Monday, August 8, 2011

Guided Reading in Grades 3-6

It's a book review!  This summer, I have been reading more and more about Reading Workshop and all its components.  Guided reading is a component I especially wanted to focus on.  I found Guided Reading in Grades 3-6 by Mary Browning Schulman to be a great source of information with practical, applicable ideas.  Let me tell you more about it.

Teaching 5th grade can be difficult at times when you are looking for professional literature.  There is so much out there for the K-3 teacher.  I'm in the unique position of teaching an enrichment 5th grade class, so I have some very proficient readers.  However, they are still only 10 and 11!  There is still so much learning to do.  That's one of the things I like about guided reading.  You are always teaching.  All you say and do has meaning in that group meeting and to the child.  There is no lost learning time.

Schulman starts off by explaining how guided reading fits into a comprehensive literacy framework.  Meaning, you want to have your read alouds, independent reading, shared reading, partner reading, etc. in place before you get your guided reading groups going.  This makes sense simply because it is important to do some assessment of the students so that you can form focused groups. 

"Observing students as they engage in the various reading and writing experiences within the framework helps determine what students are learning and what they need to learn next, providing you with valuable insights and directions regarding which instructional approach would be the best one to meet students' needs." (p. 25)

What I love about this book is that it so clearly explains how guided reading works.  Schulman does a great job explaining how it functions in the classroom, including time frames.  She explains how to get yourself organized for your groups as well as how to organize your students.  Over the years, I have learned that organization is one of the best teaching tools I have!  There is even a section on how to organize your classroom library.

Chapter 4 is all about reading strategies.  There is a fantastic seven page chart included that is a must copy.  It summarizes the various reading strategies, gives a definition, and tells why it is important.  The last two chart columns tell what the "teacher talk" and the "reader's inner talk" in teaching/using the strategy would sound like.  This chart alone is worth the price of the book!

As you get to the end of the book, the last chapter brings it all together.  There are four model guided reading lessons scripted in the book.  These model lessons are gems.  They explicitly explain what the teacher noticed in her students that led to the teaching of this lesson and what the focus of the lesson will be.  The model lessons then go on to "teach" the lesson.  There is a column for lesson dialog and a column right next to it that gives notes about the lesson dialog.  Schulman also gives times as to how long each part of the lesson should last.

Guided Reading in Grades 3-6 has a very useful appendix.  Among the many riches you will find are sample guided reading passages that you can use in the classroom, sample classroom forms, and resources for more reading opportunities for your students.

I could go on about this book, but there is just too much to tell.  You really need to read it!  It's a great book for first-year teachers as well as experienced teachers who aren't familiar with the reading workshop approach or guided reading.  It's also great for the teacher who just wants to brush-up on the topic.  There's always something to learn! After all, we are life-long learners.

Are you doing guided reading groups? 
How's it going for you?  Any thoughts, tips, or suggestions?

By the way, this review is totally my own.  The thoughts and comments above are just my wonky brain at work!
Scholastic and Ms. Schulman don't have a clue who I am or that I read their book!


  1. I agree, it is so much harder to find good ideas & info for the intermediate grades! Last year, I didn't do guided reading groups, but all of our intervention kids were pulled out during the same period, so it left me with a group of about 12. I tried to do a mass guided reading group with those kiddos! :-) Really, it just gave me the opportunity to do some novel studies.

  2. Hi Kim! Thanks for commenting. I've really just got my blog up and running, so I'm geekily excited when I get a comment! :-)
    I have 24 friends with me this year, so I'm still trying to figure out how to do my guided reading groups. I'm struggling with how often I will be able to see each group. It's never easy!

  3. Hi Nancy, I was fortunate enough last year to be able to see a teacher in action who was doing the whole literature groups with her students. Even though they were only in grade 3, she did lit groups 3 days a week with chapter books (40 mins each time I think). If you email me at, I can pass you some of the worksheets that she used and help you with any questions you may have.