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What is Guided Reading

Updated on July 20, 2017

We all know that reading is important. We use it in our everyday life. Mostly, that's how we consume information. It can be both entertaining and informational. Reading has many purposes. We can't imagine life without it. That's why since the day we go to school, we were taught how to read letters, words and other texts.

Reading is more than recognizing and reciting words in a page. We have to understand what we read. But for most young students, they may find this task a bit difficult. They may be able to read fluently and read out texts loud, but they may have trouble figuring out what the author has to say.

That's why there's guided reading.

What is guided reading?

Guided reading as defined by Fountas and Pinnell is a teaching approach designed to help individual students learn how to process a variety of increasingly challenging texts with understanding and fluency.

The session has a set of objectives to be taught lasting for about twenty minutes.

Guided reading is an instructional approach that involves a teacher and a student two to four students (5 to 6 are a bit uncommon) with a similar level of fluency in reading. Usually, the text the teacher use is easy for the students, with some challenges for the students to solve.

Small group instruction in guided reading is critical components of the reading block. The small group allows students to be taught in a way that is intended for them which results in acceleration of their progress.

The teacher select books that the students can understand and read with 90% accuracy. They focus on the meaning of the words but use problem-solving strategies to figure out what that word is.

Why is it important?

Guided reading gives the students to use what they already know when reading new texts. As I said earlier, guided reading teaches the student how to better comprehend text. It teaches students how to better understand the meaning of what they read. Every word, every letter. The ultimate goal of guided reading is for the students to read independently without any help and able to understand what they read, not just read.

Goal of guided reading

The goal of guided reading is for the students to understand text with a deeper level. For them to be able to read silently. Silent reading means when reading, the processing of text is rapid. Which means when you read silently, you tend to focus on meaning, therefore, you can understand what you read better.

To help the students develop independent strategies. Guided reading focuses on the processes to reading proficiency, such as meaning information and cross-checking.

The goal of guided reading is to teach students to use reading strategies independently and make meaning from print. The process allows the student to build stamina and independence in reading and writing.

Elements in guided reading

There are many elements for guided reading.

Such as:

-Working with small groups (Usually two to six students).

-Matching the student's ability to read a text.

-Giving everyone with the same group the same text.

-Introducing the text.

-Listening to students while they read.

-Encourage students to integrate their reading processes.

-Engage students in a conversation about the text.

And guided reading is an essential element to a good reading program. But how can guided reading develop and use this five essential elements?

Five essential elements of a good reading program

These are the five basic elements to any good reading program.

-Phonemic awareness

Guided reading allows student to develop their phonemic awareness or to understand that words are made up of smaller unit of sounds.

-Phonic skills

Guided reading also allows students to use their knowledge of phonic or that the small units of sound directly relate to small groupings of letters.

-Fluency in reading

Guided reading allows student to read fluently by instruction. The student are provided with text that is matched to the students ability, and can confidently read the text.

-Vocabulary building

Guided reading provides students to learn and expand their vocabulary by reading, conversation and instruction which is an essential element to guided reading.

-Text comprehension

In order for the student to efficiently read and understand words, students need to have exposure to a certain group of words. The only way they can learn how to accommodate variety of words is by actually reading.

This five elements are essential to an effective reading instruction.

How does it work?

Teachers often pull out small group made up of students (Usually two to six) with similar instructional reading levels and learning needs for guided reading while other students do other activities or other valuable literacy work.

Smaller groups will enable the teacher to focus more on his or her students. Therefore, the teacher can adapt to the individual needs of each students providing them reading strategies that would be beneficial to the development of the students reading skills.

During guided reading, the teacher would provide instructions that will support his or her student to develop their skill of reading.

Through guided reading, students learn to construct new meaning from text.

In general, the text should be not too easy and not too hard. It has to be in the middle. Small guided reading lessons should be carefully planned. The text should offer a variety of challenges to help the students become flexible problem solvers.

The text should be:

-Match their knowledge base.

-Help them the next step in learning how to read.

-Be interesting to them.

-Offer just enough challenge to support problem-solving while still easily understandable.

-Before reading

A teacher will assess the student's background knowledge and set a purpose for reading. Then look for the students with the same set of skills and group them, select a text that is both not easy and not too hard for them and organize the materials for them.


-Assess the students to determine their IRL's which means instructional reading levels.

-Look for students with the same skill, and how they solve problems when reading and then cluster those students into groups.

-Select a text that is not too hard and not too easy for them.

-organize materials for working with the groups.

-Word work: sound by sound blending.

for example heart

Sound: hear (har)

Sound: T (T)

Blend: Heart (hart)

-During Reading

The students will read the text aloud with a whisper voice individually. The reason students are encouraged to read texts individually is so that there is no comparison made between each student, their reading ability, or their style. As the student reads, the teacher takes notes and observe each student according to their reading. The teacher may ask students if they were able to understand what they read to fully know the capacity of the student, therefore, the teacher will be able to teach better. The teacher takes notes while observing the students. Notes are recorded and used over time to move students through increasingly higher level text.

-After Reading

After reading the teacher discusses and revisits the text with students. Questions are pre-planned to support the reading purpose of the text. Importantly, you will want to know if the students understood the story.This will help the teacher plan and group instruction in comprehension skills and strategies.

Watch this video of Howcast about guided reading

A Quick Question

Do you agree that guided reading is important?

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To understand is important

Teaching reading is important. But teaching how to understand what you read is more important because you need to understand in order for you to learn. That's why guided reading is important and teachers around the world still continue to teach students guided reading. It focuses on the student by grouping them into a small group to be able for the students better understand what the text has to say, or what the author of the text has to say.


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