Guided Reading: Jan Richardson

Last week, I attended a guided reading workshop given in my district. I will admit, I was not looking forward to this training, but I ended up learning a lot of valuable information!


The presenter used this book by Jan Richardson. This is a phenomenal text! If you teach K-8 literacy, I would highly recommend reading it or using it as a resource. Richardson believes in using a balanced reading approach–meaning that teachers should incorporate read alouds, shared reading, independent reading within their reading block. I agree that these components should be incorporated into lessons daily because they give students a chance to focus on various skills. For example, during shared readings teachers model skills and strategies that students need to apply throughout their reading. Also, independent reading time gives students an opportunity to work in literacy stations with skills that they may need to practice. Literacy stations should be differentiated to meet the needs of each student.

I was impressed with Richardson’s strategies to incorporate with each type of “reader”. According to Richardson, there are 4 types of readers: emergent, early, transitional, and fluent. Emergent readers are those that are just beginning to associate letters to specific sounds. These readers need instruction in decoding CVC words and high frequency words. Early readers know the letters and sounds, but they are still mastering how to apply these skills in more challenging texts. Transitional readers are able to read most high frequency words, but are still learning to decode “big words”. They are also increasing fluency, expanding their vocabulary, and digging deeper into comprehension.  Fluent readers have mastered decoding skills and focus mainly on comprehension. This resource gives multiple strategies for specific skills that should be taught to each type of reader. Personally, I find this helpful because sometimes I am not sure of what skills should be taught at a particular time. Richardson lists these strategies with detailed explanation to provide support for teachers.   

Richardson also provides lesson plan templates that incorporate all of the strategies that she mentions in her book. Each lesson plans is specific to the type of reader you are teaching. You can find these templates at her website. The week after Thanksgiving, I will be incorporating these types of lesson plans. These plans are a great way to organize and plan meaningful connections throughout teaching in guided reading. I am going to modify my plans slightly. I will use the same book all week long to dig deeper into the text.  On Monday-Wednesday, I will teach concepts that are specific to each type of reader. On Thursday, we will build a Thinking Map focused around a comprehension question. Last, on Friday we will use the Thinking Map to construct a response from the comprehension question that we used to create the map.

If you or someone you know is struggling with incorporating guided reading in their classroom, this is the resource for you. Guided reading gives students multiple opportunities to practice various literacy skills, while meeting the needs of each student.


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