Guided Reading: Forming Guided Reading Groups? Part 1!

I dedicate this post to Jacinta (my 4th Year University Intern) and Jo. I hope this answers some questions and doesn’t totally confuse you!   I’m rewriting this post – come back and visit in September!

Hmmmm! You’ve completed a Running Record/s for each student in your grade, observed each reading, listened to each re-tell a text and answer text related questions and completed a Concepts of Print assessment or at least the reading focused assessments. Now comes the hard part, forming effective Guided Reading groups which are targeted to the learning needs of your students. If you teach Preps, please do not rush into this. Language Experience is the key to long term literacy development.

 My way!

Start with the analysis, don’t look at the book level yet, that will come later. Identify students who are using Visual, Structure and Meaning (VSM) and group these students together at this stage, then group according to students using mainly Visual, and then those using Visual and Structure. Reading for meaning (M) is the key and the goal for all readers.

 Cambourne (1988) states that good readers:

-know that they should work actively and deliberately towards making sense of (comprehending) what it is they are reading

-are aware when comprehension is not occurring

Now look at students using VSM and refer to their Reading Level. To ensure that you are teaching at their zone (Zone of proximal Development) continue assessing until their first Hard text, then drop back to their last Instructional Level. That is their reading level. A student might read Levels 3 Easy, 4, 5, 6 Instructional and 7 Hard. The student’s reading level is 6. There is often confusion among teachers regarding this point and some might disagree with me.

Now for example, you have a group of 9 students at different levels using VSM. Too many for a group, but you could form 2 groups.

Guided Reading groups should group children who have similar skills and needs. This is very different to same reading level. Having said this, let’s say that 9 children have been identified as using VSM and range from Reading Levels 4 to 15. What information do I draw from my experience? What informs me?

It’s time to start looking at their comprehension and what you already know about each student from your observation and other assessments. Teacher judgement is always needed when grouping students, you can’t rely on a Running Record assessment totally. Having a ‘sense’ of when a student is ready to have a ‘learning leap’ is also essential and I believe this falls under teacher judgement.

N.B There are always exceptions but my experience says:

Children tend to move slowly through Reading Level 1-5.

Children move quickly through Reading Level 6 – 10.

Children tend to move slowly through Reading Level 10 – 15

Children tend to move quickly through Reading Levels 16 – 20

So what should a Guided Reading session contain?

Explicit teaching focused on group need.

Links to prior knowledge.

Reading Strategies / features of text

Discovery of text meaning – comprehension

Level of Guidance – depending on group need

Cheers Nina

 Recommended Reading

Clay, M. (3rd Edition 1987). The Early Detection of Reading Difficulties. New Zealand: Heinemann.

Kemp, M. (1987). Watching Children Read & Write. Melbourne: Nelson Australia.

Rowe, G., Lamont, H., Daly, M., Edwards, D. & Mayor Cox, S. (2000). Success with Reading & Writing: helping at-risk students 8-13 years. Victoria: Eleanor Curtain Publishing.

I’ve reposted Lego Guided Reading  (utube)


Filed under Uncategorized

4 responses to “Guided Reading: Forming Guided Reading Groups? Part 1!

  1. Jacinta M

    Thanks Nina! I am looking forward to seeing how the students work in those groups!

    • averil2

      Hey Jacinta,
      Great to see you visiting my blog. I wish you were there to see their writing today. It was amazing to hear them talking, reminding each other about spaces, starting to make corrections (editing), putting in full stops- very exciting!

  2. Jo B

    Thanks Nina,
    I appreciate your time. As a visual learner, I like to read info (not just talk) I also love youtube clips for this reason.

    I can’t wait to get started…

    • averil2

      Jo B,
      Nice to see your comment. We’ll chat soon and have a look at your groups, if you like to. I’m writing part 2 of this post at the moment. I hope part 1 helps. I’ve typed up the report comment helpers and will give them to you asap.
      Cheers Nina

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