How to Engage Your Students During Guided Reading Instruction

Do you know how to engage your students during guided reading instruction? Learn about 3 resources to add to your guided reading table to teach decoding strategies, reading comprehension and phonemic awareness all while keeping your students engaged during your guided reading instruction.


Guided reading is an essential part of your reading time.  However, it is usually a small chunk of time each day so you need to make the most of it and engage your students during guided reading.  So how do you do that? I am going to share with you 3 things you should have at your guided reading table to make your time run smoothly and to help keep your students engaged during guided reading instruction.  


What is at my Guided Reading Table?


1.  Tools to teach DECODING STRATEGIES

Use beanie babies with decoding strategies posters to help your kids make the connection

First grade readers are decoders in their purest form.  They have learned that to read they need to sound words out. Once they have learned their letter sounds they are good to go, or so they think.  If you ask a first grader how to solve an unknown word they will say “sound it out” every time.  We need to teach them that there are lots of other ways to figure out unknown words.   I do this by introducing them to the decoding strategies and the stuffed animals that go with each.  I created a set of Decoding Strategies Posters with animals to teach each strategy.  They are immediately hooked when the stuffed animals come down to the reading table as I model how to use a strategy.  For instance, when I introduce stretchy snake we actually take turns coiling him up and stretching him out as we stretch out words.  However, it is not practical to keep stretchy snake there at all times so I created a few student tools to go with the posters on the wall behind our guided reading table.  When we are working on a particular strategy I give students the decoding wand with the character on it.

Using reading wands put the decoding strategies right in their hands as they are reading during guided reading lessons.

This acts as a reference to try that strategy when they come to an unknown word.  Later on, they can use a bookmark, which includes all the strategies, when they are more confident readers and have learned a number of strategies to try when decoding.

Using bookmarks put the decoding strategies right in their hands as they are reading during guided reading lessons.

I teach the decoding strategies in approximately the same order every year ~ Eagle Eye, Stretchy Snake, Chunky Monkey, Lips the Fish, Skippy Frog, Flippy the Dolphin and lastly Tryin' Lion. Click any of the images to check out the resource or click {HERE}.

2.  Tools to teach READING COMPREHENSION

Use these comprehension check cards with any book.

When it come to teaching comprehension skills I have a confession to make.  Many times I struggled to figure out what exactly to ask my students or how to word it.  We do not use a particular reading series so I glean resources from many places.  Identifying key comprehension questions for text was sometimes a bit difficult.  That is why I decided to make myself a go-to resource for any non-fiction text, that covered all the different comprehension strategies that I teach.  Enter Comprehension Checks!  These question cards are placed on a ring and I keep them at my guided reading table and another set at our carpet area to use during shared reading.  

Use these comprehension check cards with any book.

The Comprehension Checks are color coded and organized by reading strategy.  There are multiple questions for each strategy.  On each card you will find the question and then “look fors” – what you might expect your students to say or think in order to answer the question.  This extra information makes the cards more teacher friendly. Click {HERE} to check out the resource or click on the pictures.

Use these comprehension check cards with any book.


Use these comprehension check cards with any book.

3.  Tools to teach PHONEMIC AWARENESS

This tool isn't necessarily aimed at teaching guided reading but it is an essential precursor to reading. In first grade at the beginning of the year, not all of your students will be ready for a traditional guided reading group.  Instead, they need to develop foundational phonemic awareness skills so that they can begin to decode and read text.  In this case, teachers do not need to provide their students with books and questions but rather they need to be armed with word lists and lots of them.  

Phonemic awareness word lists mean you can teach phonemic awareness on the fly.  Grab the list and you are ready with words in your hand.


I always start the year with at least a couple of groups who need to start here and I wanted to keep them engaged during their instruction.  I created a set of word lists to use to practice whatever phonemic awareness skill I was working on.  I pull out the color coded sets and have several different word lists for each skill.  This ended the practice of trying to generate word lists on the fly.  We have all done that!  You can check out the resource by clicking {HERE} or on the image below. 

Phonemic awareness word lists mean you can teach phonemic awareness on the fly.  Grab the list and you are ready with words in your hand.


I hope you have found some new resources to make your guided reading time more effective and to help engage your students during guided reading instruction. Don't forget to PIN THIS IMAGE so that you can revisit this post as often as you need to.

Do you know how to engage your students during guided reading instruction? Learn about 3 resources to add to your guided reading table to teach decoding strategies, reading comprehension and phonemic awareness all while keeping your students engaged during your guided reading instruction.


If you are looking for ideas for things your students should use to increase engagement during guided reading then check out this post by clicking on the image below.



Until next time,

2 comments

  1. And then I come here from your "Who's Who" post and find even more great ideas! YEA! Thanks again for the ideas AND for linking up! =)
    ~Heather aka HoJo~

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    Replies
    1. Thanks again! I hope you will stop by again :)

      ~Christina

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