If you teach Guided Reading, these tools will become your BEST FRIENDS during small group instruction!

My school runs a “Power Hour” content block in addition to Phonics, Language Arts/Vocabulary, and Comprehension.

Our Power Hours consists of small homogeneous groups (similar levels) meeting for one hour.

As the special educator on our grade level team, I'm working with first graders who have specific literacy goals and objectives, as well as other students who are around the same level. This year, I'm working primarily with Guided Reading Level (instructional) D.

Guided Reading Tools 101

In our small groups, I'm referring to a “tool” as anything that engages our readers above and beyond the Guided Reading book. The tool is selected to increase engagement (and NOT distract from learning).

The tools I'm sharing specifically support readers by keeping them engaged with the text.

This could look like:

  • tracking visually
  • searching for evidence clue
  • building their stamina

Here's Our Favorites:

Magnifying Glasses – Adding this simple tool makes a BIG different with students digging into the text. Send them on a scavenger hunt (“Find three sights words! Who is the main character…show me in the book”) and watch them dig into the text.

Witch Fingers – Tracking is a bit of a big deal with early readers and I've often reached for any gadget that supports this. We usually start tapering off tracking around Level D, so my students are getting close!

Finger Lights – Imagine a classroom full of E.T. fingers. That's very similar to what we're experiencing here. I don't bring out these every day, but I do keep them in a secret location for “those” days (i.e.: the day before a break, the 3rd day in a row we've had indoor recess, etc.).

Egg Timers – Timers in general are a wonderful visual tool to help students feel a sense of control. During our silent reading practice, I like to add timers for students to measure how long they can sustain focus (stamina). Does it really increase the length of time they can sustain reading? Maybe or maybe not, however it does help bring awareness. Of course my students like to “beat” their previous times and I let them!

Echo Phones – It's funny because there have been school years where we use echo microphones every single day and there's been other years they have gathered dust. When they work…they REALLY work! My students seem fascinated by hearing their voice and it helps them tune in (focused!) on what they are reading. Not only does this increase engagement, but I've also seen great strides in their fluency from using these tools.

  • These are also called Whisper Phones. I'm linking to a set for purchase, but I created my own set using PVC pipe segments!

Super Readers Bling – In first grade, we discuss the expectations of what Good Readers are doing. This takes modeling…both examples and non-examples of  good reading habits and what look like (“When we are reading, our eyes are looking at the words”).

Once we are feeling pretty confident in these habits…out comes the bling in the form of plastic reading glasses (pop out the lenses) and the always favorite “reading beads”- these can be found at your local party supply store:




Hi there.

I'm Jennifer!

I’m Jennifer and I was a special educator in the elementary school setting over the past decade. I entered the classroom every day dedicated to making learning inclusive AND engaging.

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