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6 Reasons to Include Guided Reading Activities in Your Lesson Plan

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“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” ~Joseph Addison

There is no doubt that reading and learning go together. Textbooks are a staple of every classroom and both teachers and students rely on books to convey and absorb information at every grade level.

At Alludo, we have curated an extensive catalog of courses to help teachers with their professional development, and that includes many courses related to guided reading activities. Guided reading can help students process what they read at a level that’s appropriate for them. With that in mind, here are six reasons to include guided reading activities in your lesson plans.

Table of Contents

  1. What is a Guided Reading Lesson Plan?
    1. Students Work in Small Groups
    2. The Teacher Provides Guidance to Help Students Read
    3. Students Read Aloud or Independently
    4. Students Get Group and Individual Support as Needed
  2. What Are Guided Reading Activities?
    1. Key Elements of Guided Reading Activities
    2. Categories of Guided Reading Activities
  3. 6 Reasons Why You Should Included Guided Reading in Your Lesson Plan
  4. What Materials Are Needed for Guided Reading?
  5. Alludo's Take
  6. Enable Teachers in Your District to Incorporate Guided Reading in Their Lesson Plans

What is a Guided Reading Lesson Plan?

Guided reading is an instructional approach designed to help students improve their reading skills by meeting them where they are and guiding them through a series of activities to improve their reading comprehension. Guided reading is designed to be flexible and can be extremely useful for helping students study and process texts.

A guided reading lesson plan is, at its simplest, a lesson plan that includes guided reading. Here are some of the characteristics of guided reading.

Students Work in Small Groups

Students work in small groups based on their reading levels at a particular point in time. Because students’ abilities and competencies will change over time, a guided reading group is not static. Teachers may group and regroup students to make sure that students are grouped appropriately.

The Teacher Provides Guidance to Help Students Read

The teacher chooses a text based on the students’ reading level using the Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient, which scores texts from A (for beginner readers) to Z+ (for the most advanced students.) The teacher provides guidance on reading the chosen text. Guidance may include language structure, vocabulary, themes, and other elements of the material the students are reading.

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Students Read Aloud or Independently

During a guided reading lesson, students may take turns reading out loud or read the text independently. They may discuss it among themselves as they read using the guidelines provided by their teacher.

Students Get Group and Individual Support as Needed

After the students have read the entire text, the teacher provides teaching points to help the readers discuss and understand the assigned material. The teacher is also responsible for responding to individual student questions and providing support for their individual strengths and needs.

What are Guided Reading Activities?

There are several types of guided reading activities that teachers can choose from and a recommended structure for discussion.

Key Elements of Guided Reading Activities

There are three key elements of any guided reading activity or lesson plan:

  1. Before-reading discussion. The teacher provides students with the text they’ll be reading, including instruction about the text’s language, theme, and other elements to help the students understand it.
  2. Independent reading. Students read the text independently (or in some cases, out loud) without the teacher.
  3. After-reading discussion. After all students have read the text in its entirety, they engage in a discussion about the text’s meaning. At this stage, the teacher may provide the group with questions to aid discussion and should be available to provide help and support as needed.

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The texts and composition of student groups will vary but all guided reading activities should follow this basic format.

Categories of Guided Reading Activities

There are three categories of guided reading activities, and each has its purpose in the classroom.

Prediction

Prediction requires students to use their personal experiences and knowledge to predict what will happen in a story. Teachers may ask students to make educated guesses about a text’s content before they read it using cues from the title, cover blurb, cover illustration, genre, and other elements of the material. 

As students read, they may continue to make predictions. Teachers may guide students by prompting them to predict upcoming events or story elements at the end of a paragraph, a page, or a chapter. This process can hone students’ ability to recognize foreshadowing and other characteristics of storytelling.

Clarification and Questioning

Clarification and questioning encourages students first to identify challenging elements in the text being read and then to get them to a better understanding of those elements using a variety of questioning and clarification techniques. This category of guided reading can be helpful for learning new vocabulary words and concepts.

Teachers can encourage students to pinpoint areas where they need more help by providing clarification prompts. Here are some examples:

  • I didn’t understand when _____ happened.
  • I’m not sure what _____ means.
  • This part is difficult because ______.

Filling in the blanks may take some of the apprehension away from students admitting they aren’t sure about something in the text. Once students have identified their challenges, they can use several techniques to elucidate and clarify the elements in question. For example, they might first try to understand a new word using contextual clues, then look it up in the dictionary, then come up with other situations where the word might be used. This process can help to improve students’ recall and comprehension of what they learn.

Summarizing

Summarizing is exactly what it sounds like. It encourages students to restate what they have read in their own words, including the most relevant parts of the story or text and eliminating those things that are not essential to understanding it. Here are some questions to ask to help students with summarization:

  • What are the most important details of the text?
  • What ideas does the text express?
  • Which details or information are irrelevant or unnecessary?
  • What are the key words and phrases used in the text?

Questions like these can help students integrate what they read in the text into their personal knowledge and can increase comprehension by helping them sift through information and identify things that are important to understand and remember.

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6 Reasons Why You Should Include Guided Reading in Your Lesson Plan

Now, let’s review the reasons that you should include guided reading in your lesson plan:

  1. Students gain confidence. Reading can be challenging for some students and guided reading provides students with the practical skills and guidance they need to read efficiently and with a high degree of comprehension.
  2. Students develop reading strategies. Reading is about more than turning pages. Guided reading teaches students how to read analytically in a way that feels organic. The result is that students know how to decode and construct meaning in any text.
  3. Teachers can scaffold student learning. Guided reading provides teachers with a way to scaffold students, providing them with individual support and guidance at a level that’s appropriate. Individual support helps students read, talk, and think their way through texts, including both fiction and nonfiction.
  4. Small group structure allows for differentiated instruction. Even in the same grade or classroom, students don’t learn at the same pace. Guided reading allows teachers to partner students with others at the same level to improve learning outcomes.
  5. Teachers can easily address weaknesses. Listening to students read and talk about what they’ve read makes it easy for teachers to pinpoint weaknesses and help students who need help.
  6. Students can do targeted word work and sight word practice. Since sight word comprehension can be an issue for some students, guided reading allows for targeted practice.

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These six benefits illustrate how useful guided reading activities can be in the classroom.

What Materials Are Needed for Guided Reading?

You already know that any guided reading activity requires the selection of texts at an appropriate level for each group of students. Here are some other materials and resources you’ll need in order to include guided reading in your lesson plans:

  • Students’ current reading levels. You may be able to determine reading levels based on feedback from the student’s previous teacher, past report cards, school guidelines, or simply by reading with the student to assess their skills.
  • 1-2 teaching points per lesson. It’s always useful to go into a new text with some talking points. Sticking to one or two will help students focus.
  • Graphic organizers. Students may have an easier time comprehending what they read and organizing their thoughts with some tools to help them.
  • Achievable goals. You’ll have more luck using guided reading if you set achievable goals. Some examples may include meeting with the group twice a week or setting aside time to conference with individual students.

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As you can see, you don’t need much to incorporate guided reading into the classroom.

Alludo’s Take

At Alludo, we curate professional development content in a broad array of areas and topics to help teachers connect with their students and deliver optimal learning outcomes. Here’s how (and why) we do it:

  • Microlearning activities allow teachers to complete PD requirements on their own time.
  • Pedagogic strategies to support guided reading lesson plans are included in the Alludo content catalog.
  • Guided reading helps teachers to monitor and foster student progress in language arts.

With Alludo's Guided Reading mission with nine micro-learning activities. school districts can provide teachers with the instruction and tools they need to bring guided reading activities into their classrooms.

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Enable Teachers in Your District to Incorporate Guided Reading in Their Lesson Plans

Guided reading lesson plans simplify the process of elevating student reading comprehension by providing teachers with a framework to meet students where they are and give them the individual guidance they need to improve their reading.

Experience personalized learning for all levels of educators with a free trial of Alludo’s professional development platform. You’ll enjoy:

  • Hundreds of core topics
  • Asynchronous microlearning activities
  • Timely and specific feedback
  • Analytics that show learning impact
  • Access anytime, anywhere

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