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Welcome to the Summer Book Study! The fabulous ladies at Freebielicious are spearheading a book study on The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson as we read, reflect, and share our experiences. Each week a few different Freebielicous members will rotate playing hostess. Other bloggers are welcome (and encouraged) to link-up and share their thoughts and experiences along the way. At the end of this post you will find a link to follow and join with all of our amazing book study participants.
Since I teach half day Kindergarten, Guided Reading is one of MANY important items that gets squeezed in during my very short and busy day. I know the limitations of my schedule (and students) and I often have to find creative ways to squeeze in Guided Reading.
If you are just beginning to implement Guided Reading in your own classroom, it is important to keep in mind that every teacher’s system is different. Ultimately, you will have to find a fit that works best for you and find reassurance in the fact that you are trying your best. We all start with baby steps. I am certainly not an expert and the system I use is not likely to be characterized as the ideal. It works in my classroom setting and I am happy to share my process and methods with you we study Chapter 1: Preparing for Guided Reading.
Literacy Centers vs. Daily 5
The class needs to be engaged in some type of literacy activity while you meet with students for guided reading. I used to be a literacy center kind of gal, but it was a challenge. Some of my centers took too long, others were completed too quickly, and there was always a myriad of questions from the class as I tried to meet with small groups.
Two years ago, I made the switch from traditional literacy centers to the Daily 5 and I haven’t looked back. Unlike literacy centers, there is very little preparation involved. My students are taught the procedures (slowly) and they know exactly what to do during our literacy block. I do not introduce all 5 literacy activities at once, and the class does not get a choice about what activity they want to do. Everyone does the same activity and it is one that I dictate to them. I’ll share more about my timeline a little bit later…
The success of any classroom activity depends heavily on classroom management and the establishment of procedures. You do not want to have a stream of students interrupting your meeting time with small groups for Guided Reading instruction Fortunately, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser outline exactly what teachers should do to establish strong routines during Daily 5 time. I do not always move at their suggested brisk outline (I go VERY slow), but the sisters lay out great expectations and emphasize the importance of students doing literacy tasks INDEPENDENTLY without reminders from the teacher to stay on task.
Timeline for Launching Literacy Routines
In the fall, it seems to take FOREVER before my students are able to master Read to Self and maintain enough stamina for me to finally pull a single guided reading group. Seriously. Forever.
Here is a brief overview of my timeline for the first few months of school:
Week 1: Teach general classroom routines, introduce Read Aloud
Week 2: Launch Read to Self
Weeks 3-7: Build stamina for Read to Self, begin DRA testing. By this time, my students generally have a stamina of 25 minutes. Like I said, progress is SLOW.
Week 8: Begin Guided Reading!
It takes me an average of 25-30 minutes to meet with a group of students for Guided Reading (more on what happens in each group will be shared later in this book study). Once the class has built a stamina of 30 minutes or more of Read to Self time, I pull one group at a time for Guided Reading (if I have 5 groups in the class, it takes a full week to meet with each group one time).
Maintaining a Quiet Classroom
I am the kind of teacher that likes the classroom to be quiet and PEACEFUL. Especially when I am talking with students. Part of the reason it takes my students so long to build a 30 minute stamina during Read to Self is because I follow the Sisters advice and only extend their reading time when the class had demonstrated that they are ENGAGED in reading for each minute increment of the process.
Once the class has mastered Read to Self, they learn the process of Read to Someone. Kids are social and they LOVE reading books with a friend. I use this social joy as leverage (and bribery) to keep my class on task during Daily 5/Guided Reading time. Read to Self becomes the reward for a job well-done. If the class stayed on task while I met with a Guided Reading group, everyone gets to work on their stamina for Read to Someone. If we had issues during Guided Reading, the class loses the privilege of Read to Someone time. Similarly, if poor choices are made during Read to Someone time, this privilege will be lost the following day. I have found this to be a highly effective motivator for encouraging positive behavior literacy choices.
|Read to Someone is a privilege in my kindergarten classroom|
Continuing with the Daily 5
As students master these two literacy activities, I slowly roll out the rest of the Daily 5.
Word Work is the next process added to the routine, My Interactive Sight Word Readers are PERFECT for Word Work because students cut out, unscramble, and glue letters to spell a targeted sight word on each page of the emergent reader. The book is then added to each child’s book box. My kids love these books because they have a hand in creating them. I love the books because they “just right” for my young readers.
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Once I have successfully launched Read to Self, Read to Someone, and Word Work; we maintain those classroom routines for a few months. I teach my students the process of writing workshop in January and launch Work on Writing as a sustained independent activity in February. I begin the Listen to Reading component in February or March.
Jan Richardson emphasizes the importance of eliminating all unnecessary interruptions as you meet with Guided Reading groups. Several teachers use cute accessories or gimmicks such as tiaras or the use of caution tape as a visual reminder that they are not to be interrupted while they meet with students for Guided Reading. I think those ideas are so clever but I do not use them in my classroom. Instead, I make it very clear to my students right from the beginning that I often have meeting with my friends (teachers or other students) and that the person I am meeting with deserves my best attention. I tell my students that I only have meetings when I have something important to talk about and everything else just has to wait until the meeting is over (this is immediately followed by the disclaimer that they are permitted to interrupt for an emergency…. we discuss possible emergencies that would warrant interrupting a meeting).
I have found that “leveling with” my kindergarten students and letting them know the importance of our meetings is often enough to curb any issues with interruptions. Occasionally, someone will slowly approach my desk to ask a question of inform me of a non-emergency. During those occasional moments I am pretty no-nonsense. I keep eyes focused on the group in front of me. As the interrupter draws closer, I shake my head to indicate that I am not available to talk. If the student continues to approach me, I raise my hand and give my very best “talk to the hand” motion. I don’t use any verbal words, but my body language makes it very clear that their message is not important and will not be acknowledged during this time. Most students slink away without saying a word to me.
Finding Extra Time
As you can imagine, it is very difficult to find the time to meet with multiple guided reading groups in a half-day setting. Especially when my guided reading sessions last 30 minutes each. I have resorted to a creative (and unconventional) method of meeting. I train a few parents each year in our classroom calendar routine. These parents are scheduled to come into the classroom one day a week and work lead the class in calendar. They update the calendar, count days of school, read a story to the class, and so much more. Each of these parents observes how I run the classroom calendar and a list of tasks and activities to lead the class in during this daily routine. I use this opportunity to pull another group of students for Guided Reading instruction while a classroom parent keeps the rest of the class engaged. I am so fortunate that my principal approved this little plan of mine. It has been so helpful in providing the class with an extra little boost in instructional time.
|I’m not the only adult that’s capable of leading the classroom calendar.
Just a little trick I employ to make more time for Guided Reading.
It’s a Blog Hop!
Now that you know a little about how I prepare for Guided Reading each year, hop along to one of the blogs below to read more ideas (or link up your own!)