Small Group/Guided Reading

We want to be sure children are working with materials that help them take the next step in learning to read. The books they read should offer just enough challenge to support problem solving but be easy enough to support fluency and meaning.

--Fountas & Pinnell, 1996


Guided Reading is an instructional setting in which a teacher has brought together a small group of children who are similar in their reading behaviors at a particular point i time. Each student has his/her own copy of the text at their instructional level from which to read. During this time, the teacher is modeling and teaching reading strategies.

Teacher Role

Before During After
  • Select an appropriate text, one that will be supportive but with a few problems to solve
  • Prepare an introduction to the story
  • Briefly introduce the story, keeping in mind the meaning, the language, and visual information in the text, and the knowledge, experience, ad skills for the reader
  • Leave some questions to be answered through reading
  • "Listen in"
  • Observe the reader's behaviors for evidence of strategy use
  • Confirm children's problem-solving attempts and successes
  • Interact with individuals to assist with problem solving at difficulty (when appropriate)
  • Make notes about the strategy use of individual readers
  • Talk about the story with the children
  • Invite personal response
  • Return to the text for one or two teaching opportunities such as finding evidence or discussing problem-solving
  • Assess children's understanding of what they read
  • Engage the children in extending the story through activities as drama, writing, art, more reading, or simply conversation

Student Role

Before During After
  • Engage in a conversation about the story
  • Raise questions
  • Build expectations
  • Notice information in the text
  • Read the whole text or a unified part to themselves (softly or silently)
  • Request help in problem solving when needed
  • Talk about the story
  • Check predictions and react personally to the story or information
  • Revisit the text at points of the problem solving as guided by the teacher
  • May reread the story to a partner or independently
  • Sometimes engage in activities that involve extending and responding to the text (such as drama or journal writing)


  • Guided Reading offers teachers specific opportunities to model and show readers particular aspects of the reading process. It gives children the opportunity to develop as individual readers while participating in a socially supported activity and gives teachers ongoing opportunities to observe individuals as they process new texts. (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996)
  • Listening carefully to how children construct responses provides an opportunity to discuss their use and knowledge of strategies with them. Teachers phase in to demonstrate and name particular strategies; then phase out to give students a chance to use the new strategies on their own. (Walker, 1996)
  • Children need the opportunity to interact with both peers and adults in a wide variety of settings as they are learning and practicing language and literacy knowledge, skills and strategies (Braunger & lewis, 1997)