Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reading Groups-the Basics...with a Tiara!

Hi there! My name is Lacey from Wild about Teaching and I am so honored to be guest blogging for Kerri today!  I like to know a little about who is blogging when I read blogs so here I am:
I’m a Texas girl with a heart for young kiddos and kiddos with learning differences. J
And I love a good tiara!  Read on to see how that relates!

I’m going to share with you a few things I think are important for guided reading!
First, it’s key to have your materials handy and ready to go.  
I kept all of my materials for small groups (math and reading) on this bookshelf.  The stackable drawers on the middle shelf have some matching cards, magnetic letters, word work mats, etc.  The trays on the bottom shelf have the leveled readers for each group and any special materials that I might be using with only one group for that day/week.  On my easel I had a dry erase board.  I also posted reading strategies and fluency poster over the easel for easy visual.  Over on the left side of the middle shelf you can see my organizer for my plastic letters.  I used these for modeling. 

Where were the letters that my students use for word work you might ask? Well, my students had their own set of a-z plastic letters in their handy dandy crate seats that I made!!
I kept a white board, dry erase marker, sock, their a-z letters, a supply box with crayons, etc. and then also materials for math small groups in their crate seats.  The red tab at the back of the seat was for them to lift up the seat, get their materials and then take a seat!  They loved having this responsibility!

It’s also so important to have some kind of record-keeping system. 
I jot down anecdotal notes like crazy during guided reading!  My first year of teaching I struggled with the best way to keep track of it all.  I started with a sticky notes but quickly found that I needed more structure.   So then, I created a little document that became my best friend during guided reading time:

On the left hand side I would sort out my groups. The maximum number of groups I ever had was 5, but I usually stuck with 4.  I would write their names and the level they were working on currently.  Then as I met with each group I would jot down notes.  

Some of the things included in these notes were:
-who was absent/out of the classroom
-word work focus
-skills practiced (sight words, letter recognition, letter sounds, reading strategies, etc.)
-leveled book that was read as a new read
-leveled book that was read as a familiar read
-any notes about students who struggled and what area they struggled in
-any notes about students who were not challenged so that I could later consider rearranging groups

At the end of the week I would review my notes and make changes as needed and plan for the next week.  This little document helped me see the overview of my groups while also allowing me to remind myself that “Johnny” struggled with “X, Y or Z.”  It was helpful for me to see it all in one place!

Another crazy important aspect of this time in my classroom was what my other 17 kiddos were doing while I was reading with the 5 at my table! 
My first year of teaching I used simple literacy centers.  While this was successful, I found that the students were bored easily and I was having to redirect them often.  The next year I tried the Daily Five system.  OH. MY. WORD.  LOVED IT!!  I started from day 1 and we started with read to self and slowly built up to all five aspects.  The kiddos loved it but I can promise you I loved it more!  They were engaged and really owning their work.  Cannot say enough great things about this structure!  If you’re interested, check out the sisters’ book:
{Click the picture for more info} 

And one last fun thing…I wore a tiara while I was doing reading groups! 
Something similar to this:
This was my signal that students could not interrupt. J  My kinder kiddos got a huge kick out of this.  There was a TON of modeling done!  We practiced what to do and what not to do while I was wearing the tiara.  And I made sure they knew that if someone was sick or hurt they could always interrupt me!  Once we got going, you could hear them whisper to their friends “Ms. Yates has her tiara on…you have to wait until we switch to ask her!”  Now, I had oodles of kiddos who knew every step to every Daily Five centers and they knew they could ask their friends, so they weren't left high and dry!  But this allowed me to teach reading uninterrupted. And..I’m not going to lie, wearing a tiara is fun J

Hope you enjoyed this post {and that it wasn’t too long!} and find some of the items helpful!  I’d love for you to come on over and visit me at my blog:

Thanks so much again Kerri and congratulations!!! J


  1. What a great idea to keep the supplies in the crates! I love your organization!

  2. Thanks Lacey! This was a great post and I can't wait to download the freebie!

  3. I love wearing my tiara! Although I have to admit, next year I really do need to model what it means more. I had a lot of kiddos who came up to me just to ask a question.

  4. Great idea for what to put in your crates.


  5. What a cute idea! I'm going to try this one, thanks!