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Guided Reading 101 Part 1

I've been asked a lot of questions lately about Guided Reading so I thought I'd do a few posts to help answer some of your questions.   This one will be just a quick overall post and then I will come back and go into more detail about each component.  

I conduct my Guided Reading groups at a table.  However,  guided reading can even be done on the floor.  All you need are kids and leveled books and you are good to go!!!

Each student has their own Reading bag.  In their bag they have their Reading Strategies menu, guided reading log for their parents to sign,  guided reading book, and guided reading work.  After they read with me they take their bag home, read the book to their parents and show them their word work.

These are the Reading Strategy posters that I use to teach my students how to use a variety of strategies to figure out unknown words.   Because each strategy has an animal icon attached to it the kids really get it!  These are brilliant!  I've seen many variations of these all over the web over the last 6 or 7 years and I just recently found out that the original creator of this idea was April Schilb.   Her website is no longer available and I've been told she retired but I wanted to make sure and give credit where credit is due.
 Love this idea, April!!!

Each reading group has a strategy board.  Each time we learn a new strategy we place it on the strategy board.  Our lessons always begin with a review of the previous strategies that were taught.

The kids LOVE to read with pointers!  This is really helpful for those Littles who are beginning readers.  It helps them with one to one correspondence.  Once they get past a level C I don't give them pointers to use (except for on special occasions because they all LOVE pointers)  because it slows down their fluency when they are trying to point to each word as they read.  
I use a variety of pointers but their favorite are the finger lights that you see in the bottom picture.
They go crazy over these!  
They are available on Amazon for less than $1.00  You can click on the image below to check them out.

The key to successful Guided Reading groups is to stay organized.  In my binder I have a spot for plans and then I have a tab for each student. 
Below are some of the forms I use to plan my groups.

You will notice that I meet with the Red group everyday.  They are my kids who need extra practice and support with their reading skills.

During each group session I do a running record on a student so that I can consistently monitor their reading progresss and move their reading levels as soon as they are ready. These are stored in the Guided Reading binder behind each student's tab.

Each student has a Guided Reading Work notebook. This is where we record all of the word work that we do during Guided Reading groups.

Here are some examples from several different students.

If you have my Guided Reading resource you will want to go to TPT and download the revised version.  
I changed out a lot of the graphics and added several new anchor charts!  
Here's the link:

So... the next posts will be based on any questions you might have.  You can post them in the comments section below or email me at  

I hope you've had a great week!  Friday is almost here!!!



  1. I love how organized this all is! I've always struggled with organizing reading groups and feeling like I was keeping track of what I needed to.
    For your running records, do you just use any book and calculate everything on your own, or do you have specific books that have running record assessments that go along with them?

  2. Deanna, I teach third, but I have the Inclusion class this year so I love these ideas because they are useful for my students! =)

  3. What are your other kids doing during this time?? I am thinking centers but wondering? How long do you work with each group? Also how long is your guided Reading Block?? What time of the year do you start with yoru Guided Reading in Kindergarten? THank you!!! I enjoy your blog

  4. Great organization ideas, thanks for sharing!! What are your guided reading group kiddos doing while you give the running record?

  5. What a terrific idea! Thank you for sharing!

  6. This is such a wonderful post! I was wondering what are your other kids doing while you are working with a guided reading group? How long do you spend with each reading group? Thanks for sharing! :)

  7. I was at your workshop in Vegas and I love seeing this post!Brings back great memories! So inspired by you and your teaching...can't wait to start next week (hopefully) with my guided reading groups!

  8. This looks awesome, Deanna!
    Great job!
    Heidi Butkus

  9. I love the guided reading bags in the picture above. Where do I find the bags? I love your ideas. Thanks for sharing them!
    Dru Moore

  10. Love the individualized bookmarks for strategies the kids are working on! What a wonderful tool for them!

    The Second Grade Superkids

  11. Your guided reading pack is perfect for my classroom-I love your ideas. One suggestion...I purchased your guided reading pack after reading your blog posts on guided reading. In those blog posts, you have pictures of sample word work that you do with your kiddos. When I purchased the pack, I was hoping that those sample pictures of your word work would be in the pack, but they aren't. Would you be able to update your pack so it includes lots of samples of word work you do with your groups? I tried printing your blog post so I could have that resource, but I'm unable to do that, as well. Thanks again for your hard work--I love what you do. :)

  12. Are the leveled books you use part of your curriculum or did you purchase them? Are those books pictured the ones you use for running record as well? As a teacher new to kinder the scope and sequence of these groups seems overwhelming. Thank you for your unit. I love it!

  13. Are the leveled books you use part of your curriculum or did you purchase them? Are those books pictured the ones you use for running record as well? As a teacher new to kinder the scope and sequence of these groups seems overwhelming. Thank you for your unit. I love it!

  14. Thank you for posting about your Guided Reading lessons! I love how organized you are :)

    I am teaching Kindergarten in an inner city classroom and have 10/23 students who cannot write their names, only one student who can identify all letters. I am currently working on behavior issues(we have quite a few children who have never been in preschool or asked to sit and listen to a story or sit in a chair). I'm feeling very overwhelmed, but my students will be held to the same standards as children who have had the advantage of 2+ years of preschool.

    I have two questions - 1. Do you know of any blogs/teacher sites to help struggling inner city teachers?
    2. All of my students are at RB and PC on the TRC. Does Guided Reading work best for students who know letters and sounds or I can I begin this with my students now?

    1. I have been wondering the same thing- are there any bloggers who teach inner city severe poverty children? Behavior issues are so different, and the skills they come with are so limited- unable to identify colors, their name, etc. I love what the K blogging community posts but it does seem like way to big a stretch for my students. I'm in Milwaukee, WI.

  15. I have your guided reading packet and LOVE it!!! Pointers are a great way to help students stay on track and pacing! Great post!
    The Teacher's Treasure Chest

  16. Thank you. As a relatively new teacher trying to get a handle on all of this, I really appreciate this post. I look forward to your next posts.

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  18. @Erin P : my classroom sounds very similar to yours! I'm also an inner city kindergarten teacher. 25/25 of my students come in at <PC on the TRC. Yet you'll be amazed at the growth they make! I've found Guided Reading to be one of the most powerful tools I have - let me know if you'd like to talk more about how I use it! I typically start with small group print concepts instruction around this time of year (based on analysis of their TRC) then move to GR once those skills are mastered. I'd love to talk more!

    1. Hi Sarah!
      I would live to hear more from an inner city teacher!
      My email is
      Thank you!

  19. How funny! I just started a guided reading linky. This is perfect timing! I love seeing what everyone does during guided reading. If you want, you can link up!

  20. Deanna, I have many of your products, including this pack, but have struggled to use it effectively. My trouble is that I'm not consistent with my guided reading instruction. However, I am wanting to work on that this year.
    Here are my questions:
    1. How many groups do you see in a day?
    2. How do you determine which reading strategy to teach first? Any particular order you suggest?

  21. Oh how I needed to read this post today! I am getting ready to hopefully start my reading groups. How long do you meet with each group? How many groups do you have? What would you suggest for a teacher that has 26 kinders with no assistant do to maximize the 90 minutes alloted for reading groups? What other types of things do you do in the word work notebook? I'm getting ready to purchase this unit. I'm so excited and can't wait to read your next post about guided reading!

  22. Effectively teaching elementary math to children aged 5 to 10 (Grade 1,Grade 2,Grade 3,Grade 4,Grade 5).Great for Homeschool kids! All math results are logged and graded and we show how they are improving through real-time hereGrade 4,Grade 5

  23. Thanks for the post! I'm a Reading Tutor and our groups run similarly to this. I always love hearing and seeing what others are doing and how I can improve! Thanks!



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