"The ultimate goal of guided reading is to help children learn how to use independent reading strategies successfully."

Fountas and Su Pinnell, 1996

What is guided reading?

Guided reading is small group instruction in which the teacher "guides" students through a text that is at the  children's instructional reading level.  The role of the teacher is crucial in guided reading. Guided reading is planned, focused instruction.  The ultimate goal is to foster independent readers. 


How do I create my guided reading groups?
  • Use running records to find the instructional reading levels of each student using leveled readers.  I like using Reading A-Z but you do have to pay for a subscription (in my opinion worth every penny).
  • Once you find each students' reading level, group them according to level.  You may have groups as large as 6 or as small as 1.  Make sure groups are no bigger than 6 although 5 would be ideal.  If you do not want to have too many groups, try to group students' with the closest levels possible.

Sites on Guided Reading Groups:

What materials do I need for guided reading?

You should try to have the following --

  • Leveled readers (books) - my school uses the Fountas & Pinnell system of leveling books so our readers are scored from A-Z.
  • Whisper phones -- pvc pipes that act as phones so students can whisper as they read.  Click on this site for instructions on creating these phones (scroll to the bottom).
  • Small magnetic whiteboards and dry erase markers - teachers can use these small boards to model a lesson or to have students do word work
  • Magnetic letters - can be used with white boards for word work.
  • Record keeping system - Binders, folders, index cards all make excellent records for anecdotal notes, running records, and more. 

Sites on Materials for GR:

Materials for GR from Ms. Gregory Photos and Materials from Ms. Meacham


Guided reading lesson structure:

Before reading:

  • Selecting the text - Teachers must make choose text that is on the group's instructional reading level. That means that the text is neither to easy nor too difficult for the children to read.

  • Introducing the text - Tap into children's background knowledge or provide background knowledge of the text.  Teachers should also

    • explain important ideas and concepts

    • do a picture walk of the text

    • discuss plot or theme of the story

    • point out new vocabulary

    • draw children's attention to certain details important to the story (i.e. use of verbs, punctuation, text features, etc.)

During reading:

  • Supporting effective reading - Students read text individually, either silently or whispering using whisper phones. Teacher listens in on each student, providing guidance and support on strategies when needed.

After reading:

  • Discussing and revisiting the text

  • Teaching for processing strategies

  • Extending the text

  • Conducting word work

Sites on GR Lessons:


Teaching for Strategies:

There are many different strategies readers use. Guided reading is a time to explicitly teach & reinforce the use of strategies.

  • Strategies for problem solving new words.

  • Strategies for detecting and correct errors.

  • Strategies for maintaining fluency

  • Strategies for comprehending

  • Strategies for self-monitoring and repair of comprehension (see Fix-Up Strategies page).


Keep track of students' progress through various assessments that can be completed during guided reading.

  • Running records - can be quick and easy to do when students are reading text during guided reading.
  • Retelling - students can retell text read in GR.
  • Anecdotal notes - keep notes on each student when observing them read text independently in the group.
  • Comprehension Check - ask students questions about the text they read to check for comprehension.

Sites/Resources on GR Assessments:


Must Have Books on Guided Reading