I know I say this often and about many things, but guided reading is one of my favorite times during our day. During my guided reading groups, I get to work with every single student, every single day. I get to meet them exactly where they are and teach specific lessons to help them become better readers. However, when I was first presented with the task of running guided reading groups, I definitely floundered until I began to realize the essential components of a successful group time. The other day I was teaching/presenting on guided reading during our staff meeting and I wanted to take the time to blog about each step during my guided reading groups and explain what goes on during these times.
To start my guided reading groups, I review the sight words that each group has mastered. I change the way that I do this each day to keep it fresh, fun, and exciting. Some days we play slap jack, other days we use a powerpoint presentation and try to say the words as quickly as possible, and other days we practice writing our sight words using shaving cream! This part of my group lasts between 2-5 minutes. However, if it is a shaving cream day (typically Wednesdays or Fridays), I allot extra time for this.
After reviewing our sight words, if it is the first day using a text, I introduce the book. During this time we talk about what we think the book might be about, some of the words we might see, and what might happen throughout the text. This normally only lasts about 2-3 minutes.
Next, I have my students practice reading their book. In my classroom we use our “whisper” phones so that my students can hear the words that they are saying and focus on what they are doing. In order to ensure that my students are really reading the words in their book, if they are below a D level, I have them touch every word while they are reading.
While my students are reading, I am helping my students 1-1 on specific strategies or phonics concepts. I might have a student “create a picture frame” around a sight word (They put one finger on each side of the word to show it to me.) or I might have a student practice cross checking a word that they read incorrectly. (This is a great time to review the skill and ask themselves, “Did that make sense?”)
I typically have my students read their books 2-3 times during this section of our group time. Since it is (currently) November, our books are very short and only have 1-2 sentences on each page. As the year progresses, students might only get to read their book one or two times during this time.
After my students have read their text a few times, I will teach a specific skill to each group of students. Some examples of skills that we might work on in kindergarten are: the sequence of events, cause and effect, main idea and details, problem and solution, who the characters are, what the setting was, making connections, and retelling the story. Other skills that we work on are how to stretch out sounds in words, how to look for chunks, using our eagle eyes, or how to flip a vowel sound.
Next, I really work on specific phonics skills. At this point in the year, this takes up the majority of our time. During this time we do many things!
One of my favorite manipulatives to use is the Didax letter cubes. I got mine from Amazon and use them every. single. day. The $16.00 was well spent! You can get them here.
During word study we practice making our words with the cubes. This manipulative works really well when practicing skills such as onset and rime, beginning and ending sounds, and medial sounds. They make the “change it up game” very simple. We play this game 2-3 times per week. To play, I have my students make a word and then change the beginning, middle, or ending sound. For example I might say,
“Now, change bat to mat.”
“Change mat to man.”
“Change man to van.”
Here is a student playing the same game using other manipulatives. To begin this word study lesson, my students had to put the alphabet in order on their piece of felt. (This provides them with a work space.)
During this time we play a lot of phonics games, practice making words, word families, digraphs, etc.
Depending on how we are doing with time, at this point I might introduce a new sight word to my students. When I teach a new sight word, we practice making it with manipulatives, write it on white boards, and hunt for them in books using highlighting tape. (A class favorite!)
We end our time with guided writing.
This section of guided reading helps my young learners SO VERY MUCH. Not only does it help solidify the skills that we are practicing but it also helps them become confident writers. They feel so proud when they look back over their writing and read the sentence or sentences proudly!
And that my friends, is the basic structure of my guided reading groups. I tend to have students work on a book for 2-3 days and then move on. We put the completed books in their book bags or our classroom library so that they can revisit them during read to self. More so, I like to have my students alternate the types of books they are reading. If they just finished reading a fiction book, the next book that I use is a nonfiction book. I use many of the books that I create during my guided reading groups (available in my TpT shop) and also use our curriculum’s leveled readers, Reading A-Z books, and other leveled texts.
I hope that you found this blog post helpful!