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Top tips on whole-class guided reading

By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager

Guided reading is a tried and tested method for supporting children in developing their skills beyond basic decoding and into the more advanced realms of comprehension and inference… but any teacher will tell you that this takes time. And even with the well established ‘carousel’ approach, time is still a challenge. Education Specialist Margaret Allen explores why some schools are starting to find value in whole-class guided reading as an additional technique which can not only help to reduce workload, but also make a positive impact on children’s reading development.

Whole-class reading has been part of the primary curriculum for many years, so making it part of a guided reading programme is surely an obvious step. In fact, I’ve visited several schools over the past 12 months who have successfully used whole-class guided reading to enhance the traditional carousel and, in some cases, introduced as a complete replacement.

As is true for any aspect of teaching, the ‘right’ approach ultimately comes down to what works for specific schools and individual teachers. But for anyone who’s looking for guided reading inspiration, here’s some of the top tips I’ve identified for whole-class guided reading.

Reading should be a pleasure

Reading for pleasure is just as important for teachers as it is for pupils! Whole-class guided reading brings in a wide range of development opportunities without making learning – or teaching – to read a chore. Adding in some discussion and questioning around a text as part of an exercise for the whole class stimulates peer-to-peer learning that can sometimes get lost in ability grouped activities.

My top tip: Use Accelerated Reader quizzes as a backdrop to whole-class guided reading. Read a chapter of a book at the end of the day and then conduct a whole-class quiz the next morning. With almost 38,000 quizzes on Accelerated Reader, the choice is virtually limitless! Read my blog for advice on how to introduce this approach.

Breaking down home-school boundaries

Keeping your reading carousel stocked with the right variety of books can be a budget challenge – let alone having enough copies for every child to take one home and read it with their parents or siblings. With Renaissance’s digital library, myON, you can give every pupil access to the same book and use this to further extend the whole-class guided reading activity as a homework exercise.

My top tip: Choose a book on myON for whole-class guided reading and give your pupils talking points to take home and discuss. Encourage them to read the text aloud at home to reinforce what you’ve read to them in school. Ask them to make digital notes on the text as they explore the talking points, ready to bring back to class to share with their peers and keep as a record of their learning. And if you’re concerned about lack of reading support at home, don’t forget myON also provides online and offline access to books, so no child will be left behind. Here’s how myON integrates with both Star Reading and Accelerated Reader to offer a whole-class literacy solution.

Fully-inclusive learning

Contrary to popular belief, supporting individual learning needs can easily be accommodated with whole-class guided reading. In a group setting, all pupils have the chance to contribute, which opens up the opportunity for peer-to-peer learning and discussion. Unlike smaller groups determined by ability, whole-class guided reading exposes children to ideas from peers who might be much more advanced readers – giving the teacher a platform to stimulate higher levels of discussion while addressing the needs of lower level readers.

My top tip: Examine the average ZPD scores from your class’s Star Reading tests and then identify books which will help to stretch everyone’s reading. While 60% of the books that they read independently should be within their ZPD, whole-class guided reading is a great way to take them out of their comfort zone. It’s also the ideal time to mix up fiction and non-fiction books!

Find out more

For more top tips like this or to engage in peer discussion on whole-class guided reading and other related topics, you could check out our whole-class reading webinars. You can also follow me on Twitter and keep an eye out on the #RenaissanceSpace hashtag!


Margaret Allen
Strategic Education Manager

Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.



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