May 22, 2016

Launching Guided Reading

Guided Reading is a vital and necessary portion of your language arts instruction no matter what grade you teach. It's a dedicated time for teachers to meet with the little readers in their classroom, which always span multiple reading levels. The purpose of this time is to model and instruct students on specific reading strategies and skills while giving students time to safely practice these skills and learn to become better readers.


One text that EVERY teacher should own or somehow get their hands on is Jan Richardson's The Next Step In Guided Reading as it is the current bible on guided reading instruction. If not every district, most districts use this textbook and teachers model their instruction after her practices. So if you are unfamiliar or have yet to read it, it's my #1 first recommendation. She does a great job explaining step-by-step how to implement each section and includes examples for Pre-A-Fluent reading levels.

The next step after familiarizing yourself with Jan Richardson is to begin organizing your binders and materials for your groups. At the beginning of the year you receive your class list and current independent reading levels based on assessments (typically DRAs) from the spring the year prior. Use that data to help begin setting up your groups or dedicate some time at the beginning of the year to assess your students as they are at the beginning of the school year. Every teacher is different so find what works for you and what your school district requires.


I typically like to have about 5 or 6 groups made up of no more than 6 students per group. More than 5 even can begin to be too much of a hassle, but again, go with what is comfortable for you and accommodates your class. Give your groups a theme! I used Dr. Seuss characters when I was teaching kindergarten and it stuck even in second grade. I used these characters to create my reading center board and listed the students in each group so they always knew what group they were in and what centers they'd be doing that day. You can kinda see the poster I made on the bulletin board near the table.

Setting up your reading table is another organizational hurdle you're going to have to jump. My guided reading area consists of:

1. kidney table
2. student chairs
3. plush rolley chair 
(your buns will thank you!)
4. magazine holders for each group
5. caddy or plastic drawers 
with guided reading materials
6. strategy posters and room 
for anchor charts

Another great resource I use for organizing my guided reading time are my colorful D5 Teacher Resource Packet, which includes center posters, rotation cards, introductory D5 lesson supplemental resources, and more!


Assessments are another necessary evil and can be quite overwhelming, at least I thought when I was in my first year teaching. Your assessments, whether they're anecdotal notes or running records and DRAs, they're all wonderful data points that all teachers need to collect throughout the year. There are a million different ways to collect and record your data so this is another time where I recommend you find what's comfortable and will work for you.

I keep two binders for my guided reading table. First is my main binder where I have dividers labeled with each of my groups, lesson plan copies for that group and day, and multiple pages for anecdotal notes and assessments. This helps me keep everything together and easily accessible. However, it would be a recommendation to keep all assessments in it's own binder so you have all your data in one place for each child. Just a thought ;)

My second binder is my lesson plan binder. Here, I keep all copies of my lesson plans for each book at different levels for throughout the year. I write a basic template that will never change (such as the introduction of the book, vocab words, etc.). That way I all I have to do is make copies of that original and input the info for a specific lesson for that day, for that group, and with that particular focus. It helps me save time so I don't have to constantly write out the same lesson over and over again. Plus it's a way to save all your lessons and use them again in the next years.

Lesson Plans:

So how do you plan for your groups? Well, thanks to Jan Richardson she provides you with the template for each reading level: Pre-A & Emergent, Early, Transitional, and Fluent. These lesson plans will carry you throughout the year as your students continue to make progress and move up in their reading levels. Allllso lucky for you I have taken all of her plans and put them in easy to use templates that I have used every year.

Be sure to nab your copy for BTS and get yourself organized and prepared for the reading year ahead!