Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guided Reading Small Groups

Happy Tuesday friends!  I have been meaning to get a post on how I run my Guided Reading Groups for for.ev.er.!  I get a lot of questions about what I do during reading groups and I how I run them.  I'll be honest...when I first started teaching 10 years ago, I dreaded pulling small groups.  I didn't know what to do with them...I didn't know how to teach them to read.  It pretty much was my least favorite time of my day.  Do you feel that way or have you ever felt that way?  Once, I got comfortable teaching reading it quickly became my one of my favorite times of my day.  I hope this post inspires your small groups a little.
All of the resources and tools can be found in my Guided Reading for Kinders pack HERE except the readers.

Here's how I set it all up:
I pull 3 groups of 5-6 kiddos.  Of course, they are grouped by reading ability.
I usually keep my groups 20 minutes each...however, sometimes I tend to go a little over with my lower babies and take a couple minutes off the middle to high groups.  It really all just depends on what I've got planned for that day and how they are doing in that moment.

Let's Break it Down:
3-5 minutes-alphabet review-we go over letters and sound every day...e.ver.y. day.  I have cards with each letter on them uppercase and lowercase mixed up.  With my low group we say the letter 3 times and the sound 3 times.  This is how I teach my kiddos to name letters and sound from Day 1 of school.  For example: I hold up letter M..they say, "m, m, m, says /m/, /m/, /m/ while rubbing their tummy for the motion to the sound.  I flip to the next card and we repeat.  We do our motions each time we say the letters and sounds at the beginning of the year.  As they get more familiar with this process it goes super fast.  With my higher groups, we will only say the letter and sound 1 time once I KNOW they KNOW it.
5 minutes-Letter/Sound Focus- this is when I will dive deep with our focus letter using our letter/sound cards.  (see picture below)  I also model the correct way to write the letter.  And, we do a super fun writing activity using our bodies!!  (See picture below.)  The kids adore it and I kinda do too!  So. Fun!  I just fan out the cards face down and let a student choose a card for us to use that day.  Sometimes we do two.  :)
5 minutes-Word Work & Writing- this is when we do our blending and building words.  We blend words that we will see in our reader that day.  I usually write them on my easel or a white board for them to read.  With my lower groups we do this together...a lot...I model how to blend and what blending is.  We use our blending ladders a. lot.  a lot a lot.  (see pictures below)  With my higher group I just play it by ear and give what they need.  Sooner than later I teach them to sound out the word in their head, then only say the word aloud.  Because eventually that's what I want them doing when reading their books...and that leads to fluency.  This allows the student to hear the sentence as a whole without all the sounds and such in between.  I try to let them write as much as possible because reading is writing,  and writing is reading right?  Did you get tongue tied reading that?  Pretty sure I did.
We also review sights words right here before we read our text.
5-7 minutes-Reading Text- We use Scott Foresman Reading Street so I use the readers that come with that program.  There's a ton of options from this series that I love.  They have all the leveled text, paper readers that we WRITE on, and even nonfiction readers.

And, that about sums it up...in a few words.  
Does every day goes as planned?  NO!
Do I get to all of this each day?  NO!  
But, I try really really hard.  Guided reading is seriously one of my favorite times of my day.  I love it so I think my kids love it.  If I don't get to meet with my kids I feel lost.
I am NO guided reading expert by any means.  But, I do what I feel my kids need from me most.  I adjust to meet their needs.  They give me inspiration and new ideas every day.  If one thing doesn't work, I tweak it until I think it works.
Is this the right way?  I have no idea.  I've gotten ideas from everywhere.
All I know is this works well for me and for my kiddos.  We get in our groove then we rock and roll...and READ!!  

Let me explain:

These are the letter cards I use for Alphabet Review every day.  We do all Uppercase and Lowercase mixed.
I have these task cards in my Guided Reading for Kinders pack.
These are those super fun ways to practice letter formation that I was talking about earlier in the post.  
Left: Using our Elbows
Right: Using our Hips

These are my Letter Focus Cards that are in my Guided Reading for Kinders pack.
I made these so I could grab the letter on a ring that I want to work on and it's all right there.
 Here's our blending cards in action.
We use letter tiles to blend a consonant with all the vowels. 
These cards are folded to make a double-sided card.  One side the vowels are in order and on the back they are mixed up.
 We are using our paper reader that comes with our reading series to read.  We also write on these readers...we circle letters, sight words, blends, digraphs, etc.
 We have all kinds of pointers that we use to read with.
 I also have this for reference on those tricky letters.  I have found that this visual really helps my kiddos a lot! 

Hopefully this answers some of those questions you may have had or gives you an idea or two that you can use while teaching your kids to read.  


  1. Julie, thanks for this great post! The past few weeks I have been thinking I need to make some changes in my guided reading groups. Your amazing techniques will help a lot!

  2. Let me just say AaaMEN!! This is my 11th year teaching Kindergarten and you're right-it seems like it has taken this last 10 years to figure out how to run reading groups (other than putting them into like levels) this was definitely not covered during the teaching program at the University. I have gotten better every year and I absolutely love the previously dreaded small group reading time!!! Thank you for sharing; it's nice to know that there are others that feel the same way!

    1. Yes! It definitely takes a while to get your groove...or at least it did for me! Thanks for reading my blog!!

  3. I have been trying to start reading groups and am having such a hard time keeping the rest of my class independently occupied while I pull groups. What do the rest of your students do while you pull reading groups? Do you get lots of interruptions? Do you happen to have other adult support in the room during this time? I hope I am able to get these up and running SOON! Thanks for your ideas!

    1. Hi Jennie!
      My other students are in literacy centers while I'm teaching groups. We begin centers the first week of school and I spend several weeks teaching them every detail of our center routine from how to complete their work and where to put it and where to go next. Once they get in the routine and I feel comfortable leaving them to begin small groups, I do. I don't have a lot of interruptions because our routine is very specific and they know what to do and where to be. I don't have any other adults in my room...at all. HA! It's just me and 17 kiddos. :) Hope this helps! :)

  4. Great posts. I love to hear how other teachers handle small groups. It's my favorite part of the day as well!! Do you use a ghost light so the kids won't disturb you while in groups? I thought I saw you post that once. Where do you buy the cute finger pointers? Probably Amazon. Everything is on Amazon!

  5. I love all of these ideas! My school also uses Reading Street but I didn't know about the paper readers! Do you know if those are available on the Pearson website to print?

  6. That's exactly how I time out my small groups too! Whew! =)

    Thanks so much for linking up to our Great Blog Posts for Kinder Teachers !

    Simply Kinder

  7. Are you apart of the center rotation or do you pull kids from centers to come to small groups? Do they make up the center they missed if you pull them from centers? This is the part I'm having a hard time with. Thanks for any pointers! Loved this post!


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