Guided Reading vs. Small Strategy Groups

When I was in the classroom, I implemented two different types of reading small groups
during my reading block: guided reading and strategy groups. Here is the main
purpose for each: 
Guided Reading
To teach students reading comprehension skills and strategies in general. These are leveled groups with 4-6 students per group. In this small community, students are reading in the same range and share similar reading traits. Many students stay in the same group long-term but are constantly reassessed and moved if they exceed the reading level of their peers. In guided reading groups, I typically followed the same procedure, modeling the entire reading process. My guided reading groups started typically 3 or 4 weeks after school started, or after I had time to assess all of my students’ independent reading levels and had solid reading block rituals and routines. Guided reading groups happened all year.
Strategy Groups
I group students who need help with the same standard, strategy, or skill. Students can be at all different reading levels. Groups should still be between 4-6 students. During strategy groups, students will be reading text on their independent reading level. Often, I would have students practicing a strategy or skill from their independent reading books on their “just right” level. You can also use differentiated passages or guided readers. I did not regularly use strategy groups for my whole class. I would pull together a strategy group if after I assessed a particular standard, 4-6 students needed reteaching. I would also implement strategy groups for various standards leading up to a large state assessment.
It is important to note, that when implementing both guided reading groups and strategy groups you should use relevant and current data. Every month, I conducted running records on every student in my class. Students should not be in the same group based on data from months prior. Their reading level can and should be increasing rapidly (especially at lower levels). For strategy groups, I used data from very recent standards-based assessments. I like to use standards-based assessments I used in the classroom on isolated standards. If you use a district or state standardized test results, you need to be careful because:
  • The data may be old.
  • The data may be inaccurate. Are you able to see the
    questions? Some standardized tests have poorly written questions that do not accurately address the standard. How many
    questions were asked on each standard? A
    students’ answer on only 1-3 multiple choice questions is not enough to judge
    if they understand a standard.
If you are looking for some guided reading or strategy group resources, my differentiated passages and differentiated guided readers are perfect.
My “A Day in the Life” series is great for standards-based strategy groups, since each reader focus on one standard.
I hope this overview gives you some ideas of how and when to implement both guided reading and small strategy groups into your literacy block. I’d love to see or hear about your groups in action!
Julie Magicore Signature

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