Guided Reading FAQ

A few days ago I asked people to share questions about guided reading.  Thank you so much for the wonderful responses!  I will try my best to answer them clearly.

intended on answering the questions in one post, but I am way too long winded it seems! I will answer them over a few days time! Here is my first question (I randomly choose it!):

I am doing daily 5 so guided reading is going to be a HUGE part of my teaching this year. I am starting from the beginning...any advice would be helpful. I am especially interested in how you keep track of groups/decide what to teach.

It depends on what you are talking about (I promise I am not trying to do a cop out answer!!).  In guided reading, I use my DRA assessments to create homogeneous groups based on ability levels.   I may change or move students in and out of groups based on a running record, new DRA, my notes during my "tap in" session, or (GASP) my gut feeling the child is ready to move on.

Then, I as a general rule, I always start teaching the leveled groups with a fiction text.   I may teach one book or a handful before moving on to nonfiction texts at the SAME level   This is because I find that students are more familiar and successful with the fiction text structures than nonfiction and need heavy guidance with nonfiction.   It is not surprising at all (to me) to find students that can independently read a level M fiction book, but would be instructional on a level M nonfiction book.

Here is my progression of what I teach in fiction books.  Usually this starts around a DRA level 14 (level H)  or so moving on up the levels.  I may teach ALL these things on a 14 or move the skills up as I teach a more difficult level.
  • predicting
  • story grammar (character, setting, problem, solution)
  • beginning, middle, end/ retelling
Then I start to mix it up depending on the text and what I am teaching during mini lessons
  • character qualities and inferences (how a character changes, etc)
  • inferring within the text ( I try to start with inferring with pictures first and then move to text when possible)
  • cause and effect
  • comparing and contrasting
  • summarizing
  • questioning
  • connections
  • visualizing
and so on.

When I move to nonfiction text I like to start with 
  • main idea
  • author's purpose
  • details
  • summarizing
and then move on in no particular order to 
  • clarifying
  • questioning (and finding answers to the questions)
  • visualizing
  • interesting details
It is not an exact science and sometimes it simply depends on what the text lends itself to.

Jan Richardson has WONDERFUL plans that sometimes I use to guide me on what to teach the different levels.  Here is her book (affiliate link in which I may receive a small comision)

However, she also has lots of GREAT free stuff on her website (including what to teach each level).  Check out the resources and the document titled 12 new pages

Now, if you are talking about Daily 5 and STRATEGY groups instead of guided reading groups, all bets are off :).  I am not doing strategy groups this year.  When I have done strategy groups I personally feels that it best lends itself to fluency because it is easy to teach multiple levels how to be a more fluent reader.  When I tried to do other strategy groups based on a comprehension strategy or skill, I found myself teaching the skill and not the reader.  The kid might question like a madman, but could never do it in a more difficult book.  Now, I am sure there are other teachers who do this brilliantly.  I just don't happen to be one :). And I promised I would be honest.

I will be back soon with more answers!  If this opens a can of worms and you have more questions, please let me know!   I will do my best to clarify or answer anything I can!

And if there or typos, or I make no sense, my apologies.  I am wiped today!


Do you feel like you need more help with reading instruction?




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