Monday, 17 March 2014

Guided reading. An approach that works for me (for now at least!)

Always a topic that promotes animated discussion . Guided reading. How many groups? How often? What do the other groups do? How do you ensure progress? How do you manage it?

We have guided reading sessions daily, 20 minutes. That's a lot of the week when you look at it in its total. So it has to be meaningful to justify that amount of time .

I read an interesting piece this week which you can find  here courtesy of @prawnseye

 There are so many strategies being used out there for guided reading.  I was observed in our recent Ofsted for an entire guided reading session which had good feedback so I hope that you can use some of the ideas.

(My class are a muxed year 4, 5 class. All classes follow a similar format in KS2 )

There are five groups which rotate throughout the week. Children are grouped according to their ability and moved into different groups if appropriate during the year.

Group activities:

1)     Guided reading- with an adult (teacher or TA) using a range of fiction and non fiction texts concentrating on AFs . We have various resources which suggest questions to use for the different AFs. We use some commercial guided reading scheme books alongside sets of books both fiction and non fiction. For example this term I using Michael Morpurgo’s Butterfly Lion with one group and The Hodgeheg (Dick Kng Smith ) with another. Records are kept each session to record responses (AF linked) which is used to assist tracking.

2)     Reading Journals- each child has a reading journal in which they keep activity sheets. These were produced by a previous LA advisor and tie in to AFs. We also have various “take your pick” activities for non fiction and fiction which the children complete independently. Sometimes this might be an activity linked to a class read. (For example during Ofsted this group were writing a first person account linked to the class story “The Indian in the Cupboard- Lynne Reid Banks. The inspector had asked me later why I had not scaffolded the work as it was fairly challenging and I explained its purpose was to establish their understanding and had been specifically designed to be an independent task. Positive feedback given.) We devote two of the sessions to reading journal time.

3)     Spellings/Handwriting The children use this time to practice their weekly spellings and to complete handwriting exercises. Each child has a folder for this.

4)     Independent reading. This time is for the children to read ANYTHING of their choice or to listen to an audio book (I am slowly building a collection) They don’t have to write anything at all J

Some children who have difficulties with their reading have more time on guided reading , but all children have time to read books of their choosing. It takes a bit of setting up at the start of the year- even though we do it all the way through the school the start of the new academic year is always like starting again from scratch! However, the initial effort is well worth it. Children make very good progress with their reading and the vast majority enjoy reading.

The new curriculum wont necessitate a huge change in the way we carry out our guided reading sessions. 

One of the most useful tips I can pass on is that I always write down the questions/AFs I am going to focus on a week in advance. This makes for far more structured and focused sessions. I also trained up my TAs by working with them to begin with so that they could take groups as well; this frees me up to hear readers or talk to the children during some sessions. Throughout the year groups change so that I will have worked with them all at some point.

Thanks for taking the time to read; I’d love to hear your views/opinions on this.

Some resources and ideas on pinterest here
A "how to " guide for the children here
More views and ideas here


  1. You mention five groups but only four activities; what does the fifth group do?
    And do you have a TA for every session?

  2. You're right, there are four activities, but reading journal happens twice a week (see 2) .
    I have a TA in my class each morning (31 in class, 2 SchAct+. 5 SCh Act mixed age) so timetable to have a TA for 4 out of 5 sessions.

  3. Ah, I missed that comment at the end of that section. I do think having an extra adult makes things more viable.
    Do you use worksheets in other lessons too? I often find that the same teachers who refuse to use worksheets - or schools who dislike them - seem happier to have such independent tasks going on in Guided Reading

  4. Good point, we're not a "no worksheet" school...I like to think we area "do what meets the needs best " school. In answer to your question, I rarely useworksheets, but do when appropriate. Journal activities are often open ended and children can interpret them in their own way. For example, rewrite the ending of your story or writea letter to the author saying what you liked/ disliked about the book. Most importantly thework has to be purposeful, not time filling, so someactivitiesfollow on from previous or link to guided session to hopefully make it as "joined up" as possible.

  5. You certainly seem to have found a way to make GR work for you. I suppose I'm just never really convinced that children working on their own for 90 out of 150 minutes a week is as good as whole class teaching and directed learning.
    But as you say, each to meet their own needs best

  6. Would I do it if I didn't have to? Probably, but would ditch the journals in favour of more independent reading :-)

  7. This is really interesting. We have moved away from our carousel setup which I used to enjoy. We now set daily for guided reading between our 4 year 6 classes. I teach bottom set. It has its pros and cons.

    However, I had heard that Ofsted could be concerned by some of the independent activities and how much time children had throughout the week without the adult. I'm interested to hear your observation gradings were good.

  8. It seems that different teams think different things. Schools must do what works well for their children. After all, who knows best,the teachers who teach them or inspectors following a list of criteria?

    1. to add to previous comment!