October 15, 2011

Guided Reading

One of the things I've been struggling with this year at school is that there have been significant changes in the expectations for literacy instruction every year that I've been teaching.  My first year we were told one thing.  Last year that was tweaked in a big way.  This year, it was tweaked again in a BIG way.  The difference between this year and that first year is incredibly drastic.  Basically this boils down to me continuously learning and relearning how to teach!  This is really frustrating for me as a newbie teacher because it seems like every time I feel I have a handle on something, it changes!  Needless to say, over the past month+ I have been focusing on updating my guided reading structure and practice to meet the current expectations in my district.
One change that was introduced last year is the way we are expected to distribute the time during a guided reading group.  Previously, I would have the kids preview the text, set the purpose for reading, then have the kids read anywhere from 1-3 pages at a time, followed by a short discussion, then more reading, more discussion.  Now, we spend 1-3 minutes on a preview of the text (which is hard!  I like to talk too much!), then set a purpose and have the kids start reading a bigger chunk of the text to themselves for about 12 minutes.  During this time, I listen to 1 or 2 students whisper read and take notes on their fluency.  I also ask questions of that particular student and take notes on their comprehension.  This is brand new for me.  Not only had I never taken a running record before this year (they're not as big of a thing in intermediate grades as primary), but I had also never taken notes during my guided reading.  I know that many teachers always take notes during their guided reading, but I always felt like it was more distracting to me and that I couldn't focus on the kids as well.

Here is a sample week of lesson plans for guided reading.  (Also new for me...)  These plans are for my approaching group, so we meet every day.  My other groups are met with by myself or an aide between 2-4 times a week, depending on the level.  (Highest group is only 2x/week.)

I've tried a few different methods for data collection and informal assessment during guided reading, but I think I have finally settled on something that works well for me.  I keep my Guided Reading lesson plans, group rotation schedule, and notes/assessments in this binder:
Each group has a tabbed section with notes pages for each student.  I copy sheets for the boys on blue and girls on pink so that I can find the students I'm looking for more quickly.  Initially I was using a very generic, non-detailed sheet and taking notes for the week all over it, but it was super disorganized.  NOT my style. :) This week, I used a couple examples from other teachers to create this template that is already working MUCH better for me:
Because we are reading leveled readers from our core literacy series, my fluency notes aren't traditional running records.  I don't really want to spend an hour every week xeroxing the books to mark words on, so I just record student errors in the "running record" section.  I use a combination between Fountas & Pinnell codes and codes that I've come up with on my own based on things I wanted to record.  In the comprehension section, I jot down the type of question I asked (inference, right there, summary, prediction, etc.) and record +, 1/2, or - depending on their answers.  Here's the key I use: 
After finishing the "conference," I make a quick note about their overall comprehension and anything I noticed we need to focus on in the future.  I try to conference with two students during every guided reading session.  I'm not sure I like the fact that this practice keeps me from interacting with all of the kids in each group during each session, but the kids I conference with definitely have my full attention...We then come back as a full group for the last 3 minutes and either discuss the "focus question" I gave before reading, fill out a graphic organizer based on our weekly skill, or write a short response, so I do get to check in quickly with even the kiddos whose reading I didn't listen to.  It has been a big adjustment for me this year, but I'm just glad to have figured out a system that works for me within the constraints of the school's expectations.  Hopefully in the long run these changes help me provide better instruction to my students and better meet their individual needs.  In any case, I feel more organized than I ever have before in terms of guided reading!  So at least there's that. :)

Many of the materials mentioned in this post are available as a free download on Teachers Pay Teachers--check it out!

Tell me about your guided reading structure! 
A lot of these changes feel brand new to me, but I'm sure that a lot of you already do some of these things, or have other good ideas for guided reading.

PS: I was pretty excited this week to find out that Juice Boxes & Crayolas is featured on this list of Top 50 Education Blogs


  1. Your guided reading looks great, I love the set up with vocab and leading questions... - very organized. I was a reading recovery teacher - I can't imagine doing this for every student although it probably is a fabulous tool for making sure they can read, understand....
    Something changes every year, it gets easier to manage.

  2. Your new system looks great! (Even if it's a lot to get used to!) We started CAFE this year (by the Daily 5 sisters). Everyone is kinda freaking out about it even though it's really simple!

  3. I'm a veteran teacher and I'm not set in my ways. We change all the time. As a veteran teacher you see that things that get thrown out get brought back. Many things come around again.

  4. I get GR for younger grades but at 4th/5th grade (my grades) I feel like the kids actually think it's ridiculous to be reading those small little GR books. All they read at home are novels so the thought of pulling them into small groups for a 10 page books makes me feel a little pathetic. I'd be okay using novels for GR.

  5. I agree with Tara, it should only offend you if it applies to you because you're guilty of it. Over time you get a routine going and it is harder to change your habits after many years vs just a few, and that goes in any area not just teaching.

  6. Hi may i suggest a book called The Next Step in Guided Reading K-8. I also used The CAFE Book in my student teaching and it worked wonders.

    1. I also definitely recommend The Next Step in Guided Reading K-8 by Jan Richardson. She also has a website that she updates regularly including the lesson plans in her book at www.janrichardsonguidedreading.com I am a Reading Recovery/Reading Specialist and have been teaching for 14 years. I can't say enough great things about the way Jan has put it all together with word work, reading, comprehension, and writing. Every grade level at our school loves to use it and the upper grades love the reading notebook layout that she uses. Our state standardarized scores in reading have increased greatly while using it. Jan is also very good about answering your e-mails with questions you may have. She has videos you can order and video clips that you can watch on her website that are helpful as well. Our whole school is using it from K-5 and it is nice to have the vertical alignment across the grade levels. Teaching does evolve and is cyclical as are the children that we teach. Thanks for your contributions to guided reading!

  7. I greatly appreciate your information. This is my first year using guided reading. I will be following you. Have a great year. :)

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for your template. My question is what are other groups doing if not with you? I have an aide in my room and trying to determine best way to utilize her. Any ideas? Right now I have 3 groups but could do 4. Thanks!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...