in a small group setting? Students need to be grouped homogeneously based on their instructional reading level. Groups of three to five students are optimal as this allows the teacher to support each child individually.

3. Planning--Where do I start and where am I going?

Select a text for each group. Ensure that you know the texts and the pertinent features of relevance for each particular group. There are various planning formats you can use but ensure that the following features are included:

--previous text to revisit

--high frequency words (if appropriate)

--word study (making and breaking through to word derivations)

--stumbling blocks that students may encounter while reading


Consider the many resources that are available to assist you in your planning including First Steps Reading (Second Edition), MyRead, Luke and Freebody's Four Resources Model, David Hornsby and Fountas and Pinnell.

4. Setting the Scene for Success--How do I create a productive working environment for everyone? Students need to understand why they are engaging in Guided Reading and how this process works. There needs to be a respect for the routines so that the teacher can manage reading in this context. Students can be grouped heterogeneously so that they are socially supported and challenged whilst engaging in literacy centre activities. This allows the teacher to withdraw students for the Guided Reading session. The literacy centre activities while engaging and rigorous need to be at a practice level so that children can solve their own problems and do not need teacher guidance. This approach also allows the teacher to adjust groups often to meet the changing needs of students.

5. Starting Guided Reading--What does it look like?

Guided Reading helps students to become strategic readers through explicit instruction but this can only occur if you are familiar with the text. …