Guided Reading Groups or Strategy Skill Groups: Which Do I Need? Which Is More Effective?
Yes to reading groups! Yes to differentiation! Yes to guided reading! Yes to strategy groups, but….what’s the difference? We know reading instruction and intervention needs to be pretty specific, but what happens when your admin asks if you are doing guided reading or a strategy group? Be prepared with the answers! Both of these reading groups overlap in some ways, but there are some outstanding differences that make them both unique tools in reading instruction. Guided reading is for our specific reading levels, while strategy groups are created to reteach reading skills! Read on for some more specifics!
Guided Reading Groups- The Basics
-Start with a group of students at the same instructional reading level.
-Guided Reading works best for more emergent
-Choose the same text for the whole group. This should be a new text that students haven’t seen before.
-Be flexible with groupings as reading levels change.
-Guided reading is very much teacher led.
-The teacher always begins with talking about what the text is about, a preview of any tricky vocabulary, and focuses on a specific reading skill.
-Students read and reread, but the teacher prompts the students.
-This group lesson is specific just to this group! It is a stand alone lesson specifically planned for that group of students.
-Students read independently and the teacher guides, discusses, and practices skills with the group.
Strategy Group Basics
–Flexible grouping based on student needs.
-Best for more fluent
-The text in this case can be familiar or new depending on your purpose.
-Students could be reading different books and applying the reading skill to the text they are personally reading.
-Strategy groups are specific to reading skills, not reading levels.
-Strategy groups can change daily, if need be.
-The teacher starts a strategy group with the purpose for the group lesson.
-The teacher reteaches the whole group mini lesson that specific students struggled with.
-Students read silently. The teacher continues to listen and check in, discuss and practice the specific mini lesson skill.
Specific Skills and Strategies
The strategy group is definitely also an intervention, but this group of students will be struggling with a specific reading skill or strategy. The strategy group may be reinforcement from the mini lesson that was given to the whole class. Remember this group could have varying degrees of reading levels. The goal here is to ensure that each student understands how to use a specific strategy, say predicting.
The Real Difference
When we really break down the difference between the two, we have to remember guided reading is for your struggling reader and skills group is to help reinforce and build skills you have taught or students need reinforced.
Guided Reading Group
This would be the reader that needs a little extra instruction decoding, or really delving into vocabulary or comprehension. Guided reading also may combine multiple aspects of learning how to be a better reader. Guided reading lessons are completely separate from the whole class mini lesson. The guided reading is super specific to the group of students that you have together and their reading level. Guided reading can build fluency and help with the fundamentals our little readers may be struggling with overall.
Guided reading groups can change and may change quickly with reading levels, but oftentimes the group will be similar as they work through the different elements of strengthening their reading. Guided reading lessons are super specific, planned, and purposeful. Each student is reading the same text and the teacher can preview the text, the vocabulary and be purposeful about helping the students become stronger readers. Word work is also super important in guided reading. When you are working in the primary grades, sight words may be a big focus. (Grab some sight word resources here!) This could last anywhere around 15-20 minutes.
The strategy group is definitely also an intervention, but this group of students will be struggling with a specific reading skill or strategy. The strategy group may be reinforcement from the mini lesson that was given to the whole class. Remember this group could have varying degrees of reading levels. The goal here is to ensure that each student understands how to use a specific strategy, say predicting. Students at different levels, each with their own independent book are getting reinforcement in the strategy and then practicing.
The strategy group will probably change daily because students will struggle with different lessons. These intervention lessons should be a quick review, with a directed, targeted practice, review with the teacher, and then back to their assignments. This could last about 10 minutes! Strategy groups are more about reteaching!
When it comes down to it, both guided reading groups and strategy groups are really important parts of reading instruction. Both help our young readers improve their ability to really get into a text and make meaning! Plan for guided reading groups and strategy groups by choosing individuals that need the different types of instruction!