Essential Elements of Guided Reading

A Child Reading
Hero Images/Getty Images

There are three essential elements in Guided Reading, they are before reading, during reading, and after reading. Here we will take a look at teacher and student roles during each element, along with a few activities for each, as well compare the traditional reading group with a dynamic guided reading group.

Element 1: Before Reading

This when the teacher introduces the text and takes the opportunity to teach students before the reading begins.

Teacher's Role:

  • To select an appropriate text for the group.
  • Prepare an introduction to the story they are going to read.
  • Briefly introduce the story to the students.
  • To leave a few questions unanswered that can be answered throughout the story.

Student's Role:

  • To engage in a conversion with the group about the story.
  • Raise questions about the story to be read.
  • Build expectations about the text.
  • To notice information in the text.

Activity to Try: Word Sort. Choose a few words from the text that may be difficult for students or words that tell what the story is about. Then have students sort the words into categories.

Element 2: During Reading

During this time when students are reading, the teacher provides any assistance that is needed, as well as records any observations.

Teacher's Role:

  • Listen to the students while they read.
  • Observe each readers behavior for strategy use.
  • Interact with students and assist when needed.
  • Observe and make notes about individual learners.

Student's Role:

  • Read the text to themselves quietly or softly.
  • To request help if needed.

Activity to Try: Sticky Notes. During reading students write down anything that they want on the sticky notes. It can be something that interests them, a word that confuses them, or a question or comment they may have, anything at all. Then share them as a group after reading the story.

Element 3: After Reading

After reading the teacher talks with students about what they have just read and the strategies that they used, and leads students through a discussion about the book.

Teacher's Role:

  • Talk about and discuss what was just read.
  • Invite students to respond or add details.
  • Return to the text for teaching opportunities such as to find answers to questions.
  • Assess student understanding.
  • Extend the text by providing activities such as writing or drawing.

Student's Role:

  • Talk about what they just read.
  • Check predictions and react to the story.
  • Revisit the text to answer questions prompted by the teacher.
  • Reread story with partner or group.
  • Engage in additional activities to extend learning about the story.

Activity to Try: Draw a Story Map. After reading, have students draw a story map of what the story was about.

Traditional Versus Guided Reading Groups

Here we will take a look at traditional reading groups versus dynamic guided reading groups. Here's how they compare:

  • Traditional groups focus on the lesson, not the student — while guided reading focuses on the student, not the lesson which will actually help the student learn and comprehend the lesson plan quicker.
  • Traditional is grouped by general determination of ability — while guided is grouped by specific assessment for strengths and appropriate level of the text.
  • Traditional groups the teacher follows a prepared script — while in guided the teacher is actively engaged with the text and the students.
  • Traditional reading groups focus on decoding words — whereas guided reading groups focus on understanding the meaning.
  • In traditional reading groups, the words are taught and skills are practiced in workbooks — whereas in a guided reading group the teacher builds meaning and language and skills are incorporated into the reading, not with workbooks.
  • Traditional reading groups students are tested on their skills — whereas in dynamic guided reading groups students' assessment is ongoing and throughout instruction.

Looking for more reading strategies to incorporate into your classroom? Check out our article on 10 reading strategies and activities for elementary students.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Cox, Janelle. "Essential Elements of Guided Reading." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Cox, Janelle. (2023, April 5). Essential Elements of Guided Reading. Retrieved from Cox, Janelle. "Essential Elements of Guided Reading." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).