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My Guide to Guided Reading

Help your Students with these Guided Reading Tips and Techniques

This blog focuses on guided reading which involves a teacher working with a small group of students who have similar reading abilities.


I feel this is an important subject for a blog because there are many different approaches used by teachers and questions about which approaches work.

The following details how I approach guided reading in my Grade 2 and 3 classes.

Running Record

Prior to beginning a guided reading program, I conduct a running record for each student. This entails assessing each student’s reading level. Our school supplies Nelson’s PM Benchmark Reading Assessment Resource which consists of short fiction and non-fiction texts along with comprehension questions which enable you to assign a reading level for each student.

Organizing Tips

Reading Level Chart


I create a chart on the inside of a file folder with columns on both sides where I record the reading level for each student.

For example, if the lowest reader is at level 14, that would be the first column in the chart and the last column would be 30+ for a total of 18 columns.

I write each student’s name on a Post-it 1/2” flag and place the flag in the appropriate column (red flags in the chart to the right). This enables you to move students to different levels as they progress throughout the year. As well, the file folder protects the Post-its once the folder is closed and keeps the information private. It also visually assists you in organizing the students into reading groups of four to six students.

Now that your guided reading groups are established, it’s time to choose a level appropriate book for each group that best suits the composition and interests of the students in the group.

Please go to my TpT store for a free Reading Level Comparison that I created that relates the various guided reading levels to each other. For example, PM Benchmark Scholastics, Fountas and Pinnell.

Student Guided Reading Pocket Folder

I give each student their own pocket folder in which they keep their guided reading book, the comprehension questions, a pencil and a small quantity of Post-its (2”x 1½”) which they use to write down unfamiliar words and then stick it on the edge of the page where the word is first located in the book.

Cam Jansen

As I described in my first blog, 7 Tips for the First Day Back to School, I have the students keep the pocket folders in their literature box which is kept on a shelf in the classroom.

I also make my own pocket folder for each reading group which contains a copy of the book they are reading, recording sheets for each student where I write anecdotal notes after each session and a copy of the comprehension questions and answers.

How Often

I meet with each group once a week for twenty minutes unless I have a group that is reading well below grade level which I meet with twice a week. I organize my class into five groups because I run my Daily 5 centres (guided reading being one of the centres) on a Monday to Friday schedule and the students go to one centre per day. I feel this is sufficient because students are exposed to other reading activities during their individual Daily 5 language activities. For example, the other four groups could be doing word work, independent/silent reading, completing comprehension questions and a computer reading comprehension activity called “RAZ”.

Independent/Silent Reading Assessment Tip

As part of independent/silent reading, students are expected to write a letter to me every time they complete a chapter (or a small picture book) which describes a connection or prediction (whichever reading strategy we are focusing on that month) they’ve made to the book. I give the students a letter template with paragraph starters for them to explain the reading strategy.

All Daily 5 activities are displayed on a pocket chart in the class. Each group is assigned a number which I rotate in the chart daily to show what activity they will be doing on a particular day.

daily 5 display chart examplepptx

What to do during Guided Reading

At your first meeting with each group, hand out to each student their pocket folder with their name on it and ask the students to remove the guided reading book. After reading the title and looking at the front cover, I ask them in a group discussion setting to predict what they think the story will be about and their reasoning. If the students are not supplying a reason, I make sure to model how they should make the prediction making sure to use the words “I think that” and “I think this because”.

I then review any words from the book that I feel they would not know. This is the time that I explain why they each have small Post-its and how they are to use them to identify words they are unfamiliar with.

Next, I explain that when they are silently reading, I will be going to each student and leaning in close so they can softly read out loud. At this time I can assess their reading level and fluency. After I have listened to each student, I allow the students to continue silent reading until the end of the 20 minutes. If they haven’t completed the assigned reading (either a small book or the first chapter), they need to finish it for homework that evening.


I use Guided Reading Assessment and Anecdotal Notes, which is for sale in my TpT store, to record each student’s reading assessment.

The next day, before I begin the session with Group 2, I give Group 1 their reading comprehension questions which they complete during this 20 minute period.

In week two, when I meet with the groups for a second time, I review any words that they have noted, and discuss the reading comprehension questions with the group. I would ask a student to read out their answer as a starting point for a discussion by asking the other students if they agreed. Once completed, the students would begin silently reading the next chapter. While the students are reading, I record my observations on fluency, rate of reading, ability to answer questions and which type of questions they are having difficulties answering.

While this approach may seem to focus on reading comprehension questions, the questions have been structured to include reading strategies in addition to the who, what, where, when, why and how comprehension type questions. Reading strategies include predicting, connecting, visualizing, summarizing and inferring.

My language block is broken up into three separate time slots: Daily 5; writing; and reading. During the reading portion, I give individual lessons on the reading strategies so that the students understand how to use them while reading.

Four Corners Reading Book Talk


In addition to the above, once a week, four students are each asked to give a verbal book

report to the class on a book they select. I refer to this as Four Corners Reading Book Talk which is available at my TpT store. This unit includes a rubric to assess the book talk and oral reading skills.

They are expected to complete their book talk outline and practice their presentation at home.

Student Reading Assessment

Assessing student’s reading for report cards is something many teachers struggle with. My approach is to assess a variety of different reading activities which together determine the final assessment.

These activities include:

I have developed my own reading comprehension units to use during my guided reading program. If you are interested in this guided reading approach, which I have found to be very successful in progressing a student’s reading level, please go my TpT store, Laurie’s Classroom, and check out my units.

I have a number of novel study and reading comprehension products. A few examples of each are:

Stay tuned for my next blog.

Happy teaching.


13 thoughts on “My Guide to Guided Reading

Add yours

  1. I loved this! Thanks for being so specific with your guided reading block. It can be so intimidating to see all of the things you should do for a balanced literacy block, but this seems so do-able. Sending it along to my grade 2 and grade 3 team.


  2. Hi, LaurieI have a question about grouping students into guided reading groups. I have quite a range of reading levels in my 3rd grade classroom, and don't want more than 4 kids in each group. How do I group kids when there are so many varying levels? I will end up with an “odd” student in each group who is not at the same level as the other kids; for example, one group of kids is all at a level M (because I only have 3 kids at this level), but the fourth one is at a level O. When it comes to leveled readers, does everyone get the same level? Or are they still getting a book at their level, even though it isn't the same as the other kids in the group? I really hope this makes sense!


  3. Sorry I did not get back to you sooner!I group a few levels together and pick a book that would be in the middle of the group. For example, in the group you explained, I would group the M and O students together and choose a book that is at level N. You should be able to tell after one chapter whether the book is at the appropriate level for all the students in the group. I hope this helps.Laurie


  4. How long do you spend on writing each day? How long on reading?How many copies of each book do you have in your class in order to do this in a centres/daily 5 rotation?


    1. Hi Leanne
      All of the guided reading books I have are in packets of 6. I like to have no more than 6 students in my guided reading group.

      My day follows like this:
      As my students come in they fill in their agenda, return duotangs to proper bins, exchange silent reading book if they need then meet as a group on the carpet to work on Grammar Morning Work together. This takes about 15-20 mins. Then we begin the centre for the day (only one rotation per day). I describe this in My Guide to Daily 5. The centre activity last for about 20 min. Then we move on to writing Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or reading Tuesday and Friday. This usually lasts for 45 – 60 mins. depending on the type of writing we are working on. Monday and Friday are a little shorter because I introduce their spelling words, introduce a grammar concept, and Four Corner Reading Book Talk.

      I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask.

      of Laurie’s Classroom TpT


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