by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady
I work with many teachers who are in various stages of implementing small group instruction in reading, so I decided to devote the next few posts to address this topic. I will address the benefits, organization, and how guided reading, whole group mini-lessons, and literacy learning stations go hand-in-hand. This information comes from first hand experience, research, reading from the experts, workshops, and observation of successful implementation.
Steps to setting up a guided reading program:
- Build a classroom community. It is important to build trust, respect, and relationships. Teamwork activities are recommended.
- Decide what the students will do when the teacher is with a group. The success of this aspect is critical. You will want to devote your complete attention to your small groups. So procedures are very important. What types of literacy activities? Introduce 1-2 at a time and practice before expecting students to do them independently.
- How will my students be grouped? By strategy needs? By instructional level? What assessments will you use to gather this data? These first 3 steps should take 4-6 weeks (ideally at the beginning of school).
- How will students move or rotate to different stations? Will it be a timed rotation system or free choice? How long? What signals will I use? How will I instill responsibility?
- Provide teacher and student resources. These include your guided reading sets of books, books for familiar reading, magnetic letters, individual white boards, teacher chart or board, writing journals, sight word cards, etc.
- Be part of a collaborative group. Ongoing professional development is important.
- 30 minutes whole group mini-lesson daily: Instruction of comprehension and phonemic awareness and phonics skills.
- 60 minutes small group daily: If you are grouping students by level, then you are focused on their instructional level. This means they can read the book with 90-95% accuracy (missing no more than 10% of the words). If the book is too easy, there are no strategies to teach. If the book is too hard, there are too many strategies to teach. While teaching your small group, your other students are engaged in literacy activities in these areas – phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary.
- 15 minutes read aloud daily: This helps build listening comprehension and can connect to your whole group reading focus.
Here’s a 2-page guide to help you prepare your students for guided reading: Guided Reading: The first 6 weeks of school
Stay tuned. I will share more details about each of the above in future posts.