Guided Reading

Guided Reading is my favorite part of the day because it was designed to meet the needs of the students.  I keep everything organized in my Guided Reading Binder.  I've tried many different systems, but I like having a binder for each group.
My Guided Reading Organizational Binder has everything you need to keep you organized during guided reading.

Inside the Binder

Lesson Plans
Running Records
Anecdotal Notes

Lesson Plan Formats

For primary aged students, I try and complete two books a week.  Completed books are put into fluency bags.  Students can use their fluency bags at work stations.  I've also had students read their fluency books for the first 2-3 min of guided reading if I am needing to help make sure the next set of work stations are off to a smooth start.
I always try to do word word, book introductions, independent reading (that's when I take running records), comprehension, and writing.
Guided reading should be focused on what the students are needing.  Even though I start the week off with specific word work words, I may add additional words later in the week, depending on their running records.
Download this template for free!

Sometimes I dictate sentences (see below), but most of the time, I let them write about something that happened in the book.  Depending on the guided reading level, I will scaffold this activity with a sentence frame if it is needed.  I always have them read their sentence to a partner.

Collecting Data

I use both running records and anecdotal notes.    When taking running records, I always praise the students for something they did well (self-corrected, used a strategy we've been using to solve a word, etc).  Then I always have a teaching point that focuses on something I want them to work on next time we read.
This is a sample of anecdotal notes.  If I'm taking notes, instead of a running record, I will write down words they missed and a strategy I want to teach them next.

Guided Reading Organization

These bins from ReallyGood Stuff work great for keeping each groups materials organized.  They come in sets of four or five and have lasted me for years.  Each bin is a different color, which makes organizing easy! I've also used the rolling carts with six to eight drawers.  

Other materials that I like to keep handy:
Highlighter tape
Pocket Folders
Post it Notes
Comprehension Question Cards
Pens, Pencils, and Makers


The majority of my strategies for guided reading have been adapted from The Next Step in Guided Reading and Strategies that Work!

I also think that using anchor charts as a reference during guided reading helps students anchor their thinking and the teacher can scaffold strategies in a small group.  Here is my Pinterest Board with my favorite anchor charts!

Important Notice:  I NEVER let students round robin read or choral read during guided reading.  (Sorry, I didn’t mean to shout, but I wanted to get my point across).  The purpose of guided reading is for students to read and problem solve.  If they round robin read, they spend the majority of guided reading listening and not reading.  If students choral read, they can “fake” read.  By having every student read every word of the text, they are getting the most out of their guided reading time.

Pre Emegergent

For this group, we do lots of activities with letters and picture cards, as well as working with their names.  This group is really focused on phonemic awareness and we spend quite a bit of time working on letters and sounds.  We also read books and then write sentences, cut them up, and finally we build them back together.  I also use quite a bit of beginning sound activities from my Preschool Bundle.

This is an easy and fun way to make phonemic awareness more visual for the students.  I just clipped letter cards on to an elastic and we stretch out the sounds and blend the words back together.

Levels A-E

For word work, I have a word bag for each student (see picture below).  Anytime they miss a sight word on a running record, the word gets put in their word bag for extra practice.  This has really helped students improve their sight words, and we are using the sight words in the context for real text.

We will build words, look for words in our stories, and practice reading our words with a partner. 

When students are reading, I ask them lots of questions about their reading, to help them think about what good readers do.
Why did you self-correct?
How did you know that said *?
Let’s try that again.  What would make sense that start with the * sound?

This is also a great time to practice specific decoding strategies.  My favorite posters to use are these by Lisa Mattes at Growing Firsts.

I also build fluency bags for students.  These fluency bags are usually used during work stations.  These are completed books that we’ve done, so they have some familiar rereads.

Levels F-I

This is when I really, really make sure I’m focusing on comprehension.   I also make sure to have students incorporate writing. 

Students have a response journal.  This is what they write in while I’m taking running records or other students are finishing reading. 

Some ideas for Reponse Journal:
Make a prediction.  Confirm if you were correct or not.
What was one new idea that you learned (nonfiction).
List three words to describe a character in the story.
How might one event change the entire story.
What was the author's purpose for writing this story?  How do you know?

One of the strategies we use when we read fiction is Somebody Wanted But So Then.  This is a great way to teach problem and solution and help students summarize a story.  Students can use this free graphic organizer to help them map the story.

Levels J+

For these levels, we spend quite a bit of time reading and using comprehension strategies.  

One area I like to work on is asking and answering questions.  I have found that the “Facts Into Questions” is a great strategy to use.  Students first identify facts.  Then from those facts, they create questions. 
Fact:  Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama.   
Question:  Where was Rosa Parks arrested.
This strategy can be used for both fiction and nonfiction and really helps students understand what questions are asking them.

As students get more and more practice with this strategy, it is great for helping them answer questions that involve inferences.  

Professional Resources

Next Step in Guided Reading is by far my favorite guided reading resource.  It has excellent strategies to help students in all grade level improve their reading comprehension.  There are also a number of word work activities to help students build their visual memory.  If you only buy one "reading resource" this is your book!

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