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Sunday, 22 March 2015

Guided Reading Setup, Tips and Tricks!

Guided Reading is all the rage right now. Most schools seem to be mandating it as a whole school strategy and that was the case for mine last year.
I had done reading groups before and always felt I spent more time doing behaviour management than actual teaching. But I believe in whole school approaches so through trial, error and research I have finally got guided reading working for me.

Set up
This is my guided reading station (and my main desk area). I love the horseshoe desk so much, the practicality of it is endless and if you are doing guided reading without one you are really missing out. I currently keep the book for each group in a white bookshelf behind my desk although I will eventually gets tubs (when I can find one style in 5 different colours).

I have all my guided reading resources on the top two shelves behind me organised in containers.
In small tubs I keep motivation tools. 

Witches fingers are great. I got a ten pack off eBay for less than $5.00. 

Magnifying glasses are very exciting for students and I got a set for less than $10.

Pointers can be as simple as fun pictures on popsticks. I got these zombie pictures from Ainslee Labs on TPT.

These questions fans come from Runde's Room. I purchased the bundle so I got 6 different sets. I love them because all the questions are sorted into categories. I never struggle to think of questions and I ensure I am covering a concept in depth.
Laminated card and whiteboard markers are great for any written work. Do yourself a favour and get magic erasers (bulk buy on eBay) for rubbing work off- 10 times as quick and easy as a tissue or cloth)

I also love this resource for assisting your students with reading problems. 

For term 1 I have a different strategy for each week that all groups cover. In term 2 I get more targeted with each group, focusing on their specific needs. 
My current planning document is a simple table that has the group names and days of the week as headers. Each section explains what they are doing at each activity and a comments column at the end. I hope to take this to a higher standard soon.


While I am with my guided reading group I like to have the rest of my students in groups. They rotate through 4 activities each week. I use the chart above to show students which group they are in and what their group is doing. The chart has blue tacked names so I can easily change the groups based on student needs. All the pieces are laminated so I change the activities as needed. I have either 4 or 5 groups depending on student needs. When I have 5 groups I still only run it 4 times a week but while my top group is reading their text my weakest group is with me, then they swap and the weaker group re-reads their text.
By having the chart I am able to tell my students to go straight to their activity without any instruction time, 

Other Students
I change the activities the rest of the class are doing on an as needed basis. This term the other group activities are as follows:
SRA Comprehension box: Those good old leveled cards that students work through. Ensure you check on the students every now and again to see what pace students are working through the cards.
Computer/iPad based: For term 1 students have to do interactive comprehension texts on Studyladder. Its a great program, it's free and has a wealth of activities. Each student has their own log on and you can set tasks for the class and see results. In term 2 I pick a more targeted text or activity for them to complete.
Oral Reading: My biggest hate of guided reading is the lack of oral reading (did you know the reading part of guided reading is meant to be silent?). To ensure students are practicing this important skill I give them an easy text (independent level 95% + accuracy) and a voice card. Students attempt to read in the given voice and then vote on the best voice. The best voice presents to the class and receives a reward for public reading. On the last day all the winners read and an overall winner is announced. In my experience the people change week to week. I got my voice reading cards from here and here. (they are in the picture behind the pointers).

Tips and Tricks
  • Make sure the other students are completing activities that have a high level of accountability i.e. easy to check to see if they did what was required.
  • Have as many of the other activities as independent as possible- don't sit students together when they are working on independent tasks.
  • Discuss with students the noise requirements. I use ninja mode. Students have to sneak around like ninjas making no sound (think ninja turtles) and sometimes I will pick the ultimate ninja for a reward. This could also be called mouse mode. 
  • Noise level apps are also great - provide students a reward if they stay under a certain noise level. 
  • Wear an accessory when doing guided reading groups and explain to students that when you have that on they are not to come to you.
  • Keep sessions short- this will ensure students are on task and don't get bored.
  • Teach independence and problem solving strategies. What should they do if they get stuck while you are with a guided reading group?

That's how I make guided reading work for me. Hope you found some useful tips!

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