Irene Fountas and Lesley University faculty share their expertise on what guided reading looks like in grades 3–8 classrooms.
Once students reach the intermediate and middle grades (grades 3–8), guided reading lessons include texts with more complex structures and meaning. Since it takes more time to read more complex texts, the challenge of meeting with all students as often as possible is often a function of the number of groups, the length of the texts, and the number of minutes allowed for readers’ workshop every day. A workshop block of 60 minutes is optimal to allow for independent reading and small-group work.
Author and literacy expert Irene Fountas and Lesley University faculty offer their expertise in implementing guided reading in grades 3–8.
The routines of readers’ workshop must be established so that students understand how to engage in independent reading and writing about reading while the teacher meets with small, guided reading groups (Fountas and Pinnell, 2001, pp. 329-252).
Once routines are established, and students have been assessed using a benchmarking system, like the Benchmark Assessment System, 2nd Edition (Fountas & Pinnell), teachers review assessment data and form tentative guided reading groups. Spending time at the beginning of the year assessing students and establishing routines and expectations will be invaluable in providing you with the opportunity to meet with a small group of students for part of the workshop without being interrupted.Back to Top
In order to use guided reading as an effective instructional approach, a book room filled with multiple copies of texts of different genres, structures, forms, and reading levels is essential.
Once classroom management is in place, assessments are completed, and the book room is in order, you are ready to begin working with your students in guided reading lessons.
In middle school, guided reading is provided regularly to students who are not meeting grade level expectations. This might happen in the classroom as well as during supplemental instructional time. Guided reading can provide the targeted support that these students need to accelerate their reading progress.
In the intermediate and middle school classrooms, it is essential to provide whole-group, small-group, and individual teaching as part of a comprehensive approach to literacy. When you begin the readers’ workshop with a whole-group minilesson, and end it with a share, students have opportunities for effective whole-group teaching. While the teacher works with small groups in guided reading or literature study, other students read independently and respond to their reading in writing. Teachers can confer with individual students during independent reading time, taking the opportunity to work one-on-one to meet the students’ needs.
Each summer, at the Lesley campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, we offer a five-day graduate level course on the basics of using guided reading in an intermediate and middle classroom. You may take the course for noncredit, or earn two or three graduate credits for an additional fee and by completing an assignment.
Learn more about An Introduction to Guided Reading in an Effective Literacy Program, Grades 3–8.
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Fountas, I. & Pinnell, G. (1996). Guided reading: Good first teaching for all children. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.
Fountas, I.C. & Pinnell, G. (2001). Guiding readers and writers: Teaching comprehension, genre, and content literacy. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.
Fountas, I. & Pinnell, G. (2006). Teaching for comprehending and fluency: Thinking, talking, and writing about reading. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.
Pinnell, G.S. & Fountas, I.C. (2011). The continuum of literacy learning, grades preK–8: A guide to teaching. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.
Fountas, I. & Pinnell, G. (2013). Guided reading: The romance and the reality. Reading Teacher, 66 (4), p. 268–284.
Guided Reading in a Primary Classroom
Guided Reading in an Intermediate or Middle Classroom
Research and Outcomes
Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative
The Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative
Phone: 617.349.8424 or 800.999.1959, ext. 8424
29 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
If you've ever wondered about the difference between Leveled Literacy Intervention and Guided Reading, Fountas and Pinnell have put together a chart that outlines the differences.
Read our two blog posts by Irene Fountas regarding text levels:
Text Levels: Tool or Trouble? (October 2013)
More on Text Levels: Confronting the Issues (October 2015)
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