Growing Students Through Guided Reading


Elementary teachers across DeSoto County are committed to meeting the reading needs of their students. One way they do this is through small group guided reading instruction. Numerous research studies show that working with small groups of students with similar needs is one of the most effective methods for growing readers.

The primary goal of guided reading is to teach comprehension skills using instructional level texts; in other words, texts that are moderately challenging for students. In the primary grades, students are individually assessed through the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System, an A-Z leveling system. This data provides the teacher with the information needed to begin flexibly assigning children to small groups based on reading levels or comprehension goals. The word flexible is used because the more a child reads, the quicker new skills develop and/or reading level changes. Therefore, teachers are continually taking running records, administering mini-assessments, and making placement decisions.


A guided reading lesson has four basic parts: book introduction, independent reading, comprehension conversation, and vocabulary study/writing.   The lesson begins with a book introduction to prepare students for reading as well as call attention to unfamiliar vocabulary words the students will encounter throughout the course of the text.


Children then read books at their instructional levels independently. They may whisper or read silently as the teacher attends to one child at a time. These one-on-one interactions allow for a student to read quietly to the teacher so she can observe reading behaviors in an effort to provide individualized help where the child may need support.

After all students have completed their independent reading, the students participate in rich text-based discussions. Students enjoy these comprehension conversations because they can share what they learned, building on each other’s ideas and making connections to other texts or the real world. At the end of each lesson, the group may spend 3-5 minutes learning about how words work in context or across word families and/or write about their new learning.

Peak inside a second grade classroom at Hope Sullivan Elementary and see a guided reading lesson in action.