Professional Development

March 22, 2020

4 Practical Steps to Teaching Guided Reading Remotely

As more time is going by, teachers are putting together distance learning lesson plans and trying to reach out to students in their classrooms to keep moving them forward in learning. I want to help make part of the reading aspect a little easier for you! You all know how much I love guided reading, and I’ll show you how you can teach guided reading remotely.

Teaching guided reading remotely looks a little different than it does in the classroom, and it won’t be as exact as it is at your table. But, it can be done! Remember to give yourself some grace as you get it up and running.

Start on the level where your students left off.

At the beginning of the year, you can use the last running record you have for each of your students if you have that on file. If you don’t have access to that data right now, do your best to estimate where your students were in the spring. Most of us were not expecting to leave for spring break and not return after a week.

Use the Guided Reading Assessment Kit to find the current reading level of each of your students. I would start assessing a level below their last recorded reading level. You can do this through Zoom with digital books for the students to read.

Email parents a digital guided reading book each week

Teaching guided reading remotely starts with finding leveled digital books to share with parents. If your school has access to a digital literacy library, this step will be easy for you. You might reach out to your school or district literacy coordinator and see what resources they have access to or are working on getting access to for teachers.

If you purchased any of my Guided Reading Kits for levels A-M, I have great news for you! I just updated them and included a digital copy of each text for you. You can email it to parents to share with their children. If they don’t have a computer, it will load on smartphones as a pdf.

Share helpful tips and teaching tools with parents

Parents may not know what to do with the book you send, so be sure to include some tips, directions, and questions to ask. You might ask them to discuss the title, take a picture walk, and make predictions before reading. Keep it simple.

The new digital version of my guided reading kits adds the parent handout page at the end with:

  • tips for what to do while reading
  • how to prompt a reader if they get stuck
  • questions to ask after reading to check for comprehension

One great post you might share with the parents in your classroom is Supporting Reading at Home. It has tons of practical and easy-to-implement tips and activities parents can do at home. This post also has FREE guided reading strategy posters. Parents can print them out to have visual aids for reading at home!

In THIS POST, I shared how to share reading tips with kindergarten parents. This was a packet I put together to send home with kindergarteners, but you could easily modify pieces to send home with first or second-grade students.

If possible, assemble some literacy toolboxes for your students to have their literacy manipulatives at the fingertips. You can get a FREE literacy toolbox kit on my blog and see how I assembled them.

A literacy toolbox filled with manipulatives makes teaching guided reading remotely much easier. You can grab the printables for this kit for FREE on my blog to use with virtual guided reading or in-person guided reading.

Finally, I also have a FREE Reading at Home Parent Handout that gives tips for cultivating a love of reading within children. This handout has ideas for reading together, types of books to read, and how often to read. Grab it HERE and send it to your parents.

How to Assess Students While Teaching Guided Reading Remotely

Assess students’ reading levels by checking in with parents

Teaching guided reading remotely means assessing a little differently with some creativity! There are a few ways you can assess students’ progress in reading.

First, you can ask parents to send you a video of their child reading the book you sent home. You can listen for accuracy, fluency, and overall confidence while reading. Then, determine if you think they are ready to move up a level.

Second, you can email to check in with parents and ask them for some feedback by asking these questions:

  • Was the book very easy, just right, or did it seem hard?
  • Could your child answer the questions after they read the book two or three times?
  • Did you notice anything else I should know about while your child was reading?

You can move a child up a guided reading level when the parent reports back two to three times in a row that a book was easy or just right. Again, we’re doing our best to estimate reading levels and encourage students to continue to make progress in reading.

Use a digital-friendly assessment kit for a more accurate assessment.

If you have access to an assessment kit at school, you can try to make it work through Zoom to assess your students more accurately. If you need access to a digital-friendly assessment kit, you can check out my Guided Reading Assessment Kit that is for both in-person and distance learning.

Assessing our students for both initial and ongoing assessments will be different this year, but knowing students’ instructional reading levels will help make your remote guided reading groups more effective and successful.

Need More Help with Teaching Guided Reading Remotely?

I get it – this is hard. If guided reading was something new for you, and now you have distance learning to master, it can be tricky to learn two new things at once. To make this easier for you, I developed a professional development guide to Implementing Guided Reading During Distance Learning.

This step-by-step tutorial lays everything out in a clear, organized way that makes it easy for you to understand and implement. This guide has:

  • Tech Tips for Teachers and Students
  • 3 Full-Length Video Examples of Remote Guided Reading: An Introduction, Lesson with Breakout Rooms, Lesson Without Breakout Rooms
  • Guides for Parents and Students
  • How to Take a Virtual Running Record
  • Guided Reading Response Journal & Reading Response Forms in Both Printable and Digital Formats

It’s the only tutorial you’ll need to master virtual guided reading. Grab yours today to get started!

pin it

Even if you aren’t exactly sure how it will all look, I’d encourage you to make a plan and try it! If something doesn’t go well, you can make adjustments and try again. Hang in there friends!

Happy Teaching,


8 Get to Know You Games for Distance Learning

Getting to know your students can be trickier while distance learning. Grab this FREE printable with eight get-to-know-you games and activities so that you can start connecting with students, help them get to know each other, and build a positive classroom community.

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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12 Responses

  1. Where is the guided reading tips “Look at the pictures. Get your mouth ready…” handout located?

  2. Hi,
    My grandson has autism and is 4 years old. I am wondering if I can do this remotely with him as he lives in Ontario and I live in manitoba. I feel he will be behind once school resumes due to the pandemic. Do these lessons have pictures? Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Michelle! I definitely think you could do this remotely with him! He would love to see you and if you know how to do it, he will love reading with you! <3

  3. Hi!

    I am interested in getting the guided reading bundles to use with my class for this school year. I am wanting to share with my team as well. How should I go about doing that?


  4. These are such helpful and practical tips! I love the idea of having the parent record the child reading so that the teacher can access the fluency. I bet kids enjoy being recorded too!

  5. I am interested in your virtual guided reading virtual bundled for first grade starting at level A. I teach in an at-risk Title I school.
    Thank you.

    1. Great! I’m sure you will find it super helpful!! 🙂 The blog post has links to the resources above! Let me know if you need anything else!

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