Guided Reading Support

What is Guided Reading?

Guided reading is a teaching approach designed to help individual readers build an effective system for processing a variety of increasingly challenging texts over time.

Guided reading is not an exercise to practice reading skills. It is research-based, professionally energized, highly targeted, scaffolded reading instruction that propels all students toward confident, independent reading of high quality grade level books across a diverse array of literature and informational genres. Reading well means reading with deep, high quality comprehension and gaining maximum insight or knowledge from each source.

Using benchmark assessments or other systematic observation, the instructional reading level of each student is determined. The teacher forms a temporary group of students that are alike enough in their development of a reading process that it makes sense to teach them together for a period of time. In selecting a text for the group, the teacher uses the level designation; thinks about the strengths, needs, and background knowledge of the group; and analyzes the individual text for opportunities to support students' successful engagement with the meaning, language, and print of the text. The teacher uses the text to help the children expand what they know how to do as readers.

Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

The Eight Components of Guided Reading (2010) align with the key tenets of Ohio's State Standards:

  1. Complex, high level reading comprehension is the goal of guided reading instruction.
  2. Guided reading centers on a sequence of high quality texts that support individual progress on a scale of spiraling text difficulty.
  3. Guided reading lessons increase the volume of independent reading that students do; the goal always is confident, capable independent readers.
  4. Guided reading provides explicit instruction in accurate, fluent reading.
  5. Guiding reading lessons provide daily opportunities to expand academic vocabulary through reading, writing, conversation, and explicit instruction.
  6. Guided reading lessons include teaching that expands students' ability to apply the concepts of print, phonological awareness, access to rich vocabulary, and accurate, fluent reading to the processing of print.
  7. Guided reading lessons invite students to write about reading.
  8. Guided reading lessons create engagement in and motivation for reading.

Ten Text Characteristics for Guided Reading

  1. Genre/Form: Genre is the type of text and refers to a system by which fiction and nonfiction texts are classified. Form is the format in which a genre may be presented. Forms and genres have characteristic features.
  2. Text Structure: Structure is the way the text is organized and presented. The structure of most fiction and biographical texts is narrative, arranged primarily in chronological sequence. Factual texts are organized categorically or topically and may have sections with headings. Writers of factual texts use several underlying structural patterns to provide information to readers. The most important are description; chronological sequence; comparison and contrast; cause and effect; and problem and solution. The presence of these structures, especially in combination, can increase the challenge for readers.
  3. Content: Content refers to the subject matter of the text-the concepts that are important to understand. In fiction, content may be related to the setting or to the kinds of problems characters have. In factual texts, content refers to the topic of focus. Content is considered in relation to the prior experience of readers.
  4. Themes and Ideas: These are big ideas that are communicated by the writer. Ideas may be concrete and accessible or complex and abstract. A text may have multiple themes or a main theme and several supporting themes.
  5. Language and Literary Features: Written language is qualitatively different from spoken language. Fiction writers use dialogue, figurative language, and other kinds of literary structures such as character, setting, and plot. Factual writers use description and technical language. In hybrid texts you may find a wide range of literary language.
  6. Sentence Complexity: Meaning is mapped onto the syntax of language. Texts with simpler, more natural sentences are easier to process. Sentences with embedded and conjoined clauses make a text more difficult.
  7. Vocabulary: Vocabulary refers to words and their meanings. The more known vocabulary words in a text, the easier a text will be. The individual's reading and vocabulary refer to words that she understands.
  8. Words: This category refers to recognizing and solving the printed words in the text. The challenge in a text partly depends on the number and the difficulty of the words that the reader must solve by recognizing them or decoding them. Having a great many of the same high-frequency words makes a text more accessible to readers.
  9. Illustrations: Drawings, paintings, or photographs accompany the text and add meaning and enjoyment. In factual texts, illustrations also include graphics that provide a great deal of information that readers must integrate with the text. Illustrations are an integral part of a high quality text. Increasingly, fiction texts include a range of graphics, including labels, heading, subheadings, sidebars, photos and legends, charts and graphs. After grade one, texts may include graphic texts that communicate information or a story in a sequence of pictures and words.
  10. Book and Print Features: Book and print features are the physical aspects of the text-what readers cope with in terms of length, size, and layout. Book and print features also include tools like the table of contents, glossary, pronunciation guides, indexes, sidebars, and a variety of graphic features in graphic texts that communicate how the text is read.

I.C. Fountas and G.S. Pinnell. 2011. The Continuum of Literacy Learning, Grades PreK-8, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Get Started with Guided Reading

Click here for an overview and good book for use from ASCD

Advanced Phonics Open Source Free Reading

Irregular Word Activities

Drill Bits Phonics-oriented word lists for teachers

Try Sample Lessons from the Scholastic Guided Reading Program.

Strategy Guide

Using Guided Reading to Develop Student Reading Independence

GUIDED READING LESSON PLANS Welcome to our Guided Reading page.

The following information is provided by the Literacy Coaches for Warsaw Community Schools. Feel free to print and use any of the forms you may need.

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