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Reading groups


Junior Member
Any ideas on how to implement reading groups for the first time? My current situation makes it impossible, but my new school next year requires them. What are some of the basic "needs to know" for doing guided reading groups? Thank you!!!


Senior Member
You have to teach group work skills first, otherwise it is a nightmare.
I usually start off with everyone doing the same activity eg. handwriting (chosen because it is quiet and independent).
I set out the activity to all students, including expectation of behaviour, what to do if you need help or finish early (I have a bunch of early finisher activities or tell them to get a book from the class library).
I then take out one group and do the reading. I explain the procedure to them and model it. When we finish reading I explain the procedure for going back to the class group.
It takes a bit of practise and i usually give a prize for quiet workers, people who helped others, and those that finish and get on with the next activity.
Interrupting is the biggest problem- younger students want you to see their finished work or just check they are on the right track. We practise putting our finished work in the marking pile and I have the rule "ask 3 before me" in my class- if a student needs help they must ask 3 others first before the teacher- cuts down on a lot of interruptions.
I hope this helps.


Full Member
I agree wiwth Aliryan's message. Before you start centers, you need to practice group work. In my class, they work until they hear my kitchen timer ring (after 15-20 min). That is their signal to clean up. When they hear me ring the bell, then they may move. Practice this for a good 3-4 days.

***Get ready for groups.***

Rules: I wear those silly headbands that have disco balls at the ends and that means that students can't come up to me unless they have the 2 B's: Blood and Barf. I ask the students "What are the two B's?" "Blood and barf!"-- they love it and get the idea. I wear the headband for two weeks, or so, until they realize that they CANNOT talk to me during this time. Also, I emphasize that one of the most important things they will be learning is how to become a better reader, that is why it's essential they speak quietly while they are at their centers, so I can work with my group.

The first thing to do is to establish procedure. I list students from top to bottom based on their reading level/assessment. I create four groups of five students each. There are four centers set up and each child has a schedule of which center they go to first. We practice rotating to different centers. Start off simple. 1. Teacher Center 2. Free write
3. Practice book page. 4. Library (free choice reading). Remember the first month really sets the tempo for how it's going to be the rest of the year. Gradually introduce listening center, etc.

I give each group about 20 minutes with me and I try to do this 3-4 times a week, although it's pretty difficult with all the pullout programs we have.

You may also try seeing the first two groups one day, and the last two groups the next day (depends on how much of a time block you can fit for guided reading).

For more ideas, try the books Guided Reading by Gay Su Pinnell and Words their Way by Donald Bear. Remember, don't make it complicated.

Good luck!


small group rotations

It is necessary to consider the number of groups operating in your room and plan to ensure that all students are actively engaged during the small group focus. The time you spend in small group rotations will vary between 30 and 45 minutes per day depending upon the age of the students. I ususally take running records, guided reading, interactive writing, one on one testing or language experience during this time.

To assess how many groups you will need I would take running records on all students to see what reading levels they are on, then group according to student needs that are similiar. I also change these groups regularly so children have a mixture of independent readers and beginners to learn from each other.

Some of the activities i run during writing and reading learning centres (Small group focus) are: cloze, dictionary work, word games, write the room, story starters, author/illustrator study, poetry box, puppets, readers theatre, etc.

I found many of these printable activities from: www.teacherresourcesgalore.com and www.speakingofspeech.com

As far as guided reading after the intense small group setting send the kids back to their seats with activities that help them learn to preview selections, anticipate content, and make connections between what they will read and what they already know.

The strategies I tell my children to use during guided reading are: check the picture, try again, does the word look like another word you know?, get your mouth ready, look for chunks, does it make sense?, does it look right?, does it sound right?

Good luck and remember to use a strategy so kids know not to interrupt you while you have a small group with you. Any further questions let me know.