May 22, 2019

What is Guided Reading?

*Effective reading instruction involves a combination of powerful instructional settings. This post is the first in our “What is…?” series, where we define each instructional context that makes up a coherent literacy system.

What is guided reading?

Guided reading is a small-group instructional context in which a teacher supports each reader’s development of systems of strategic actions for processing new texts at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty. During guided reading, students in a small-group setting individually read a text that you have selected at their instructional reading level. You provide teaching across the lesson to support students in building the in-the-head networks of strategic actions for processing increasingly challenging texts. Through guided reading, students learn how to engage in every facet of the reading process and apply that literacy power to all instructional contexts.

Why is guided reading important? 

As an instructional context, guided reading:

  • Supports readers in expanding their processing competencies (in-the-head systems of strategic actions)
  • Provides a context for responsive teaching – teaching that is grounded in the teacher’s detailed knowledge of and respect for each student, supporting the readers’ active construction of a processing system
  • Allows students to engage with a rich variety of texts
  • Helps students learn to think like proficient readers
  • Enables students to read more challenging texts with support.

What does guided reading look like?

A small group of students who are at a similar point in their reading development are seated across from you at a small kidney-shaped table. Each student reads, softly or silently, the same text individually. You guide a discussion of the text meaning and make teaching points based on your observations of the students’ reading strengths and needs.