Focusing your guided reading to get the best out of your strong comprehension, strong word reading groups

Lindsay Pickton

To find out more about how to group your class for effective guided reading, see my original post which takes you through using The Simple View of Reading to organise your class into guided reading groups.

In a nutshell children are organized into groups based on their strengths and weaknesses in comprehension and word recognition. This enables you to adapt your teaching style and focus your guided reading session in a more accurate way than grouping by national curriculum level, for example.

This post focuses on Group 3 – the ‘real’ readers in your class (top-right of The Simple View of Reading diagram).

It can be very tempting to just let these lucky children get on with it – after all, they’ve got there, right? The danger is, they can go backwards if we don’t keep monitoring them, and more importantly we need to keep feeding their enthusiasm. In independent reading we should always let them read the books they choose, even if they always read the same author or genre, or choose to re-read a book repeatedly, since these are behaviours common to enthusiastic readers; but make sure that when we’re working with them that we develop the breadth of their reading experiences and provide them with more challenging texts and also challenge in the discussion to ensure they reach their full potential.

A particularly tricky point for some of these children is when they come away from a reading scheme it can feel for some that they no longer know how to choose a book. So ensure fairly close monitoring of book choices, and intervene as necessary.

It’s very useful, for example, if children have enjoyed Project X Origins books in guided reading, to get them reading the Project X Alien Adventures books as a route into completely independent book choices.

When working with these children, we must remind ourselves not to take their comprehension for granted. Check they understand what is going on; and the question, “what is it about/what is going on?” can be pushed gradually and seamlessly from the simplest literal retelling to the deepest inference (“what’s it really about?”).

But always start with recapping/retelling; it can be surprising, and will guide your next layer of questioning.

Lindsay Pickton is an experienced independent Learning and Teaching Adviser, specialising in all aspects of primary literacy with a particular focus on raising standards in comprehension through effective guided reading and fostering the enjoyment of reading in children. Hear from Lindsay at a free event this term, focusing on how effective guided reading using Project X Origins can help you meet the higher standards of the new National Curriculum. 

Download the guide to Grouping your class for guided reading.

Read the next and final post in this series: Focusing your guided reading to get the best out of your weak comprehension, strong word reading group