Organising reading groups is one of those ‘big tasks’ we always have on our list at the beginning of the year. Getting them setup and running is a job that needs careful attention.
Our ultimate aim is to work smarter, not harder.. So let’s dive into how you can get your reading groups setup at the start of the year with minimal fuss.
1. Groups are fluid
Reading groups should be fluid, meaning, they can change frequently. Students may move groups according to goals, specific needs, progression etc. By keeping this front of mind when setting up your reading groups, it means you don’t need to get it “perfect” straight away.
If you give yourself permission to change things up as you go, you are allowing yourself to get started before you have every bit of data collected and analysed – and that is ok!
Teacher tip: Consider having a group template you can easily change. For example, make a laminated chart and have each student's name laminated and move the students’ name tags around using blutac.
2. Analyse the data
Use the data you have collected or access to from the previous year to allocate your reading groups. We like to get a list of student’s names, cut them up and move them around. It is easy to manipulate groups this way and make sure you aren’t missing anyone.
Also, don’t forget the point above. You can continue to assess, so the groups don’t need to be perfect from the get go!. Be sure to let the students know that the groups aren’t set in stone either.
3. Run groups without teacher directed groups
This may seem counter intuitive, but by running the activities without the ‘reading with teacher’ component, allows you to monitor and guide your students. You can establish expectations for the year and foresee any problems that might pop up. This approach gives you time to explicitly teach students and model how to complete activities independently and to your standard.
4. Have a set of go-to activities
We can often overcomplicate reading group activities. But familiarity is best. Have a set of activities that are repeated throughout the term. As the students gain independence and confidence, you can add more into the mix.
By having a set of go-to tasks, you will save yourself lots of planning and prep over the term as well.
Some suggested activities may be independent reading, a reading program the school provides, a vocabulary game and so on.
Find more suggestions for the early years here and ideas for primary students here.
5. Technology training
If you are going to include technology into your weekly rotations, run some whole class ‘training sessions.’ Teach them what to do if a device has no battery, what to do if a computer or app isn’t working, how to login to school systems efficiently etc. Time dedicated to this will be worth it in the long run.
Teacher tip: Take note of competent students while running your technology training. They will be perfect ‘go-to’ solution when students are experiencing difficulty with technology while you are reading. In class tech support, yes please!
6. Do not disturb
This is another area that needs a little training. Some teachers use a light, others a hat, personally we like to sit in a particular area of the classroom that indicates that we are helping students learn and cannot be disturbed. Hand symbols are a great way to communicate with students should they need you for a toilet break while you are in ‘do not disturb’ mode.
The sooner you get reading groups started, the better! Dive in with some of these tips and let us know how you go!
Loved this article? Then you are going to love our free PDF that outlines 8 things you can do RIGHT NOW in your classroom to start running your reading groups efficiently!
Need more help than that? Don’t worry, we have got you covered!
Running a reading group program that is uncomplicated, easy to implement, and stress-free.
Having all your students settling quickly and calmly into reading group routines.
Reading groups becoming a favourite part of the day for you and your students.
Incorporating simple systems where students learn independently, allowing you to focus on the readers in your guided group.
Other teachers walking into your classroom during reading groups wanting to know what's your secret.
"It is so valuable, worth every minute! I loved how it was self paced and engaging." Simone Year 3/4 teacher