****NEW as of January 28, 2007****
When I first started this site I wrote
about how I organized my reading block. Last year I reflected
upon what I did and wrote about the changes I intended to make to
improve reading instruction. It is now reflection time
about what worked and what did not work. I did change some things
this school year and would like to make some more changes. I
will write about those here!
What Is Guided Reading?
What Are the Other Kids
Planning for Reading Groups
Guided Reading Activities That
What Does the Teacher Need for
Guided Reading Lessons?
What Is Guided Reading?
If you are new to Guided Reading and are
unsure of exactly what it is I suggest you try to get your hands on
a copy of this book.
consider this book to be the "bible" to Guided Reading.
It is VERY thick and long, but has many, many clear ideas of
how to implement Guided Reading in the classroom.
This is my definition of guided reading:
Guided Reading is meeting in small
flexible homogenous grouping to work on a reading passage or skills.
Students meet in small groups (if possible, 6 or less) and tackle
common text or skill. These groups are not static and children
move within these groups based on their reading level or needs. It
is important that students are place in a group where they will have
a maximum potential for reading success. When planning my
guided reading groups, I think before (preview and activation of
background and vocabulary), during ( tackling the text and/or
skills) and after( assessment, reflection and sharing).
The problem most
teachers have is not WHAT to do in guided reading, but rather what
to do with everyone ELSE! Hopefully, this page will give your
some options of how to manage guided reading.
For more information about using Guided
Reading in the classroom check out these links
Although I would not consider some of
these videos to be guided reading videos, I do see these videos as
being good models for teaching some really good reading strategies
and management ideas. Here are some free movies to watch of
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This year I kept my schedule pretty
simple. I taught a combination of whole group and small group
reading. I began teaching in whole group and then we divided
into our smaller guided reading groups. Here is an example of
my daily literacy schedule schedule. It is NOT perfect and I
was really TIGHT on time, but here it is:
Spelling or Grammar Lesson
Lunch and Recess
As students came in from recess
they pulled out their DEAR time books and read. This was
a routine and it was expected that students come in and get
ready to read. Students enjoyed having the chance to get
settle before "teaching" began.
Whole Group Mini Lesson.
These were skills based or comprehension based. Click
here to read more about mini
Guided Reading Groups-I met with my
lowest group first and then met with a second group.
Students not in guided reading groups continued to DEAR time
read or complete an assigned activity.
Writing mini lesson
I will continue to start with whole group
and then break into small group because I like the flow and it helps
me manage my time (I tend to make my mini lessons maxi lessons if I
know I don't have to do GR (Guided Reading) right after!!!).
Also, I can build upon what we just discussed in the whole group
during my guided reading lessons.
This is the first year when I have been
able to set up a daily schedule for reading groups. Generally,
I just alternate days to make sure I see each group. For some
reason, it has all just fallen in place this year where I can have a
For a printable version of this schedule
in Word, click here.
I am currently working on my long range
plans and what I intend to teach when as far as my mini lessons go.
This is a working version of my long range plans. It is only
September and I am already a little off ( I am just beginning
connections!). I will make it work the best that I can.
Printable Version of
Long Range Plans in Word
This year I did mix whole group with small group, but
as the year progressed I tended to go with small groups. This
was because I really felt my students were sky rocketing with the
small group instruction and I could more easily identify their needs
with in a small group setting.
Another reason I abandoned this was because simple I was able to.
I have been teaching three and a half years. This was the
first years when I really felt I could reach back in some files and
find what I have done in years past and use it. Planning six
or seven reading groups (total groups for my homeroom and my
teammates) was no big deal because I could recycle some of my old
lesson plans. Also, more students were on similar levels so I
was able to use books for both classes (my middle groups were both
reading the same story).
Finally, I abandoned it because I realized I am just not one of those
teachers who follows a rigid schedule well. I have a hard time
saying, "Okay week one, I have start whole group!"
Especially when I found something I just knew my kids loved or they
were requesting books.
Guided Reading Groups
Catch Up Day
This is a copy of my original weekly
plan. This got tossed as well. Why? Well, after I
tried this and I felt guilty, I knew I had to change. I
felt guilty because I felt I was short changing the higher students.
These students deserve a years worth of growth also and by seeing
them *maybe* twice a week I couldn't guarantee that I was giving it
to them. So I simply did a rotation and put them in. I
saw my lowest kids the most often (still, this did not change.
They were the group I always met with first) and then rotated
through the other groups. The way I managed this was NOT to
evenly split group times. I had always met with each group for
twenty five-thirty minutes apiece. Well I always meet with my
lowest of the groups I intend on meeting with first. I meet
with them about thirty or thirty five minutes. Then I meet
with the higher of the groups second for about fifteen or twenty
minutes. Yes, shorter time, but these kids can move through
things quickly (and most actually prefer it- mine got bored quick!).
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WHAT ARE THE OTHER KIDS
Here is some powerful research.
Check this out to see why I do WHAT I do.
WHAT MATTERS: VARIATION IN AMOUNT OF
Minutes per day
Words Read per Year
Anderson, Richard C.
Growth in Reading and how
Children Spend Their Time Outside of School, 1988 Reading
Research Quarterly, #23, pp.285-303
This information is from the book Guiding Readers and Writers
Grades 3-6: Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy by
Irene C Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, 2001 pp 43.
I have tried to do centers that are all literature based.
However, I read a book called The
Reading Essentials by Regie Routman. This book really changed my
view of reading and centers. According to the book, while
centers help improve skills, students need to opportunity to READ
and apply all the strategies we are teaching them. Click
here to read more about this book or on the cover below.
As more and more
students are entering upper grades with limited reading success, we
have to provide more opportunities to read. Unfortunately,
students do not read as often, or as "richly" as we would like at
this book I really thought about what I want children to walk away
with most from my class. I want children to walk out of my
class with a love for books and reading. If I achieve this,
then I am happy.
I have not changed much this year about what students do while I am
meeting in small groups. I just want them reading! I have felt that
this was actually the MOST successful part of my reading class!
So after that long drawn out paragraph. Here is where I get
into the good stuff: what ARE those other kids doing while I am
meeting in small groups?
Students who are not meeting in groups with me are either rereading
the text (to increase fluency), finishing a skill from their group
(this is what I often grade), listening to a book of choice on tape
(increase fluency and increasing sight words, etc.), writing in
their writers notebooks or READING. They are reading either in
the room or in the library. Students are able to go to the
library once a week in their small reading groups on their own and
choose books and hang out and browse in the library. They can
read magazines, take AR tests or check out books or read.
It may sound like a lot is going on, but it is not.
Update 7/06- This is an area that I am
going to change. I had a group this year that simply could not
manage going to the library. It was WAY too much for them and
I am not sure if the time was used as wisely I would have liked.
This is the one change I want to make. I will keep the other
activities, as I saw the benefits of them. I am tinkering with the
idea of the letting a different group every day have game time.
I am still not sure about this. The idea of "game time" makes
me VERY hesitant due to noise level and on task behavior. The
"games" would actually be games we had played as a class to practice
a skill or comprehension. You can find examples of these games on my
centers page. If a student is
not on task or is too loud, they just don't get to play. I am
NOT sure if I want to do this yet.
I am also considering just making it
extra DEAR time for students. I am creating a "new" reading
incentive plan that I may tie into this extra DEAR time.
Another idea or choice I am playing
with is doing some kind of buddy reading program. This is what
I am REALLY learning toward. Last year I had my very high
readers (two or more YEARS above grade level) met with a partner or
a set of three students. The students all chose one book and
then met together in informal literature circles. Once a week,
students wrote letters to me detailing what they were reading and
also what they discussed. The kids loved this and SEVERAL of
the kids wanted to take part. After surfing the 'net for awhile
I ran across this
AWESOME teacher's site. She actually teaches
third grade. I LOVE her idea for
reading partnerships. I like the idea of students
participating in reading partnerships or reading "buddies."
This would take a good bit of modeling during the beginning of the
school year, but I think by the second quarter students could be
completing these independently when not in guided reading groups.
One thing that will be tricky is keeping these reading partnerships/
buddies flexible. I don't want students to be confined to
being able to choose buddies (or the teacher choosing) by guided
reading groups. I would like these to be more flexible and
tiered by interests.
This year I am teaching a group of
children unlike any other group I have ever taught. For the
most part, the abilities are pretty wide spread between the
two classes, and even within the same class! So, I am trying
to reinvent my reading block to match the needs of my students.
I have include ideas for differentiation of guided reading
activities on the following pages:
Supporting On and Above Grade Level
Supporting Below Grade Level Readers
Here is a brief example of what my class
looks like during reading time:
What Are We Doing?
||I have a brief mini
lesson. (To read more about these click
I make an announcement of what we
are doing. This is written on the board. Click
here for a picture of the board.
"Group One it is your Library Day.
Meet me at the front door.
Group Two we will be meeting first
at table one
Group Three we will be meeting second at table two.
Reread text until we last stopped at chapter 3.
Group Four it is your DEAR time
day. You may read or write anywhere in the room."
While I meet with the library group
at the front door other groups are getting reading baskets
(magazine file folder boxes that contain the guided reading
books for that group and each students folder) and
taking materials to the table I have announced (Students do
not come to a reading table. It wastes time.
Instead they move once at the beginning of class and once at
the end and I move to where THEY are. Saves time.) Library
group has to each tell me their goal for the day: Check out a
new book, read this book (have to show me the book), work on
their story, read a magazine, take an AR test over _____ book.
They are out the door and know to come back at 1:55.
I count down from 10 to 0.
When I am at 0 all students still in classroom are doing their
activity I assigned.
||Meet with my first
group. This is usually the lowest of the two groups I
will be meeting with that day. We talk about the book
and I set up what we will be reading today (and do a typical
guided reading lesson).
Students then silently read an
assigned part of the book until I sit next to them. Then
they read aloud. I take notes on my clipboard. On this
clipboard I have sheets of Avery labels. Click
here to see what I mean. When I have time I
peel the stickers off and put in their file I keep in my room.
Instant anecdotal notes.
either leave students with a task or they read.
||Meet with group
two. By now they are reading and I have to interrupt
their reading (They may moan and groan, but I love that they do this!
It is amazing to see non-readers in the beginning of the
school year actually asking to finish the page) and repeat the
enters the room. They know to sit on the floor near the
door and read the book they checked out or took to the
library or share with a friend (magazine or such) until I
announce that we need to find our way back to our seats.
||I announce to the
class it is time to get out writers notebooks for writing
time. I count down from 10 and ask students to take
their belongings to their "regular seat" in the room, put away
reading baskets, and take out writers notebooks.
||We are ready for
what about Fridays? I use this as our "break day."
Students have longer DEAR time (which believe it or not they love)
and I have time to read aloud more from our latest book.
Then we rearrange the
room for Readers Theater. Students perform a Readers Theater every
other week. Scripts are randomly passed out on Mondays and
students practice their part every night for homework and we present
on Fridays. You can read more about how I use Readers Theaters in my
we go to the library for a whole group check out. Students
have to approve books by me in the beginning of the year. As
the year progresses, I wean them so they make appropriate choices
themselves by going over and over the five finger rule.
Updated 7/06- This year
I tried something new this year rather than the picture below to let
kids know what we would be doing in guided reading groups for that
day, I wanted some kind of poster to let kids know what
and where their guided reading group would be in the next few DAYS.
This helped me in my own planning and forced me to stay more
organized and "on top" of things!
I took my
page that I use to plan for guided reading and drew it on a
piece of 11 X 18 white construction paper. I laminated it and
then put magnets on the back. You can print a version here on
legal size paper
here. I went ahead wrote down what
group I would be meeting with and when. At the end of reading I
would check it off so students could keep up with where we were. If
for some unexpected reason we didn't have guided reading and I had
planned that we would (you know how "stuff" comes up...sigh) I would
not check it off and we would pick up the next day where we left
off. it was great because it took the responsibility off of ME
to tell kids what and where they would be...they know to look!
PS- I didn't come up
with the idea, just the planning sheet. I shared it with my
coworkers and one of them came up with this idea! Ingenious!!
I will post an image
This is a website
that is actually devoted to primary grades. However,
on this site, there is a
link to printable ideas for centers in a second of third grade
classroom. This might be a good place to get ideas if you
choose to do centers. Also check out my free, printable center page
for other free centers.
Since I do not use
centers during guided reading, I have NO idea how to manage them.
I am sorry! Ms. Powell
does have some great management ideas during centers, so you might
want to check her site out.
illustrates how students know what they need to be doing during
Guided Reading. I used Word Art and Clip art to create a
picture for each group. Then I mounted the pictures on
construction paper and laminated them. The last step was the
put magnetic strips on the back. I put the pictures on my
white board (which is magnetic) and write daily what each
group will be doing. I simple erase it and rewrite for the
next day. Very simple when I need to give a few different
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The planning I originally did worked for most of the year.
However, sometimes I found myself "forcing" a skill that did not
naturally fit the book. Or trying to teach WAY TOO much in one
book and dragging it out forever. So...how did I try to fix
this? I mixed my old and new. I still tried to find one main
skill for all the groups (old) and added in mini lessons. In
order to teach all those skills that the basal covers so wonderful I
did MINI LESSONS! Not a new
concept, but it works for me.
So how does it all work? What I did was choose one skill I
wanted students to learn. For example, identifying fact and
opinion. I spent a week on the skill about seven to ten
minutes a day. Usually the first day I introduced the skill.
I might use a picture book. The second day we might play a
game using the skill. The third day we would find another way
to cover it (my mind is blank right now!). Usually the fourth
day I would use a sheet from the basal practice book as practice.
Good old pencil paper practice. Then the fifth (give or take) day I would use
another sheet from the basal to assess the skill. Our basal
(Scott Foresman) is set up very well so that skills are recycled
many times. They would have several practice sheets and then a
review page. The practice sheet would be a practice and the
review page would be a quiz.
Next year NOT all of my mini lesson will be skills based. I
will be adding in the adding in the ideas from
Strategies that Work and
Mosaic of Thought. I have been adding to the mini lessons
page. So far I have
Questioning completed. I am currently working on Making
Connections and Inferences.
Updated 7/06 - When I plan for a guided
reading text, first I try to find a text that matches students
reading level. Sometimes I will have ALL the guided reading books
for ALL groups be a specific genre. For example, I do a study
of biographies and this year each guided reading group was reading a
biography while we studied context clues using a big book about the
life of Beatrix Potter.
After choosing the book I read it and and look for any big ideas
that I might want to cover. For example, some books might be
great for using picture clues to infer or prediction. Others
use specifically for using character's emotions to infer plot and
motive. Then I use my small group planning form to write my
lesson plan for each book. Yes, I write a lesson plan PER GR
book because I save them year after year and it helps me keep track
of what I have done in each group. I approach guided reading
planning in this manner:
activating background information and learning new vocabulary
comprehending text, using reading strategies learned in whole group
summarizing, seeing the "big picture," responding to
Click on each
section to see activities I do in guided reading groups (I picked
these up from colleagues or workshops. none of these are my
own creation. I am not that creative!!!)
Here are the planning sheets that
I did use for each GR group and I found very useful. Click here to see
other planning sheets.
Example of Guided
STARTING GUIDED READING
This is a tricky area and many
people have many different views of how to start guided reading in
the classroom. I like to view more as setting up our reading
"plan" or reading workshop (although I do not subscribe to this
method completely). I find it easier to start setting up
guided reading and my reading workshop in general in the beginning
of the year. This is because I am setting up my entire reading
workshop/ reading block.
Things I consider:
What will my schedule
What will the other students be doing?
It takes me a good long while before we
area ready to start guided reading. I am anticipating starting
the about the fifth week of school this year. So what am I
doing the first month of school? The first week of school is
pretty much getting to know you activities and team building
activities. I rarely start on academics the first week.
Then the second, third and fourth week of school I am laying the
ground work for guided reading. Since students will generally
be independently reading while I conduct guided reading groups (I
reading partnerships later in the school year), I spend most of
this time building up their reading "stamina." Most kids
simply aren't able to read 30-45 minutes independently and I use
this time to build them up.
To structure this I use the First 20 Days
of Independent Reading from the Guiding Readers and Writers
Grades 3-6 book by Fountas and Pinnell. I HIGHLY recommend
this book. I pull all of my mini lesson from these first 20
days and then send my kids off to independent read and then we meet
back to discuss what we have learned in our reading. While I
do not use ALL 20 days of mini lessons, I pick and choose the ones I
know I will use to set up my reading workshop. Below are some
charts that we created using the First 20 Days of Independent
Reading during our mini lessons:
When I am ready to start guided reading,
I simply need to introduce routines like which groups will be called
and how they know when their group will meet. They know what
to do when we are in guided reading, because they have been
practicing it for 4 weeks!
I loved this idea that I found on
Ms. Gurian's website. You can create a
tool box for students to use during guided reading- or even in
independent reading time! She also
included directions on how to use it! Love it and will be
work on making these for next school year!!!
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I have received many emails asking about the reading contracts that
I reference on my other guided reading page (the
one I created at the beginning
of this year BEFORE I was able to make this current page of
"reflections and what worked for me" page).
At one time I did these with ALL my reading groups. Then I
decided to ditch them and only do them with my highest groups.
I thought that giving students these contracts would allow me to
work more with my lowest group. Then I changed my mind again!! I DO NOT do this because I
feel that this is "neglecting" my high ones (they deserve a years
growth too!) and couldn't make these work for me. I found
students become bored with the contracts also BUT maybe you can make
them work for you. Maybe I was doing something wrong!!! Here is copy of all the contracts I have
Here is a link to
Wilson's 3rd grade site with a few other reading contracts.
are several other reading units that have been developed online.
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LEVELED BOOK LISTS
I am very lucky. Our reading specialists have already gone
through our entire book room and have leveled all the books that we
need to use. In fact all I have to do is walk in, find the 40
(DRA levels) bucket and pick out books and I am done. I
do not usually use novels because I take too long teaching them!!
I stretch them out so long students lost interest! I usually
just use the short guided reading books is our bookroom because we
have a wonderful collection. However, if you are looking for a
book level here are a few good links that may help you.
|This is an
EXCELLENT and extensive list of books that has Fountas and
Pinnells Guided Reading levels for kindergarten through sixth
grade( and some higher)
Cherry Carl's site
|This is a wonderful
site, but is geared for the lower grades. She has a
large list of books but they are leveled by the reading
Beaverton School District
|This is a cool site
where you can do searched by either title, keywords, author OR
guided reading level.
|This is MY FAVORITE
leveling site. It is really for librarians to order
books, but it can be used for teachers to figure out levels.
I will say it does NOT have guided reading levels, but has AR
levels and lexiles. I use it just to get an idea if it is in
the ball park.
|More links to other
leveling sites. Reading Lady is a wonderful resource for
|These are levels of
books published by Scholastic.
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MAKING THE "HOME-SCHOOL"
It seems like
in the upper grades parents may not read as much with their kids
because the children are now readers. Too often I hear stories
of parents that tell me they send their child off to their room to
read for an hour. Yikes! Usually these are kids who NEED
someone to read with them, but the parents are just unaware.
something new I am trying this year. I have a page devoted to
all I am *trying* to get done this summer!
this! I did Lunch Bunch this past school year and the kids
loved it! They are similar to informal Literature Circles and
it is like a reading club. However, students that participate
get to come back to the classroom to discuss the books during lunch
time while they eat. This was a BIG draw. This idea was
created by Laura Candler. I just used the book sets that we
had in the fourth grade workroom. Students could read at any
time, lunch, DEAR time or at home. Parents had to sign off and
students had to have a question read to ask their peers.
Here is the
parent letter I send home regarding lunch bunch.
Souvenir Bags/ Story Bits
I have never done this but came across
this idea. I loved it!!!! Next year I will fit it in!!
Here is a
FILLED with ideas you can use for story bits.
Here is another great link with ideas.
WOW site where you can search by book to find a souvenir.
I have never been a really big fan of
book reports. I didn't want to create them and grade them and
all that jazz. However, I came across Ms. Rentz's amazing
website and she has a book report each month. The directions
are right there and she has examples! Very easy! A kind
of report was assigned each month and students presented on the last
day of the month. I liked this idea and will tie this into the
student's listening objectives.
Adrian Bruce has created these fabulous
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Some graphics on this page are from