How to: TARGETED Guided Reading

| | |

If you know me, targeted guided reading is a MUST DO for my reading groups!

Our job as teachers is by no means easy. People outside the education field often comment that teaching first graders must be fun. Well, yes. At times we have great fun, and I enjoy and love my students dearly. I wouldn’t do this job if I didn’t absolutely love it because in order to be effective, teaching is time-consuming and very hard work. Plain and simple. Take guided reading for example. Planning for 4 different groups is where I spend a great amount of my planning time. I spend so much time here because…

Just like most teachers, I have a wide range of readers in my 1st-grade classroom.

I have students in my class who struggle with sight words and are still not automatic with their blending. But I also have students who are reading 140 words per minute and can retell what they have read in order and with great detail.

YIKES! How do we effectively meet the needs of all those readers with such varying needs?

Students reading 50 words per minute or higher probably don’t need sight word review or sound by sound blending practice. Students reading below 25 words per minute may still lack phonemic awareness or need drilling of vowel discrimination. All need comprehension instruction, but what should the main focus be for each group?

Prescriptive, targeted instruction is what each student in each group needs in order for students to progress with their reading.

One size does NOT fit all when it comes to guided reading!

Our school relies heavily on DIBELS progress monitoring assessments once or twice per month to determine reading progress and needs of individual students. We also assess sight word fluency regularly as well as the notes we take during guided reading time. Other teachers rely on running records, reading inventories, or other regular reading assessments to determine what our readers need most to become proficient readers.

We love to use this PowerPoint to test our students on their Fry sight words throughout the year.

After using a long list of sight words to read on test day, many of my students are intimidated by that long list of words, and that’s when their anxiety usually sets in. But this PowerPoint gives students control, by pressing the forward button on the computer to read the words at their own pace…so much easier!

See examples below of our Running records, Fry sight word testing forms, fluency records, and forms for recording first sound, phoneme segmentation, and nonsense words that are included in the Targeted Guided Reading K-2 Pack.

1st 100 FRY Words Test Form
Running Record Test Form
Phonemic Awareness Recording Form
Phonemic Awareness Test Form
Targeted Phonics Test Form

So after progress monitoring or regular reading assessments, the first step is to record the reading assessment data. I like to use a spreadsheet with student names to record testing data. Then, I dig into the data, looking for red flags and areas of need so I can group students with similar reading needs. I try to focus on no more than two or three targets or needs for each group and,

Once I have determined the target for the group, I fill out the student names for the group and their current scores that reflect the target. The scores should match their target.

Newly added products:

Fillable guided reading planning sheet! Just click on the field and enter your information. Easy Peasy!
Guided reading group labels to easily enter in names and have them auto-fill into these group labels!

Stay focused on your students’ greatest needs

Then…I select only the activities and materials that will help my students meet the target using the Activities Resources Flip Books below.

This helps me to stay focused on their greatest need(s). I also record how much time I should spend on each activity because time management is very important so all activities are completed in the time allowed for the group. Here is a great blog post on how to use every minute during your guided reading instruction

Down below are the Activities Resources Flip Books. These are valuable resources for selecting targeted activities for each group that I’ve made this SUPER SIMPLE for you!

With the help and guidance of over a dozen experienced colleagues and administrators, I’ve created Targeted Guided Reading Activities Resource Flip Books that are organized by skill level to help you plan the best activities. All you need to do is identify the group skill level, flip up the page, and select activities for your group!

Find these targeted guided reading plans for K-5 down below:

Record your targeted activities for each group on your Targeted Guided Reading Plan and you’re ready to go!

Over a 2 week period, I have my plan out in front of me as I teach each group. And,

Trust your judgment and record your observations

If an activity you listed is not working, change it, or make a note at the bottom that for the next cycle, that activity should be modified. Modify as needed to better help your students meet their target. Each day I make notes on the plan and record how the students do with the activities.  Y=Yes, the student did well with the activities N=No, the student did not do well or it was too hard A=Absent B=Behavior or focus. Or, use check marks, + or – markings, or whatever works for you.

These notes are helpful for reflection on why the students met or did not meet the target for the 2 week period. When creating a new plan for the next 2 weeks, modifications can be made based on the notes taken.

One page has all you need

The example below shows a completed K-2 Targeted Guided Reading Plan and Activities Resources or Grades3-5 Targeted Guided Reading Plan and Activities Resource that has been filled out and used for a 2 week period:

Daily focus boards (or fluency drills) really work

You may notice that the 1st activity in the plan is using focus boards (drills) to practice vowel discrimination. I use focus boards daily, depending on the skill(s) the group is working on. 2-3 minutes daily is what it takes to get students fluent with these sounds or words. Interested in learning more about these speed drills, read all about them here!

Be sure to grab a free FULL set of long/short vowel speed drills at the end of this post.

Sight Words Speed Drill Example

Here are some of the drills/focus boards I use:

This next plan shows a group with different needs:

Their target is a fluency target because they are beginning to blend more automatically and they are ready for fluency skills. Notice these students still need some sight word review because their sight word testing shows they are not completely fluent with their sight words (not noted on this plan, but spotted when doing data analysis). The daily sight word review will help with their overall fluency.

Also, notice the minutes listed after each activity. Because I only have 15-20 minutes per group, I need to help myself stay on track and manage my time. Again, I must trust the plans I have written and follow them to fidelity.

Additional instructional resources

  • Comprehension question cards are organized by comprehension skills and are on handy cards.
  • A leveled book guide is included so you know what to watch for and encourage at each level.
  • Take notes on each student for 2 weeks on this Anecdotal Notes form.
  • Send home resources for parents on reading with their child. Also, as students move up to higher leveled readers, send home resources that help them know the skills to work on at each level!

Prepare so you can Grab and Go!

Another strategy I use to stay on track and manage time is to have all materials ready. All I have to do is grab the bin and go. Time is precious, so every delay in gathering materials takes away from instruction, organization, and preparation which are the key to successful guided reading groups. Yes, it takes tons of planning time, but your efforts are well worth it because your students will show more growth!

Get your Targeted Guided Reading Plans and Activities Resources with instructions and suggestions HERE FOR K-2 and HERE FOR 3-5.

Looking for more ways to use this targeted guided reading plan? Check out these blog posts:

I would love to hear from you! Leave comments or questions below.

Thanks for stopping by!

Click HERE to follow my store and be the first to know about freebies and sales!

Get a FREE month of ink from HP!

If you print as much as I do (HOLY MOLY!) and you haven’t checked out HP instant Ink, you’re missing out. (No, I don’t work for HP, but I’m just passing along a tip.) If you have an HP printer, see if it’s compatible with their program first. Start HERE to see if your printer is on the list. If it is, then you’re in luck! Ink can be delivered to your door before you run out. It’s like magic! They just know (a little scary if you ask me…). You pay a monthly fee depending on how many copies you make. EASY PEASY. If you use my code then you will get a FREE MONTH and I GET A FREE MONTH and everyone’s happy 🙂

Similar Posts


  1. I’m going to try this next week! And I am so excited! Your blog contains the most support and encouragement for guided reading! I’ll let you know how everything turns out! Thanks for your world of knowledge!

  2. My small groups have been excelling so well!! I can’t say thank you enough for making my small group time a dream come true!

  3. Hi there! I see in the photo you have the same leveled readers that we use from journeys. Each week when we do guided reading we usually have students complete graphic organizer that accompanies the skill for that leveled reader/that week. Do you use the graphic organizers as well or choose your own teaching point for the leveled reader and your own writing/comprehension activity after they read?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *