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Literacy Tip of the Week: October 27, 2019

posted Oct 27, 2019, 3:59 PM by Emily Richardson   [ updated Dec 13, 2019, 12:44 PM by Steven Richardson ]

Questions Teachers Ask about Implementing Guided Reading

I’ve repeatedly encountered questions from schools and school districts about implementing guided reading. These are some of the most common questions:

Question: What materials do teachers need for guided reading?   

Suggestion: Dr. Richardson’s Next Step Forward in Guided Reading (2016) outlines how to prepare and organize materials for each guided reading stage. Materials common to most groups include:

·      Dry erase boards and markers

·      Magnetic letters on individual trays

·      Sound box templates inserted in a plastic sleeve

·      Analogy charts inserted in a plastic sleeve

·      Comprehension cards (can be copied from Next Step Forward in Guided Reading (Richardson, 2016) or ordered from

·      Pictures for sorting sounds  These can be copied from Words Their Way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary and spelling instruction 6th edition (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton and Johnston, 2015 or ordered from

·      High-quality leveled books. If you are looking for books with lessons written by Jan, see the Literacy Footprints Guided Reading Sets for grades K-6


Question: How do I get staff trained in guided reading and what grade levels should I start with?

Suggestion: Some schools or districts roll out guided reading in phases. For example, a district this year decided to bring two schools on board initially and train their K-2 teachers in both buildings. Next year, they will be adding five additional schools and training 3-5 teachers in each building. Some individual schools bring in a consultant to train their teachers in a systematic fashion covering all guided reading stages and grade levels.

Question: Are there resources we can use to help level students based on running records? 

Suggestion: Use the Next Step Guided Reading Assessment (Richardson & Walter, 2013). Teachers should be trained on how to code and analyze running records to help target students’ needs.

Question:  How can I beat the timer and not feel rushed?

Suggestion: It will take time and practice to get through a lesson in twenty minutes. I suggest teachers use a timer for each component. When the timer goes off, they should reset it for the next component. Self-reflection is also critical. Teachers should reflect on what parts of the lesson are taking longer and why. The majority of teachers master the pacing in about six to eight weeks.

Question: How do I fit guided reading into my reading block?

Suggestion: Page 18 in The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading gives a sample reading block on how group rotations can flow during reader’s workshop. I suggest that district/school leaders plan how many reading groups teachers should be able to carry out daily based on expectations and the allotted time for the reading block. 

Question: How can upper grade teachers thread comprehension strategies from whole group to small group to independent work?

Suggestion: Chapter seven in The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading is a great resource for this. It contains 29 modules with progressive steps for teaching 12 comprehension strategies. Teachers say this chapter has been especially beneficial in showing how to integrate comprehension instruction across their reading block.

There are questions and answer at the end of every chapter in Next Step Forward in Guided Reading. Each of them will be helpful to you as a guided reading teacher.


Tammy Seals, Next Step Guided Reading Consultant