Guide to Guided Reading: Part 1

9:05 AM

It's November ..... N. O. V. E. M. B. E. R. Is that crazy to anyone else, or just me? This year has NOT taken it's time. Whew. Well, here at For The Teacher, things are getting CRA-ZY! Not only is it moving up in the TpT rank globally, but the store is also being updated! Woo hoo! I'll be retiring SEVERAL products ... and that means ...
FLASH SALE - November 12-13, 2015! I'll be putting several of my older products on sale for 20% off ... and then they'll be gone! I know ... so fun! 

Okay, now on to the purpose of this post. 

This is part one of two posts about Guided Reading. This post is talking about the different items to have at the table, ideas for organizing it, and ways of using the materials! So, let's get started ...

Materials for Guided Reading
1. An area designated for small group (guided reading) to meet, read, and practice/discuss.
Now, I've read numerous articles about the different types of tables, locations in the room, etc. The following are merely my thoughts. In my 4th grade room, we were required to have one of those over-sized kidney shaped tables. There was no getting around it. Mandated by our district. So, I had one. Without the legs. On the floor. With cushions. I know this seems very "zen," but honestly, it was for space. It was easier to not feel cluttered (or keep the area under the table cluttered) if there was no height to the table. It's a little out of the box, I'll admit ... but that year, my reading scores soared!

2. Books
This one probably seems like a "duh" material, but I mean to be more specific. These books were used in my room to work with the season, level, and interest of my students. For example... It's November so all of my leveled books would revolve around Fall Time, Pilgrims, Turkeys, Thanksgiving, Family, and Food. The books varied in genre - Fiction, Non-Fiction, Biographical, Mystery, Historical Fiction, etc. It was REALLY important to have these books ready BEFORE the groups arrived. I typically had 3 different books per group, per month. These were usually longer passages or texts since these were 4th graders. In second grade I would use 2-3 books a week per group. The fun began when we voted on the book we would read. This allowed my kids to take ownership of their reading, somewhat.

3. Post-it Notes
Oh the things that you can do with post-it notes. I used various colors to identify parts of a text, features, expression changes, themes, evidence of main idea/topic, etc. I would designate certain colors for questions, texts connections, and opinions. When a kid would read and have one of the items listed above, they would use the post it note to mark their place and keep reading. It really helped with interruptions.

I also used these little gems to show students where to start/stop in a text. Sometimes I would have a question printed on them and kids would stop their reading to answer the post-it question. Then they would "post-it" on their square in my notebook for me to check later in the day. I would collect 10+ post-its and take them as a grade. It was EXCELLENT and not overwhelming to my students who struggled in writing.

In second grade, I used post-it notes when I was taking anecdotal notes. These were SO simple to use. I had a page of outlined post-its in my notebook. As I listened to the reading of each student, I would make a note or two (a star and a wish) on the post it, date it, and put it in my notebook. It was great for S. portfolios. It helped my sanity as well!

My favorite way of using the post-it was with struggling readers. I had the reading strategies on the wall behind me and the kids would reference it. We focused on 1-2 strategies per week until it became second-nature to the reader. When I would hear a student struggling, I would listen and see if they skipped the word, or if they tried to decode it. If they decoded it, they got a point put on their post-it note. This was really great to show students when they don't think they can read it.

4. Timer
Get a timer. Use it. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. This is where I struggled. I REALLY wanted/needed to work with my low-babies a LOT more than my other kiddos. However, I didn't want my higher kids to just plateau because they weren't challenged. So, I made a schedule where I met with my low-babies 4-5days/week and my high kids 2-3days/week. Then I got my timer out, and stuck to it. I found that when I made time for my high kids (even if it was only a couple times a week) they grew. This is a MUST for any table.

5. Lessons

I HATED writing out my guided reading plans. It was just one more thing to add to my ever-growing teaching list. But, I had to. It was mandated my 5th year teaching. But, let me tell you ... it was simple once I made a template that worked for me. I started with a checklist (Guided Reading Checklist) and went from there. The checklist helped me start my lessons and stay on track with my scaffolding. The lessons became easier and faster, the more I made them. I was even known to be SEVERAL weeks ahead of myself (because I picked so many books for the month [see#2]). The students got into a routine and that helped their reading growth ten-fold.

6. Page Protectors and Dry-Erase Markers
These go hand-in-hand in my room. We had limited copies so I needed to get creative. Instead of the kids using up TONS of journal pages, or making tons of word work pages, I would make 6. That's right. Or, I'd have 6 sorting mats. That's it. I would take those few pages (which was nothing compared to the 28 kids I worked with) and put them into the page protectors. The kids would work on word study with those pages and markers. It was great! I HIGHLY recommend this!

7. Reading Response Journals

Now, before you tell me I'm contradicting myself ... let me explain. Responding to a text is MORE grade worthy than sorting words onto a mat. I would rather students spend their time and my money on writing about a text, that writing out words repeatedly. You may differ, and that's A-Okay. I usually had the title of the text written on strips of paper to be placed in their journals, or had them write the title/author at the top of the pages. Then I would use a generic retell method - circle map, bubble map, sequence, problem/solution, cause/effect, opinion, summary, etc. and the kiddos would use their journal. It made for a GREAT review. I would use one of these the pages from my 12 Retells for Fiction & Non Fiction product.

8. Energy
Yes, every guided reading table needs this. It doesn't have to be a hyper-active kind of energy, but it needs to be genuine. Kids can tell when you are just going through the motions. When you actually bring you enjoyment of reading to the table, kids pick up on that, and in some cases mimic it. Trust me ... this is a MUST!

9. Random stuff
List of words for word study, pencils, highlighters, dry-erase markers, whiteboards, hat/necklace/light (to indicate to other students NOT to interrupt your time with your group), activities for reading, strategy posters, visuals, pens, and some sort of holder for all of this stuff.

10. Kids
Yes, you need the kids to come to you. In TN we have to test like crazy. With a set of tests you can choose what type of group you want:
a. kids who need to practice the same skill - cause/effect, elements of a story, etc.
b. kids who need to learn a specific strategy - decoding, fluency, accuracy, and/or comprehension
c. kids on the same reading level
d. kids with the same interests

I typically started with (c) and then moved to (b) and then (a). I never personally used (d), but I know of some teachers who have and they had great success!

Whew ... overwhelmed?
This is just the materials ... it gets a lot more fun when we get into the actual lessons and teaching them! Stay tuned!

Happy Teaching!

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