June 30, 2013

Guided Reading: Lesson Plans and Reading Records

I had the opportunity during two weeks of summer school to teach middle school guided reading to students who were identified as reading below grade level.  Because during the school year it sometime feels as if I'm being pulled in a million different directions, I so enjoyed the opportunity to focus in on JUST guided reading.  It really gave me time to reflect on how I teach each of the different parts, how I plan for it, how I keep anecdotal notes and information on students, etc.

Below are some pictures from my guided reading binder as well as some explanations of what I have learned upon continuous reflection of the best ways to provide guided reading instruction to middle school students.

By nature, I have a mind that reflects upon what I do continuously.  When it comes to my love life, it's awful.  :)  However, when it comes to teaching it rocks because I am constantly revamping things and asking myself how I can improve or how things could be better.  The photos above are the most current guided reading planner that I am using.  It is the fourth one that I have created and tried this school year.  When I'm not sure what I'm doing with something I tend to start with something overly structured and time-consuming.  My first guided reading lesson plans had information about every step and ideas for every step of the guided reading lesson listed with a ton of lines.  Once I become more comfortable with something, I gradually release the structure and take on the "less is more" and "keep it simple" type of attitude.  I really like my current guided reading lesson planner template because it gives me space to write a full lesson on one page.  It works for my mind...for now ;).  I have a space to write down ideas for a text introduction, three columns to plan out within, beyond, and about questions to discuss after the reading of the text, a place to write down a strategy that I'd like to model to reinforce a reading process, and a place to write down what I'd like to do for word work that day.

One of the best ways that I've found so far to progress monitor student reading is to use reading records.  The pictures above show the reading records of three different students in my guided reading group on the same day.  The reason I find reading records so helpful is because I'm able to track students' oral reading behaviors during several different points in time if I am diligent about doing reading records with my guided reading students.  Coding their reading and being able to look back to see what types of errors they are making really clues me in on what types of goals to set for each individual reader, what I should work with them on during guided reading, and what types of word work I should do with the different groups.  Reading records can work with any genre of book.

Steps to doing reading records:

1.  Select a page from the guided reading book that the group will be reading that day and make a photo copy of that page for each student in your guided reading group.  The student will be reading from the book while you put the photo copies on a clip board and code their reading directly onto the page that you copied from the book.  (In a typical guided reading book for middle school having students read approximately one page is a perfect amount.  However, if it is a lower level book, you may want students to read two pages.)

2.  After you have completed the text introduction for the whole group and the group has begun to read the section out of the guided reading book that you have assigned for that day meet individually with each student to complete the reading record.  As each student is reading, code their oral reading by writing down the errors and self-corrections that they make, when they repeat words or phrases in the text, if they take appropriate pauses at punctuation, etc.  (If I am running short on time in a guided reading group, I will sometimes take a reading record for half of the group one day and the other half of the group the next.)

3.  After a student has read the page out of the book and you have coded their oral reading behavior onto the reading record, jot down a few comments about that student's reading behavior onto the sheet to help you remember what you'd like this student to work on and what they're doing well.  Some of the comments that I find myself using often are: makes self-corrections, errors affect meaning of the story, does/doesn't use punctuation to guide the author's meaning, repeats words, etc.  (When I first started doing guided reading I hated taking the time to do this, but I soon realized that taking the time to jot a few anecdotal notes is so worth it in the long run because those notes help you remember what you wanted to work on with that student.  You might think you'll remember, but I found that I often forgot what I was thinking if I didn't write it down right away-maybe I'm just getting old!)

4.  Use the reading records over several days with a particular student to set goals with and for that particular student.  Taking the time to analyze reading records and working specifically on skills that you notice readers specifically struggling with closes gaps so much faster than pulling magic ideas out of the dark on how a reader COULD get better.  Having the data to KNOW a specific reader's behaviors and brainstorming what you could specifically do in your instruction to make that better makes a huge difference.  For instance, after doing several reading records on one of my students that I had during Summer School, I realized she made an error each time she came to a word that ended in "tion" and "sion".  To address this, I found words that ended this way in the section we were going to read for that day and put them into the text introduction.  I also did a word work specifically dedicated to words that end this way where we brainstormed a list of as many words we could think of that ended in "tion" and "sion" and said them out loud and used them in sentences.

So if you're in a guided reading funk, looking for a few new ideas for guided reading, and/or just thinking about starting guided reading for the first time, I hope that this blog post was helpful to you!

Have a great night everyone!



  1. I liked this post on Bloglovin' a few weeks ago and went back and looked at it again tonight. I have been really struggling to find ways to assess informally during ready groups, and this is a great idea! I will definitely keep coming back to this post in the future!


  2. Ashley,

    It's a quick and easy way to receive formative assessment on students that can impact your instruction in a full group and one-one-one setting. I'm so glad that you found this post useful!


  3. Wow! Wonderful post! I am so glad I found this! Thanks so much for sharing. :)


  4. You're very welcome, Amy! Thanks for the comment!


  5. I have been scanning Pinterest looking for ideas for my Guided Reading Groups this year. This is fantastic. Thanks so much!

    1. So happy to hear that you found this blog post helpful. Thanks for your feedback.


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