written by Hillary Kiser


Guided Reading #forthewin

Are you a fan of Guided Reading? Or find it to be a huge pain because of planning? Well, I once was on the...not. a. fan. side of Guided Reading. In fact, I dreaded it each day. My problem though came from being unorganized...I am one of those people that needs everything in a specific place and I have to have a plan for everything. Can you say micro-manager? Yikes. Nevertheless, it is what I need.

Many people have asked me how I do my guided reading lessons, groups, etc. Now keep in mind, the advice I am about to give is based on 3rd grade students, not my current 5th graders. Guided reading in 5th grade is more book club based and doesn't lend itself to the type of plans I used in 3rd grade.

My groups vary, I sometimes do them based on reading level, and then sometimes (closer to testing time) do my groups based on skills. When I am doing groups based on level, they really do not look that different from the skills groups, just different kids.

I start each lesson with about 5-6 in a group (we have large class sizes) and I meet with each group twice a week. Some days I have to meet with two groups, other days I meet with just one group. On the days I have two groups, I might cut the lesson a little short. Typically a GR lesson takes 20-25 minutes for me. Sometimes I just do 15-minute lessons though. Is your head spinning yet? Truthfully, you have to just sit and figure out what works for you. Work smarter, not harder! :)

Each lesson begins with a brief intro of the book. I do chapter books after Christmas in 3rd grade. You might choose to do picture books, but I love how much we can learn from each chapter and the different characters in a chapter book. Chapter books are also great for summary (by chapters.) Anyway, that is just a personal choice but it works great for my kids!

I do not do Common Core in Texas, but these lessons still adapt for our TEKS, so I use them as a guide and can use all of the materials. It is really all about which number of TEKS match which number in CCSS. (In my opinion!) :) I teach what the TEKS say but the lessons go well with our TEKS. So, I don't sweat the small things...OR reinvent the wheel. lol

After the book intro, we move to vocabulary. I have already chosen 4 words to work on before the lesson begins. I write them on index cards or these partial sentence strips. The kids love them and it is a great visual for the students.

Just a quick tip, I would label them too like I did...it is so much easier for organization later. 

I have the kids do a number of things with these words. I have them use them in a sentence verbally with me, tell me what they already know about the word and what they still need to know, etc. IF time permits, I love to do this four-square activity. It is so flexible but more of a visual for me to see their thoughts. 

In this particular lesson, the students were working on Character Traits...that's a biggie in 3rd grade. I started them with this chart and we discussed the words briefly. 

(Snag this FREE chart!!)

After discussing these words, we began reading the book. I assign different chapters each time I meet with them, and while they are reading, I am listening to each of them and asking questions along the way. The lesson plan I have gives question stems, so I typically use those as a guide. During this particular lesson, I focused largely on Fern and her character traits while I was questioning the students. 

Side Note: I love Charlotte's Web for characters because the main character changes in portions of the book. Oooooo...ahhhh. lol.

Moving on, after the students have read for the day, we move on to our guided activity. I had the students complete this Character Trait graphic organizer on Fern. This is my example, lol...don't laugh, I am not an artist. (The person template was there, I just added to color parts.)

Side Note #2: I encourage you to do the guided activities (and even independent questions) some with the students. They love to see your work and it is a great model for the students. Model neatness and they will begin creating neat products. 

We discussed how caring Fern is but she also was LOUD...lol (their words, not mine.) We decided a better word choice for that might be opinionated. You can see how I guided their word choice and thinking. 

After that, I wrap up for the day...believe it or not, that takes 15-20 or even 25 minutes. 

The next time I meet with them, we start our lesson with a quick review of the previous meeting, then dive right in with vocabulary. 

I have new words picked out and a new four-square sheet (if time permits.) 

I repeat my process for the reading, asking questions, etc. Then we do another activity, this one is more independent. Notice the character change, we were further into the book and now Wilbur is the main character. 

I really enjoyed the discussion on this one, the kids felt like he was being a "weenie." We changed that to "not confident" then discussed why. Loved it!

Finally, we wrap up with some comprehension questions. 

Special Note: This is only one week, with one group. The next week we would be on the same book, different skill. :)

After we are finished with each session, I fill out an anecdotal record sheet (which is included with the lesson plans) on each child. I am not including a picture of that because it has personal information on it. However, these are very handy when looking back for improvement or what areas you need to still target. 

I really hope this insight on how I teach guided reading has helped you! Don't let it control your life...just get organized. That is what I had to do anyway, and now life is so much easier! 

If you are looking for Guided Reading Materials and Lesson Plans--check mine out in my store. I have them for 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. 

Guided Reading is so beneficial for your students and you--it tells you where to go next with your kids! E-mail me at Hillary3986@gmail.com with any questions, I'll be happy to collaborate with you!

Happy Teaching!


  1. Crazy question, How much do you read during each lesson? Do the students continue reading independently afterward, or is everything read with you? I am wanting to do more guided reading, including chapter books.

    1. Not a crazy question!! I listen to each child read for about 1 minute. I will hit on a few fluency or pacing things they might be doing then move on to the next child. My kids turn their chairs around and I walk around and listen that way they aren't disturbing others at the table. The other children keep reading silently until I get to them. I would say about 6-7 minutes total of reading then we work on the skill for the day. My GR groups are FAST PACED but so effective because they are organized. They used to be fast but ineffective because nothing was in order. Live and learn lol. Hope this has helped!

  2. How do you conduct your fifth grade guided reading groups?

  3. How do you conduct your fifth grade guided reading groups?