Guided Reading vs. Ability Grouping

This paper explores whether a guided reading approach is more effective than past practices of reading instruction.

This paper explains the main criticisms of ability grouping practices, which refer to reading groups created by the teacher according to the size of the class, students’ reading aptitudes, or the distribution of reading aptitudes within the class, are that such practices do not accomplish anything of benefit to students and that they fosters unequal opportunities for academic achievement among different groups of students. The author relates that the goal of guided reading is for instructors to provide an environment that will assist students in their progression toward independent, silent reading by fostering positive attitudes toward reading in students and by aiding students in the development of strategies to extract meaning from reading and to understand the reading process. The paper concludes that an approach that combines grouping strategies with guided reading practices may prove to be the most beneficial option for reading instruction.

Table of Contents
Ability Grouping
Guided Reading
A Combined Approach
The Four Blocks approach used guided reading as a crucial component to its instructional strategy. Guided reading was known as the basal block, because the basal reader drove instruction at this level. There are several purposes of this block, including exposing children to a wide range of reading material, teaching strategies for comprehension and challenging children by providing increasingly more difficult reading material. Guided reading provides a base for the following blocks. However, it is difficult to target guided reading practices to students that represent various literacy levels, and inevitably some students are struggling while others are not challenged enough.