A Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading Kindergarten to Grade 3 (GEIR)
6.1 to 6.11. Page 134 to 143
- In guided reading, the teacher supports a small group of students as they talk, read, and
think their way through a carefully selected text, using, practising, and consolidating
effective reading strategies.
- Guided reading groups usually consist of four to six students who have been taught the
same reading strategies (during earlier readaloud and shared reading lessons) and who are
able to read texts of a similar level with support.
- During a guided reading lesson, the teacher helps students consolidate the strategies they
have learned, provides opportunities for students to apply the strategies as they read,
supports them in applying the strategies correctly, and teaches the strategies again where
Guided Reading in Kindergarten:
- Guided reading involves students reading a text with a minimal amount of teacher
support, a decision about whether to use guided reading in Kindergarten should be based
on the learning behaviours, strengths, and needs of individual students.
- When students are able to demonstrate an understanding of print concepts and knowledge
of letters and sounds and to recognize some sight words, they are ready to participate in
guided reading groups.
- Guided reading may not be appropriate for emergent readers, who are still developing
- Emergent readers require many shared reading opportunities where they can learn
reading strategies in context. Guided reading lessons, when taught in Kindergarten,
should be shorter in duration than those taught in later primary grades. They could be
conducted on a one-to-one basis or with two or, at most, three students during
independent reading time.
The Teacher’s Role in Guided Reading:
- In the course of the guided reading lesson, the teacher monitors students’ use of reading
strategies and uses questions and prompts to encourage students to work out difficult
words and to obtain meaning from unfamiliar text. Guided reading provides a way for
teachers to: • support readers in learning to think as they read;
• support students as they apply recently learned skills and strategies in manageable increments;
• support students as they consolidate previously learned skills;
• support students who are experiencing difficulty in word solving;
• observe students’ reading behaviours;
• identify students’ strengths and areas of difficulty in order to better plan the direction of future
- Guided reading provides the teacher with an opportunity to work within the child’s zone
of proximal development
- During guided reading, students are introduced to a book that contains just enough
challenges that they cannot quite read it independently, but they are able to read it
successfully with the support given them by the teacher.
- The book itself must also be supportive, containing many features with which the student
is already familiar (e.g.,high-frequency words, a familiar topic, a distinct pattern). In fact,
the success of a guided reading lesson depends in large part on the use of books that are
carefully selected to match each student’s instructional level and needs.
The Benefits of Guided Reading
- Guided reading challenges readers to successfully interpret and comprehend new text and
provides a bridge to independent reading. It gives students opportunities to:
• practise, refine, and consolidate previously taught reading strategies;
• apply their growing knowledge of conventions of print;
• apply their knowledge of letter-sound relationships to authentic texts;
• extend the development of their vocabulary;
• use the comprehension strategies they have learned (see Chapter: 8 Reading
Comprehension, for a full discussion of comprehension strategies);
• develop independence and confidence in reading;
• develop higher-order thinking skills;
• make connections between their prior knowledge and information/events in the
text; • read a wide variety of texts, both factual and fictional;
• problem-solve while reading for meaning.
“Effective Reading” Versus “Accurate Reading”
- Guided reading emphasizes effective reading, which has frequently been confused with
- Accuracy relates to the ability to recognize words, but it is only one aspect of effective
reading. The foundation of effective reading is comprehension, an interactive process of
constructing meaning. The following example illustrates the difference between accuracy
and comprehension – and why both are critical for effective reading.
- The sentence in the text is: Little Red Riding Hood ran to the house, opened the door, and
- Student One reads: Little Red Riding Hood ran to the horse, opened the door, and peeked
- Student Two reads: Little Red Riding Hood ran to the cabin, opened the door, and peeked
- Student One’s response indicates some accuracy in word recognition– only the letter r in
the word horse differs from the word printed in the text. However, this response doesn’t
make sense in the context of the sentence. It shows that the student is not focusing on
meaning or does not understand what he or she is reading.
- Student Two’s response is not accurate, in that the letters in the word cabin do not
resemble the letters in the word house, but the word cabin does make sense in the context
of the sentence. Student Two is constructing meaning and, therefore, demonstrating a
critical aspect of effective reading – comprehension. However, neither student is reading
- It is important for the teacher to be able to recognize and assess the different indicators of
a student’s effectiveness in reading – accuracy, fluency, and evidence of comprehension,
such as the ability to make predictions and connections.
Guided Reading Versus Shared Reading:
- There are four important distinctions between shared reading and guided reading, as
outlined in the following chart:
Shared Reading Guided Reading
• The teacher carefully chooses a • The teacher carefully chooses a
text that has many reading text that has many familiar reading
challenges, but ones that the group supports and only a few challenges.
is ready to master. • The text is at the students’
• The text is considered “difficult” instructional level (i.e., one that can (i.e., one that students would likely usually be read by students in a
read with less than 90 percent guided reading group with 90–95
accuracy on their own), but one that per cent accuracy). (Slight
can be read successfully with variations may occur with different
support from the teacher. assessment tools – PM Benchmarks,
• The focus is on teaching reading Developmental Reading
strategies. Assessment, etc.)
• The teacher takes the lead in the • The focus is on supporting
reading, but his or her voice fades students as they apply reading
as students become familiar with strategies independently.
the text and join in the reading. • The teacher introduces the text and
works directly with students,
scaffolding their learning and
supporting their application of
appropriate reading strategies.
Students read sections of the text to
themselves, aloud but quietly. The
teacher engages the group in a
reflective discussion following the
A Focus on the Three Cueing Systems:
- Guided reading allows students, with support from the teacher, to review, consolidate,
and demonstrate their ability to use a repertoire of reading strategies. Prominent among
these strategies are the three cueing systems.
1. Semantic: Does this make sense?
2. Syntactic: Does this sound right?
3. Graphophonic: Does this look right?
- These three cueing systems are important sources of information that can be categorized
• Semantic or meaning cues come from the student’s own experiences. Books for
emergent and early readers are constructed so that readers can use the pictures, which are
another kind of semantic cue, to help them predict the content or story line of the text and
the vocabulary that will be found in the text.
• Syntactic or structural cues come from the student’s knowledge of correct oral
• Graphophonic or visual cues come from the student’s developing
knowledge of letter-sound relationships and of how letters are
formed into words.
- Fluent readers use all three cueing systems to read texts, combining them to predict, to
confirm, and to cross-check when they are uncertain. - Analysis of a running record will help the teacher ascertain which cueing systems a
student is using consistently and which strategies need to be taught or reinforced.
- Readers can be encouraged to use one cueing system to cross-check what they have read
using another cueing system; for example, after sounding out a word, they can ask
themselves whether it makes sense in the context of the story they are reading. If they
have used their knowledge of the topic to predict and read a word, they can check the
letters to see if the letters match those they hear in the spoken word. It is the ability to
combine the cueing systems that creates a strong and fluent reader who can decode and
comprehend a text.
Guided Reading Groups:
- Children are grouped for guided reading based on their instructional level and/or the
specific learning goals set for them, but the composition of a guided reading group will
change as students’ needs change.
- Guided reading begins, therefore, only after the teacher has gathered and analysed this
Guided Reading Groups Versus Traditional Reading Groups:
- In guided reading, students in the group read aloud but quietly. They read as individuals
(not in unison), but all students in the group read at the same time. While students are
reading, the teacher monitors individual progress and lends support as needed.
- In traditional, reading groups, children take turns reading the text aloud, round-robin
style. This approach offers limited opportunities for instruction or learning. It can also be
stressful, particularly for students who are experiencing reading difficulties. In addition,
students who have not yet had a turn anticipate the passage they are going to read and so
do not attend to the reading of others. Those who have completed their turn tend to think
about their performance rather than listen to others. Traditional reading groups support
neither comprehension nor fluency.
Resources for Guided Reading:
- One of the most important factors in the success of a guided reading session is the
selection of appropriate texts for students in the guided reading group.
- Some texts for early readers, such as basal readers and texts based on phonemic elements,
are not appropriate for guided reading, for the following reasons:
• Basal readers use the same words over and over, adding a few new words to
create slightly more difficult texts. Because vocabulary is emphasized over meaning, basal readers have been criticized for resulting in texts in which
language is not natural, making it difficult for readers to use their knowledge of
sentence structure (syntactical cues) and their predictions about the text to help
• Books for beginning readers that are based on phonemic elements make use of
onset-and-rime patterns (see glossary), which can be helpful for early readers.
However, they have been criticized for creating text that has little meaning (e.g.,
Dan the man can fan. Can Dan fan?). If the text lacks meaning, it will fail to
capture students’ interest and it will not promote a lifelong love of reading.
- To develop good reading skills and a love of reading, students need to be exposed to real
stories and other authentic texts on a variety of topics and in a variety of genres. They
also need to apply their developing range of reading skills and strategies to increasingly
6.20 to 6.39. Page 152 to 171
The Guided Reading Lesson:
- As with the other components of effective reading instruction, a guided reading lesson
consists of three phases: before, during, and after. Each phase needs careful
- The following charts – Models 1, 2, and 3 – suggest three possible ways teachers could
structure guided reading lessons during a one-week period. In each case, students are
divided into groups,* based on assessment data, as follows:
- Group A: students who are experiencing significant reading difficulties related to specific
concepts and skills
- Group B: students who are experiencing some reading difficulties related to