It took me quite a few years to really feel comfortable teaching guided reading. In my first few years teaching, I honestly found it very difficult to plan something entirely different than my actual plans for the class. I also found it difficult to teach a small group while the rest of the class just kept themselves busy. They were at centers, but I never felt they were 100% working (which now I realize I couldn’t expect them to be 100% of the time). Honestly, guided reading was my least favorite time of the day! I dreaded it. Then, I finally figured out a daily guided reading routine that helped me grow to enjoy it.
Find A Daily Guided Reading Routine You Enjoy
Everyone is different. So, your daily guided reading routine may look different than mine, and that’s fine. It’s important to find and implement what you are comfortable with doing. I am sharing what I found helpful so that maybe it’ll help you figure out a routine as well.
Daily Guided Reading Routine:
#1 Guided Reading Warm-Up
This guided reading warm-up should take about 2-3 minutes. It is not long at all. During this time, I am typically getting settled into the group and doing a quick check-in on the rest of the class settling into centers.
Here are 3 different warm-ups you could try in your classroom:
- Reread the book from the previous small group lesson
- Review sight word or phonics cards
- Play “Pop The Balloon”, my favorite guided reading warm-up game. Students pick a card from the phonics skill you choose, read the words/sounds, and “pop” the balloon. You can read more about “Pop The Balloon” here. See it on TPT here.
#2 Word Work
Word work should also be quick, no longer than 4-5 minutes. During this time, students are building words based on the phonics skill they are working on during this group. Important note: the phonics skill does not have to be the one you are working on in class, but rather should be what the group needs extra practice with.
One game we enjoy is old word/new word. Tell students to build a word (ex: bad), then you say change bad to had and they will switch out the b for the h to make their new word.
#3 Review The Phonics Skill or Comprehension Skill
Before reading, it’s important to explicitly review the phonics skill or comprehension skill you are focusing on during this reading. This is a quick review and should take about one minute.
#4 Teaching Point
It’s time to let your students know of the teaching point. This should take one minute or less and then be reiterated throughout your lesson.
#5 Preview The New Book
Before diving into the book, students will preview the book. This could be as a picture walk or having them look through the pages to see what they notice. I’ve had students scan the words for the phonics skill we are working on too. For example, if we are working on the ow sound, students scan the words for words with the ow sound.
#6 Read The Book
Now it’s time to read the book! I pick a focus student to listen to while the others in my group are quietly reading on their own. They are reading into whisper phones so that they aren’t distracting the people around them. While listening to my focus student, I do a running record. Afterward, I write down a star (something they did well) and a staircase (something to work on) on a sticky note for them to keep in their folder as a reminder while they read.
#7 Comprehension Check
After everyone reads the book, we discuss it. I’ll ask questions about the book. Depending on the group, they may do a quick write about the book.
Some comprehension check ideas:
- Guided Reading Spinners: These spinners are leveled. Spin the spinner and read the question to your students to answer.
- Quick Write: Write a prompt beforehand on sentence strips such as, “The main character was _____.” Students will write the answer.
Using this daily guided reading routine helped me enjoy guided reading more. I finally felt like I had a predictable routine that the students and I got used to.
More Guided Reading Support
Check out these related blog posts and resources:
- How To Differentiate Your Guided Reading Groups
- Guided reading mistakes you don’t want to make!
- Guided reading schedule: How to create + more!
- Phonics Guided Reading Game Bundle
Download Our Free Guided Reading Workbook
If you want to read more about my guided reading routine and other tools I use, check out our free guided reading workbook! It includes a guided reading schedule sheet, conferring sheet, and more in-depth details about the guided reading routine.
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