Setting up your Reading Groups for Success!
It is that time of year again when teachers are getting their classrooms and students set up and ready for a year of learning. Which means starting Reading Groups…
Reading groups are a crucial aspect of the school day, as they lay the foundation for a skill that will benefit students for the rest of their lives. However, managing a class of enthusiastic and energetic students during reading groups can be challenging.
But fear not!
We've got you covered with our top 8 tips for successfully running reading groups in the primary classroom. And as a bonus, we've also converted this article into a handy printable PDF. Click here to get your copy!
Remember, when you set things up strategically and systematically, with high expectations, at the start, you are more likely to continue to get good results throughout the year.
1. Do a dress rehearsal
Run your reading groups with just the activities (no reading with the teacher) for the first week. This will help you get on top of expectations, observe students and how they work, and help your students get familiar with some of the regular rotational activities.
Take the time to explicitly teach students how to complete activities independently. It is the time to model, monitor, and guide (you will be thanking yourself in the future)!
“Setting expectations from the get-go will save you time and effort in the long run. Have the students fill a jar, add a puzzle piece or complete part of a picture each time they successfully finish a rotation/task. Having a visual goal will encourage students to stay motivated and focused when learning.” Alisha RSC
2. Keep clear records
Keep a record of each student's notes, so you can easily refer back to them during lesson prep, parent meetings or for reports. This doesn’t need to be in the form of ‘data’; it can be as simple as a short, sharp anecdotal note.
“I like to have a recording sheet for each student on a clipboard or in a folder for each group. That way, all their anecdotal notes are on one piece of paper and I can move that record from group to group as they move.” Erin @mrs.preen
3. Have easy access to familiar readers
Store familiar reading materials in labelled boxes within the classroom, allowing students to access them during guided reading sessions, group activities, quiet reading time, or if you have the opportunity for them to read with parents or other assistants.
“When your students first come to you for their small group or individual session, have a familiar book ready for them to read. They can read it quietly while you are settling your other groups.” Ashleigh RSC
4. Create groupings that allow for flexibility
Create a list of each reading group and its members, and make it easy to update by using a laminated chart or a digital template. Reading groups shouldn’t be set in stone, so allow for movement by creating a chart that can be easily changed.
Teacher tip: It is also important that the students know that groups are fluid and may change throughout the year to best meet the needs of their learning.
5. Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to activities
Plan activities that students are familiar with to save time and minimise confusion. See point 1 about a dress rehearsal.
Students often need many, many, many repetitions of a skill before they can master it. Keep this in mind. Especially if your class loves a particular activity - keep it in the mix!
6. Hold your students to high expectations
Establish clear rules for what students can and can't do during reading groups and when it's okay to interrupt.
Setting this up from the start will result in your students understanding what is expected of them, allowing your reading groups to run smoothly and successfully.
7.Group when assessing
When assessing, read with students of similar levels one after another to save time and compare their strengths and areas for improvement. This is going to help save your brain power too.
8. No to marking
Minimise marking by limiting activities that need to be marked, allowing you to focus your attention on the group reading to you. Reading groups are a great time to focus on hands-on learning, where students explore or play games to work on a skill.
Limiting the number of activities that need to be marked will save you so much time!
Bonus tip: Routine the dream
Create a schedule and stick to it. We know children thrive on routines, which will help make your reading groups run smoothly and calmly.
When everyone knows what they are doing and where they need to be, crowd control can step to the side while you concentrate on the readers in front of you.
With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to running successful reading groups in your classroom!
Click here if you want a printable version of this post so that you can refer back to it later.
What to read next:
Early years activity ideas for reading groups
Primary activity ideas for reading groups
Common Mistakes teachers make when running reading groups