What To Do With the Rest of Your Students During Guided Reading

When you are working with your guided reading group, the greater challenge is not what your are doing with your group, but what the rest of the class is doing. This is the tricky part. Here are a few tips to get you started. When you don't want the children to interrupt you, wear something flashy like a feather scarf or a brightly colored bandana, this indicates that you must not be interrupted.

Establish a very clear rule that guided reading is done every day and it is a quiet time for the rest of the groups. For the rest of the groups, they need very clearly defined objectives of what they are to do. Here are some ideas to help.
  • Set up centers and let the groups rotate through one a day (3-4 students per centre). A centre could be a listening centre, a worksheet centre, a quiet reading centre and a word study centre.
  • Set up word study centres. One group uses letter stamps to make their words, another group prints their words, another group uses scrabble like pieces to build words, another group uses flash cards - quietly.
  • Pair students up for quiet games, word concentration, math facts whereby the students print the facts instead of saying the answers, story writing time.
  • Word wall Bingo. For this game, each student writes down 12 to 16 words from the word wall. Another student points to random words, the other students cross out the words. When the first student has all of their words crossed out, they put both hands in the air. They become the next caller. The game repeats.
Guided reading takes a lot of routine practicing. Establish clear routines and don't waiver from your behavioral expectations. Practice how guided reading works, give it time for the students to realize they are to be quietly busy as you work with your guided reading groups. Initially, you may find yourself stopping everything to re-focus the students for both work and quiet times. Over time, with your clear expectations, you will soon find that guided reading works for all students.

See more about guided reading and see some great worksheets about elements of a story, comprehension worksheets and literature response tasks.

What Will You Do Differently This Year?

Change is inevitible and is also a part of the teaching and learning process. Research propels us forward regularly with new evidence of how children learn. And, as educators, it is our role to use evidenced based strategies to ensure we maximize learning for all students.

What goals will you set to be the best you can be for you and your learners? If you haven't thought about what will help you to become a 21st century educator, here are a few suggestions:

Most of all, remember why you got into education in the first place. The job is more challenging with each year, but our kids deserve our best. Teach every child as though each was your own.

Have a great week!

It's Not Just Students Who Should be Setting 'Back To School Goals'

Goal Setting for Teachers

One of my favorite activity to do with students in the fall is to do some brainstorming about goals and the importance of setting and realilzing goals.  There are many great goal setting worksheets here that are suitable for grades 1 through to adult. However, what about us and educators? We too need to think about what we can do to become more effective to ensure that our students reach their potential. Have you thought about some back to school goals? What would they look like? How will you get there? I asked a few colleagues and here is what they told me.

1. I will eliminate busy work. (Great, how? What will you do instead? Daily?)

I will improve my classroom management skills. (How? When? What does it look like? By when? What will you do when you encounter barriers?)

3. I will use evidenced based practice in my literacy program. (How? With which resources? How will you measure this goal? When will  you know you've reached this goal?)

4. I will focus on critical literacy? (How? When? Why? How will you know that it's working?)

5. I will improve the way I teach math. (How? What will you need? What will tell you that you've reached your goal? What does improving math teaching look like?)

Goal setting requires a great deal of thinking it through. To ensure you're on the right track, fill in the goal setting worksheet which forces you to think critically about your own goals.

Yours in education, 

Repeated Readings

Do you Know What Repeated Readings are and Why They're So Important?

When learning to read, one of the most powerful strategies is to do repeated readings of a book. This doesn't mean that the book is read every day or 3 times a day. However, it does mean that over the period of a week or two, there will be lots of exposure to the book. Here is a sample of what it would look like:

  • Today we are going to read: (provide the name of the book.)
  • What does the title tell us about the book? Why do you think that?
  • What does the picture tell us about the book? Why do you think that?
  • Read the first few pages then prompt again: Were you right? Do you want to change your mind now?
  • Continue reading, stopping at points to model thinking: I wonder why? What do you think?
  • Ask comprehension questions along the way
  • Finish reading the book and discuss it.
The book can be followed up with a written activity - draw and label your favorite part, or use one of the book response worksheets.

The next day, prompt the students for what they remember about the book. Read the book again. This time, probe for higher level thinking. Use questions that focus on:
  • Predicting
  • Inferring meaning
  • Character development
  • Author's intent
  • This reminds me of (real world event, another story, something that happened to me...)
  • When have you felt like? (specific character)
Use the story to focus on new words and vocabulary development. After the third round of reading the story, the children should be able to re-tell it relatively accurately.

Research indicates that for repeated readings to be effective, the book should be read at least 3 times in the same week.

Guided Reading

What is Guided Reading? 

Guided reading is the term given to effective reading instruction. Guided reading focuses on targeted strategies for specific student needs.  Students must have a vast array of skills such as, but not limited to: decoding, context, picture cues, comprehension, responding, fluency to text, and directionality. Guided reading is small group instruction whereby each student has the book which is carefully selected to address the targeted reading strategy to improve.

This week, I started a new index for guided reading.  You'll find a guided reading checklist, an overview of what guided reading is along with a sample lesson plan and specific questions to ask for directionality, decoding and fluency.

If you're a homeschooler wanting to do guided reading, these resources will help you in a one to one situation as well. Remember, guided reading is an evidenced based strategy with a proven track record to improve student reading.

If there are other resources you would like to see about Guided Reading, ask away and I'll be happy to provide them. Your input helps this site grow and meet the needs of educators.

Have a great week!

Back to School Readiness

Some Great Tips and Freebies for BACK to School!

There are a few tried and true strategies that the best teachers use. The reason they work well is because they are implemented and adhered to at the beginning of the year.
  1. Can you answer the questions on this classroom management checklist? If not, it's time to think about it now.
  2. Do you know how you will deal with behavior issues? Here's another checklist that will get you thinking about a best practice.
  3. What will you do when the rules get broken? It's all right here.
A few other things to think about:
  • where does finished work go?
  • where does unfinished work go?
  • what cues do your students provide when they need to go to the bathroom? sharpen a pencil?
  • what do they do when the bell rings? when they come in from recess? when they walk down the hallways?
  • where will you record parent communication?
  • what will you do with notes from students?
  • what will students do that finish their work early? what about those that never finish on time?
  • how will you get their attention?
Back to school is a minds on readiness that requres careful thought and planning.
See also - Back To School Worksheets