8 Tips for Efficiently Running your Reading Groups

Updated: Mar 18



We all know that reading groups are one of, if not the most important part of the school day. We are teaching our students a skill that will make a difference for the rest of their lives!


In saying that, running reading groups in a class full of eager and active little people isn't always the easiest of tasks. We have heard teachers say, "Teaching is like a walk in the park… Jurassic Park", and this could be true when reading groups get too rowdy or out of control.

But don't worry, we are here to help. We have put together our 8 top tips for efficiently running reading groups in your primary classroom (Kindergarten through to Grade 6). We have also asked some of our experienced colleagues to weigh in with their best tips and tricks.


We have also made this article into a printable PDF. Click here to grab your copy.


We hope you find them helpful:

1. Record notes by student, so it is also easier to refer back to and find notes when you have parent meetings or report writing time.


2. Keep readers in labeled boxes in the classroom for students to use as familiar reading. Once students have read the book during the guided reading sessions, have an area where they can access them for familiar reading. These books could be used for another group activity, during quiet reading time, or if a parent or other helper assists in the classroom.


3. Have a list of each reading group and who is in each group. Because reading groups should be fluid, they may change frequently. Consider having a template that you can easily change. For example, make a laminated chart and have each student's name laminated to move the students’ name tags around using blutac. Alternatively, go digital and leave it on the IWB for students. Simply copy and paste the slide from week to week.



4. Plan activities that are familiar to students, so you aren’t wasting too much time each week trying to explain what they need to do.


5. Have clear, explicit rules about what students can and can’t do during reading groups and when it is ok to interrupt you.

Image Credit: @mrs.preen

6. When assessing, read with students on similar levels one after another. It will save you time in getting out different texts and help you compare their strengths and areas of need.


7. Minimise marking – you don’t need a pile of work that needs to be marked after reading groups each day. Try to limit activities to be marked. Remember, your attention needs to be with the group reading to you.



8. Run reading group activities without the guided reading to begin so you can monitor and guide your students. You will need to explicitly teach students how to complete the activities independently. At the beginning of the year, dedicate a few reading sessions to students just working through a range of activities so that you can model, monitor and guide.



We have also made this article into a printable PDF. Click here to grab your copy.


We could talk all day about reading groups and different strategies to try, but we are going to hand the mic over to some other experienced educators to share their best tips and tricks:

“I like to have a recording sheet for each student that I keep on a clipboard or in a folder for each group. That way, all their anecdotal notes are on the one piece of paper and I can move that record from group to group as they move.” Erin @mrs.preen

“Spend time at the beginning of the year to teach your students how to complete their independent tasks. Think about your set up and pack up procedures, what to do if the device they’re using isn’t working, how to play any games and work together with their group, when it’s ok to disturb the teacher’s group etc. You are much better off investing in this time to begin with as it will help your groups run smoothly throughout the year! I like to refresh this at the start of each term as well.”

Lara @lucyjaneloveslearning


“I find multi-step activities always work and ones that are open-ended and student driven. Ultimately activities that are well explained and rehearsed that students can help each other with so there is minimal teacher interruption” Sam


“For older years keep the tasks reading focussed try and limit the writing so you don't have lots of marking and tasks can be finished in the time frame. Also, link the reading to other KLA topics so they are exposed to lots of rich text from a range of related topics. This will free up time for that KLA.” Sarah


“Another tip I learnt from a casual in my class was having a group spy. Each group is assigned a spy who is looking for people following the expectations. If someone is not doing the right then the spy can write their name on the board. They will quickly get back on task. No teacher input needed!!” Beth


“In Kindy I designate a ‘manager’ for the group for the week. They wear a lanyard (like your PA of the day). The manager collects all the equipment needed, places it in their spot, helps monitor noise level - they get some stickers to hand out, and then are the final member to leave area at the end to make sure it’s tidy. I just go in the order of their names on their group chart. If and when they swap groups just be mindful if they miss their turn (it’s a coveted role)” Gabe

“Make your reading groups sustainable. Don’t make new activities every week for each rotation. New activities mean more of your time teaching the activity and more of their time learning the activity. Focus on activities that allow for simple rollovers and routine so the students can have routine and be successful. Otherwise you waste time making and spend more time teaching” James



"I like to integrate other KLA’s in reading text selection to tick off more outcomes. Also, uitilise parent helpers if you have them - give them a pack of books, sight words and stickers and they can work with a group" Megan


“My tip for successful reading groups in infants is to set clear expectations from the start. The first week/s is about practicing how to set up, pack up and the appropriate noise level. Remind students of those expectations every day and reward students following them. Once that is set up, you can spend quality learning time with your group.” Beth

Loved this article and want it in a printable version to refer to later? Click here to download.


We just shared 8 things you can do RIGHT NOW in your classroom to start running your reading groups efficiently, but we all know there is so much more to successful reading groups beyond efficiency.



What if you could have your reading groups running smoothly and effortlessly?


  • Imagine running a reading group program that is uncomplicated, easy to implement, and stress-free.

  • Imagine having all your students settling quickly and calmly into reading group routines.

  • Imagine reading group lessons becoming the favourite part of the day for you and your students.

  • Imagine incorporating simple systems where students are learning independently allowing you to focus on the readers in your guided group.

  • Imagine other teachers walking into your classroom during reading groups wanting to know what's your secret.


Introducing…

TRANSFORM YOUR READING GROUPS


Transform your Reading Groups is our 5-step process for setting up and running reading groups – the uncomplicated way!


What is included:

• Our no-fail step-by-step cycle to transform your reading groups

• Step-by-step instructions

• Suggested activities for reading rotations activities

• Suggested guided reading skill development teaching points

• Guided reading notes and observations template

• Guided reading planning sticky notes and group posters


So, what are you waiting for? Come join us and transform your READING GROUPS!



What to read next:

Productivity and Efficiency Tips for teachers

8 Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout

Discover how to manage your emails


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