What is Guided Reading?

Before a student can read independently, it is important that they are monitored in small groups by their teacher to see if they are experiencing any problems. If concerns are noted and dealt with, and the content and writing techniques of the book discussed, pupils should be ready to move onto the next step in learning to read. All the while, they will be building confidence and acquiring new knowledge. The above described process is known as Guided Reading, and is a key stage on the journey to becoming a good reader.

When carrying out Guided Reading classes, the first step for the teacher is to split pupils into small groups based on their abilities. Pupils who are capable of reading similar texts and have an equal understanding of phonics and word structure should be in the same selection, as they will learn at similar paces. There's no worse knock to the confidence than being left behind and feeling like the 'stupid' one, so the grouping process is a stage of high significance if the process is to be a success.

After this, the teacher must decide on what text to use. The perfect book or extract would be one that proposes some challenges for the students, but can still be read with relative ease and no major problems. It is best to choose books from a variety of genres that cover a wide range of topics. Pupils learning to read are normally of a young age, and it's always important to expand their knowledge as much as possible - something which can be done by looking at different subjects and writing styles.

There are two key elements of Guided Reading for those taking part: enjoyment and learning; in truth, these two principles come hand-in-hand, as enjoying the book makes the absorption of information far easier. It is the role of the teacher to help students in sounding out new or difficult words, grasping sentence structure, and starting to notice different techniques used by the author within the text.

With the teacher offering such support, the effect of reading under supervision begins to become noticeable. Pupils will read with a greater degree of fluency, will begin to recognize words they previously didn't know existed, and will start to apply the techniques and strategies they have learned to new texts from unknown genres. By asking parents to play the role of the teacher a few times a week at home, the learning process will be made even faster.

The final step of the Guided Reading journey is an important one: evaluating the text. Students can pair off and discuss the content of the book together, and then return and engage in conversation as a whole group. Here, pupils are given the opportunity to raise opinions and ideas about themes in the book, what they enjoyed, what they thought about all of the characters, and how the story made them feel.

After this final exercise is completed, most students should be ready to move on to independent reading. A whole new world of literature possibilities awaits them - so what are they waiting for?!