Guided reading is such an important time in the classroom. It’s an opportunity for students to enhance their reading abilities and benefit from small group support.
However, if I’m being completely transparent, the art of collecting guided reading data is one of those things that I wish I had endless amounts of P.D. in. As educators, we know how valuable data collection is, but we often don’t really know how to collect it without testing students.
It takes time and practice to learn how to properly collect data and use it to our advantage. I’m still learning and adapting my guided reading strategies year after year. My hope for you is that after this blog post, you’ll have a better understanding on collecting data so we can improve our student’s reading today.
Guided Reading Professional Development
Before diving in, I want to recommend a few of my favorite books for guided reading lesson plans and small group differentiation. Jennifer Serravallo is my personal favorite. She offers a ton of reading comprehension strategies and lesson plans that you can implement in your classroom. Fountas & Pinnell is are another great resource for starting guided reading.
My Guided Reading Binder
Guided reading in upper elementary is no joke. Reading teachers are seeing anywhere from 20-60 students, so using a guided reading binder is a non-negotiable in my opinion. Each student has
My binder makes collecting guided reading data in my upper elementary classroom significantly easier. I divide each class, using a tab and within each tab, I have goal-setting forms, lesson plans, data sheets that assess fluency, comprehension, application of skill, and decoding. Additionally, I keep forms such as student observations and a class DRA tracker. By doing this I can appropriately set goals with my students, pinpoint exactly what skills they need help with, and the strategies that are the most effective. My guided reading binder keeps me sane and it’s the easiest way for me to keep track of interventions and growth.
It’s important to note that I don’t ask them to take tests or answer questions based on a rubric… in fact, they don’t even know I’m collecting data. I fill my binder with small group reading strategies and guided reading lesson plans for the entire year.
My Guided Reading Schedule
Each week I meet with a guided reading group multiple times. All of the members within a guided reading group are using a consistent leveled book. (Based on the data I collect, I may decide to move a student up or down a level). While they’re reading, I’m jotting down information based on our conversations, their reading comprehension, fluency, and rate. I make note of the student’s motivation, behavior, and other observations that appear relevant.
I also use this time to review the weekly reading skills and strategies if necessary and evaluate how they apply the skill independently. However, it’s important not to use this time to talk and teach them for the entire time.
When planning my guided reading groups, I often ask myself the following two questions –
“What does this child need to move to the next reading level?”
“What has been preventing them from moving forward?”
Your guided reading lessons should revolve around these two questions. Based on your answer to those two questions, you can begin to set goals and create lesson plans. It’s important to set goals for your students individually and share these goals with them. It allows them to take ownership of their success and give them something to focus on.
For example, many of my students want to race through their reading passage. Therefore, you may set a goal for them to slow their pace down…enough to understand everything that they’re reading within the leveled reader. Switching the focus from rate to comprehension will guide a student to be successful long term. Then you can start measuring their growth based on these goals.
Leveled Readers & Strategy Groups
When I’m meeting with a group, I typically follow a similar procedure, but adapt based on my student’s needs. I begin by asking students before reading questions to circle back to whole group instruction and to build background knowledge. Next I state the objectvies and purpose for our reading. I want the students to be aware of what reading strategy and skill we’re focusing on. Throughout the lesson, I stop periodically to model, discuss, or implement the skill. The second time the group meets, we revisit the comprehension skill and students read the text to increase their fluency. Typically, on the third day, I ask students deeper questions and ask them to cite text evidence to support their answer. We follow the RACE format during our text based responses so my students respond accordingly.
I hope that you’re feeling less stressed about collecting guided reading data and implementing small groups. Once you develop your own consistent system of collecting and assessing students, you will be smooth sailing for years to come. Below I have listed a few
1.How long is your guided reading block?
We have 40 minutes for whole group instruction & 40 minutes for guided reading.
2. How long do you meet with each guided reading group?
Depending on the group – about 15 minutes to 20 minutes.
3. What are the other students working on while you’re meeting with a group.
4. What about your above level students?
My “above level” group receive less time. I often feel guilty for not meeting with them more often, but instead I’ve come to realize that they still need me, but in a different way. They need more opportunities to expand their love of reading, experiment with different genres, and the opportunity to really analyze and dig deeper into texts (literature circles are great for this).
5. How do you help students who are far below grade level?
These students I meet with the most. I meet with them almost every day to model and try different strategies for applying the weekly skill. I also meet with them to implement interventions.
6. What leveled readers do you use?
We currently use the reading series McGraw Hill – Wonders. They provide leveled readers and guided reading lesson plans if the teacher chooses to use them.
If you need additional resources for reading in the upper elementary classroom – you can check out my additional posts here.
Ashley at Pencils and Playgrounds is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.