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What Is Guided Reading?

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You’ve heard the term: guided reading. 

Maybe you’ve even been asked to do it (even though you’re not 100% sure what it is). 

Do you need some guidance on guided reading?

We’ve got you covered!

Guided Reading: What Is It?

Guided reading is focused reading instruction guided by the teacher. 

It is ideally one-on-one, but it can also be done with a small reading group of no more than 6 students.

It’s a reading strategy that assesses a student’s reading fluency. 

How accurately is he reading, and is he able to extract meaning from what he reads?  

What is Guided Reading

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Why Guided Reading Helps Students

It is all too easy for reading problems to go unnoticed. 

Guided reading allows a teacher to detect issues the child has with reading. 

Is she skipping words, having problems decoding, or failing to observe punctuation? 

Maybe the student reads smoothly but cannot comprehend what he reads. 

Guided reading finds the obstacles that keep a child from understanding what she reads.

How to Use Guided Reading From Elementary to High School

Guided reading is not just for early readers. 

As students move up in grades, the books they are expected to read (and absorb) become increasingly challenging.

A high school student may have little trouble reading a story and understanding its meaning, but he may struggle to understand informational writing.

Why is that?

Guided reading can expose those pitfalls and give you a chance to correct them. 

Choose a selection

Pick a short selection (one paragraph is typical) that is at the student’s reading level

This could be from a story or a nonfiction source.

It should not be something the student has read before.

Think of a few comprehension questions

Before beginning, read the paragraph yourself and brainstorm a few comprehension questions to test for understanding.

These could be as simple as, “Tell me about the character X.” or “What do you think will happen next?” You could also ask the student to summarize what he read in his own words.

What is Guided Reading

Find a quiet spot

Guided reading is best one-on-one, but you may need to have a small group.

Make sure the students are on the same reading level.

Find a quiet corner for this activity. 


Students must learn to pre-read.

You should pre-read before you begin to read in earnest.

Teach students to look at the title, the book cover, and the layout of the book.

Can the student tell what type of book this is?

Can he guess what it is about?

Pre-reading means orienting yourself before you read. 


If you are working one-on-one, listen to the student read the passage aloud.

Make note of any mispronounced or skipped words, omitted punctuation or lack of inflection, and any substituted words.

You can analyze these notes later.

If you are working with a group, ask each student to read silently or very quietly to themselves.

If you are working with an older student and she has a longer passage (like 4 paragraphs), you may choose to have her read silently to save time. 

What is Guided Reading

Ask questions

After the student has read the passage, ask the comprehension questions you prepared.

If a student struggles with these answers or needs a lot of prompting, choose a passage two reading levels lower for the next guided reading session.

If the student answers the questions but misses a few details, this is the right level of reading for the student.

Remember the purpose

Reassure students that this is not a test.

It is a conversation between two people about a reading passage.

No one gets a grade in guided reading! 

How to Do Guided Reading 

Guided reading is an opportunity for you to gauge how to meet the needs of your students.

Whether you have one student or 30, this reading strategy gives you the information you need to tailor your reading instruction.

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