New Teacher Resource: Using Powerful Questions to Enhance Guided Reading

GRTeacherIf you’re like most elementary school teachers, targeted, small-group reading instruction plays a key role in your robust literacy program. So how’s your guided reading instruction going? Are your students engaged and actively thinking?

In their article, “Guided Reading: The Romance and the Reality,” researchers Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell reflect on the instructional practice they first shared with teachers in 1996. They marvel that guided reading is now practiced in “thousands of classrooms around the world” and note that teachers carry out the parts of a guided reading lesson with consistency.  But the authors caution that “there is an important difference between implementing parts of a guided reading lesson and using guided reading to bring students as far as the teaching can take them in a given school year.”

Fountas and Pinnell remind teachers that “understanding a text is far more than noticing hard words and coming up with information or a ‘main idea.’” They urge teachers to use language that promotes dialogue and gets readers “to expand on comprehension.” Dialogue supports literacy learning because “oral language is the most powerful system the young child brings to initial experiences with the reading process.”

Getting readers engaged, talking, and expanding their thinking is the focus of our new teacher resource Using Powerful Questions to Enhance Guided Reading. This guide provides suggestions, tools, and handouts for enriching guided reading instruction and taking your students to new levels.  Without changing the structure or purpose of the guided reading lesson, you’ll learn how to use questions to invite curiosity, to increase readers’ involvement with the text and one another, and to activate students’ thinking.  Our teacher resource shares ways to:

  • Use questions to scaffold a new text
  • Use questions to make teaching points
  • Enrich text introductions with questions
  • Encourage students to ask questions
  • Ask spontaneous questions to extend students’ thinking
  • Ask questions for reflection and metacognition
  • Create open prompts to connect reading and writing
  • Develop a unit around an anchor text

Using Powerful Questions to Enhance Guided Reading also includes reproducible masters to support lesson planning and twelve student handouts to encourage high-level thinking and engagement in lessons or at centers. The teacher resource is included in all of our Guided Reading Collections and can also be purchased on its own.

Jodi Libretti is a senior development editor for K–12 programs at Great Books. A former teacher, she has also worked as a professional learning consultant leading Share Inquiry courses in schools across the country. In her spare time, Jodi enjoys reading, officiating ceremonies, and being outdoors with her three sons.

  1. Mrs Mills says:

    I’m looking to enroll my daughter, in a local program in Detroit,MI

    1. Sharon Crowley says:

      Thank you for your interest in Great Books! We’re confident your daughter would enjoy and benefit from participating in the program. Tom Kerschner, the Great Books Consultant for Michigan, will be in touch with you soon. Watch for an email ending with

  2. Kym L. Worthy says:

    I am looking for a Great Books Program in the Detroit, Michigan, area for my ten year old daughter. Thank you, Kym

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