How to Easily Integrate Technology with Guided Reading Groups

In this two-part post, I will demonstrate how using iPads (both mini-iPads and an iPad Pro) can bring guided reading into the digital age.  I was fortunate that over the years I have been able to get iPads in my classroom through district grants.  I now have eight iPad minis.  The iPad Pro is my personal iPad that I use daily in teaching with my Apple Pencil.

But first, let's review what Guided Reading is and is not.  

Part 1

What is Guided Reading?

Guided reading is a small group intervention.  Guided reading groups (from 1 to 6 students) are formed based on several criteria:  student need, student reading level, or student interest.  A teacher may work with a particular guided reading group on a daily basis or less frequently based on needs.  The groups are fluid and as students improve they are reformed again based on need and reading levels.

The teacher is the guide in guided reading.  She is expertly noticing reading behaviors of the students in the group and intervening at moment of difficulty - not to give the word or answer, but to prompt the child to use a strategy to read the word.  It is teaching on the fly, with sometimes predictable and sometimes unpredictable reading behaviors by the students.

Guided Reading is NOT round robin reading or choral reading.  It is not teaching the basal lesson to a small group (though you can use basal readers as a resource for guided reading).  It is not an unplanned lesson.  It is not teaching a lesson just based on a standard, but those do include those if appropriate.

Procedure for Guided Reading

I have been implementing guided reading in my classroom for 20 or more years.  The method or the process of guided reading has not changed.  I still form guided reading groups based on reading level and student need.  Once created, I chose the book for the group to read.  I preview the book and design an introduction for the book based on the group's need.  Once the students begin reading, I monitor and step in at a point of difficulty and prompt the student to use a strategy.  Once the reading is complete, I follow up with a brief mini-lesson that I had planned OR based on student need that I saw while they read.

Many years ago, I developed a Guided Reading Planning Sheet that I shared with teachers in my district.  I used to be a full-time Literacy Coach, and part of my duties involved providing professional development to new to the district teachers and staff.  The Guided Reading Planning Sheet is helpful for planning successful guided reading lessons. It will help the teacher to focus on the student needs and design appropriate book introductions to make the students successful.  You can download it HERE.  It comes as a PDF in two versions:  print and fillable form.

As for taking notes during guided reading, I just flip over to the blank side the Guided Reading Planning Sheet and take notes on individual students.  I store these in the same folder for the group so I can go back and review notes and figure out the next steps.  Since it's blank, there's also enough room to take a Running Record on a particular student as well!

The Teacher Using the iPad During Guided Reading

Sometimes I am the only one with the iPad during guided reading.  I will have my group use traditional sources (little books) as their book, but I use my iPad to teach.  For example, I use a whiteboard app called ShowMe which is available for both iOs, Android and Chrome OS.  It has many uses (including the ability to record audio to explain concepts, lessons, etc.), but I mainly use it as a blank board to write on instead of my little white board.

Here's an example.  When a student has a point of difficulty on a word, I can just copy it in large letters on my iPad using the ShowMe app.  There I can prompt the student with specific prompts such as:

  • what word would make sense here?
  • you said ________, does that sound right?
  • what parts of the word do you know?
These are just some general prompts I use.  The iPad allows me to instantly change color to highlight parts of words.  Essentially, it's a whiteboard without the markers!

Using the ShowMe app, I can also do a quick mini-lesson on word families, such as -and.  The group can brainstorm initial sounds that will make words with that word family.  The ShowMe app is so versatile that you can even import pictures from the web, Google Drive, DropBox or even your own photos.  This is particularly useful when teaching English Language Learners who need a visual for clarification.

For comprehension work or story retelling, you can use the ShowMe app to write a collective retell of the story or to ask basic who, what, where, when, why questions.  I sometimes use it to provide a scaffold for retelling.  Retelling is an important skill that must be explicitly taught, especially if you're district uses the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) as a benchmark.  Without being able to retell orally (and also in print), you can not pass a DRA benchmark.

One skill I am continuously practicing with my lowest or neediest guided reading groups is learning how to answer a question as a constructed response. I have been modeling the RACE strategy since the beginning of the year.  RACE is an acronym that stands for:
  • (R)estate the question
  • (A)nswer the question entirely by
  • (C)iting evidence from the text
  • (E)xplain or give examples of the evidence

As a follow-up lesson to the reading, I use my iPad to model answering using a constructed response. Then I have the students practice the same.  The ShowMe app is ideal for modeling this procedure as it allows color coding.

But the iPad also has other uses as well.  Sometimes in my book introduction, I know that some of the vocabulary used may be unknown, especially to English Language Learners.  For instant clarifications, I use Safari on the iPad and Google images of the word.  Then we discuss and see how it is utilized in the text.  

Another app you can use during guided reading is Record of Reading App.  It is an app that allows you to take running records on students using a template.  The teacher fills in the identifying information on the student, book level, date, etc., and takes the running record on the iPad.  You can also do the miscue analysis on the app as well.  Then when completed, the app allows you to email the running record as an image or PDF file.  There is also the capability to take pictures, and it has a built in timer.  Here's a tutorial for the app.

In Part 2, I will explain how I use the mini-Ipads as the text resource for the students to read and annotate using the PDF Expert app.  

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