Focusing your guided reading to get the best out of your weak comprehension, weak 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 2 – children below age-expectations in both comprehension and word-reading (bottom-left of The Simple View of Reading diagram).

Guided Reading infographic

Everything that the bottom-right children and the top-left children need, these children need – and desperately.

The issue is time and resources, of course, but we are talking about the ability to read; it has to trump everything else. Maths, Science,and all the humanities depend on reading. In Secondary school, even PE and Art require reading.

The effort required from these children (and their teachers) is enormous, so we have to make it as enjoyable as possible, with the most attractive books possible. Unappealing books that don’t interest them are going to make the situation worse, so discard them as a priority.

This group of children needs to make progress in both dimensions, but they will struggle to do both things simultaneously: doing two things that you find really hard at the same time is a great way to ensure zero progress.

One-to-One sessions will help them develop in word reading and you may need to consider using a reading intervention programme to bring their skills up to the required standard. Guided group discussion on a more complex text – read to them – can happen separately. If we go down the route of focusing exclusively on word-reading until they make progress in that area, we run the risk of creating a child who has no reason or desire to read to her/himself, and is therefore unlikely to become an independent reader. Read to these children as often as possible – find out what they like – and use simple questioning and role-play to ensure they “get it”.

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 post in the series: Focusing your guided reading to get the best out of your strong comprehension, strong word reading groups