Guided Reading
lesson plans, strategies and activities
to support pupils for whom
English is an additional language

Guided reading facilitates deep learning

Although you're probably itching to get to guided reading lesson plans its worth taking  a moment to reflect on what guided reading is all about. Although guided reading has been around for a long time there are many teachers who like to ask 'just what is guided reading?' to reassure themselves that they are still on track and things haven't developed in a new direction.

So, here's the best description I can offer: The goal of guided reading is to develop pupils' fluency, problem-solving reading strategies and independence. Guided reading is an instructional group session with a small group of children (usually no more than 5-6) who can all read at a similar level.

A text is chosen that the children can read with some fluency (usually about 90% accuracy) but that is also interesting and provides opportunities for inference and deduction. Guided reading involves children silently reading portions of the text with key focus points in mind.The teacher directs the reading of the text in stages, making time for discussion on key contextual or vocabulary points, setting key questions for the children to find answers to in the text and seeking childrens opinions on certain aspects of the text. The teacher intervenes and guides each child's reading as required. Sessions are usually about 15-25 minutes long and can be discrete sessions or build onto one another in a sequence. The child is often given the book to read independently after the session.

The guided reading process

Finding the right guided reading strategies depends on the purpose of your session and the individual reading targets of your pupils. Guided reading activities can include:


  • Teacher explains why the book was chosen and the key strategies to be used in the session
  • Teacher holds book and directs discussion on a key picture or pictures in the text
  • Connects content to chidlren's prior knowledge and background experiences.
  • Discussion of difficult or unusual vocabulary that will be encountered
  • looking at some print with visual support

Reading of the text

  • The teacher directs a segment of the text to be read, usually with a focus question. children read the text silently seeking a response to the question. They use their reading strategies and the teacher may monitor or respond to individual's reading or guide pupils in the use of specific strategies. The teacher may take otes on children's strategy development or contextual understanding.
  • After the segment of text is read a mini-discussion will take place as children respond to the focus question. Vocabulary and contextual information will be clarified.
  • The teacher then directs reading of the next segment of text and so on.
    Children are heped to dentify the reading strategies they are using and to connect this to strategies they can use in their own independent reading.

Follow on Guided Reading Activities

Many teachers organise their Guided Reading Programmes around taking one group whilst the other chldren are working or reading quietly. Therefore it is useful to give children meaningful tasks to do after a guided reading session to consolidate learning and provide opportunties for children to revisit the text. Activities such as character analysis, sequencing aspects of the text, writing reflections of their reading or re-creating spects through visual media are just a few. Guided reading lesson plans developed by teachers can provide a source of ideas and prevent reinventing the wheel.

Developing a guided reading programme

Frequent assessment of pupils' reading strategies s recommended in order to pitch the guided reading sessions at the right level and to ensure adequate progress is being made. Runing records are an established method for checking progress, identifying strategies used and determining next steps. The focus for guided reading group sessions is based on the teacher's knowledge of the individual needs of the pupils and children are grouped according to similar needs. A wide variety of both fiction and non-fiction are recommended in order to provide opportunities for application of strategies in a range of contexts, and also to ensure enjoyment and motivaton are high.

Many teachers use an establshed guided reading programme as a guide and useful source of leveled books to ensure continuity. Guided Reading Leveled books make the selection of appropriate texts easy. Some publishers have created guided reading lesson plans for teachers that can be useful and modified to suit pupil needs. The lessons correspond to texts and strategies are designed to be appropriate for the guided reading levels. A good source of guided reading books can be found through the Badger guided reading catalogue and for specific banded readign books have a look at the Badger Banded Reading Boxes. Badger also have a selection of well chosen books for pupils learning English: they have an infants selection and also a juniors selection. In addition, Badger have a selection of easier reads for struggling readers at KS1 and also a KS2 easier reads selection which can be useful for motivating older children. Read the next section for more information on guided reading lesson plans.

Guided reading lesson plans

Whilst it is always better to create your own guided reading sessions, drawing on avilable guided reading lesson plans can provide a good starting point that you can then modify to meet the needs of your pupils. The following links provide access to a range of guided reading lesson plans, guided reading lesson plan templates, and guided reading mini-lessons.

Sites such as Superteacher worksheets are good sources of articles (some free) written for children such as the 'zoo animals' articles written by Guy Belleranti from the Reid park Zoo in Arizona. It can be useful to browse these kinds of sites if you are looking for specific subject matter and not in a position to buy non-fiction books on the topic.

Other useful sites for free reading comprehension worksheets (remember to use them as a guide for creating your own) include:

The history of guided reading

Guided Reading was developed in the 1960s in New Zealand by Myrtle Simpson and Ruth Trevor. They contributed majorly to a text '1972 NZ Handbook: Suggestions for Teaching Reading in Primary and Secondary Schools. Guided reading spread internationally and is now recognised as an effective approach in developing children's reading strategies, confidence and independence. Guided reading research confirms that significant gains can be made through application of this process. Many major publishers now incorporate guided reading texts and programmes into their repertiore of children's texts.