Guided Reading Activities

Hey friends!

A few of my friends have asked me about Guided Reading  Activities  I use in my classroom. Teachers also wondered why I think it is a necessity to any ELEMENTARY Classroom. Yes, I just said Elementary. That means Kindergarten through Fifth Grade can use these guided reading activities.

Guided reading activities are teaching points to use during your guided reading lesson. In first grade, students progress through so many levels, it’s important to keep track of their development. Throughout the primary grades, foundation of a students literacy development is set. In the upper grades, students are making the switch from learning to read to reading to learn. The students will dive into deeper texts with more complex concepts. Students in the upper grades still need the teachers support to understand and break down these difficult texts.

Guided reading gives teachers the chance to do that. Piggy backing off my post from yesterday on  fostering a love of reading, giving students the chance to read REAL books through guided reading will help with that process.

The first step to Guided Reading is Assessment.

I’m a huge fan of Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment . This kit is very targeted to be able to show you specific patterns the students make while reading.  To begin, you need to determine a starting level.  Use the last known independent reading level and start there. You can also use other forms of a benchmark assessment of course, F&P is just my favorite. The program is through and follows the literacy continuum.

Running Records Reading Assessment

Once you have determined where to start, begin to take a running record on your students. You can grab a free running record here. To do this, you need a running record calculator. I found an app called “Running Record Calculator”. This is very helpful because it automatically calculates the time and errors for you as you enter the information.

What is the purpose of a running record?

What is the purpose of a running record? Well, there are several. We are trying to determine the students independent reading level, keep a record of errors over a period of time, and make instructional decisions about each student in order to guide their instruction. Oral Running Records are how teachers can plan their instruction.

Running records should be 100 words at least for a true assessment. In the upper grades, I’d recommend using a text with 250 words.  Depending on the students reading level, depends on how often you should assess them. You can read more about that here.


Steps to take a running record

*Record the number of words you are assessing in the running record.
*Remind the student they will not read the entire book orally.
*Make a notation if the student has read the book before.
*As the student reads, place a check mark over the words he/she reads correctly.
*If a word is missed, record the word the student says above the word. Pay attention to the readers behavior when making errors.
*Try to intervene as little as possible, the goal is to see how much the student can do on their own.
*Analyze the running record or the point of it is useless 

What is the difference between an error and a self correction?

An error is a word that is read incorrectly, omitted, or inserted. A self correction is a word that is first read incorrectly, but immediately corrected. Self Corrections do not count as errors. What does count as an error?If a student reads the word incorrect, it counts as an error. If the student omits or skips a word, that would could as an error as well. When a student inserts a word that is not in the text, that counts as an error.  If the student repeats the a word, that does not count as an error. You can use the guide below to help keep on track. Click here to download the file.  Running_Record_reading_Guided_Reading_Activities

Error Rate:

Error Rate is shown as a ratio. Use the formula below to find the error rate.
Total words / Total errors = Error rate

Accuracy Rate:

Accuracy rate is shown as a percentage. You can calculate the accuracy rate using this formula:
(Total words read – Total errors) / Total words read x 100 = Accuracy rate

To identify the miscues, we use  Meaning (M), Structure (S), and Visual (V).

Running Record Analysis


One  purpose of the running record is to see a pattern in the students errors. Are they pausing before they get to certain vowel patterns? Do they re-read when they get to words with inflectional endings? Do they understand vocabulary words? One of the most common types of errors in reading comes when students do not self monitor. Students should recognize when something doesn’t sound right or that they’ve made an error. Someone once asked me “Ashley, is this grade level appropriate?”. ABSOLUTELY. YES.  Kindergarten and First Grade teachers SHOULD be teaching self monitoring strategies.

I always taught my students to go back and reread a sentence and ask themselves “Does this sound right or make sense?”.  This self monitoring strategy will pay off in the long run. I’ve taught the little kids all the way to the big kids about self monitoring. If students do not understand or recognize that they made an error or mistake, they are not thinking while reading.

I use these posters to help aide in my instruction with self monitoring.
Students who are self monitoring should have a self correction rate of 1:4 or less. That means that the student is correcting one out of every four words they are reading.


Word Work Strategies for Guided Reading

Word work is an helpful tip for  guided reading activities. Students need to practice reading, spelling and the meaning of the words they come across in different text that they will encounter.  Through word sorts, the teacher can show students how to sort the words by the sounds they make. We can also teach students what the words mean and ask students to identify synonyms and antonyms.  Students can also practice spelling these words. That way, we are not teaching phonics, spelling or vocabulary in isolation.

Through word work, we are teaching all of these skills in one strike. Research suggest that students need 12 authentic experiences with a word before they truly understand it. Through word work in guided reading, you are providing your students with authentic experiences every single day. I start EACH lesson off with a word work activity.

Word Sorts for Upper Grades are pictured below

   Word Sorts for Primary Grades

Guided Reading Structure

Each lesson starts off with a hands on approach to word work. Word sorts, word hunts, stretching words (decoding practice) and building words are all examples of how I start off my lessons. I want the phonics skill to be evident to anyone who walks into my room. Next, I have a fluency component. This is usually just a quick poem that I can embed elements of poetry in slowly throughout the year. Next, we start with our leveled reader. I want to pull out any phonics skill or vocabulary words BEFORE reading. I introduce the book by providing my students background knowledge about the story and preparing them to make connections. We do this EVERY SINGLE TIME we are introduced a new book. Next, we take a book walk to observe the pictures. I ask questions like “What do you notice in this photograph?”.  The reason for this is, I want my students to hear me using that strong academic vocabulary. I want to make sure EACH guided reading lesson hits all five components of reading.

After we take a book walk, I want to be sure to set a purpose for reading. This is one of the most missed steps in guided reading. Sometimes, we just say “start reading until you get to page 6”. I encourage you to think about that for a second. By setting a purpose for reading, you are preparing the students to think while they read. They should generate questions as they read.  Stay tuned for the next part of our series on Guided Reading. I will focus on grouping, text selection, more comprehension and scheduling on the next post! post signature

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