Guided Reading: Part 1, Getting Set Up

 //  Sep 15, 2016

Guided Reading: Part 1, Getting Set Up

The post below originally appeared in full on Scholastic's Top Teaching blog.

Children have always come to school with a range of literacy experiences and abilities. Teachers continue to struggle daily as they attempt to meet the needs of all their learners. A one-size-fits-all model of teaching will never meet this varied range and, in fact, there is evidence that providing students with the same reading instruction can actually be detrimental to student achievement.


Differentiated instruction is matching instruction to the different needs of learners in a given classroom. The range of instructional needs within one classroom is vast. In order to accommodate these instructional needs, teachers need to provide small group, differentiated instruction. In a differentiated classroom, students are given many opportunities to practice and reinforce reading skills by participating in whole and small group activities. Students are given many opportunities to practice, demonstrate, and extend learning independent of the teacher during independent literacy centers. Teachers will also provide explicit instruction based on student need at the teacher-led table — and guided reading provides a perfect platform for differentiation. 

What Is Guided Reading?

Guided reading is a differentiated approach to teaching reading. It is done in small groups with the goal of preparing students to become independent readers. Guided reading gives teachers the opportunity to observe students as they read texts at their own instructional levels.

Although there are many different definitions of guided reading, Burkins & Croft (2010) identify these common elements: 

  1. Working with small groups
  2. Matching student reading ability to text levels
  3. Giving everyone in the group the same text
  4. Introducing the text
  5. Listening to individuals read
  6. Prompting students to integrate their reading processes
  7. Engaging students in conversations about the text

To learn more about getting started with guided reading in your class, visit Top Teaching!

Image via Scholastic.