Authors Mary Murray Stowe, M.Ed., and Jan Rozzelle, Ed.D.
- offers a safe environment in the context of small-group instruction;
- supports development of student confidence;
- provides teacher modeling of strategies;
- enhances student success and motivation with judicious, appropriate texts selected at an appropriate level of readability and challenge;
- promotes an inclusive approach;
- uses formative assessment to move students into more complex text;
- provides opportunities for focused instruction; and
- allows for flexibility in its approach.
Adapted from Learning Media (2000)
What Are the Goals of Guided Reading?
Guided reading is a small-group instructional approach designed to help individual readers build an effective system for processing a variety of increasingly challenging texts over time (Fountas & Pinnell, 2011; Scholastic, 2014). One goal is to help students develop and apply strategies independently, thus becoming more independent readers (Burkins & Croft, 2010). Through guided reading, students develop skills to read a variety of texts with ease and deep understanding (Scholastic, 2014) and develop complex, high-level reading comprehension (Fountas & Pinnell, 2011).
What Are Common Components Across All Guided Reading Lessons?
Guided reading session formats consist of activities that occur before reading, processes to engage students during reading, and follow-up or reflection tasks after reading the text. Other commonalities include small-group work, matching text to student through a leveling system, teachers listening to students read individually while other students underline text as it is being read, students being prompted through questioning, and students engaging in targeted conversation (Burkins & Croft, 2010). Some of the sessions include word study, word solving, or decoding practices at varying levels of intensity. Finally, varying levels of structure exist among the guided reading session plans.
Examples of Guided Reading Formats
- Model from Burkins and Croft (2010)
- The Essential Elements of Guided Reading – Fountas and Pinnell (2001)
- Lesson Plans from Jan Richardson (2013 and 2014 in Resources Section)
- Steps to Guided Reading from Learning Media (2000)
Is Direct Instruction Possible During, or as Follow-Up to, the Guided Reading Session?
According to Burkins and Croft (2010), guided reading lends itself to elements of direct instruction based on challenges faced during the guided reading session. Student reading ability improves when these challenges are noted through running records or teacher observation and then addressed through a lesson carried out using the direct instruction model. Direct instruction includes setting learning intentions, engaging the learner, modeling, directed practice, guided practice, and independent practice (Hattie, 2009; Silver, Strong, & Perini, 2009).
Philosophies vary on the relationship between direct instruction and guided reading. While some guiding reading formats include elements of direct instruction, others consider this process as one that takes place outside of the guided reading session.
How Might a Teacher Intensify Instructional Delivery for Struggling Readers During the Guided Reading Session?
The methodologies listed in Table 1 are noted within a practice guide prepared for the Center on Instruction, entitled Intensive Interventions for Students Struggling in Reading and Mathematics: A Practice Guide (Vaughn, Wanzek, Murray, & Robert, 2012). This guide provides research-based guidance for intensifying instruction in both reading and math. The guide discusses four considerations – integrating strategies that support the cognitive process with academic instruction, differentiating instructional delivery by making it more explicit and systematic, increasing instructional time (e.g. additional guided reading groups per day), and reducing group size. In this article, the methodologies are described in relation to intensifying guided reading, but they may be used with any content to intensify instructional delivery.
Intensifying Guided Reading Instruction
|Method of Intensifying Instructional Delivery||Example Within the Guided Reading Session|
|More modeling with clearer and more detailed explanations||
|More concrete learning opportunities with the use of pictures, graphics, manipulatives, or think-alouds||
|Tasks broken down into smaller steps||
|Instruction broken down into simpler segments||
|Temporary support gradually reduced over time||
|More opportunities for response, practice, and feedback||
Additional resources for intensifying instruction may be found at National Center on Intensive Intervention, a practice guide – Designing and Delivering Intensive Interventions: A Teachers’ Toolkit, an online course from the Center on Instruction, or an online Teachers’ Toolkit.
Struggling readers need support throughout instruction to become literate individuals and independent readers. Guided reading in small groups can provide effective support that emphasizes direct instruction and modeling comprehension strategies in appropriately leveled texts. Intensifying instructional delivery during guided reading sessions is possible and necessary to help many struggling become competent readers.
As Burkins and Croft (2010) noted:
Rethinking our guided reading structures within the general release of responsibility [to students] can give us more flexibility, more success and less frustration. Certainly we can offer students different routes as they journey toward becoming literate. (p. 28)
Burkins, J. M., & Croft, M. M. (2010). Preventing misguided reading: New strategies for guided reading teachers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset, the new psychology of success: How we can learn to fulfill our potential. New York: Ballantine Books.
Fountas, I. C., & Pinnell, G. S. (2001). Guiding readers and writers, grades 3-6, Teaching comprehension, genre, and content literacy. Canada: Pearson Education.
Fountas, I. C., & Pinnell, G. S. (2011). The continuum of literacy learning, grades preK-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. http://www.fountasandpinnellleveledbooks.com/aboutleveledtexts.aspx#GR
Hattie, J. A. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Gloucestershire, UK: Routledge.
Hattie, J.A.C., & Yates, G.C.R. (2014). Using feedback to promote learning. In V. A. Benassi, C. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.), Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum (pp. 45-58). Washington, DC: Division 2, American Psychological Association.
Learning Media. (2000). Steps to guided reading: A professional development course for grades 3 and beyond. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.
Richardson, J. (2013). Next step guided reading in action. New York, NY: Scholastic.
Scholastic (2014). What is guided reading? http://www.scholastic.ca/clubs/images/whatisgrl.pdf
Silver, H. F., Strong, R. W., & Perini, M. J. (2009). The strategic teacher: Selecting the right research-based strategy for every lesson. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Vaughn, S., Wanzek, J., Murray, C. S., & Roberts, G. (2012). Intensive interventions for students struggling in reading and mathematics: A practice guide. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction. http://www.centeroninstruction.org/intensive-interventions-for-students-struggling-in-reading-and-mathematics
Jan Richardson Resources (Supporting Guided Reading Materials and Lesson Plans) http://www.janrichardsonguidedreading.com/resources-1
Reading Resource.Net http://www.readingresource.net/guidedreading.html