Everyday my kiddos visit reading centers. We work through teacher time, word work, work on writing, listening to reading, and read to self! In this part of the blog series we are going to talk about how I teach in small group!
Let me tell you I LOVE me some small group time. I get to know the kiddos on a personal level!
Why teach guided reading?
- You get to read with kids in a small and intimate group which helps you get to know their strengths and weaknesses.
- The students learn and establish the fundamental skills for high level reading.
- You help expand vocabulary knowledge.
- You can improve word work skills.
- Students will work and strengthen their reading comprehension.
- It helps to improve word recognition and fluency.
- You can begin to help students understand different complex texts. They need direction and help when starting to understand and comprehend complex ideas.
Organize Your Groups and PLAN
>>>Find the template here<<<
Before you do anything you need to make sure your groups are all organized and you have a good plan in place.
You don’t just want to pick a book and have the kids show up to your table. It does not take long to plan a guided reading session if you have a good plan in place and you are organized.
Always begin your session by having the students read something familiar to them.
Each time we do guided reading my students get to put a book in their folder so that they can read it at home again.
Then, I have my kiddos come back to my table bringing their old book (the one they read in the last session and at home several times). They have to sit down and instantly start reading quietly to themselves.
You want to set this routine in place because it is important for fluency that kiddos read familiar pieces and it gives you time to make sure everyone else is started in their center before you get to work. You don’t want kiddos just sitting around while you are helping others.
After that you need to do a quick minute or two on fluency. You can do this by having students read a quick fluency peice or creating fluency flash cards.
I print and copy the flash cards found here for my students. We flip through them at the beginning of guided reading and we stop to talk about expression and other fluency skills.
Focus Skill of the Day
Each day I pick a skill that I want to review with the students and then watch them use it while they are reading.
Examples could be inferencing, context clues, etc.
Or you could do expression, vowel teams, and other phonics or fluency skills.
This skill needs to be something we are working on in whole group, so that you can relate it to your other lessons. I do a quick discussion review of the skill with the kids and then while they are reading I will watch for it.
Then, I introduce our new book for our session. We do a quick book look and make predictions.
When my students read they are all reading to themselves. They know when I tap them on the shoulder they need to read a little bit louder so I can hear them. I typically will sit near them, so they can still whisper. I listen to their reading and stop them to ask them questions about the focus skill. I also might help them with different fluency or phonics techniques.
Each session I jot down one student who I am going to focus on most of the time. I may do a running record for that student or just help them out with different strategies. This doesn’t mean I read with them the entire time, I still switch students, it just means that they are my focus for that session.
The students also know if they get done reading before other students they have to read it again until everyone is done.
After we have completed the book we starting talking through discussion questions. I typically have 4-5 comprehension questions. I have the students answer them verbally usually, but sometimes I have them write their answer using dry erase marker on the desk. Then we can work on how to restate the question and answer the question fully.
I may also decide instead of just having questions to do a graphic organizer for the kiddos to do that relates to the focus skill.
My students turn to a partner and do a quick 30 second retell of the story.
It goes like this:
Nonfiction: Turn to your neighbor and say:
“This book is about _____________ and it teaches about _________, __________ & __________.
Fiction: State setting, characters, problem, events, and solution.
We do some quick word work activities after this. I always choose 4-6 words from the story or from a word family we are working on.
I then either choose to work on vocabulary or phonics.
If working on phonics I will use dry erase markers, letter tiles, playdoh, or other materials to help them build words. We will talk about phonetic strategies and how to break apart the word as they build it.
If working on vocabulary I will have the students go back in the book and find the word. We will pull out the context clues and come up with a good definition of the word together. Then, we will typically write a new sentence on the desk.
Sometimes with vocabulary words I will do these activities or games that they typically do it word work together.
To be honest, I typically don’t have enough time for writing in my guided reading session, but if you do GO FOR IT! 🙂
For writing I would give my students a prompt that relates to the story we read. They have to write five sentences in response. You can write the five sentences together as a group and break it down slowly or have them write it individually and then break down each writing.
This process could take several days.
FAQ on Teaching Guided Reading
How do you plan quickly?
Check out this post here to read about how I make my prep for guided reading quick and painless.
How do you do this with a novel?
Easy!! I just have my kiddos read one or two chapters in a meeting. I do everything the same, but instead we are going chapter by chapter. We all stay on the same page. The familiar reading is the previous chapters. At the end my kiddos also complete a book project which you can read about here!
Where do you get your books?
I typically get my books from my curriculum at my school, scholastic, and reading a-z.
How much time do you spend on guided reading a day?
For me, we do one session per day for 20-30 minutes. This worked best for me with upper elementary. I felt that in the shorter sessions they weren’t getting enough done in centers and we weren’t getting all of our lesson done at my desk. With that being said I meet with most of my kids once per week and my lowest group twice.
Do you ever skip guided reading?
NO! Guided is always my most important part of my day. If I have to skip something due to stuff going on I always skip whole group before I skip small group. My most meaningful learning goes on in guided reading.
How do you keep the other kids in centers focused?
- Make it engaging. Have the kids enjoying what they are doing. Watch the video below to see how I engage them!
- Model it and practice it for 2-3 weeks before you even begin! Tons of modeling, doing it, and then discussing it is needed and important.
- At the end of each session have one person from every center tell the class what they did and shout out one or two people that did excellent during sessions. This helps motivate the kiddos and hold them accountable.
- If students aren’t completing the work that needs to be done during centers send it home for homework. I promise you they will get sick of extra homework fast and stay focused.
If you want more information about what I do for centers check out this video below!