Whole Class Guided Reading: More Ideas

Reading time: 4

Hollie Anderton

Hollie is currently an English teacher and Head of Year in North Wales with a degree in Theatre. She trained in Bath Spa University to gain her PGCE and is currently a Network Leader for WomenEd Wales Hollie is the author of the Teacher Toolkit...
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Have you tried whole class guided reading yet?

After the enormous amount of interest that has been shown on the last blog we published on Whole Class Guided Reading (WCGR) I thought that it might be beneficial to give some more ideas on how you can implement WCGR into your class!

So, last time, I talked about how WCGR is a simple, structured way to deliver Guided Reading without the stress of planning for differentiation for 5 groups every morning.

My way of using WCGR is stress-free, foolproof and most importantly, it doesn’t skimp on progress made. Reading is one of the flawless beauties that we have in our lives and I will be damned if I ever have to go back on the never ending carousel that we find so often in our Guided Reading sessions.

Just a recap

  • Monday and Tuesday is spent looking at words that I have found in a text, a text they will be reading on Wednesday. Usually around 8 words
  • Wednesday, the children have the page/pages of the text read to them, and that’s it.
  • Thursday is when the children put their pen to paper and write a short summary of what was read to them the previous day.
  • Friday is the day when we answer questions based on the few pages that we’ve worked on for the past few days.

This method has relieved not only me, but other teachers who read the last blog, of time spent making resources and persistently reinventing the wheel.

Like anything, it has been subject to development in my class and there are some tweaks and tricks that we are now smashing each morning.

Vocabulary Tweaks

The vocabulary sessions allow my class to build up a repertoire of language that they can use to decipher texts, not only that but it also does a great job of turning them into human thesauruses when it comes to their own writing.

Whilst we started with just finding the words, deciphering them and then using them in a sentence, we have now branched out to finding prefixes and suffixes that can be affixed to a word to make it fit better with different sentences.

The children love telling me how they have changed the word from present tense to past tense and it’s also a really easy tool to teach what the different affixes mean. ‘What does -ed mean?’ ‘PAST TENSE’, is commonly heard echoing from my classroom on a Monday Morning.

Another idea that I had to consolidate the learning of the vocabulary was to ask the children to include all of the words that they had defined during the session in one single sentence.

For example, with the words ‘gash’, ‘inept’, ‘dense’ and ‘sanctuary’, one of my students created the sentences:

The dense forest gave way to a clearing where inept medical professionals tended to the gash of an explorer – what was once a sanctuary had become a war zone.

It allows for our students to communicate their understanding whilst also developing their own style of writing.

Chapter Reading Tweaks

Rather than the teacher always reading to the pupils, test out their retention skills and have them read quietly to themselves or to a friend.

Depending on how old your students are, this might prove difficult but even with younger children, allow them to build stories from the pictures that they say and ask them to include the vocabulary that they have learnt.

I try to vary when I read to them and when they read to themselves, they still have to do the summary the following day so either way, attention is needed!

Chapter Summary Tweaks

For writing the chapter summary, I was getting fed up of the same recount writing that I was marking every Thursday so I thought I would try a few new things.

  1. The children write from the point of view of a character. I had my class writing from the point of view of a Nazi soldier when reading ‘Number the Stars‘, it did them good to get out of the idea that they simply had to relay information, but rather get into the mind-frame of what the character was thinking and feeling at the time.
  2. The children have a word limit. I find that 50 words is a great number. The children were super frustrated with this at the beginning because it was not as easy as relaying all of the information that they could remember. It’s much easier to write more rubbish than less with quality. Make sure that the students are getting all of the key points across, and give them different word targets each week to keep them on their toes.


There’s not an awful lot that has changed here. Higher order thinking is what we are going for, so questions such as ‘How might…’ questions are really valuable for getting them to infer from the text.

I am still a huge advocate for this style of working and would strongly advise that you try it, if you haven’t already.

As teachers, we should create a love for reading, so don’t forget to read for pleasure too. We’ve gone through 2 books already this year, and the students are still as invested as they were on that first day. Step off that carousel and take a walk with us, you might just like it.

5 thoughts on “Whole Class Guided Reading: More Ideas

  1. Hi Hollie,
    So in a mixed ability Year 1 class where some children can barely read a word yet (pink level) while others are very strong (gold level) how would this method of GGR work?

  2. Hi Hollie,
    I have recently switched to whole class guided reading and I can really see the benefits in modelling reading with expression, using more interesting and challenging texts and widening the children’s range and use of vocabulary. However I am struggling to listen to children read individually. When and how do you fit this in? Do you do this while they are completing tasks on Thursday and Friday? I have found I am being interrupted at this time. Or do you do it at another time in the day?

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