Guided Reading- What do I do with fluent readers?

Guided reading has been around for over 15 years. One of my graduate classes was on Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading. It worked great in the younger grades for teaching small group. The older grades complained that it wasn’t helpful for them. There wasn’t a lot of literature for using guided reading with older grades back then. About 10 years ago one of my favorite author’s, Debbie Diller, came out with Making the Most of Small Groups.

I love her books! She is amazing. I have been to many of her workshops. She has so much knowledge on guided reading.

Finally more people began to write more guided reading books and more school districts began to provide professional development. I have been very lucky that I am in a wonderful school district that has excellent professional development. I have been going to guided reading trainings for over 10 years now and have read many books. Of course with all that knowledge comes lots of different ideas. Trying to filter through all of the ideas is tiresome. I have tried many ideas that did not work too well.

Some ideas worked great in 2nd grade but when I moved to 3rd grade I struggled. Many of those awesome lessons I did with my lower level reading students didn’t work with my fluent readers. My fluent readers didn’t need help with decoding or fix up strategies. Now what? I really needed to focus on comprehension. They could retell the story but when they took assessments they did not always do well. What was going on? They can read well and they could tell me what the passage was about. The problem was with the academic vocabulary. The rigor of my small reading groups was not where it needed to be. I had to get the kids to dig deeper.

I wasn’t the only one having problems. Many teachers at our school and in our district were having the same troubles. Our district started doing more professional development on how to teach guided reading groups with the fluent readers. Some of the ideas I liked a lot and some I didn’t really agree with. One of the main points that struck me was I had to get my questioning more rigorous. I did a book study with some other teachers at my school with the book The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson.

I finally had that aha moment! This is what I need to be doing. I need to be preparing my students before they start reading. I need to be asking rigorous questions during their reading. I also need them to be doing a reader’s response after they read the passage. The reader’s response needs to be rigorous enough and cover the standards that we are  currently working on and spiral the other standards. I along with many of my colleagues have been doing our reading groups like this for several years now. I have had administrators, curriculum specialists, and other teachers come observe me and my students with our guided reading groups. I finally feel like I have a good grasp on my reading groups. My students are doing a better job at comprehending what they are reading. They also do well on the state test.

I have made a guided reading lesson plan and template for you to use in your classroom. I have made it editable so you can make it your own or tweak it for your classroom. I have included a sample of what one of my reader’s responses looks like. Just click on the picture to download it for free from my TPT store.

This Guided Reading lesson plan is for fluent readers (levels O-Z).The lesson will tell what to do with your reading group before reading, during reading, and after reading. There is a editable lesson plan template with step by step directions what to do for your fluent readers.

I hope you find this helpful! Let me know what you do with your fluent readers in the comment section below.




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  1. I have a couple questions.
    How many groups do you meet with each day? How do you decide how to group students? Are the others reading independently, and if so, when do you confer? Do your groups read short text, or longer chapter books?

    • I wish I could tell you I meet with 3 groups a day but, honestly I only get 2 groups a day. Sometimes it’s only one if we are doing an assessment. I do a running record at the beginning of the year and group them by their reading levels. Throughout the year I look at their assessments and sometimes group them by the standard they are struggling with. I also do a running record every 9 weeks and group them that way. My other students are reading independently or working on Istation. I usually confer with the other students when they come back to small groups with me. I try to meet with my low group 4-5 days a week. I meet with my next 2 higher group 2-3 days a week. My high group I meet with 1-2 times a week. I try to have my high group do a book study with a chapter book. I check in with them weekly to see how they are doing. In my small group I usually use our readers that came with our basal. We have a lot of fiction and nonficton. I only have the students read 5-7 pages at a time so it takes a while to get through a reader. I have used chapter books also. I think you really have to find what works best for you. I hope this was helpful! Thanks for the questions.

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