How To Revolutionise Guided Reading

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What is whole-class guided reading?

Let me relay a scenario to you: You’re just sitting down to read a chapter with a group of children who have very little interest in it. Each page is read out painstakingly slowly, whilst the rest of your class disperse into chaos on the all important ‘Reading Carousel’. What a way to start each and every day!

If that situation is commonplace in your class then keep reading.

Teachers have forever tried to reinvent Guided Reading (GR) and ultimately always come back to, ‘Oh, I know! Why don’t I read with a group and the rest of my class can work on a variety of tasks around the classroom!’

Whole Class Guided Reading

Mornings will always be disrupted in primary schools – assemblies, visitors, DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time) time – and it all adds up! I didn’t want to go through this year doing the same thing I’ve done every year. I didn’t want to commit to the planning of GR to have it go down the drain, sometimes because I want to do something less banal. So I found whole-class guided reading (WCGR) – it really wasn’t that difficult (a quick search engine and you’re off!)

You’ve probably heard about WCGR already, but I wanted to share with you the way that my class now undertake WCGR and what a profound effect that this has had on my children. Context: We have GR every morning from 9-9.30. Each week is focused on 1 chapter of the same book.

Monday and Tuesday

We begin the week by looking at a variety of vocabulary, around 12 words over two days.

Vocabulary pursuit
  • The children are introduced to the word on my trusty PowerPoint and thus ensues a race to find the word in the dictionary. A fun task for them leads to me being able to tick off the fact that they are able to confidently use a dictionary.
  • The winning pair then take great pride in reading out the definition for everyone else. The children write down the word and the definition, and then come up with their most creative sentence to consolidate their understanding of each word.
  • Here’s the twist: The words ALL come from the chapter that we are about to read! I tend to choose words that they either won’t know or that they could benefit from using in their work.

Tip: This was an incredibly slow process at the beginning of the year, with the children completing only two words in the first session. Now, I have to pull as many words up as possible to keep the work going over the two sessions!


Now, don’t panic about what I am about to say.

Reading aloud
  • On Wednesdays, we read the chapter. I say ‘we’, I mean ‘I’. Yes, you read right, I read a whole chapter to my class whilst they follow along in their books.
  • ‘What’s the point?’ I hear you ask! The point is that some of my children wouldn’t engage with this text because it’s too difficult, some of my children aren’t read to at home, some of my children are dyslexic, some of my children would benefit from hearing intonation and expression being used… I could literally go on and on but I’ve got to stick to a word count!
  • Surplus to this, my class fire their hands up when they hear a word that they covered in the vocabulary sessions – a surefire way of me checking that they are listening.


On a Thursday, the children write a summary of what they have read without looking back in the text. Most detailed gets a Dojo Point. That’s it.


We move our GR lesson to the Literacy slot to cope with the amount of time needed.

Answer the questions
  • The children complete a comprehension (about eight questions) based on four pages of out class text.
  • The questions are not simple. When writing them, I endeavour to use ‘How might…’ type questions to promote inference and provoke their inner investigator!

And then we start all over again the following week.

And the outcome?

My children love reading our class text. It’s pitched high. No one is left behind. No differentiation, no deviation.

And the biggest product? I enjoy teaching Guided Reading!

Other blogs worth a look

  1. Jo Payne (Mrs P): How Do Whole-Class Reading Lessons Work?
  2. Solomon Kingsnorth: How To Switch To Whole-Class Guided Reading.
  3. Alison Dawkins: Guided reading – whole-class or guided groups?

Hollie Anderton

Hollie is currently a primary teacher in North Wales with a degree in Theatre. She trained in Bath Spa University to gain her PGCE and has an experimental classroom which she has developed from other practitioners. She is a firm advocate for anything collaborative and creative and has a huge interest in managing classroom behaviour.

16 thoughts on “How To Revolutionise Guided Reading

  • 11th November 2017 at 10:07 am

    Do you think a whole class reading session might work in Reception or Y1-for part of school year? I believe guided reading should be banned in these year groups! Please prove me wrong!

    • 21st November 2017 at 8:45 am

      I think that it definitely could work! Even with a picture book, you could generate vocabulary from the pictures, the children could orally relay the story and then answer questions – if you use Seesaw, this can be really useful!

  • 13th November 2017 at 3:09 pm

    What is your definition of Guided Reading?

  • 20th November 2017 at 11:08 am

    I’d be really interested to know who actually came up with the idea of guided reading as we know it now.
    I don’t think it ever worked well. I suspect if you look closer at when it became in vogue, and by whom, you will find a link to a publishing company. These companies have made fortunes producing guided readers across the key stages.

  • 20th November 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Do you still read a book ‘for pleasure’ as well e.g. At the end of the day?

    • 21st November 2017 at 8:48 am

      We do! We’re currently reading ‘Wonder’. The children also have time to read to themselves in pm register, I will go around and listen to those who might need it.

  • 7th December 2017 at 7:34 am

    What’s the difference between whole class guided reading and shared reading?

  • 8th January 2018 at 6:29 am

    With younger children who may not be able to use a dictionary or read the definitions , how would you teach the Monday/Tuesday sessions?

  • 19th February 2018 at 10:25 pm

    Love this idea!!

  • 4th March 2018 at 11:34 pm

    I love this idea and have been doing it now for 5 or 6 weeks. It’s so ingrained now the chn are really getting used to what is expected and as you said my LA are doing much more work, they are getting used to spotting words and finding them quicker than they did before. It’s early days but for me this is enhancing their phonics. spelling, handwriting and general comprehension! and best part is I can do a whole class on my own.

    I’m in Y1 so my days run similarly to yours. They get 2 pages from a book each (back to back). We do GR for 4 days a week.

    Day 1, they look for NoNo words (Common exceptional/ red words) and write them down 3x . We then class share and they tick what they’ve found and we see who got the most, who got more than x words etc. Its quite competitive and I ask them to write new ones down they haven’t discovered
    Day 2, they look for words with digraphs / split digraphs / trigraphs and write them 3x
    Day 3 I read the pages to them and they follow and we discuss words and meaning and what might happen next etc
    Day 4 they write 2 sentences (or more) about what we’ve read. I also use this time to concentrate on handwriting and writing the long date

    I love this method thankyou! so much for enlightening me!

  • 10th March 2018 at 11:21 am


    Do you have access to lots of whole books for the reading day?
    I’m struggling to find enough books that my class of 31 children can follow.

  • Pingback:Whole Class Guided Reading: More Ideas

  • 9th September 2018 at 8:52 am

    There seems to me a lot of distain for guided reading.
    Guided reading was introduced to stop the need for the teacher to have to listen to 30 children read independently. It gives the teacher opportunity to hear each child… this is particularly important for younger children.
    Reading SHOULD be taught throughout all aspects of the curriculum particularly in English lessons. It seems to me that a lot of the unpicking, sharing of texts has gone because the “English” curriculum has become so formulaic and SPAG based. Therefore teachers are trying to get it into their guided reading sessions. Quality guided reading should be where you teacher explicit reading skills etc.
    My advice is Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – Change the teaching of English not guided reading …

  • 30th September 2018 at 12:28 pm

    I really want to do this – but – I do not have the amount of books needed for the children to follow in their own book – do you think putting the text under the visualiser would be as good?



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