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Secrets to Guided Reading Success

What do English, math, and science class all have in common? They all require you to read! Whether you’re reading a short story, solving a story problem, or reading for information reading helps us understand a variety of topics. So, what do you do when your students struggle with this vital skill? You break out your guided reading activities! If you don’t know exactly how guided reading works, let me tell you some of my secrets to guided reading.

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What is guided reading? 

Let’s take it from the top; what is guided reading? Guided reading is a teaching strategy that you can use to help meet the needs of your students in the classroom.

The overall purpose of guided reading is not to teach a book but to teach students reading strategies that will help them become better readers.

Guided Reading 101 

There are many ways you can use guided reading in your classroom. Whether you are working with smaller groups or the whole class there are certain things you will always want to do. Follow the steps below for the secrets to guided reading.

Step 1: Pick a Goal and Goal 

There are many reasons why we read and those reasons vary based on our purpose. For example, if we are reading to understand how to do something we will read differently than if we are reading for the purpose of retelling a story. There are many goals you can chose from including:

  • Recognizing sight words
  • Understanding/using pictures
  • Tracking
  • Making inferences
  • Revving up prior knowledge
  • Detecting different elements of a story
  • Summarizing or retelling
  • Sequencing

This is just a small list there are other goals you may want to establish. What your goal is should relate directly to what you are doing in class and should tie in easily.

Step 2: Choosing a guided reading text 

After you decide what you are going to be reading for you need to decide what you are reading. When you choose reading materials, you want to make sure you match the reading level to where your students are at not where you think they should be.

Another thing you should consider when you are picking out a text is what you are studying in class. Making you reading material match what you are talking about in other subjects can help bring meaning to reading which can make it more enjoyable for students.

Step 3: Map Out Your Reading 

Once you have what you need to get started, you need to make a before, during, and after reading process.

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Before Reading 

Before you begin reading you should always build background for your students or you should help your students build background. There are a few ways you can build background with your students.

  • Look at the cover of the book and have students PREDICT or (infer) what the story is going to be about.
  • Do a “picture walk” by flipping through the pages and looking just at the pictures so the students get some questions about the text which can engage them further.
  • Give a teacher lead discussion on what is happening during the time period the text takes place so students understand why some events happen.
  • Group your students together and give each group a research topic to look up and find information about the text.
  • Present interesting facts about the topic you are reading and pose a question for them to think about.
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During Reading 

Once you peak your students interest, you can start “model reading” the text. When you model reading for your students, you should pause and ask questions or bring different elements to their attention.

After you have modeled the reading, have students read through it again on their own. To help with fluency you can have students record themselves reading the story for their parents. As students are reading, you should be walking around the room and observing what students are struggling with and providing support.

After Reading 

Now that you and your students have read the text, you can do a mini-lesson with the students to discuss the strategies you used. It’s important for you to explicitly say any strategies that you used while you were reading. Some strategies you may want to discuss include:

  • Summarizing
  • Questioning
  • Making inferences
  • Making connections
  • Determining importance

If you had an essential question, now is a great time to talk about the essential question and how students answered it using their reading strategies.

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Varying Your Guided Reading 

There are so many ways to use guided reading in your classroom. You will always want to follow the three steps above to be successful, but there are other secrets to making guided reading dynamic.

You should always vary your guided reading strategies and goals that we mentioned above. In addition to mixing up your goals and strategies, you will want to use different techniques during your guided reading. Some techniques you can use include:

• Highlighting

Have students highlight what you want them to find while they are reading. Then ask them a question they may need the highlighted areas to answer. This is a great skill for students to learn because highlighting is a helpful research tool.

• Questioning

Providing students with a list of questions to look for while they read can help them focus on the text while you are reading and ultimately lead to better understanding.

• Close Readings

It’s not always enough to read a text one time. Teaching students to reread is a vital skill they will need in the future. You can learn more about close readings in this blog post.

Guided reading is a great way to get your students involved in the text and helps them in every subject you can think of! Make sure you follow the steps above to unlock the world of literature for your students and find other helpful tips and resources in Mrs. Shipley’s Classroom.

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