Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tips and Tricks for Reading Groups

There are a few things that I have found to make reading groups a bit easier.

1. Reading Buddies

Sometimes it is tough to convince little ones that it is good for them to read a story more than once. I started using reading buddies. I think I saw this on a teacher's website years ago, but they were used for independent reading. I have an old barrel that used to contain pretzels. I put a bunch of Beanie Babies I have found at yard sales inside. After students have read through a story once at the reading table, they can choose a buddy to read to or even a second for a third reading. This gives me time to do running records, check sight words, and conferences with readers.

My ground rules:

  • You may choose 1 buddy to read to at a time.
  • If they become toys, they get put away.
  • If you argue over them, they get put away.
Works wonders!

2. Book Basket:

We have the fortune of having a great book room at our school. We check out multiple copies of books through our library and have to return the whole set when we are done using them. This can be tough to organize in the midst of teaching groups. I have a cute basket with handles that I put in the middle of my jellybean (kidney) table for students to put their previously read book into when they arrive for their group. After the reading group, student take the book they have worked on home for homework every night.

I try to take a few minutes at the end of groups to organize the books in sets within the basket. When they are complete, I rubber band or bag the set and put the sets in a basket by the doors to be returned to the library. This makes a great job for a helper!

3. Group Book Storage:

This year I have made a commitment to check out a week's worth of books every week. I do this when I drop of students for library class. I check out 5-6 sets per group each time. When I get back to the room, I sort the books into baskets that I keep on the counter for each group. This helps when I have a sub too - everything is ready for reading groups.

4. Reading Stars

I saw this idea of Mrs. Ross's site. I loved the starts, but wanted to keep the symbols we used consistent. I used the star idea and adding pictures that correlate to the Beanie Baby Reading Strategies. (If you haven't seen these, check out the site. There are a couple different version out there. They have been amazing for my little ones and have spread like wildfire through our whole building.) I then taped a star on the table in front of each seat for students to refer to.

Not only do they make my table more cheery, but the kids have started to use their strategies for decoding more consistently!

4. Chair Pockets:

I totally lucked out on these. Someone was throwing these away at school and I snagged them before they were headed to the dumpster. They are great for managing materials at the computers and at the reading table. Student can put their book bags or center materials in them to keep everything in one spot.

5. Making Words Pads:
I made little pads with squares of cardboard and the rubbery shelf liner. I can put letter tiles on them for students to build and break words. The tiles do not slide around and I can prep and stack them in a basket for the group without having the tiles slide all over the place.

Well, those are a few of my favorite guided reading tips and tricks!

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