Sunday, April 30, 2017

Guided Reading in 1st Grade

Hello, friends!  I'll be doing a series of several posts this week all about Guided Reading!  Today's post is all about how Guided Reading works in my first grade classroom!  I hope you find this post helpful.

Let's start with how I have always done Guided Reading:  Every child is assessed at the start of the year with a running record.  I use Fountas/Pinnell's assessment kit for this. Once my kids are assessed, I group them accordingly.  Ideally, it would be great to have a separate group for each "level" of kids, but that's not reality.  This can be really difficult at the start of the year, when you have 8 different groups of levels.  I group my kids who are close in level together.  For example, I might put my level B kids with my level C kids.  With the really early levels {AA-F}, I try not to group more than 2 consecutive levels together.  Doing so holds some kids back and pushes others to frustration.  With the higher levels {G-K}, it's easier to group 3 consecutive levels together because the kids are more independent at those levels and it's much easier to differentiate within the group.  

Once all groups have been established, I plan out my instruction each week.  Except for the month of may when I am exhausted and flying by the seat of my takes everything I have physically and mentally to even get to school.   I pull books from our building's book room.  We are fortunate to have this available to us! Our Title I teacher set it up many years ago.  It houses sets of leveled texts from levels AA-Z!  Most of the book sets in our room are Rigby, Fountas and Pinnell, or Reading A to Z.  I use my "Guided Reading Skills" booklet that I prepared a few years ago to plan out the skill work the kids in each group will be doing.  This is especially helpful and important because it ensures those kids are getting skill work appropriate for their specific levels.  The plans obviously look completely different for each group, however, each group has the following:  a sight word component, a Phonics/word work component, a reading component, comprehension component, and a writing component.  Below I will give an outline of each.

Sight Word Component
Every group works on sight words every day.  This looks different from group to group; my level E group might be working on the Fry's First Grade last 25 words while the I group might be working on the Fry's Second Grade first 25 words.  The level I group might be working on the Fry's Second Grade third 25 words.  The activities also vary from group to group.  All levels begin with a quick flash card warm up, where I go around the table and have them each read a word on the flash cards. My lower level groups usually play a quick sight word game 1-2 times a week.  This could be slate races, spin and cover, Go Fish, etc...The higher groups usually just practice reading and spelling their words.  Click HERE to see all sight word resources.

Those students who come in with limited sight word knowledge, or who are not learning their words as quickly as they need to be get given a Sight Word Intervention envelope.  I have sight word note cards with phrases on the back/flash cards printed ahead of time and keep them from year to year until they get torn up.  To use this, I simply asses them on their Fry's First 100 words.  I take the first five that they miss and place them into an envelope along with a note explaining they need to practice at home.  Once they can read the words to me 3 times quickly {three separate days}, they get to "retire" that word from their take-home envelopes.  There are never more than five word cards in an envelope at a time.  Then quarterly, they are assessed again.  This has been very effective because it's easy for the parents to do at home.  The kids love getting their cards switched out!

Phonics/Word Work Component
Every group works on some sort of Phonics activity every day.  As with sight words, this looks different at each level.  For example, my level B group might be working on cvc words while my level E group is working on silent e.  We do flashcards, making words, slate work, and games to practice these skills.  The higher level students work on more advanced skills such as contractions, idioms, homophones/homonyms, tricky vowel combinations, etc...

Reading Component
Every day in group, the kids independently read or partner read the book we're working on that week {we usually hit 2-3 books per week depending on level}.  I never have them round-robin or choral read read.  Instead, I stagger their starts so I can hear everyone read.  This ensures they aren't "racing" the person next to them.  Every day in my lower level groups {AA-F}, we re-read an old favorite. *After we've completed our current book, they place it in their "book buddy baggies."  These book buddy baggies go home each night.  The kids know they must read their current book and they can read any old favorites at home, too.  I send the books because most of my students do not have books at home and this is the only reading they do at night/on the weekends.  The higher levels {above H} typically read silently to themselves and ask me if they get stuck on a word.

Comprehension Component
For comprehension, I use my checklists by levels.  I focus on 1 child per day and mark how they are doing in specific areas.  I also take anecdotal notes.  I do a running record quarterly.  In addition, I have each child's sight word assessments.  Many of the books I use have coordinating quizzes with them.  These are ones that came with the book sets or have been created by teachers in my building over the years.  If there isn't a quiz, I whip one up on the computer.  I typically only quiz on one book per week.  For the books I don't quiz, I do oral comprehension questions or a graphic organizer.  I love that these are differentiated!  I can use the easier version with my lower level readers and the average version with my on level/advanced readers.

Writing Component
We do a lot of writing during Guided Reading.  Reading and writing are so interdependent!  One without the other simply cannot exist.  Practice in writing helps build a child's reading skills.  In groups, we do graphic organizers as well as written response.  I make journals for each student and we use them at least 2x a week.  I have them respond to something we've read by making a personal connection.  For example, last week in one of my groups, we read a book called "Helping Mom." The kids' writing assignment was to write about a way they help someone at home.

Be sure to tune in for tomorrow's post about Frequently Asked Questions!  *If you have a specific question and you'd like me to include it in the post tomorrow, leave it below in the comments!!

If you'd like to check out my First Grade Guided Reading BUNDLE, it's loaded with many of the activities shown in this post and is marked down!  This bundle has been a lifesaver for me and many other first grade teachers.  I HIGHLY recommend purchasing it this time of year so you have summer to print, laminate, and organize your materials.  *Kindergarten version also available in my TpT store.



  1. How much time do you spend with each group daily? How many guided reading groups per day do you work with?

  2. Is it editable? We have a specific sight word list and phonics program that our school uses. Thanks!

  3. What product do you have that has the sight word sentences that I see printed on colored stock? Love those!

  4. Thank you for this. My son is finishing 1st grade this year and is only reading on a B level. Despite being a secondary teacher myself, I have struggled to help him and so has the school. He has some underlying short term memory issue and is pulled for sp. ed. assistance, but as we head into the summer I am planning to work with him everyday to make sure he doesn't lose anything and hopefully get him to at least a C before 2nd grade starts. Not being an elementary teacher, I'm overwhelmed with all that is out there and where to start...sight words, phonics, Frye, Dolche, read to self, read to buddy, paper books, electronic books and games, etc. This lays out clear tasks that I know we can follow. Thank you!


Thanks for your comments!