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Guided Reading Lesson Plan for Upper Elementary

Do you need help with knowing what to do with your fluent readers in small groups? I know I struggled for many years with what to do with these kids. They are good readers and do well with decoding strategies, but they still need help with comprehension skills. I’m going to share the steps on how to make a small group guided reading lesson plan for upper elementary kids. 

guided reading lesson plan upper elementary

There are three components or sections of a guided reading lesson plan for upper elementary readers. The whole lesson plan should take between 20-30 minutes.

The “Before Reading Section” of a Guided Reading Lesson Plan

Before you have your students start reading their book, there is a lot of planning that happens on your part. It is important to find a selection that will be easy to teach the standard that you are focusing on. The before reading part of the guided reading lesson plan is meant to take about 5-7 minutes of your small group time.

  • Ask the kids a question to assess prior knowledge and have them turn and talk to their partner. For example, if the cover of the poem is titled Frogs and there is a picture of frogs in a rainforest setting, you can ask the students if they have ever picked up a frog. This will help the students build their schema.
  • Genre is something that should be taught with every text. Make sure the students are using academic vocabulary to identify the genre and characteristics. 
  • Author’s purpose is also equally important. Make sure they can use the academic vocabulary that they will see on assessments. 
  • Discuss vocabulary that is essential to understanding the story that the students may not know. For example, if the word is migrate and it is used often in the text, you might want to explain what it means if it is not defined in the passage. Only pick 2-3 words.
  • Make sure to state the standard the students will be focusing on for this lesson. You need to make sure you set a clear purpose for the reading. For example, if the standard is to find the main idea of the selection, make sure to tell the students the expectation.

The “During Reading” of a Guided Reading Lesson Plan

There are two ways you can do this with your fluent readers. You can have the students go back to their desk to read the book and then have them all come back to you do the reader’s response. You can also have them read the book there at the table and ask them the reader’s response questions while they are reading. 

While the student is working on their reader’s response you are taking anecdotal notes on each student. You can write down what the student is struggling with and what you need to work on the next time. You can write down if they are having problems with vocabulary or comprehension. There are many different types of anecdotal records that you can find on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers. You can also use a sticky note to write the data.  

guided reading notes

The reader’s response should match the rigor of the standard you are working on. It should also spiral in the other standards that you have been working on. It should always have an inferencing question and vocabulary question. It is also a good idea to have some open-ended and multiple-choice questions. Try to keep the reader’s response to 4-5 questions. The reader’s response might only be over one section of a book or 6-7 pages of that book. 

guided reading reader response

The “After Reading” Section of Lesson Plan

During the student-led discussion you want the students to turn and talk and retell the text they just read. Make sure you have some type of anchor chart available that has the way you want your students to retell or summarize the passage. It is important the students are using the academic vocabulary that is used for the standards that your state requires.

 Go back and revisit the reader’s response and have all students prove their answers by providing text evidence. 

If you would like to download a free copy of my Guided Reading Lesson Plans, click on the picture below.

small group lesson plan

I also have some Poetry Reader’s Responses you can use in small group. Click here to check them out. 

poetry guided reading

It might take a while to get used to this type of format. It has worked in my classroom and I have seen growth in my students’ comprehension. I have been using this format for over 5 years in my classroom. This is a mixture of many workshops and professional readings. I did not come up with this format but I have adapted it to my classroom.

I hope this helps you with your small groups. Let me know in the comments below what you use in your small groups.

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