Guided Reading {How I do it}

I am certainly not an expert on guided groups, but I will share with you how I work with kiddos in small groups throughout the day.

We are fortunate enough to have one Title 1 paraprofessional help us with groups for 2 – 30 minute blocks. She will take my higher kiddos, and I will take the lowest. So I am able to work with my struggling readers everyday for about 20 minutes each session. The rest of the class is working at literacy centers and literacy rotations.

guided reading

We will always start out with a familiar re-read.  Usually it’s the book that we worked on the day before.  I will usually hone in on child and make sure that she/he carries over the skills that we worked on the day before.  After she/he is done reading I’ll make 1 or 2 teaching points based on what I saw that child doing.

Then, we’ll move onto some sort of word work. This is always based on the skills that that group of children need to work on. The purpose of this is so kiddos can understand and reinforce how letters and words work. I might lay out a bunch of letters and they have to find all of the s’s.  Or we might sort letters by features (lines, curves, etc.).  OR - I might use a new word in the book we’re working on and review a challenging word.

Here we are using magnets for word work with a sight word this group was struggling with:

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I give the kiddos the magnet letters and we will “mix and fix” or play “missing letter”. Here she is “breaking the word.” She’ll start with the first letter (focusing on left to right sweep) and pull each letter to the left while saying the letter name.


When she’s moved all the letters over she’ll put her finger underneath and do a “slow check” saying the word.

Later in the year we will start to break words – looking for familiar chunks in words. Helping children understand how words can be taken apart and how parts look like other words they know will help them use what they know to decode unknown words in their reading and writing.

These letters from Lakeshore are my absolute favorite. I use them everyday!

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Then we might write the word a couple of times on these mini-white boards. I also use the “magna doodle” type boards from Lakeshore.  Sometimes I have the kids do the magnet work on these boards too just to give them a smaller space to work on.

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We will also do some writing with the target word. Again, we’re focusing on left to right, proper letter formation, spacing, etc. Their books are just white paper cut in half with a construction paper front and back. They’re just stapled on the side. Super simple. I keep a stack of them ready to go when we need them.


Sometimes I’ll take the sentence that they wrote, write it on a 1” strip, and then cut it apart for them to reassemble.  I don’t have time to do this every day though.

And finally, we read a new book! I’ll give a good introduction and point out any tricky parts. I want them to be successful with the book!


I don’t use paper books all the time (and highlight), but because we were focusing on the word like, I wanted to use this one. This ended up being a very simple book for this group. However, they all still needed work on looking at picture clues and confirming the first letter of the word. I don’t want to move such fragile readers up “levels” so fast. I want to make sure their strategies are secure so that they can read these “easy” books without me. Sometimes the easiest books are the hardest for kids!


Some days, we will play games or work specifically on certain skills like rhyming, segmenting and so on.  My lessons are always based on what the kids need!

I also REALLY love using these books with kiddos:

Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention

These are the Fountas and Pinnell LLI kits. The books are spot on and are great for my struggling kids. We have a huge selection of leveled reader book packs available, but these are my go to for my lower kids. I don’t necessarily use all the components in the lesson, but use it as a starting point. I always let my students guide my instruction.

How do you run your GR groups?  Any tips, tricks, or strategies that you would love to share? 


  1. Thanks so much for this post!! We are really working on how to utilize our small group time more efficiently and this was so helpful!

  2. Thanks for the breakdown. I've been teaching k for a while now, but I love learning how others do so I can change it up!

  3. Loved this post! It's always great to hear how others manage group time!

    Pencils, and Crayons, and Books! Oh, My!

  4. Awesome information. Just curious what are the other sets of leveled readers that you use. Just curious what are the other leveled readers you use besides the LLI readers? I am working with my principal on ordering new books for next year and we are looking for good lower leveled readers. Thanks!


    1. We have a huge variety -- probably 200 sets of books. Our district purchased leveled libraries for each school a few years ago. They ordered from a variety of catalogs. We have a nice selection of fiction and non-fiction. Some are better than others. :)

    2. Thank you! That is awesome that you have such a variety of books to pull from:)


  5. What books are those that you are highlighting in?

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  7. Found your post really interesting! Sometimes I would get my kids to go on a 'writing walk' whereby they have to write the focus word on different surfaces e.g. Interactive whiteboard, chalk boards, small whiteboard, iPad, felt tips etc. This consolidates the work we have been doing :)