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Word Work in Guided Reading

Including focused word work in guided reading is essential. No matter the ability level, or grade level of students, they all need focused word work in guided reading groups. Read on for a few tips for things you can do prior to students reading a new text in guided reading groups.

Focused Word Work

  1. Review types of words students will see in their text.
  2. Emphasize phonics patterns in those words, by walking through multiple examples.
  3. Have students write words that match the phonics patterns you’re focusing on, in a dictation format. You state a word, short phrase, or sentence, and then the student writes it on a whiteboard, or in a notebook. For advanced learners, you can give them a phonics pattern focus and then ask them to come up with a list of words that include that pattern.
  4. Students can then identify where the phonics pattern is in that word (point to the digraph, long vowel, etc.)
  5. Using their text, ask students to find specific words matching those focus words. If it is a passage, students can use highlighters to identify those words. They can also use colored pencils or markers to break the words into different parts. If using a book, have students make a list on a sticky note, or on a whiteboard. Then discuss the words written down and review the phonics patterns found. 
word work in guided reading

Word Work Materials

In the video below I take you through my guided reading container. Within the container I have tools that can be used during the word work portion of the guided reading lesson.


Word Work Tools:

  • Fun monster pointers
  • Googly eye rings
  • Magnifying glass
  • Car
  • Bracelet with movable beads
  • Mini erasers
  • Pom poms
  • Mini whiteboards and markers
  • Pencils and crayons

All of these tools can be used in any of the activities listed above. The tools, like the pointers, googly eye rings, mini erasers, and pom poms can be placed on the words that include the phonics patterns being focused on, in the text. 

Some of the other word work tools can be used to help a student break down words. This is especially helpful when trying to read challenging words with new phonics patterns. For example, moving a car for each sound in a word. Or, moving a bead on the bracelet for each sound. 

The mini whiteboard and markers can be used to write down focus words, found in the text. As shown in the video for an example, finding words with s blends, or added endings.


The pencils and crayons can be used to find words and then pinpoint the phonics pattern within those words, with a specific color. 


word work in guided reading

WorD Work Plans For Guided Reading

If you’re someone that wants to incorporate more word work into your plans for guided reading groups, but are becoming overwhelmed, my Guided Reading Passages packs may be just what you need. 

As featured in the videos above and below, my Winter Guided Reading passages packs are great to use with your students who are reading at instructional levels A-M, in the winter.

In the provided lesson plan, for each passage, I include specific word work activities to focus on based on each text. Students will be finding those words in the text, prior to reading. 

Once the guided reading group is done, you can follow up with students in a one-on-one setting, to complete a running record, which is also provided. This will give you informal assessment data to see if students understand the phonics patterns worked on, or if they need more guidance. 

If you need more information about running records, Guided Reading Data Collection, is a great spot to read more!

I have a few more Winter Literacy Activities for guided reading groups for you as well!

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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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