Guided reading is an excellent instructional tool. Guided reading is a strategy that will help your primary aged students become good readers. Guided reading is one part of the four part, or four block, reading program that was originally developed by Dottie Hall and Pat Cunningham. Guided reading is a part of the shared reading block of this program.
The shared reading block gives the teacher an opportunity to give support to small groups of emerging or beginning readers. During guided reading, the teacher assists students with learning to implement reading strategies. Some of the reading strategies used during guided reading are syntax and word structure, letter and sound knowledge and context clues. These strategies help the student as they read a book or a piece of text that it is not already familiar to them. The purpose of guided reading is to get students to implement these strategies on their own. Once they are able to do so, they will be well on their way to becoming skilled and very fluent readers.
Guided reading requires preparation before the reading, specific to activities during the reading and some activities after the reading. Prior to the reading the teacher should set the purpose for the reading as well as introduce vocabulary from the text. They should make some predictions about what might happen in the text and lastly, discuss strategies with the readers.
During the reading process, it is the job of the teacher to help guide the student as she reads. The teacher should provide time for the student to read out loud and give clues or prompts whenever a student needs help. For example, the teacher might say “Did that make sense? Give that another try. Check at the beginning of the word. See how that word starts out?”
After the reading exercise is done, the teacher needs to help strengthen the student’s comprehension skills by providing praise for students as they use the strategies during the reading process.
In guided reading the groups are based on the student ability as well as student needs. Grouping together students of similar reading levels and abilities is an essential part of teaching guided reading.
The entire guided reading program itself includes a number of elements, including the study of words and language, a writing workshop, and, of course, guided reading itself. This program lets students read at the exact level for them, which means that the books they read will provide them with a moderate level of challenge.