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Witchcraft Heights Elementary School

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Guided Reading <Click here for Spanish>

What is Guided Reading?

Guided Reading is the heart of a balanced literacy program. The teacher works with a small group of children of similar needs at their independent level. The teacher supports the development of effective strategies for processing new texts at increasingly difficult levels, while focusing on the meaning of the story.

Guided Reading:
        •       gives children the opportunity to develop as individual readers while participating in a socially supported activity.
        •       gives teachers the opportunity to observe individuals as they process new texts.
        •       gives individual readers the opportunity to develop reading strategies so that they can read increasingly difficult texts independently.
        •       gives children enjoyable, successful experiences in reading for meaning.
        •       develops the abilities needed for independent reading.
        •       helps children learn how to introduce texts to themselves.
[Irene Fountas]

The Guided Reading groups are fluid and flexible, based on their growth as observed and assessed.

Steps in the Process of Guided Reading


The teacher chooses a book, keeping the needs of the students in mind. The teacher then prepares the lesson, deciding on a purpose, how to best introduce the text, and follow up activities.

Introducing the text

The teacher has an opening discussion attempting to tie in children’s background knowledge. The title and/or illustrations are used to further predict and discuss the story. Unfamiliar words and concepts may be introduced. The teacher understands that the more prior knowledge students can bring to the text, the easier it will be for them to read. A purpose is set, and directions are given to children so they understand the task and what to do if they finish early.

Reading the text

Students read the text silently. The teacher observes children individually and takes notes.

Responding to the text

A discussion follows the reading, allowing students to:
~reflect on prediction;
~consider different points of view;
~clarify difficulties;
~ask questions about concepts in the text;
~examine text features and language structures;
~validate points by returning to the text.

Follow - Up
Students are often asked to complete follow up activities independently, with partners or in a group. Sometimes, just the reading and discussing is enough.

Assessment and evaluation
The Guided Reading session allows teachers to find out the skills, needs, and interests of students while working in a small group setting. The teacher may also evaluate the success of the lesson in order to help plan future lessons.