Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Reading Groups can be like juggling a million balls, and you don’t know which ones are in the air, falling to the ground, or about to hit you on the head.
We know! We have been there too.
Even though it can be tough, reading groups are one of, if not the most important part of the academic day. So, how do you attain reading groups which run efficiently and calmly?
Let’s begin with what to avoid.
There are some common traps out there that even catch the best teacher out from time-to-time. Here are the 3 most common mistakes we see happening in classrooms (and have even happened in our own) when it comes to planning and running reading groups:
Mistake 1: Overcomplicating activities or having activities that are too rowdy
We have heard it all before but KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY! Simplicity is often the key to success and this especially applies to running reading groups in the classroom.
The thing is, with reading groups, students are all doing a range of different tasks at one time, all while you are trying to explicitly teach and cater for the readers in your small group. Success lies in making sure the majority of the class (those working in group activities) are engaged, fairly quiet, and on task.
Complicating activities will lead to questions or students getting confused and off task. Then we have 'fun activities, which can lead to a group becoming over-excited or too rowdy (not the ideal environment to be trying to teach students to read).
Routine is key. Stick with activities students enjoy and are familiar to them. Always keep at the forefront of your mind, the group sitting in front of you deserves all the attention during their round of reading groups.
Mistake 2: Having activities that require explicit teacher instruction or supervision
Reading groups is the time we want our students to be working independently. This can be tricky from Kindergarten through to Grade 6 if we plan activities that are too difficult for students. When activities are too hard you can get one of two results:
Students become off task, which leads to disruption OR
The students' standard of work is so low; they might as well not have done the task to begin with.
Choose activities that your students are comfortable with and don't require huge amounts of instruction to set up and start reading groups.
This includes mixing it up too often! Keeping expectations and activities consistent is key, so your students can work independently and productively.
Mistake 3: Not being prepared for your small group (guided reading) lessons
Ok, we can admit it, we have also been the teacher that has grabbed a book as the bell rings, given it to our students without reading it first, and fluffed our way through the entire guided reading session.
But we are also here to tell you that your reading groups' success lies in your preparation for the students sitting in front of you.
Here are some quick ideas to help you prepare in advance:
Collect two weeks worth of readers at one time and store them in your classroom.
Always have a familiar reader ready for students to start on while they wait for you or for the class to settle.
Have a basket or toolkit of items you need for your reading groups, so it is ready to go (e.g. A set of mini whiteboards and markers, familiar reading, sticky notes, strategy prompt cards, a folder to record teacher anecdotal notes etc.)
Make a few notes/teaching points about the book on a sticky note and attach it to the book's front. It doesn't need to be detailed. You could even transfer this sticky note over to your program at a later date if need be. We like the sticky note strategy because it is informal, quick, and we can keep your plan right there with the book we will be sharing with the students.
Before we go, we thought we would give you a bonus tip, and that is reading group success comes from making it a regular routine in the school day. Like all things in the classroom, keeping things predictable and consistent can avoid those epic failures.
Did you find this article helpful?
Then you are going to love this FREEBIE.
This printable outlines 8 things you can do RIGHT NOW in your classroom to efficiently start running your reading groups.Grab your free copy here.
Before you leave us...
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 learn 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.
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: