Quality Educator






Guided Reading

Guided reading is an important way to differentiate reading by meeting readers where they are. The teacher provides students with text at their instructional reading level and guides the students through it, an important scaffold in moving towards independence.

My typical guided reading lesson format is as follows:

  • Students reread a familiar text. (Older students may review previously read text by verbally summarizing.)

  • Word study/word attack component.

  • Introduce new text/direct teaching point (pre-reading activity).

  • Set the purpose: "Read to find out ______________."

  • Students read independently (during reading activity). (Students 2nd grade and younger may whisper read; 3rd grade and above should read silently.) As they read, I tap the table in front of them to let them know I want to hear them out loud and listen in for a few minutes.

  • Closure - I address any concerns I noticed as I listened in. We also wrap up the section of the text we read (post-reading activity).


The guided reading lesson plan I developed will help you get the maximum instruction with minimum planning. Read the text and select your instructional focus from the options given. This page details the options found within the lesson plan.

Guided Reading Activities

Pre-reading – Pre-reading activities are important because they:

·         Activate prior knowledge

·         Prepare students for vocabulary they may encounter in the text

·         Help students make predictions

·         Engage and motivate students

To make the most of pre-reading activities, revisit them during and after reading. Remember that it doesn’t matter if predictions are right or wrong, but that students check what they’re reading against their predictions. This provides purpose and increases comprehension.

Word Sort – Choose words from the text and have students sort them according to the features you determine are relevant. Over time your students should have practice sorting according to spelling and phonics features and semantics (meaning). In this activity, the teacher providesthe words. The teacher may provide the category headings also, or may have students do that after the sort. Sample category headings could be:

·         Compound and non-compound words

·         Words that go with winter and words that go with summer

·         Soft c and hard c

·         Words for equipment, words for player positions

List-group-label – This is similar to a word sort, except students provide the words (list), sort them (group), and provide category headings (label). Give the students a relevant topic (e.g. the American Revolution or winter sports) and have them create a list of related words. Then ask students to group the words and label the groups. If students group and label the words individually or in pairs, they may have different groups and labels. If this is the case, lead a discussion about the differences.

I wonders/KWL –Present students with a topic and have them write a list of I wonders (questions about a topic) or complete the K (Know) and W (Want to know) portions of a KWL. There are many variations on KWL charts. I have done a KWL bubble map where the K and W are one map but are two different colors. At the end of a unit or book, we create another bubble map about our topic that serves as our L.

Picture Walk – Have students look through the pictures and/or graphics in a selection and talk about them. They should use this opportunity to make predictions about the text and what vocabulary they might encounter. This strategy is often used in the primary grades to encourage predictions, but can be helpful in the intermediate grades, especially with nonfiction and ELLs. The teacher can facilitate the use of the strategy for vocabulary by:

·         Writing key words out so readers can see them, especially if the word is not phonetic

·         Providing key words for features in diagrams that students may not be able to name

·         Helping students examine morphological features of words in diagrams and headings

Chapter Title Predictions – Students make predictions based on the chapter titles. In fiction, students can revisit these titles as they read, adjusting their predictions as needed.

Anticipation Guide -- I’ve found that anticipation guides are easiest to write with non-fiction texts, but I have seen examples used with fiction texts.

Basically, choose three to five ideas from the text that are big concepts and ones that might spark debate among your students. Use these to write three to five statements. For example, when I read a book with a small group about athletes who had overcome obstacles, one of my statements was, “You should never try something if your doctor says you won’t be able to.” Another statement could be, “All Native Americans fought against white people.”

Before reading the text, have students mark whether they agree or disagree. Discuss. Read the selection. Have students go back and see if they’ve changed their mind or not. Have them cite evidence from the text to support their choice to agree or disagree. Sometimes this will be an opinion and there may still be debate at the end of the unit. Other times, the statements will be facts students can prove or disprove using the text.

Word/Sentence Prediction – Give students a list of words or a sentences from the text, and have them make a prediction about the text.

Object/Picture Prediction – Bring in three to five objects or pictures relevant to the text and have students make a prediction about the text based on the objects/pictures.


During Reading Activities – Use during reading activities judiciously; they should scaffold reading so students can comprehend, not become an assignment that is extraneous to the reading.

I Wonders – Students write down the questions they have as they read.

Key Words – Students mark key words in the text, either highlighting/underlining or on sticky notes. If you give students a specified number of sticky tabs for key words, this limits their selection and is a helpful scaffold for determining important words.

2-Column Notes – Students take notes in a two-column format. This can relate to nearly any topic you choose. Some examples of the two columns are:

·         Quote from text and character trait it shows

·         Quote from text and question you have

·         Cause and effect

·         Prediction you made and whether it was true or not with page number

Bubble Map – Students take notes in bubble map or web format. See a sample bubble map.

V.I.P. -- Very Important Point – Students mark the most important points in the text. This strategy is taken from Linda Hoyt. Click here for more information. 

Read-Cover-Remember-Retell – This is another Linda Hoyt strategy. Students should

·         Read about as much text as their hand will cover. (Usually a paragraph, although this can be extended as students skill increases and/or so sections are a sensible chunks of information.)

·         Cover the text that was read.

·         Remember what was read.

·         Retell what was read. Students may look back at the text if they have trouble remembering.

I have most often used this strategy with partners, but have also done this in a small group for small portions of the text where they all read, cover, and remember, but one retells and the others check for accuracy.

Reciprocal Teaching Cards –Reciprocal teaching is a multiple strategies (Fab Four Strategies) approach to reading. Reciprocal Teaching At Work by Lori Oczkus is an excellent resource. I have created these reciprocal teaching cards to facilitate reciprocal teaching in my small groups. Just cut the cards apart and give one to each group member to use in responding to a chunk of text; then rotate for continued reading and response.


Alphaboxes–Students fill out an alphaboxes chart with important words from the reading. You may also require that students reference page numbers next to the word.

Two Words – Students choose two words that convey the essence of the selection. As a teacher decide how long the section should be (a paragraph up to an entire text). The words students choose may or may not be included in the text, but students MUST JUSTIFY their selections. This requires them to comprehend, determine what’s important, and synthesize the text.

Write a test – Students write a test or quiz about the book. The teacher may specify number and type of test items. Then students can take one another’s tests or the teacher can take them to see if s/he passes.

Sketch to Stretch – Students should sketch an important part of the text. Remind them that this is not an art project so it does not need to be perfect. It may help to set a time limit for their sketches. The sketches should include important details. Have students label their pictures. Encourage them to look back at the text, especially as they label. This helps all students, but especially ELLs, to use any important, new vocabulary. You may wish to have students use their sketch and labels to write a summary paragraph of the text.

Venn Diagram – Have students choose (or assign) two topics/characters/etc. from the reading to compare and contrast on a Venn diagram.

Plot Line Have students place the events of a story on a plot line. This could be done as an individual graphic organizer or as a group activity. To scaffold, you can provide the events for the students.

Storyboard – Have students draw the major events of the story in storyboard (or comic strip) format.

List New Information – Have students create a list of new information they have learned from the text.

The Important Book Frame – Students fill out this frame based on the structure from Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book.  This is helpful for practice with main idea and details.

“I am” Poetry Frame -- "I am" or bio-poems come in lots of different formats; here is one example from ReadWriteThink. Students can write an "I am" poem from the point of view of a character or an inanimate object - great synthesis.