Guided Reading in the Intermediate Grades

As an Instructional Coach I am often asked about how to teach Guided Reading to intermediate grades.  After reflecting on this question and talking with several teachers I realized that those asking me for help were former primary teachers and that there were a lot of misconceptions related to guided reading in upper grades. 

Does Guided Reading taught in Primary grades differ from Guided Reading taught in Intermediate grades?

Yes and No. You will still group your students by their instructional needs, but how you meet those needs may look different. You will still meet with your small groups daily (if your schedule allows) and choose a variety of text to help your students become independent readers.

Where do I start?

To create your small guided reading groups you will need to assess your students first.  Your assessment should include a running record or any other type of assessment your district uses to help identify the reading instructional needs of your students. Once you have identified your students reading levels, strengths, and weaknesses you will group them into guided reading groups ranging from 3-6 students.  You should avoid groups larger than 6 to ensure you can provide each individual student with quality instruction and attention.

What materials should I use for my Guided Reading groups?

Any and all text types!  Before meeting with each of your groups select texts that are on your students instructional reading level. Many teachers restrict themselves to only choosing picture books or chapter books for guided reading groups.  Guiding students through passages, poems, recipes, online articles, newspapers, task cards, magazines, or letters/emails within the small group setting will help expose your students to a variety of rich texts, content, and text structures. A misconception many teachers have is that you must read the text cover to cover or in it's entirety. When selecting your text you may just want to focus on a chapter or two of a novel, a few lines or stanzas of a poem, a paragraph in a passage, or a section of a large article.  The resources for guided reading groups are endless! If it contains text...use it!

 I have my text, now what?

Now you will plan your purpose and focus for using this particular text with your guided reading group.  There are hundreds of guided reading lesson plan templates out there on Google, TpT, and other educational websites. I suggest finding a template that works for you. Almost all of the templates help you plan the following:
Purpose: How will this text challenge your readers? How will it help them with comprehension skills?
Teaching Points: What skill/standard will you focus on?
Before Reading Discussion/Activity: Introduction, Preview, New Vocabulary
During Reading: Plan prompts and questions, model a strategy, etc.
After Reading Discussion/Activity: Teaching points, students reflection, etc.

What do I have students do when I meet with them?

Your guided reading lesson for Early and Transitional Readers will look slightly different than your lesson with your Fluent Readers.
Please note that these are suggested times, some groups may meet longer than others.


My students are supposed to SILENTLY READ!?!

 Yes! That DOES say your students are to SILENTLY READ when you have them at the guided reading table! The purpose of Guided Reading in the intermediate grades is to help create solid independent readers. During your Strategy Reminder/Purpose/Objective you will give your students a focus for their reading. For example the focus might be actions by the main character that help you identify the theme of the text. As students are silently reading they are looking for those actions within the text and/or jotting them down on a sticky note. 

What is my role when students are silently reading?

You will call on individual students to whisper read aloud to you as the rest of the group continues to silently read. As the student reads aloud to you you are making notes about the strategies the student is using (rereading, context clues, etc.). You might also reinforce strategies previously taught to help your student with decoding or engage in a discussion to assist in constructing meaning of the text. You might also complete a running record for progress monitoring purposes on a student while the rest of the group reads silently.

If you are a visual person like me I HIGHLY recommend purchasing Jan Richardson's Next Step Guided Reading in Action Videos. This product includes videos and a teaching guided for each video. She models a transitional and fluent reading group. I used these videos during my Guided Reading PD this year, my teachers learned a lot from each clip.

Other questions from teachers about Guided Reading in the intermediate grades I often get are, "What are the rest of my students doing when I'm with a group?" and "How often should I meet with each group?".  I hope you stop by next week to read my response and management ideas for each of these questions next week. :) Read it HERE.

If you would like a copy of the handouts I provided my teachers with for our Guided Reading PD I have uploaded them to my TpT store for FREE.

If you have a specific question about Guided Reading in the Intermediate Classroom please feel free to leave it in the comments and I will be happy to answer it in next week's post. :)


  1. Hi Jess,
    Thisxwill be my 3rd year teaching fourth grade. My goal this year is to assess,begin guided reading and continue it throughout the year.
    Your suggestions will definitely help.
    Thank you for sharing,


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