In a differentiated guided reading classroom the teacher uses formal and informal assessment tools to find the various reading levels, interests and abilities of all the students. The students are provided a reading warm-up time to read silently for 10-15 minutes while the teacher conferences with individual students. Whole group guided reading instruction is provided where students read grade level text together and learn comprehension skills and vocabulary words. The bulk of the guided reading block is spent teaching small guided reading groups of 3-6 students with similar reading needs according to the assessment. Leveled reading materials used in the small groups meet the instructional reading level of the students. Group sizes and time spent with each group vary depending on the needs of the group. Each student receives personalized coaching from the teacher during the guided reading lesson. Guided reading groups and instruction are adapted often to differentiated where need to build confidence and success in comprehension, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and fluency. Students receive follow up activities from the small group guided reading lesson which they can work on independently.These are the steps for a small group lesson:
Before Reading – The teacher prepares students to read the text by teaching a focus lesson on sight words, phonics, vocabulary, fluency or comprehension skills.
During Reading – Students all read a section of the text either out loud or silently depending on the reading level of the students. During the lesson the teacher listens and coaches each individual child as they read aloud, while the rest of the students are reading at their own pace.
After Reading – Return to the focus skill and encourage deeper level thinking and discussion about the text. The focus skill can be continued with a word game, graphic organizer or writing activity to complete during literacy centers.
Students who are not involved in a small group lesson will be working at differentiated literacy stations by themselves, with a partner or in small groups. At the end of the guided reading block students can have a reflection time to talk or write about what they read about that day.
The differentiated classroom is a stress free and joyful environment where students learn and grow according to their needs, abilities and interests. Students are involved in interesting projects, games and many other choice activities. Teachers choose the lessons and activities which will work best to empower all students with challenge, success and joy in learning.