Should omissions be analyzed? What if a student omits headings?

By Admin at January 13, 2011 10:37
Filed Under: Assessment and Progress Monitoring, Benchmark Assessment System

Many people wonder about analyzing omissions while taking a reading record for Benchmark Assessment System 1 and 2.  

Q: Should omissions be analyzed? What if a student omits headings?

 A: Omissions and insertions are generally not analyzed as they are usually related to structure. Skipping headings means each word in a heading is an error but is not really related to structure. Rather, it is missing a line of print. Instead of analyzing, simply make a note on the reading record that will remind you that this child needs help with learning to read headings.

For more examples of reading records we encourage you to visit samples at:


The Importance of Administering Benchmark Assessment by the Classroom Teacher

We often get asked if a paraprofessional or "assessment team" can administer the Benchmark Assessment. It is important that the classroom teacher be the administrator and we would like to take this opportunity to help explain the rationale behind this.


Benchmark Assessment System was designed for classroom teachers to systematically examine a student’s strengths and needs to gather data about reading behaviors and processing in order to develop instructional goals.  Classroom teachers are trained to administer the assessments in a standardized way to reduce the frequency of errors in administration and obtain standardized results.  It is most important for classroom teachers to administer the assessment rather than a testing team or paraprofessionals for the following reasons:



·         BAS is an authentic assessment where the classroom teachers observe their students reading and writing about reading.  It is not only a matter of getting scores or a level, it is the observation of students while reading and writing that provides the teacher with important information for planning instruction.

·         The classroom teacher becomes knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses of each student and gets important information about fluency as she listens to each student read.

·         As the classroom teacher has a conversation with the student about the book just read, she learns about the student’s ability to interact and discuss what is read.  She gets to know each student in a one-to-one setting.

·         Having time with each student to gather data about their reading and writing about reading is valuable as opposed to interpreting cold data gathered by another professional.

We hope this has cleared up any confusion you may have had.



         The Fountas & Pinnell Team



Is Leveled Literacy Intervention Really a Scripted System?

We are sometimes asked whether Leveled Literacy Intervention is a scripted teaching system.

Here is an example of the type of question we occasionally recieve about this topic.

"If research shows that what really matters is highly effective, educated teachers who are able to make teaching decisions based on his/her students’ needs, why would you create a scripted curriculum in a box? I understand the district’s decision to purchase a boxed curriculum. It’s less expensive than teaching the teacher, but with your Reading Recovery knowledge

I don’t understand why you would create it. Why must LLI teachers even conduct a running record or "reading record" when their next books and word work activities are already planned for them."

We consider Leveled Literacy Intervention neither a “scripted“ nor “boxed” system, but a comprehensive system for supporting teachers’ decision making when working with a small group. In our experience, Reading Recovery teachers have found the system to be very useful as designing a lesson for one child is very different from working with a small group. In fact, many have sent feedback indicating that they have appreciated having a starting point and tools to get started.

You will see as we have written on the blog elsewhere, we do not consider the LLI lesson a script, but a framework of suggested considerations and routines. Teachers learn more and more about how to make better decisions by noticing children. We hope you will have the opportunity to read the System Guide where you will learn that teachers can skip books at a level, focusing on the behaviors they notice, they tailor the suggestions to fit the children they teach, regrouping children as needed, customizing the cards and games with the Lesson Resources CD-ROM etc. They select appropriate language to use with their students from the Prompting Guide and use The Continuum of Literacy Learning to guide their teaching. Reading Recovery teachers have been especially positive as they see that LLI is a system that supports the very principles you describe and is a wonderful complement to their Reading Recovery teaching. We hope you get a chance to talk with more teachers who have had professional development in LLI so they can share with you how the system is intended to be used. As with all materials and professional resources, a teacher must bring thoughtfulness to decision-making. You should know that Heinemann provides both onsite and offsite professional development services to support LLI teachers at all levels.

We discussed the notion of scripted lessons in LLI at greater length in our forum.

We hope this helps clarify any misconceptions you may have about the Leveled Literacy Intervention System.


Best regards,

-Gay & Irene

Benchmark Assessment System Case Study Student Reading Records

Case study student reading records are now available for the Benchmark Assessment Systems (BAS) 1 and 2, 2nd Edition. The Benchmark Assessment case studies are provided in the Assessment Guide for BAS 1, 2nd Edition beginning on page 61 (the "Monitoring Progress and Case Studies" tab), and BAS 2 (2nd Edition) beginning on page 59. These case studies examine several students in grades 1 through 7, as well as the reading progress monitoring records of individual students at different points in time.

Here are the available case studies; the student records and progress monitoring forms can be downloaded at:

Grade 1 Case Studies (BAS 1)

  • Jared - Has experienced difficulty attending to print and writing his name in kindergarten
  • Selena - An English Language Learner (ELL) who recently moved to a new school
  • Wyatt - Has advanced scores on the Benchmark Assessment and Where-to-Start Word Test
  • Kendra - A reader at three different points in time

Grade 2 Case Studies (BAS 1)

  • Anson - Has limited English proficiency and a mixed-language home environment
  • Heath - Started experiencing reading difficulties in first grade
  • Jacob - Identified as having a learning disability and has received classroom instruction and supplemental reading support
  • Sharla - Has a strong grasp of high-frequency words, two-syllable words, and letter-sound relationships

Grade 3 Case Study (BAS 2)

  • Cynthia - A Khmer-speaking ELL student who is on grade level for the middle of third grade

Grade 4 Case Studies (BAS 2)

  • Francesco - Has strong accuracy/comprehension and the ability to self-correct effectively, but a slighly below-average reading rate
  • Peti - A fourth grade student who recently moved to the United States and has been learning English for 15 months

Grade 5 Case Studies (BAS 2)

  • Forest - Has strong fluency scores and an excellent reading rate but has demonstrated difficulty comprehending nonfiction texts
  • Hannah - Learning disabled, receives comprehension support from a special education teacher, and has been on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) since grade 3
  • Orlando - Bilingual with limited exposure to English outside of the classroom
  • Henry - A reader at three different points in time

Grade 7 Case Study (BAS 2)

  • Tanicia - Demonstrates strong accuracy/comprehension and the ability to self-correct effectively, but has a slighly below-average reading rate

Getting Started Lessons for Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)

Here is a recent question about the Getting Started lessons from a Title I teacher who is implementing Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) this year:

I have a question regarding your LLI lessons - which we just purchased and absolutely love by the way! The Getting Started lessons (1 - 10) move quickly in terms of reading levels. However, once you hit lesson 11, it drops back to level A.

I have looked everyone and can't find out any information regarding this. Should we be starting every student in the Getting Started lessons and then jump them to their appropriate reading level? Do we start every student in the Getting Started and then continue them onto 11, 12, 13, etc...regardless of their level? Or do we skip the Getting Started lessons and jump to their reading level lesson? I guess we are just a little confused about the Getting Started lessons.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration with this question. I also wanted to let you know that we use your resources greatly in our schools and have much success with them.

Thanks again!

- Paul

Hi Paul,

The Getting Started lessons were designed to help the children, who have been struggling and are probably passive, become active, engaged learners and to build a foundation of early reading and writing behaviors. These 10 lessons also establish the routines of the lessons for the students. For the teacher, it is a time to closely observe students strengths and to engage them in conversations about their reading. The Green System is primarily for first grade, so at the beginning of the year you would probably start all of your first graders with the Getting Started lessons. If you have first graders that are at a Level F or G at the beginning of the year, they probably don't need an intervention and will progress with good classroom instruction.

In the middle of the first grade or at the end of first grade, you will probably make different decisions about the Getting Started lessons because you will be taking students into LLI at higher reading levels and will start where the students are in lessons. You will still want to keep in mind the purpose of the Getting Started lessons as you start with this round of students. However, you will start where the children are (their assessment level).

We hope this helps!

~The Fountas & Pinnell Team

Benchmark Assessment System Questions

Many teachers and reading specialists are currently busy implementing our Benchmark Assessment System (BAS). A recent conversation we had with an elementary principal raised some important questions about how to effectively implement the system. We hope these answers are helpful to those of you who are currently working to evaluate your students' reading abilities with the Benchmark Assessment System.


Question: There are two stories at each level, one fiction and one non-fiction. How do you proceed with the assessment when a student has read both stories at a level and is not ready to go to the next level. What text would be used with the student?

Answer: It would be a concern that a student reads both texts. Generally only one text is needed at a level unless something is very unusual in the child’s progress. . The benchmark assessment is not designed to be used to judge when the child should move to the next level. Rather it is an interval assessment. Ongoing assessment should include coding of the child’s reading on a regular basis not using the benchmark assessment but using the texts that are used for instruction.

If the benchmark assessment is used as an interval assessment which is the intention, that means it would be given at the beginning of the year and likely sometime near the end of the year. Sometimes schools choose to give it midyear only to students below level or to all students and at the far end it is given quarterly which is really too frequent. So a child would likely not be at the same level in a half year or even a quarter which would mean the child made no progress. If for some reason that is true, there is a second text or an alternate to use. Further, if there is an extreme case and the text was too hard the last time and now child reads it again it would be okay because it was too difficult for the child last time and the assessment stopped.


Question: Although the Assessment guide states that the pairs of texts at each level (fiction and non-fiction) have been matched and if a student can read one genre he is likely to be able to read the other. The teachers have found that the non-fiction texts are more difficult and if a child has read the fiction text at an independent level and is then given the non-fiction text at the same level, he reads this at an instructional level or it is too hard. How do we note progress using the different genres?

Answer: We would not suggest administering the assessment that way. If your students are doing less well on nonfiction it is a reflection of the instructional program and you should use more nonfiction in the teaching of reading. Benchmark assessment is a standardized assessment. You should alternate a fiction at one level and the nonfiction at the next level. Disregard how you think the students may do in various genres. The same variance could happen with historical fiction vs. realistic friction vs. fantasy or a student could read one topic better than another. That is not the purpose of the assessment. Rather you want to sample the reading across increasingly challenging levels to get a good place to start teaching. When you begin teaching you can move a child up or down a level based on your ongoing observations and your ongoing coding of the reading. Benchmark assessment is a sampling to get you to a good place to start.


Question: The assessment guide mentions interim running records, are there specific texts for this purpose? (We are in the process of developing benchmark texts for interim running records, but will not have them ready for a few months.)

Answer: We would not suggest developing benchmarks for interval assessments. It would be doing double the work and not getting as good information. Rather simply listen to the child read 100-150 words of the text used for instruction the day before and have a brief comprehension conversation to examine the effects of the teaching. That is the purpose of interval ongoing assessment- to see how the child is responding to the instructional program.

Literacy For All annual Reading Recovery Conference and Institutes

This November the 21st annual Literacy For All PreK-8 Literacy Conference and Reading Recovery Institute will be held in Providence, Rhode Island at the Rhode Island Convention Center. We invite all literacy and Reading Recovery teachers in the northeast to attend this wonderful event! This year a new Technology Strand workshop will be available for those who are using technology in their classrooms to help engage young readers. There are also separate strands designed for literacy coaches, administrators, and trained Reading Recovery teachers. Keynote speakers will include David Booth, Steven Layne, and Susan O'Leary. Participants can earn up to 14.5 professional development hours for attending this 3-day event.

We are also excited to be speaking at the PreK-6 conference sessions! This conference is coordinated by the Lesley University Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative, which is directed by Irene.

Here is a summary of the events scheduled for this 3-day conference:

Pre-Conference Workshops, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010
Energize your teaching by registering for a one-day workshop! Pre-conference workshops are intensive study sessions on specific topics with experts in the field of literacy learning.

PreK-8 Literacy Conference with Middle School Strand, Monday-Tuesday, Nov. 15-16, 2010
You will have the opportunity to learn about the best literacy practices from the finest trainers in the field. Participants will come away with a better understanding of the current practices in literacy education and learn strategies to use in the classroom.

Reading Recovery Institute, Monday-Tuesday, Nov. 15-16, 2010
This is your opportunity to strengthen the skills of Reading Recovery teaching. The Reading Recovery Institute promotes a greater understanding and facilitates better teaching practices for Reading Recovery professionals.

For more information visit the Lesley University Center for Reading Recovery homepage here.

We are looking forward to participating in this wonderful gathering of literacy teachers, and we hope to see you there!


Warmest regards,

Gay and Irene


Questions about Fountas and Pinnell Teaching Systems

This back-to-school season the Fountas & Pinnell Forum at has received a swarm of implementation questions for Leveled Literacy Intervention, the Benchmark Assessment System, and other Fountas and Pinnell teaching systems such as The Continuum of Literacy Learning. Below are some of the top questions we have received and answers to help you start the new school year right!

As always, we welcome and appreciate your feedback and questions! You can post your questions to the Fountas & Pinnell Community of educators by using the "Forums" link at the top of our blog, or just click here to see a list of all the conversation threads in our forums.


Forum Questions about Fountas & Pinnell teaching systems

Benchmark Assessment System - 1st Edition vs 2nd Edition
Question: What are the differences between the two kits? Are the passages the same?

Answer: This page summarizes the changes between the first and second editions of Benchmark: Overall they are largely the same; the 2nd edition provides enhancements for ease of use (improved Assessment Guide format) and information on working with specific student populations (ELL, Special Education - for example). No new little books have been added, but slight adjustments have been made to the running word counts in the upper-level nonfiction books.  The Pre-K Continuum has also been added.

If you are transitioning from the old Benchmark edition to the new one, you can order a BAS 2nd Edition Compatibility Package. If you do not plan to implement the 2nd Edition alongside the 1st Edition you do not need this package. We recommend that you continue to use your system as you do now. If you plan to use the 2nd Edition system alongside the 1st Edition, the package will allow you to have consistency across systems. We recommend that you request the Compatibility Pack.

Progressing through Benchmark Assessment levels:

I have a second grade group who has all had Reading Recovery and did not progress. They Benchmarked at level D and have gone through the 10 green lessons with average of 93% accuracy. When we moved to level E this week, they scored in the 83% range on the first Running Record. Because I worked with them so intensely, I have a feeling that when their time comes up to be tested, they will need additional special education services. My question is: "Should I progress through level E or do the level D in the blue system so they can be successful?" Your thoughts, please??

Answer: You are on the right track with wanting your second graders to be successful. Children need success to learn. Perhaps more time reading at Level D from the Blue System would be beneficial. You could also try more Level E books and increase your level of support in the introductions and their first reading of the new book.

It would be helpful to do another study of their reading records from the 10 green lessons to see if there are any patterns emerging and compare your findings with how readers are processing text in the Continuum of Literacy Learning at Level D. The introductory paragraph to Level D gives important information about readers at this level (not to be missed).

Also, as you examine the reading records over the last ten lessons, go through the behaviors and understandings to notice, teach and support that are listed in the Continuum with this group in mind. Have you analyzed these reading records with a colleague? Sometimes having several people interpret and discuss the reading records sheds more light and gives new direction for your teaching. How much are these second graders reading when they are not with you? They need increased time with easy book.

Question: We are testing students using the Benchmark system in grades 1 and 2. Many of the students scores are falling below 90% at the Level A. Where do we start with them? Are we able to use the LLI with them? If so, what level do we start on?

Answer: Yes - you could use the Orange System of LLI for your students who are reading below A and start at the beginning of the System because you will be reading to them and with them before you ask them to read a text by themselves. This support will help them read Level A texts independently.


Teaching phonics for kindergarten:
I am wondering if anyone uses the Phonics Lessons in their Kindergarten, Gr.1, or Gr. 2 classroom...I am teaching a K-2 class and am trying to choose a Phonics/Spelling program and am wondering if you have found it comprehensive enough to teach sight words, spelling and phonics?

Answer: The Fountas and Pinnell Phonics and Word Study Lessons Grades K-3 is a comprehensive series of lessons for phonics and word study that is based on research and how children learn. It is designed on a continuum of knowledge that includes nine areas of learning: Early Literacy Concepts, Phonological and Phonemic Awareness, Letter Knowledge, Letter/Sound Relationships, Spelling Pattersn, High-Frequency Words, Word Meaning, Word Structure, and Word-Solving Actions. will provide you with a program overview. Along with these Phonics and Word Study Lessons for K, 1, 2, and 3, there is a large amount of professional development built in to increase your knowledge of the linguistic systems, there is a direct connection to reading and writing, and there are built-in assessments that will provide you with data to inform your instruction. We are confident that you will find these lessons comprehensive enough to teach sight words, spelling and phonics.


Teaching balanced literacy, Reading Recovery, and special needs students:
Question: I am a reading intervention teacher and I have enjoyed using the LLI programs with my 1st and 2nd grade struggling readers this year I have seen much progress. My district has decided that pulling groups out of the classroom is a no-no and that coteaching is the way to go for next year. I am passionate about helping struggling readers learn to read and I don't feel they can be helped with a "hit-or-miss" approach. I think they need a daily, systematic, sequential program. From what we have been told with coteaching we are not to work with the same groups of children every day. I think this is a disservice to those struggling readers who feel so much success when they work with me. Do you have suggestions as to how I can provide help for these children under those conditions? It is breaking my heart that after only one year with LLI I will have to give it up, yet how can it be used when I will be in multiple classrooms and will not be allowed to have a set group each time?

Answer: Your district is setting up a completely different delivery design than the one suggested for LLI, so it is a problem. We believe skipping around to different groups and giving struggling readers only occasional help will not have instructional power and is not supported by research.

It is a little hard to understand exactly what will be happening. Will there be two teachers in the classroom at the same time for a morning or a day? Or, will you move from class to class taking groups? LLI has been very successfully used in a "corner" or small designated space in a classroom so that children do not leave. It seems a major challenge you have is in providing a sequence of lessons that allow children to build momentum. You might try to make a case for the most struggling readers to have at least four lessons per week (realizing that you will not get the acceleration possible with five lessons) With two teachers present, you would be able to allow 30 minutes. Perhaps you could present your administrator with a systematic plan that allows for you to do the co-teaching they want and at the same time work intensively with one or two groups. It will be very important to collect student data and analyze it.

If all of this fails, be sure to gather your results from this year and prepare a concise written report that also includes how you implemented LLI.
This is a responsible thing to do in any case and you will have a written record that you can come back to as you evaluate results for next year. We hope this helps. Let us know how it is going.


Question: I would like to know more about why this reading program is not designed for students w/ dyslexia. Is it designed for students w/ language learning disabilities? Thanks. Is any part of the Fountas Pinnell reading program specifically designed for dyslexia/language learning disabled children?

Answer: Although Fountas & Pinnell programs such as BAS and LLI are not specifically designed for students with autism/dyslexia or other learning disabilities, many people do use them in such circumstances. (see this forum thread for an example). Some research has been done on using guided reading with autistic children (this article, for example), but for the most part the programs are used in regular education classrooms. While many people use Fountas & Pinnell guided reading programs for special needs students, there hasn't yet been a large-scale study on this topic, and the programs themselves are not specifically designed for special needs populations.

All evidence available at this time indicates that the instructional principles of guided reading are appropriate for use with special needs students, and this is something that Fountas & Pinnell hope to address more closely in their upcoming work.

Here are a few more articles that you might find helpful:
Supporting Literacy With Guided Reading
Strategies for Teaching Reading to Visual Learners
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) also has several articles on using guided reading with special needs students, but many of them are available to members only.


Question: I teach kindergarten through second grade special education (mostly LD and cognitive disabilities) in a large urban midwest city. I am also lucky to be trained in Reading Recovery, although our district dropped the program several years ago. I read When Readers Struggle this summer, and I am going to use the LLI lesson format using any materials I can find. I am also writing a grant to purchase at least the BAS and the first grade LLI kit, since we have less than no money for materials. If I get the grant, I'll have to collect a lot of data, and I will be happy to share my results with you. Do you have any advice on how I can make it clear in the grant that LLI will help support my instruction more than my dwindling collection of Reading Recovery books?

Answer: At under the Fountas and Pinnell tab, in the right hand column, you will see Research and Data Collection. You will find the research and data for both the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems and the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention. There is valuable information that will help you with your grant writing.


Using Leveled Literacy Intervention in conjunction with DRA reading levels:
Question: My school ordered the blue system in the LLI. I read that that system is primarily for second grade and above. However, I teach first grade. Students who are on a DRA 3 and below are pulled to participate in the LLI-blue system. I love using the LLI, but I didn't know if my students would be more successful using the green system than the blue. Is there much of a difference?

Answer: The Green System is for Levels A though J – designed for 1st Grade

The Blue System is for Levels C through N – designed for 2nd/3rd Grade

The LLI systems are coordinated with the grade levels and the books were written to coordinate with the different age levels. The Green System has a series of 10 Getting Started lessons that children reading a C or below need before starting into lessons. Another difference would be the phonics lessons which are systematic and explicit. You may see a difference with the needs of your first graders and the Phonics portion of the lessons in the Blue System. The Green System will be more appropriate for struggling first graders. You will have to make your decisions for teaching based on the observation of your groups of LLI children rather than following the guide in the Blue System. If you could have the Green System, you would have a wider range of options.


Organization and management of classroom materials:
Question: I am using the green kit with 2 groups and the blue kit with 3 groups as a Title 1 Reading Specialist. Two of my groups I walk to, carrying materials. I find it difficult to carry the manuals and to keep switching manuals between groups. To solve that I resorted to copying the manual pages for each group so I just carry the pages needed and each group has the manual pages with their daily materials. Does anyone have a better solution than copying the whole manual? Is there a possibility that the manuals would be on CD so that they could be printed as needed for a group?

Answer: The teachers in our building who teach multilevel LLI groups pull a cart on wheels, purchased from Staples or some other office store. That way, it is easy for them to also have all of the LLI materials, books, etc that they need right with them. They pack them up at the end of every day so they are ready in the morning.


Question: I am getting things ready for this school year. Does anyone have a great way to organize all the materials for LLI? I have all three systems and need to keep things organized for multiple people to use. Please let me know how you have organized your materials.

Answer: Until districts have the funds to purchase more systems, they have tried several ways to organize their materials to share with others.

The districts that have a book room designate a section for their LLI books and materials. They keep the books (and they had to purchase extra copies of books because they could not predict when two teachers might have a group on the same lesson) organized by Lesson number on their bookshelves. They have a checkout system for the LLI books similar to the one they use for their Guided Reading books. They have 3 ring binders containing plastic sleeves for each lesson that contain copies of reading records, parent letters, fold sheets, picture cards, word cards. . . whatever is needed for each lesson in a sleeve labeled with the lesson number (some lessons required several plastic sleeves since they have multiple copies of everything needed for the lesson). The binders are kept on the shelves with the books organized by Lesson number. They purchased Lesson Guides for each teacher and keep the Program Guide/DVD’s with the LLI books. They developed a system for replenishing materials needed for the lessons when the supply was down to the last two. The teachers decide whether they checkout materials for the week, a number of days at a time or daily.

Other districts had a similar system with file cabinets because they do not have the luxury of space in the book room. Rather than keep three ring binders of lesson materials in sleeves, the teachers made their own copies of materials for the lessons to keep in files in their rooms. They purchased copies of the Lesson Guides for each teacher.

Copernicus Educational Products is now offering three smart storage systems designed specifically for use with guided reading programs such as Leveled Literacy Intervention. They are all available on the Copernicus website, here:

There is also a video on TeacherTube about organizing a guided reading classroom - you might find some good tips her as well.


Leveled Literacy Intervention for upper elementary grades and middle school:
Question: I have heard that LLI kits will be created to extended into grades 3-5. If so, when will they be available?

Additionally, will the lessons differ from the current kits? (time, components of the lesson, comprehension)

I have used the blue kit with 3-5 students and have seen tremendous growth in my students' reading levels, confidence, and attitude toward reading. I would love to see the progress students would be able to make with materials matched to the grade level of the students!

Answer: Gay Su Pinnell and Irene Fountas posted an updated about the development of LLI for grades 3-8 on their blog. You can read the post here:

More updates on their progress will be posted as development of these new LLI levels progresses.


~The Fountas & Pinnell Team

Greetings from the Land Down Under!

As you may have noticed, recently we haven't been able to update our blog as much as we'd like to. This with good reason - we have been busy preparing for our first trip to Australia to promote our Continuum of Literacy Learning, Benchmark Assessment System, and Leveled Literacy Intervention programs.

Right now we are on our way to Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney to work with teachers and administrators on the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. It is a grueling plane trip but exciting to meet teachers who are using the system down under! We will keep you posted.

A wonderful group of teachers from Tasmania will be coming over to the mainland for our workshop. First stop - Melbourne!


Best wishes,

Irene and Gay

Guided Reading Classroom Management Tips

It's back-to-school season, and many teachers will be teaching guided reading in their classrooms for the first time. Whether you work with just one guided reading group per day or have several that cycle through your classroom, these helpful classroom management tips from our Leveled Books Website will help you and your students stay organized and focused so that you can teach more effectively and help more students achieve the results that guided reading lessons are capable of producing.

Classroom management tips for teaching guided reading:

Managing Reading Lists:
Students in grade 2 and above are very capable of listing books they have read independently or with their guided reading group. Consider placing a form for listing books read in each student's reader's notebook so each student can keep track of his or her reading independently. Over the course of a year, your students will be able to see concrete evidence of their accomplishments. You will also have a good record of reading for assessment purposes.

Choosing Texts:
Select two or three texts at an appropriate level for each group. As you look through them, think about the strengths of your students and opportunities for learning. From the possible choices, you may decide to use one or more of the titles. This will help you think of the next few days of teaching and the sequence of texts you might want to use. Organize your possible choices on a cart with wheels that you can keep next to the table you use for your guided reading lessons.

Select Books at Least One Week in Advance:
Think about each of your groups. Review your observational notes and reading records to anticipate the text level that will be appropriate for the next few days. Review several titles at that level and select those that will provide the right amount of support and challenge—remember, the titles within a level have subtle differences. Place a rubber band around your selections for each group, or place them in sealable bags. Confirm your selections the day before you're going to use them.

Create an Attractive Classroom Library:
Think about how to organize the books in colorful baskets or bins. Place a label that clearly identifies books for the students. Use category titles such as Friendship or Survival. Consider organizing books by author such as Paulsen or genre such as folktales, short story collections, and historical fiction. Also think about creating baskets of series or award-winning books.

Organized Your Leveled Books in Boxes or Baskets:
Your collection of guided reading books needs to be arranged for easy access close to the table you use for lessons. Teach the students not to select books from your collection for independent reading, but to select from the section of the room that features the classroom library.

Making Your Word Work More Efficient:
Keep your letters in small sealable bags or individual trays so you can simply hand them to the children. This will save time finding letters. you may want to jot the words you want to use in Word Work on a sticky notes so you know precisely what words you want to use as examples.

Prepare Efficient Text Introductions:
You must be ready to present thoughtful introductions to the texts you use. To prepare, read the text, keeping the particular group of readers in mind. On a sticky note, make brief notes, with accompanying page numbers, of the key words, phrases, or text characteristics you want to be sure to talk about and affix it to the front cover. These notes will guide your introductory conversation with the guided reading group and help you give an efficient, well-paced introduction.

Reading Longer Texts:
When students are reading longer texts, often teachers sample oral reading from several or all students and then move away from the table to confer with individuals or even begin another group. If you introduce the text and then ask students to go to their desks to read, you risk interruption of concentration. Letting them continue to read at the table helps them focus on the text and make the most of your introduction. Also, you may want to have them do some writing to help them remember what they want to discuss later. So, students may stay at the table as long as 30 minutes, but your teaching time is distributed among more children.

Managing Time in the Reading Workshop:
Teach students how to meet you at the table quickly for their guided reading lesson. Teach them to think about all the materials they'll need and to arrive at the table promptly and ready to start the lesson. Waiting for individuals to arrive or to return to their seats for materials wastes valuable time and will make it difficult for you to get to multiple groups during the reading workshop.

Managing Groups Efficiently:
You can manage several groups in a day. Think about introducing a text to one group and leaving them at the table to read silently. While they are reading, move to a second table at another corner of the room to work with another group. Return to your first group for the discussion and teaching points while your second group is reading. After finishing up with your second group, you may have time to meet with one more group for a lesson. When you plan the order of your lessons, consider the length of time students will need to read the book or section of the book.


Also see these helpful video clips on creating and organizing a guided reading classroom: