Guided Reading is a must for the elementary classroom, we all know that.
While we might be able to plan and implement a fabulous guided reading lesson, we tend to struggle with what those other kiddos are doing when they aren’t at the kidney table with us.
As a literacy coach, this is one the most asked questions I get from reading teachers:
What do I do with the other kiddos when i am doing a guided reading lesson?
It is so tiring to remind students to get to work, stop talking, sit down, it goes on and on.
Just a bit of advice, to ensure that this all goes smoothly, please practice this process with your kiddos. Model, model, model! Spend a great deal of time at the beginning of the year just modeling what is expected. In fact, it will serve your purpose to not even work with guided reading groups at the very beginning of the year. Take the time to show your kiddos exactly what you expect them to do. We’ve all heard that practice makes perfect, and in this case, it really is true!
Here are some behaviors that you will want to model with your students:
- noise level / talking expectations
- how to REALLY read
- how to respond in writing
- how to engage in a literacy center
- what to do if they have a question
- What to do if they have to go potty
Something I learned the hard way… don’t allow them to interrupt your guided reading session for ANY REASON. If you allow them to interrupt your groups, they will do it over, and over, and over. This interrupting behavior breeds too. When a student sees another one come up and talk to you… well, you know the rest of this story.
The “tiara strategy” seems to work well. What I mean by this is you actually wear a tiara while you are doing your guided reading lessons. You’ll need to do a mini-lesson on NOT to interrupt you while you have the tiara on your head. The visual reminder really seems to work. Now, if you are a guy teacher, you may not be comfortable with wearing a tiara, although it would certainly get your kids attention.
Visual reminders to not interrupt during guided reading:
- baseball cap
- cowboy hat
- fancy hat
- boa around your shoulders
- huge mardi gras beads
- special vest or sweater
So, what do the other kids do while you are actively doing groups? My first answer to this question is usually read, read, and then read some more. But, students also need to practice skills, especially if they are beginning or struggling readers. Some teachers spend two or three hours a day doing guided reading groups, so your students will need additional PURPOSEFUL tasks.
What the other kids are doing:
- independent reading
- respond to book in journal
- listen to a book on CD
- read with a partner
- read books in book box
- reread guided reading book
- word work
- word wall activity
- read a library book
- task cards
- reading digital game / website
- book report
- read the room – read charts, poems, word walls, etc.
- pocket chart activity
- literacy center
One very important thing I want to stress is that whatever you have the other kids do, it must be done with purpose. Students should not be doing busy work. The activities, books, or centers should be planned purposely with your student’s needs in mind. Your kiddos won’t grow enough as readers if the activities are planned only to keep them busy.
Look at your data. What are your student’s strengths? What are your student’s weaknesses? Use this information to purposely plan the important practice they will be doing while you are working with students at the guided reading table.
FREE literacy game for you!
If your students need additional practice with word families, then this activity might be a good fit for your classroom. Teaching students how to actively use word family knowledge is a reading strategy that will help students to read unknown words. For more information on how to teach word families, please click here.
Shake-a-Word literacy game is great for improving fluency, phonics, and decoding skills.
Setting up the center game:
- You will need 4 cans (baggies or envelopes will work as well.)
- Choose 4 word families that your students need to practice… check the data.
- Attach the word family label to the front of the can.
- Inside of the cans, put letters that can be added to the front of each word to make a new word.
- Students will then write the new words on the Shake-a-Word sheet.
Don’t forget to grab your FREE Shake-a-Word Game.
I would LOVE to hear what your other students do during guided reading. Please leave me a note in the comment section below.