How I Organize Guided Reading in my Classroom

Guided Reading used to be one of my favorite things to teach.  While my experience with reading last year kind of ruined that for me, I am trying to learn to love it again.  I recently received my Masters in Education with a concentration in reading, if that tells you how much I love reading and teaching reading.  I love being able to work in small groups with my students.  I feel like I get to know them so much better, and I love getting to know my students as readers and writers during Guided Reading.  Plus, the independent work gives the students the opportunity to work on their own and it's nice to see students complete an activity without me hovering over them. :-)

I feel like a MAJOR component of Guided Reading is organization.  You MUST be organized if you want to be an effective teacher, but this is even more important when you are teaching Guided Reading groups.  You must have lesson plans that are laid out and targeted to the skills your students need. There is so much to Guided Reading, and it is so important to get it right!  There are some really great books out there to help guide you if you are struggling with Guided Reading.  A few I really like are Making the Most of Small Groups by Debbie Miller and The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson.  If you aren't familiar with either of these books, you should be!

This is how I organize my Guided Reading in my classroom.

At my table, I like to have all of my materials organized and at my fingertips.  This allows me to maximize my 20 minutes with each group so that we get everything accomplished!  I have a basket near my table that has most of the materials I will need in it.  Everything is right where I need it, and the students know where things are too.  I can easily lift it up and move it to my table if I need something from it.

In my basket, I have a ton of different materials.  Some of them are self explanatory, such as the timer and whiteboards.  I also have a sand timer that is 1 minute, so I can use it for little sight word quizzes or to time a student for fluency.  The strategy bookmarks help remind the students to use their strategies to figure out unknown words.  I also keep reading response prompt cards at my table for a quick reference for me, and it allows them to have something to copy from.  The blend cards are to practice our blend sounds.  I simply hold up the card, and the students can say the sound or give me some words that start with that sound.  The magnifying glasses are for finding chunks we know in words.  The textured paint chips my have you scratching your head.  I have had students with poor motor skills, so I write a letter on the card and allow them to trace it.  Since they are textured, it's like using sandpaper- but these were free!  I got them from Lowes a few years ago.  I wrote a post on how I made and have used the reading response gloves here.

Reading also needs to be fun, so sometimes I pull out these fun materials, both in guided reading groups or during whole group lessons.  The glasses remind us to look through the whole world when reading, or when we are looking for particular words or sounds or whatever.  I popped the lenses out of a ton of $1 Target kids sunglasses, and I have one for each student.  The pointers are for 1-1 matching.  I have smaller pencil pointers that look like the larger pointers I have.  I use the highlighters for highlighting words or chunks.  Sometimes we use these whole group as well.

Most of these materials are kept on a bookshelf beside my table.  Each group has a basket that holds the materials they will need for each day.  I teach 4 groups a day, and our ECE teacher teaches the other group.  We switch every 6 weeks or so, and then I get to meet with the other group I hadn't been meeting with.  We both meet with the lowest group, so they get 2 groups a day.

Inside each basket holds the book they are reading, familiar books that they can re-read for fluency, graphic organizers or reading response prompts, and sometimes there are other materials that I keep in there as well. I keep magnetic letters handy in a compartmentalized box that slides next to Group 5's crate.  I also keep extra whiteboard markers and crayons here as well, as I sometimes have students work on small projects at my table and they need crayons or pencils.  It is a lot of stuff to keep track of, but having it handy and organized really helps!

  The students love coming to "my table" each day and working on reading!  They are great kids, and I am loving working with them!  4 of my students receive Reading Recovery as an intervention, and I love watching how much they have grown each week!  I do running records on one student in each group each day, and on Fridays, I do sight word assessments.  I also check the students center work for the week and give them a grade.  This keeps them accountable for the work they are doing.
I love my kidney table.  It allows me to get close to my students while still giving them room to work.  I keep just a few things on my table (most days!):  
1. My guided reading binder, which holds my lesson plans, copies of graphic organizers, running record forms, etc...  I need a bigger binder!  
2.  A pocket chart that holds the "I Can" statements we are working on, vocabulary words from the book, and any sight words we are working on.  I can change it out easily for each group, or prepare it for 2 groups and turn it around.  There is another small crate inside that holds the "I Can" statements, sentence strips to write vocabulary words and sight words, and markers to do the writing.  I created the "I Can" statements by printing my Visual "I Can" Statements 2 to a page. They can also be printed 4 to a page, and I use those in my centers. :-)

The students sit on the stools I made from 5 gallon buckets.  I like them, because they hold supplies, and they force the students to sit up straight!  I have learned that the buckets should stay full so they are heavier and harder to move!  (Most of them are, but I have 1-2 that are empty or close to empty.)  I have 6 stools, and my largest group has 6 students in it, though that is getting ready to change!  YAY!  I have a range of students who are reading at a 3/4 to a group of students who are working at a level 16/18.  I like having a range of readers in my room.  It allows me to diversify my lessons a bit.  It's nice being able to work with a group of students I have to challenge, but sometimes it's nice that I don't have to come up with challenging activities for 5 different groups of kids!  And then I'm not stuck reading the same books over and over again!

I hope this post about how I run guided reading groups was helpful to at least some of you!  Please comment and let me know if you have any questions or found anything helpful.  I will be back soon with a post on how I run centers in my room!  


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