An introduction to guided reading for primary classes

Guided Reading strategies New Cornerstone

Guided reading is a technique which is often used to help students become better independent readers. It involves the teacher working with small groups of students with a similar reading level and supporting them in their skills development.

However, guided reading can also be done as a whole-class activity, providing students with support whilst allowing time for independent work to be done at their own pace.

The stages below outline a guided reading lesson, and can be used by teachers when working with texts like those found in New Cornerstone as the technique is suitable for both fact and fiction.

Book Introduction

Before you start reading with your class, there are a number of things you can do to introduce the text, story, or article.  

When working with fictional stories, for example, you can tell your students that there may be direct speech or colloquial language. As direct speech is sometimes written using different punctuation in other languages, this is a good opportunity to show students how to write in English by giving them a sentence to add punctuation to, such as:

where are we going today mum asked Jimmy

“Where are we going today, Mum?” asked Jimmy.

A factual text, on the other hand, tends to use a more formal register and less language of opinion or emotion. To highlight these differences, give students statements and have them guess whether they come from an informational, fictional or personal text, and what type of text it is.

For example:

  • Last weekend, I went to London with my family. (Personal, postcard or diary entry)
  • London is the capital city of the UK and more than 8 million people live there. (Informational, a tourist brochure or webpage entry)
  • As he walked quickly along the dark, wet streets of the city, Mike wondered why you can never find a bus stop in London when you need one. (Fictional, a story)

New Cornerstone includes a range of fiction and informational texts, giving teachers the opportunity to introduce students to different genres and identify the style and features associated with each.

In addition to talking about genre, the teacher may use this pre-reading stage as a moment to teach important lexis that students will see in the text. Key vocabulary is taught explicitly throughout New Cornerstone and the series also introduces students to skills for language acquisition to enable them to better remember new words and ideas.

Teachers can also ask students to predict content using the text’s title and any images that go with it. This allows students to share their previous knowledge about the topic and helps them to imagine the type of language and content the text will include.

Strategy Check  

Before students go on to read the text individually, you can review some reading strategies that they will use:

Understanding paragraph structure

When reading informational articles, make use of topic sentences to summarize the key point of each paragraph. It’s also useful to raise students’ awareness of how texts are structured in paragraphs, and how each paragraph includes distinct information.

Recognizing chronological order

This skill is useful for both fiction and non-fiction texts. In fictional stories, the type of language used to show time may be more literary or vague, including phrases such as many years later, long ago, or soon after.

Similarly, factual texts are often written in chronological order. However, authors of fictional works are more likely to move around within a story and jump backwards and forwards to different times. This is often done to highlight the most important events in the story, but can also be done to build tension or suspense.

Recognizing references

Another skill for both fiction and non-fiction texts is understanding how pronouns (he, them, it), demonstratives (these, that) and adverbs (here, there) are used to avoid repetition and reference previously-mentioned items. Raising students’ awareness of linking devices such as those used for contrast (however, on the other hand) will also help them to better understand texts.

Independent Reading

This stage allows students to work at their own pace. When they read the text individually, you can move around the classroom and support them. Encourage them to use the strategies from the Strategy Check stage, as discussed above.

Returning to the Text

It’s crucial that you check your students have understood the text. You can choose which reading strategies best suit the text, but these could include:


When students summarize a text, they show they have understood the main ideas and also use the skill of paraphrasing as they communicate those ideas in their own words.

Scanning for detail

Doing a comprehension activity, such as a true/false or multiple choice task, encourages students to re-read the text for specific details. Scanning is an important skill as it enables students to find the details much more quickly than if they read the whole text again.

Comparing the text with predictions

As well as giving students a purpose to read, asking them to compare what they initially imagined during the Book Introduction stage to what they read in the text encourages them to use higher order thinking skills to evaluate information and point out the differences.

Response to the Text

In the final stage of a guided reading lesson, the teacher asks the students to provide a personal response to the text. This is another opportunity for students to use different reading strategies.

Graphic organizers

One option could be to use graphic organizers to share the information they read. This could be done in the form of a storyboard for a fictional text or as a timeline or flowchart talking about processes or the history of a topic for a non-fiction text.

Comparing and contrasting

Alternatively, the teacher could ask them to compare and contrast the situation they read about to their own experience, which can be done with both fiction and non-fiction texts. Following a story, the teacher can ask the students how they are similar or different to the characters and what they would do in that situation. For non-fiction texts, students can evaluate what relevance the information has in their own country. 

Project work

New Cornerstone uses project work throughout the series to consolidate students’ knowledge on the topics covered, providing opportunities to respond to the text and share the information from it.

Big questions

Throughout New Cornerstone, you’ll also discover a range of ’Big Questions’ that go with each unit theme. These can be used at the end of lessons to help students form their response to the text.

Examples include:

1) What do you like most about living in your country? 

2) How can living things help each other?

3) What is your favorite way to celebrate? 

4) What are some of the great ideas that make our world a better place? 

5) Why are plants and animals important in our world?

6) What makes a good friend?

Find out more about using Big Questions in class.

Try New Cornerstone

New Cornerstone’s manageable, globally-inspired texts are ideal to use in guided reading lessons.

The topics covered in this series are sure to engage students while developing their vocabulary and knowledge of the world, helping them become well-rounded and bilingual students.

With a colorful layout and eye-catching visuals, New Cornerstone will capture the imagination of students at all levels of primary.

What is New Cornerstone?

Guided reading with New Cornerstone

New cornerstone accelerates English language proficiency in children to prepare them for academic success.

The series supports young learners where the English curriculum is extensive, as they strive for academic success and full English proficiency in a global environment.

Young learners prepare for future study and opportunities with an effective method that accelerates language acquisition alongside high academic skills, aligned to Common Core State Standards.


  • A 5-level, very-intensive primary course with material for 10+ hours of English per week.
  • A new, improved edition of a popular primary course.
  • American English (AE), with 35% new content.
  • Mapped to the GSE and includes brand new reading texts.

Learn more about New Cornerstone.

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