What's Wrong with Guided Reading?
Guided Reading is perhaps one of the most popular strategies to support learning to read, yet it is based on the erroneous notion that children are able to 'problem solve' to read. For example, here is a definition of GR from the Scholastic website:
What Is the Purpose of Guided Reading?
You select books that students can read with about 90 to 94 percent accuracy. Students can understand and enjoy the story because it's accessible to them through their own strategies, supported by your introduction.
They focus on meaning but also use problem-solving strategies to figure out words they don't know, deal with difficult sentence structure, and understand concepts or ideas they have never before encountered in print.
Even if children are able to read with 90-94% accuracy, GR does not assist them to identify words they don't know; it assists them to guess. Guessing, of course is not reliable, because it does not provide ways for students to identify words with confidence. There is no short cut to learning to read for many children who require explicit knowledge of the structure of words based on phonemic awareness, the systematic teaching of phonics, morphology, etymology and syntax. These are the skills that enable confident reading. See below for detailed evidence on why GR needs to be guided by intimate knowledge of the structure of words.
Guided Reading and LLI