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Bytesize 1: Teaching Guided Reading in the Socially Distanced Classroom

In our first collection we are looking at guided reading in the socially distanced classroom.

In the early days of school closures there was a reasonable sense that in the short term 'mileage trumps instruction' in the provision of reading materials. It was important that students continued to engage with school, teachers and reading for enjoyment without necessarily having the additional complication of instructional agenda. 

As we face a potential fourth wave of COVID-19, many students have not had the opportunity to explicitly apply reading strategies in several months and schools are considering how to work with guided reading groups when schools must adhere to social distancing seating arrangements in the classroom.

The following suggestions and alternatives are for conducting guided reading in co-taught lessons in current conditions:

Seating arrangements – Dividing classes into groups that alternatively face the front or rear of the class allowing students to remain in 'front to back' seating but with a different teacher/adult leading their groups.

Space - Some schools are using adjacent classrooms, libraries, the hall or even the gym as alternative spaces to carry out pull-out sessions for guided reading. This may mean only one group at a time can be working in a group. Teachers can either consider shorter time spent with each group or fewer sessions per group each month.

The Great Outdoors – Now that temperatures are finally cooling down we have seen some schools using both outdoor and corridor spaces. A set of 6-8 plastic stools, even just one copy of a book and a cool breeze can work wonders! Just remember to space out those seats!

Time – We are aware that due to the limited time available in a curtailed half-day timetable that many schools are concerned about whether they still have time to conduct guided reading. If this is the case at your school, you may consider digital alternatives that can be conducted outside of contact classroom hours.

Web-conferencing software – Most of us are now very familiar with platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet. Some schools are still using these platforms for timetabled small group sessions during afternoons much as students were doing during the full school shutdown. With the screen sharing function and breakout rooms it is very much possible to deliver guided reading sessions however this is reliant on organised timetabling and student compliance or availability.

Guided reading ‘lite’ - Guided reading is a teaching strategy best used face to face with individually tailored materials, plans and the opportunity to 'teach in the moment'. However, here at NET Section Bytesize we are aware that both teachers and students are currently time-poor. One stop-gap alternative until normality returns to the classroom are guided reading 'lite' videos that will support students through reading levelled books whilst applying decoding and comprehension reading strategies. Below is a link to a collection of video resources that could be made available to students or used as inspiration for your own materials. These Edpuzzle videos (with embedded questions) were created using a range of iMovie and PowerPoint screen record. The links can be shared with students.

Click here to access the guided reading 'lite' videos.


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