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Top 5 Parts of a Guided Reading Lesson

Guided Reading Must Haves

When leading a Guided Reading lesson, it’s important to make the most of the short amount of time you have with your readers. The more prepared ahead of time you are, the better the lesson will go. As someone who has worked with readers from Kindergarten-5th Grade, I’ve noticed a few things. The age of the reader and the level they’re currently reading at help plan a lesson for them. However, that’s not all that needs to be considered to make the lesson effective. Read on for my Top 5 Parts of a Guided Reading lesson! 

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My Top 5

1. Leveled Text at instructional reading level of readers.

2. Text introduction to help readers become familiar with words and text topic.

3. A set purpose for reading (application of reading strategy and/or comprehension focus).

4. Teacher prompts to help guide readers.

5. Comprehension questions for discussion and written response.

A Closer Look at The Top 5

Before Reading

1. Leveled Text at instructional reading level of readers. Once readers have an established instructional level, you have an appropriate spot to begin. Readers of course may have multiple instructional levels, but there is generally one that is the most appropriate. The reason you want readers reading at their instructional level in your small group is because you are guiding them. They’ll need some assistance at this level, but won’t be completely dragging their feet through each word or sentence. 

You’re there to assist them as they read. This includes a variety of things: Encourage them to use strategies. Build their confidence as readers. Celebrate their accomplishments as readers. Discuss ways to improve. 

The leveled text is the most important part of the lesson (besides the readers, of course!). The main focus of Guided Reading groups is READING!!! Students should be spending a good portion of the small group time actually reading. By having appropriately leveled texts in front of them, they’re able to spend a significant time reading. 

Before Reading: Simple and Quick

2. Text introduction to help readers become familiar with words and text topic. Since these texts are at their instructional level, you want readers to be ready for the text. When it’s their turn to read, the prior preparation of discussing words and the text, makes them more successful. This should only take a few minutes at the beginning of the lesson. Introduce sight words/phonics patterns etc that will be seen in the text. Go over the words together, find them in the text and make sure readers know them before moving on. 

To introduce the text, a simple sentence is all you need. Mentioning a character name, the setting and/or something about the overall text is all you need to do. This prepares readers for what they’re about to dive into. 

3. A set purpose for reading (application of reading strategy and/or comprehension focus). This is important because you’re providing a “why” for readers. Simply say: “Today we are reading to find out …” or “Today I want you to use our new strategy …” Takes less than a minute, but helps readers focus as they read. 

During Reading

4. Teacher prompts to help guide readers. It is such an amazing feeling when readers actually apply the strategies you’ve been discussing. However, it takes time for readers to do this on their own. It’s important to make note of when they’re struggling with a word. What strategies are they trying? What reminders to they need? Encourage them by asking “What strategy can you use to figure out that word?” “Did you try …?” Having a list of go to prompts helps you feel prepared for each group while they’re reading. It also helps to have your strategies posted for readers to view nearby your table. They can glance up and figure out a good strategy to try when stuck on a word. 

After Reading

5. Comprehension questions for discussion and written response. Once students have finished their texts, the next focus is comprehension. Refer back to your purpose for reading. Are readers able to discuss their responses to that focus? Ask a few questions and encourage readers to ask their own questions to partners/the group, as well. Verbal discussions and written response questions should be the last part of your group. These can be done on graphic organizers, in journals, on post it notes, large chart paper, etc. However you do it, just make sure it happens! 

**Another important piece of Guided Reading is assessment- in the form of running records. That’s a whole post in it of itself, so I’ll be back soon with a focus on just running records! 

Make Your Life Easier

Guided Reading groups can become overwhelming very quickly. Most teachers have a huge span of reading levels covered in their room. They also may not have many books to pull from or have time to plan the specifics of each group. 

I truly believe in the power of Guided Reading groups for readers. You can check out my leveled Guided Reading Passages packs for Levels Pre A-Z here. I designed these to help teachers feel  prepared for Guided Reading groups. The passages are engaging and readers love them! Teachers love the lesson plans as a way to begin discussions and then build on from there. 

Happy Reading!


Aylin Claahsen

Aylin Claahsen

Providing resources and support to engage all readers.

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Hi, I'm Aylin!

I’m so happy you’re here! I’m a certified reading specialist who loves talking all things literacy. I have a huge passion for providing resources and support to engage all readers!


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