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September 13, 2016

Guided Reading: Part 2, Benefits of Small Group Instruction

By Shari Carter
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Both good and struggling readers benefit from guided reading. Whole group instruction has its place in literacy programs, but there are great benefits to students who are given the opportunity to have differentiated, teacher-led instruction in a small group setting. During small group reading instruction, the teacher’s goal is to assist students in developing an understanding of what they are reading, but also to encourage students to apply reading strategies they will need to become independent readers.

    Why Is Guided Reading Important?

    Guided reading gives us the opportunity to ensure more reading in school (with instructional support). Students should also read independently during the reading workshop and take books home to read. Amount of time spent matters, and guided reading provides the following:

    • Daily experience reading a text at a level that supports accuracy and comprehension

    • Experience with a wide variety of genres so that students can develop favorite types of texts

    • Encouragement to read at their independent level as part of the reading workshop

    • Opportunity to talk and write about texts

    Guided reading also provides teachers the perfect opportunity to observe and offer guidance to their students as they read aloud in a small group setting. One of my favorite aspects of guided reading is that it gives me an opportunity to be close to my students, get to know them a little bit better and more than anything, share my love for reading. I cherish the moments I get with my students as we spend time reading together. In fact, I would have to say that guided reading is a favorite time of my day!

    Assessing and Establishing Groups

    Every child should be evaluated to find their individual instructional level. This can be done through a variety of assessments. Running records are extremely helpful in determining a child’s reading level. How to Take Running Records is a great resource to learn more about using this form of assessment to establish groups. Make sure to scroll down to the very bottom for an easy way to copy running record sheets to get your assessments done today!  

    Screening, monitoring progress, and using diagnostic assessments can also help teachers develop lessons and inform instruction. When groups are made initially, it is important to remember that these groups are not set in stone, they should remain fluid. Assessments have a significant role in guided reading. It is important to monitor progress to ensure your students remain in groups that meet their individual needs. Teachers should use flexible grouping practices based on data and student needs. Guided reading groups will transform as students advance in reading.

    Leveled Texts

    Matching leveled texts to your students’ needs can be a daunting task, but don’t get overwhelmed! There are lots of ways to get your hands on books to use as you and your students engage in guided reading.

    • Reading Programs: If your reading program provides leveled texts, these will work well for guiding readers in small group. Our school district just adopted a new reading series and I have to tell you that one of the things I was most excited about were all the leveled texts that came with it. I am excited to share these with my students during our time together in small groups.

    • Scholastic Book Clubs: For years I have offered Scholastic Book Clubs to my students and their families. There are terrific titles to choose from and everyone benefits from ordering. There are a variety of reading levels and interests available and I continuously order for my classroom read-alouds and my leveled library. The fantastic part about Scholastic Book Clubs is that you are awarded bonus points each and every time a student orders a book. The majority of all my books have come from Scholastic and most of them I have acquired through bonus points at NO COST TO ME!

    • Scholastic Guided Reading Programs: Scholastic Guided Reading Programs deliver high-quality leveled texts and instruction to help all students become strategic and independent readers who love to read. With more research-based programs available than ever, Scholastic Guided Reading offers books leveled by the Fountas & Pinnell system, so you can effectively meet the needs of all your students.

    • My Favorite Leveled Books: I absolutely love Guided Science Readers! In kindergarten, these books rule the roost! They are a big collection of high interest leveled readers that fit perfectly into my guided reading and my leveled library. They are all nonfiction which aligns perfectly with the Common Core State Standards and my kids just love reading all about animals. There is an instant text-to-world connection and they are highly sought after as a result. 

    Jan Richardson has written two professional resources to help you teach targeted, powerful guided reading lessons: The Next Step in Guided Reading and The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading. I love them both and keep them close by as my go-to guide when I need a little extra help.

    Management Strategies

    Systems and routines are an essential part of guided reading. It is critical that children know what to do when you are meeting with small groups. They need to know procedures for each literacy station and what is expected of them during each guided reading rotation. Basically, before you can even begin guided reading, you will need to teach your children how to work independently. If children do not know what is expected of them, or how to work independently, one thing can be assured: you will have LOTS and LOTS of interruptions as you attempt to teach your small groups.

    • Do Not Disturb

    Using a signal, sign, or light is a good way to let kids know you are working in a “Do Not Disturb” zone. When your signal is on, students should wait to approach the table and talk. The only exception I make for interruptions is if the student is injured, sick, or has an issue that just cannot wait. Having a signal has significantly reduced the amount of times my students and I are interrupted.

    • Keeping Students Engaged

    When I started guided reading in my classroom, I struggled with what to have all the other kids do while I was meeting with my groups. I found out really fast that my literacy stations needed to be engaging — it couldn’t just be busy work. Kids tire of that and if they don’t see a purpose for what they are doing, they will not value the activity. I knew that if my kids enjoyed the work they were doing, I stood a much greater chance of having success.

    Although I am far from being an expert, I have learned that I need to provide authentic activities that are: open-ended, multi-leveled, involve student choice, have clear and consistent procedures, allow for students to support one another, and embed skills in meaningful contexts. The literacy stations I use in my classroom are:

    • Read to Self: It is critical that children are given the opportunity daily to read independently. Students reading to themselves is the foundation for creating independent readers. In kindergarten, we start off building stamina very slowly — at first we shoot for 3–5 minutes. We graph our progress for the first few weeks of school and before we know it, my sweet kinders have made great gains in their reading stamina!

    • Read to Someone: This is probably one of the favorite literacy stations in our room. Children reading with their peers and I love the collaborative effort that is involved. Children may read from one book together or they can both have their own books and take turns reading to one another. I take great pleasure watching them students support each other during this station. 

    • Listen to Reading: Is a great way to model prosody and expression. Kids love hearing recorded stories because the storyteller is usually SO animated. This is a great reading model for kids to be exposed to, and Listen to Reading also immensely benefits ELL students.

    • Word Work: During Word Work time, students are given the opportunity to participate in activities that focus on spelling and vocabulary. This is a time when children are given a chance to “play” with words. By playing with words, word families, and spelling patterns, students increase their knowledge of words.

     

    • Work on Writing: One of my favorites! I love writing and so do my students. During Work on Writing, my students are allowed to choose their own topics to write about. I love reading their writing and learn so much about them as a result. Reading and writing are directly connected and my students really enjoy their freedom of choice during this activity! Make sure to set aside a special time after your literacy block for students to share what they have written. Seeing the pride they have in their writing just makes this teacher’s heart swell!

    /content/dam/teachers/blogs/shari-carter/migrated-files/author_share_2_listen_with_your_heart_0.jpg

    I hope this post has been helpful and if you need tips for getting guided reading set up in your classroom, please check out, "Guided Reading: Part 1, Getting Set Up."

    For more ideas on how you can help kids read, click on the picture below and take a look at the Kids & Family Reading Report.

    I’d love to hear all about your favorite guided reading tips and strategies. Please take a moment to comment and share your ideas for all to learn from and enjoy. Thank you so much! :)

    Don't forget to subscribe to my blog on Scholastic Top Teaching if you would like to get my latest posts delivered right to your inbox.

    Thanks for reading, have fun with your kiddos, and I’ll see you here next time!

    Have a fantastic day!

    Shari :)

     

    Check out my other blog posts!

    Both good and struggling readers benefit from guided reading. Whole group instruction has its place in literacy programs, but there are great benefits to students who are given the opportunity to have differentiated, teacher-led instruction in a small group setting. During small group reading instruction, the teacher’s goal is to assist students in developing an understanding of what they are reading, but also to encourage students to apply reading strategies they will need to become independent readers.

    Why Is Guided Reading Important?

    Guided reading gives us the opportunity to ensure more reading in school (with instructional support). Students should also read independently during the reading workshop and take books home to read. Amount of time spent matters, and guided reading provides the following:

    • Daily experience reading a text at a level that supports accuracy and comprehension

    • Experience with a wide variety of genres so that students can develop favorite types of texts

    • Encouragement to read at their independent level as part of the reading workshop

    • Opportunity to talk and write about texts

    Guided reading also provides teachers the perfect opportunity to observe and offer guidance to their students as they read aloud in a small group setting. One of my favorite aspects of guided reading is that it gives me an opportunity to be close to my students, get to know them a little bit better and more than anything, share my love for reading. I cherish the moments I get with my students as we spend time reading together. In fact, I would have to say that guided reading is a favorite time of my day!

    Assessing and Establishing Groups

    Every child should be evaluated to find their individual instructional level. This can be done through a variety of assessments. Running records are extremely helpful in determining a child’s reading level. How to Take Running Records is a great resource to learn more about using this form of assessment to establish groups. Make sure to scroll down to the very bottom for an easy way to copy running record sheets to get your assessments done today!  

    Screening, monitoring progress, and using diagnostic assessments can also help teachers develop lessons and inform instruction. When groups are made initially, it is important to remember that these groups are not set in stone, they should remain fluid. Assessments have a significant role in guided reading. It is important to monitor progress to ensure your students remain in groups that meet their individual needs. Teachers should use flexible grouping practices based on data and student needs. Guided reading groups will transform as students advance in reading.

    Leveled Texts

    Matching leveled texts to your students’ needs can be a daunting task, but don’t get overwhelmed! There are lots of ways to get your hands on books to use as you and your students engage in guided reading.

    • Reading Programs: If your reading program provides leveled texts, these will work well for guiding readers in small group. Our school district just adopted a new reading series and I have to tell you that one of the things I was most excited about were all the leveled texts that came with it. I am excited to share these with my students during our time together in small groups.

    • Scholastic Book Clubs: For years I have offered Scholastic Book Clubs to my students and their families. There are terrific titles to choose from and everyone benefits from ordering. There are a variety of reading levels and interests available and I continuously order for my classroom read-alouds and my leveled library. The fantastic part about Scholastic Book Clubs is that you are awarded bonus points each and every time a student orders a book. The majority of all my books have come from Scholastic and most of them I have acquired through bonus points at NO COST TO ME!

    • Scholastic Guided Reading Programs: Scholastic Guided Reading Programs deliver high-quality leveled texts and instruction to help all students become strategic and independent readers who love to read. With more research-based programs available than ever, Scholastic Guided Reading offers books leveled by the Fountas & Pinnell system, so you can effectively meet the needs of all your students.

    • My Favorite Leveled Books: I absolutely love Guided Science Readers! In kindergarten, these books rule the roost! They are a big collection of high interest leveled readers that fit perfectly into my guided reading and my leveled library. They are all nonfiction which aligns perfectly with the Common Core State Standards and my kids just love reading all about animals. There is an instant text-to-world connection and they are highly sought after as a result. 

    Jan Richardson has written two professional resources to help you teach targeted, powerful guided reading lessons: The Next Step in Guided Reading and The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading. I love them both and keep them close by as my go-to guide when I need a little extra help.

    Management Strategies

    Systems and routines are an essential part of guided reading. It is critical that children know what to do when you are meeting with small groups. They need to know procedures for each literacy station and what is expected of them during each guided reading rotation. Basically, before you can even begin guided reading, you will need to teach your children how to work independently. If children do not know what is expected of them, or how to work independently, one thing can be assured: you will have LOTS and LOTS of interruptions as you attempt to teach your small groups.

    • Do Not Disturb

    Using a signal, sign, or light is a good way to let kids know you are working in a “Do Not Disturb” zone. When your signal is on, students should wait to approach the table and talk. The only exception I make for interruptions is if the student is injured, sick, or has an issue that just cannot wait. Having a signal has significantly reduced the amount of times my students and I are interrupted.

    • Keeping Students Engaged

    When I started guided reading in my classroom, I struggled with what to have all the other kids do while I was meeting with my groups. I found out really fast that my literacy stations needed to be engaging — it couldn’t just be busy work. Kids tire of that and if they don’t see a purpose for what they are doing, they will not value the activity. I knew that if my kids enjoyed the work they were doing, I stood a much greater chance of having success.

    Although I am far from being an expert, I have learned that I need to provide authentic activities that are: open-ended, multi-leveled, involve student choice, have clear and consistent procedures, allow for students to support one another, and embed skills in meaningful contexts. The literacy stations I use in my classroom are:

    • Read to Self: It is critical that children are given the opportunity daily to read independently. Students reading to themselves is the foundation for creating independent readers. In kindergarten, we start off building stamina very slowly — at first we shoot for 3–5 minutes. We graph our progress for the first few weeks of school and before we know it, my sweet kinders have made great gains in their reading stamina!

    • Read to Someone: This is probably one of the favorite literacy stations in our room. Children reading with their peers and I love the collaborative effort that is involved. Children may read from one book together or they can both have their own books and take turns reading to one another. I take great pleasure watching them students support each other during this station. 

    • Listen to Reading: Is a great way to model prosody and expression. Kids love hearing recorded stories because the storyteller is usually SO animated. This is a great reading model for kids to be exposed to, and Listen to Reading also immensely benefits ELL students.

    • Word Work: During Word Work time, students are given the opportunity to participate in activities that focus on spelling and vocabulary. This is a time when children are given a chance to “play” with words. By playing with words, word families, and spelling patterns, students increase their knowledge of words.

     

    • Work on Writing: One of my favorites! I love writing and so do my students. During Work on Writing, my students are allowed to choose their own topics to write about. I love reading their writing and learn so much about them as a result. Reading and writing are directly connected and my students really enjoy their freedom of choice during this activity! Make sure to set aside a special time after your literacy block for students to share what they have written. Seeing the pride they have in their writing just makes this teacher’s heart swell!

    /content/dam/teachers/blogs/shari-carter/migrated-files/author_share_2_listen_with_your_heart_0.jpg

    I hope this post has been helpful and if you need tips for getting guided reading set up in your classroom, please check out, "Guided Reading: Part 1, Getting Set Up."

    For more ideas on how you can help kids read, click on the picture below and take a look at the Kids & Family Reading Report.

    I’d love to hear all about your favorite guided reading tips and strategies. Please take a moment to comment and share your ideas for all to learn from and enjoy. Thank you so much! :)

    Don't forget to subscribe to my blog on Scholastic Top Teaching if you would like to get my latest posts delivered right to your inbox.

    Thanks for reading, have fun with your kiddos, and I’ll see you here next time!

    Have a fantastic day!

    Shari :)

     

    Check out my other blog posts!

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