Guided Reading

I think the most important part of guided reading is to have fun. If you have fun, the kids have fun… and when kids are having fun they are more eager to learn.

This time is meant to be a challenge for students, its purpose is to stretch children’s reading ability – and this can be hard. But when you look at it as a great time to spend with your students reading great books, it just works!

I have found that whether you’re working with 5 year olds or 9 year olds, if there’s a gimmick, they just are more excited to come read with you.

My teammate and I both wear dollar store tiaras to teach at my small group table.

It not only is ridiculously fun, but it is a visual signal to the rest of your class that “I’m teaching now!” and they seem to really respect that.

This year my husband also found these terrific glasses at a charity event and got them for me. They are hard to teach in, but when I’m calling my group to the table I wear them and sing a silly song with the kids names in it to get them runnin’ to me. And, yes, I know I look just bizarre, but it works!

I always start with a warm-up of old stories. This way the kids feel successful right from the start.

I keep previously read books in a bin, so I can remember which groups read which stories, because let’s face it, you just can’t remember every book you read all year.

So, when my kids get to the table they pick a book to review from their bin. This is when I do a running record on one student.

When they are done with the story, I check to see if their brain is warmed-up. Yes, some students like me to touch their forehead and pretend it’s HOT!

If I see a student who didn’t really read the book, was playing around, or was struggling, I tell them that it isn’t really hot yet and they should read another. They think that’s pretty funny.

After the review book, I introduce a new story with a front cover discussion and a picture walk. This is when I can plug in any key words or vocabulary the children will need to read the story.

During this time I can also introduce a word pattern that might be in the story. For example, you could review “Magic E” words, or the “-at family”.

Then, they read! The children should read by themselves. This is not choral reading. Listen carefully to the students. See what strategies they have used, and see if they have used them properly.

For a great list of reading strategies that use Beanie Babies visit this site.

After we read the story, we review the story. Then I typically do some mini-lessons in skills. For example, we may work on beginning sounds, syllables, ending sounds, rhyming, phoneme segmentation, and phoneme blending or sight words.

My beginning readers love to play with playdough after the story. I take an ABC puzzle and remove all of the pieces. I then have the kids tell me the name and sound of a letter, then they create the letter.

In the picture we were making “S”, and you can see that I had a teachable moment with the direction of the “S”.

Once a guided reading group has a pretty good grasp of some letters and sounds, I have them pick 3 letters to write on sticky notes. Then I say words, and they point to the letter it begins with if it is one of their letters.

My kids loved this game, but didn’t like it when they didn’t have the letter, so now I give then 4 sticky notes, 3 with letters and one with a frown face. This way, if they do not have that beginning sound, they point to the frown and all the children are engaged.

Students love anything that they can touch, so I use shaving cream and small baking trays to review letters and sight words. My more advanced groups also do making words activities with the shaving cream.

The kids love this activity because it’s fun, I love it because it keeps them engaged and is easy to clean up. All they have to do for cleanup is put the trays in the sink and wash their hands. It is well worth it!

After the guided reading, skills, and review I always have the children reread the story once more before they return to literacy centers or the Retell Table. This just cements the story in their head and ends on a positive, strong note.

Sometimes I even start a literacy centers with the group and let them finish it on their own to check story comprehension.

I always end guided reading with a smile, and cute stamp on their hand and excitement. This makes the children even more excited to come to the table the next time!

I hope that you try a few of these ideas to make guided reading one of your favorite parts of your day!

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Have questions? Contact me about guided reading in your classroom.

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Teaching Guided Reading 
I love your idea of the silly glasses.... We tie-dyed shirts at the beginning of the year for field trips. So, naturally I wanted one, but wouldn't …

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I don't know where I exactly found this idea but I have used it in my classroom at least once a week. In the guided reading lesson after the students …

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