Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Guiding Reading during Guided Reading (Part 1)

Since I've upgraded my personal computer, I've had the extreme privilege of moving all of my pictures from one computer to the next, and as a result, have spent much of my time reorganizing them.  This also gave me a chance to see all the pictures I've taken for posts I haven't posted.

Let's get right to it then.

Guided reading.  This year I'm doing a guided reading and conferring combo meal plan.  For me, it looks like this (in a perfect world where time is no barrier and schedules are perfect):
1-2 weeks: Guided reading groups
1-2 weeks: Teacher/Student conferring

I take some quick notes on my students during/after meeting with guided reading groups and I will also take a week (usually two) in between re-grouping to meet with each student to confer about the book he/she is currently reading "for fun" (or in our case, for "stamina practice").  I can share more about conferring some time, but I'm focusing on Guided Reading for now...

I like to keep my guided reading time as simple as possible, meaning as little prep as possible for me. I do this by doing a few things:

1. Having the tools available every time
2. Keeping the same activity/skill for each group regardless of text level
3. Go-to skill lessons for last minute or early finishing groups (AKA The Binder) {More on this in PART 2- coming soon}
4. Documentation...dun dun dunnnn {PART 3...coming later than soon}

If I have all these things set up at the beginning of the year (and I do), then the only thing to plan/prep for guided reading groups is choosing books and choosing a skill/end result or activity.

The Tools

First, whisper phones.  I know I teach fourth grade, but I still love them- and so do the kids!  When students are back meeting with me, they are required to read in their "soft voice"- just above a whisper so that I can take turns listening in to each of them throughout the reading.  Most of the time, they don't find this distracting at all, but a few can be self conscious about it (it is odd, after all), so I hand them a whisper phone so that they can hear themselves more clearly.  Some of the kids like to use them for their independent reading at other times throughout the day as well.

Watch for them to go on sale- these were on sale for $2 each at the beginning of the year, so I stocked up while I could, and it saved me from taping piping together to make my own.

Teacher Note: Wash these.  We wipe them down often because there's a lot of heavy breathing going on when the kids are talking in them!  ...that sounds weird, but you know what I mean!

Up next, colored guided reading strips.  These are awesome tools for those kiddos with dyslexia or dysgraphia.  I also like to use them with my lower readers or ADHD to help stay focused.  I have all different colors to use at the guided reading table, or if a student needs/wants one to use on their own, I have a bunch of extra blue strips.

As you can see, I stock up on these as well, and they can get a bit pricey.  I picked these up at the USToy (Oriental Trading) at a tent sale, and they were $.50/dozen (yesss)...so I bought them all.  I have a lot.


I like to keep my prep to a minimum, so things are pretty simple in guided reading groups.  My school has a leveled book library, so I lucked out there- books are easy to get and levels are a breeze to locate.  I try to know the skill we are working on before I choose book so that I can cater to our needs in the classroom with book choice.

Generally, I keep the actual activity the same for each group.  The books are leveled, and I can level my instruction, so I stick to one overall goal or assignment regardless of group.

For example, we were working on summarizing, so over the course of a few weeks I broke down our problem/solution and story map and put together summaries in each group.  Everyone had the same physical product, but was working with text at their own level.

For these particular summarizing lessons, we did the problem and solution on gold paper (those were separate days), and then three steps taken to solve the problem (also all different days), to put together in one five sentence(ish) summery.

Finally, sticky notes.  I am completely addicted to them for a lot of reasons.  1) they are cross curricular, 2) kids love using them, 3) they are easy to use and quick to reference, 4) they can be reposted or pulled out of books to put other learning tools- posters, summaries, etc. together.

I could go on, but I won't.

Almost every time we sit down as a small group, we have our whisper phones, reading strips, and post it note guides ready and available to begin reading.  A lot of teachers use post it notes, and for good reason- they are great for focusing reading and reading with a purpose.  For this purpose, I made my own Good Readers Guided Reading Sticky Note Cards- I have different cards depending on which skill we are working on.  For example, if we are doing text features, then I pull the text feature sticky note cards out, plaster some sticky notes to the bottom and let the kids know which features we are focusing on- sometimes it's just a couple and sometimes it's all of them- depending on skill level and student ability.  I pair this with my Good Readers Flip Chart and we are off and running.

I love this system!  It is so easy for me to pull and focus our reading for the day.  Some of my students even grab sticky notes to use during other parts of the day in order to focus their reading.  Love that!!!

Now that I've written all this I'm thinking "gosh I really should pull some GR books so that when I come back from spring break I'm reading to rock and roll."  Add it to the list...


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