Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guided Reading Strategies for Success!

There are many effective ways to teach reading to your students. One effective way is guided reading. Guided reading is based on finding books at your students’ instructional levels. Through the leveled books, the teacher acts as a facilitator in small guided reading groups where students critically analyze what they read while using proven reading strategies such as summarizing, predicting, clarifying, predicting, connecting, and more. Guided reading also encourages students to make real-world connections to their lives. Below is a break down of how to successfully implement guided reading into your classroom.

The first step in teaching effective guided reading is to find out the reading levels of your students. There are many tools that are available for teachers to do this. currently has a computerized program called the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI). Through a series of multiple choice comprehension questions, the computer is able to give a lexile score to each student based on his/her performance. It is easy for an entire classroom to enter a computer lab and take the test within 20-40 minutes. Upon completion, the data is available for the teacher, students, and parents in many different formats. The data makes it easy for the teacher to group the students and pick appropriate books. There is also the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) that many school districts use. This involves a teacher directly working with individual students through various activities to determine reading levels. The Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) is also another program that many teachers have used. It is similar to the DRA. There are many other programs out there, but these are the three that are most familiar to me. The main importance is that you know all of your students’ reading levels so you can choose appropriate books.

Once you have determined your students’ reading levels, the next step is to model the strategies and to teach them how to use the strategies in their reading. In the beginning of the year, we have our students use sticky notes to mark reading strategies in their books. They seem to enjoy doing this, especially since they have been told for so long not to “damage” or write in books. This is a fun way to have them learn more about the strategies in a constructive and neat way. We also teach the strategies explicitly. Click on the picture below to access a FREE 14 page packet of ways to teach the strategies at the beginning of the school year.

When we first meet as a group, it is always important to activate the students’ background knowledge on what they will be reading in groups. This can be often done through a KWL strategy or simply by making an idea web with your group. It is also important to discuss important key vocabulary words before reading. Also, before reading, it is important to make predictions. Predicting sets the stage for their learning, and helps them read with a focus.

Students are now ready to read for a purpose. Students begin reading their assigned pages (chapters) and continue to use the reading strategies. In our classrooms, we have developed reading comprehension guides for many of the books we use in guided reading. One novel example is our FREE novel guide for Bridge to Terabithia. Our reading comprehension guides contain specific comprehension and other strategy questions for the students to answer. . You can simply click on the picture below for the FREE 46 page guide and answer key.

If time is an issue, we have also used reading strategy worksheets that are non-book specific: Guided Reading Worksheets and Activities. These are very useful in working on specific strategies with your students. A final piece that we do during reading is to have our individual students read out loud to us aside from their group members. This helps us gauge their reading fluency and to make sure the book is appropriate for their reading level.
When students are done reading, and have finished their comprehension guides or sheets, we have them do some fun activities that relate to reading strategies. You can click on the picture below to access a FREE end of story project choices sheet that can work with any novel.  Another option is to take their understanding of the text farther by doing end of the book projects. A final choice we give our students is DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time. We find it important for students to “self-select” books of their interest.

One of the most important aspects for a teacher is to be able to assess your students understanding of key reading strategies during guided reading instruction. It is often hard for a teacher to do this without some form of assessment guideline or rubric. We have created the following assessment rubric and scoring sheet for this purpose, just click on the picture below for the FREE download. This assessment helps us keep anecdotal records of each of our students and to do a comprehensive look at their abilities in guided reading groups. 

If you show interest in the books your students are reading, the excitement will be contagious. It is highly encouraged that you read each book that you use in guided reading groups. We know it is a daunting task for any teacher, but it will pay dividends in your students’ achievement. With your knowledge of the books, you can make meeting with the groups enjoyable for all, and a chance for them to expand their understanding of the text. This will foster a true love for reading and should show gains in their reading scores when tested throughout the year.

If you would like to download this article, plus some more FREE guided reading resources, click on the below picture!



  1. Great information!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you Brian for a great post and awesome freebies!

  3. Thanks for your wonderful guest. I have download all their materials and am beginning to make my plan for next year. With this information and all your wonderful materials, students will be so excited:)

  4. Do check out the guided reading program from Snap! Learning.

  5. Thanks for all of the helpful info and freebies! FYI, The Bridge to Terabithia comprehension guide is no longer free.


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