The NEXT Step in Guided Reading Chapter ONE

Welcome to our book study. Each week between July 13th and August 24th one the #GuidedReadingGals will share info on their blog from a chapter in TheNext Step in Guided Reading and all the other gals will be linked up from the main post!!  You can join in on the conversation about each chapter by commenting on our blog posts and joining us for discussions in the Facebook group, We <3 Guided Reading
The authors purpose of writing this book was to give teachers a tool kit ... a step by step guided to teaching guided reading across all grade levels using the following elements:
  • Analyzing reading assessments to identify an instructional purpose
  • Prompting students to use reading strategies when they encounter difficulties
  • Teaching skills that are necessary and appropriate for a specific reading stage
  • Utilizing guided writing to support and accelerate the reading process 
This week we are reading Chapter One ... in this chapter, the author, Jan Richardson lays out the groundwork for fostering independence in order to prepare students for guided reading lessons. Below are my THREE take aways/things I learned, TWO classroom implications and ONE related resource/product. 

ONE ... Reading Instruction Needs Balance

Dr. Marie Clay taught us that reading is a complex activity. It is a meaning making process that requires a balanced program that includes reading to {Reading Aloud to children}, reading with {Shared Reading} and reading by children {independent reading practice}. Reading Instruction also needs a balance of reading for meaning and decoding {learning about how letters and words work}. To read more about using multiple sources of information while reading check out my Understanding the Reading Process post.

The lessons in Jan Richardson's book will include direct instruction for sustaining strategies, expanding/comprehension strategies, letter and word work {phonemic awareness & phonics} and guided writing {because reading and writing are reciprocal processes}. Guided Reading is the "with" children part that is designed to meet the individual needs of a diverse group of students. 
A Balanced Literacy Framework for Reading Instruction

Reading Aloud to kinder kids ... 
What is modeled can be retaught or prompted for in Guided Reading

TWO ...Teach Routines, Independence and Build Stamina

In order to have success teaching at the guided reading table, two things need to be in place.  You will need to have all of your teaching materials, including leveled text, magnetic letters, dry erase board and markers, paper, lesson plans and notebooks, and any other materials that you use on a daily basis... ready to use, right there in your guided reading area. You must also have routines set in your classroom so that students will know what it means to work independently for an extended amount of time {{{stamina}}}. 

On pages 9-13, Jan Richardson does a nice job explaining the first SIX weeks ... yes, six weeks to get your assessments complete, build a sense of community with your students and teach routines for each center they will be working in. I like to think of this time as SHOW and TELL ... don't just tell them what to do ... show them how to do it and you will set your reading workshop time up for success! 
Side Note: It will not take all classrooms six weeks to learn the routines.  If students learned how to work independently the previous  year, it may only take 2-4 weeks.... none the less ... take the time for this ... you will be a happy teacher when you have no interruptions when you are teaching guided reading lessons.
All materials are stored and ready for use.  
The pile of books on the table are familiar books that were 
collected from the student before introducing the new text.

THREE ...Purposeful Literacy Independent Activities

So what do the other students do while you have 3-6 students with you in a guided reading group???  That is the million $$$ question that all teachers ask! My favorite literacy researchers all agree that while a teacher is teaching a guided reading lesson with a particular group of students, the other students must be independently engaged in literacy activities that are purposeful and relevant to what they need to practice in order to grow as a reader. On pages 13-22 Jan Richardson explains what the independent literacy work should look like in primary grades and in intermediate grades. She reminds teachers that all activities should be engaging ... not busy work and not a time filler. She also shares the importance of having materials ready for students so that they do not have to interrupt the teacher. It is re-emphasized in this section to take the time to set routines for how to work in each workstation. A variety of literacy stations and activities that are appropriate for primary and independent grade levels are explained in this section.
Students are actively engaged in a variety 
of reading, writing and working with words tasks. 
All materials are available and organized for easy access and clean up.
This book is a wonderful resource for K-2 teachers.
Click the picture to see what is inside!

ONE ... Managing Workstations 
One implication to consider before you begin implementing workstations is how you will group your students for independent work time.  The easy thing to do would be to have the students rotate from station to station with their members of their guided reading group... right? The issue with doing it that way is this ... if all of the members of your lowest reading group are in the same workstation group, problems will arise when they need help with something ... or they all finish their work lickety-split {you all know what I am talking about}!! It is best to have students work in workstation groups that are a range of leaners ... this ensures that there is at least one or two students that they can ask questions or seek help from. On pages 18-22 Richardson lays out a few ideas for how to manage your students at while they are working independently. Students in second grade on up can use individual choice boards or learning contracts to manage their time. Another question that teachers ask about managing Guided Reading time is how do I get it all done?? Jan Richardson clearly says ... use a timer and make every minute in your daily schedule count! Set your timer for 20 minutes for each guided reading group. When the timer goes off ... students at the stations clean up rotate on their own while you call your next group!

TWO ... Reading Notebooks (for intermediate students)
In intermediate classrooms, daily independent reading and responding to reading should be encouraged! I was so happy to see that Richardson thoroughly explained how to set up and use a reading notebook for independent reading. When I taught third and fourth grade I loved using these notebooks with my students. They would write their responses in letter format ... writing a letter to me which shared their thinking about the text they were reading. I also liked them to use a section of the book for responding to prompted questions from our read alouds and for jotting thinking about the books they were reading for literature circles and book clubs. CCSS has a big focus on written response to reading and this is one way that you can fit that it without always doing a prompted response. The main purpose for a reading notebook, in my opinion, is to deepen our students ability to think, talk and write about what they are reading. Click here for one of my favorite places to get pages for creating reading notebooks. I can not lie ... these notebooks are time consuming to read and respond to ... but they are the best authentic formative assessment I have ever used!

Differentiated Guided Reading Lesson Plans ... the freebie that everyone using this book needs!
One of my VERY FAVORITE things about The Next Step in Guided Reading book is that Jan Richardson does a wonderful job teaching us how to teach guided reading at any level! She explicitly explains, step by step what to do in each component of the lesson for pre-readers, emergent readers, early readers, transitional readers and fluent readers.  She provides a lesson plan for each level also ... but I found that her lesson plans did not give me enough room to specifically plan on nor did they give me a place to take anecdotal notes while working with my students.  My lesson plans are a version of hers ... with all the things that I felt hers were missing.  Click the picture to go straight to my store and grab them for FREE :) 

Check out the rest of the #GuidedReadingGals posts by clicking on their blogs below and following our hashtag on social media.


  1. This information is so helpful!! I especially like your section about managing workstations. I used to have students work in mixed ability groups during rotations when I taught first grade. When I taught second, my students rotated with their group. After reading this, I definitely want to go back to mixed ability groups during rotations. Great information!!

    1. Thanks :) I am glad it was helpful! The first time I did mixed ability grouping for workstations I was afraid that the lower achieving students would be asking for too much help from the higher achieving students ... but I was wrong ... they all have their own strengths and the students become much more independent!

  2. I love the book you mention- "Literacy Centers in Photographs". It's one of my favorites! It has so many great ideas for easy and meaningful literacy activities.

    Thanks for sharing all this great information!

    Real Life in First Grade

    1. I was so excited when I discovered that book last year ... it has been wonderful for helping beginning teachers wrap their brains around getting started with literacy work stations :) I am late with my Chapter two post ... come back soon and see Chapter 2 and 3 :)

  3. I loved reading this post. I use The Next Step in Guided Reading and LOVE it. Having a balanced literacy classroom is so important. Thank you so much for posting all of these great reminders and freshening up my summer brain.
    p.s. Love your blog design! L. Paull is doing my blog in August and I can't wait!


    1. Thanks for stopping by!! I agree that GR is important for a successful balanced literacy program to work ... some experts say that GR is the heart of the balanced literacy framework :) Come back to see my posts about chapter 2 and 3 ... coming soon :)
      oh and PS ... I LOVE my blog design ... L.Paull is wonderful to work with too!!

  4. Good piece ! Just to add my thoughts , if someone was looking for a a form , my kids edited a fillable version here

  5. I was wondering if had a new link for the reading response notebooks. I am interested in putting them together for my students, but the link is not working and I am not sure of what to put in the notebook.

  6. I tried clicking on the link for an explanation of how Jan uses the Reader's Notebook, but was unable to find it. I was taken to a page on Scholastic's site with other teachers' blogs. Can't find anything explaining the Reader's Notebooks. Would love to read about Jan uses them. If you could send me another link or let me know where I could find a detailed explanation, I'd greatly appreciate it! Thanks so much!