Friday, June 20, 2014

Small Group Reading: Starting out the Year

I alluded in previous posts to an explanation and mini-series of posts on how I organize and execute the small group reading time in my classroom.  This will be the first post of a few to explain what I do to and how I organize my time and students to allow me to meet with every small group every day.  That's right I said every group, every day.  Each in a meaningful way that supports enhancement and extension of reading skills, comprehension, and knowledge.

Today's focus is all about the first few weeks of school, before we actually get going with small group instruction.  I spend the first 3-4 weeks of school training my students for small group activities and response in their reading notebooks.  Our school district is a big advocate of small group reading instruction, guided reading, and so the majority of students I get each year have had some type of small group reading instruction.  That means they should be familiar with the basic logisitcs of it and general expectations and rules.  That doesn't mean they know my specific logistics and expectations, but it gives me a great base to start from.  So, instead of 6-8 weeks of training, I'm able to do it in about 3-4.

I've combined methods from many sources to come up with what I do.  That's why I love PD books so much.  One of the biggest aha's was from reading The Daily Five by Bail Boushey and Joan Moser.  The newest edition was recently released, and I understand that it is much better than the first edition.  My summer reading list is already huge, so I haven't picked that one up yet, but I recommend it, especially if you haven't read it at all yet.  They explicitly explain how to gradually teach and release your students to work independently during workshop or small group time.

I slowly introduce one activity at a time.  In my class, I call them "independent literature activities".  I didn't want to call them centers just because I wanted my 5th graders to feel a little more grown up about it.  I felt like including independent in the title explained exactly what I expected during this time.  I'll explain each of the activities in detail in later posts.

Then, I start out my class with a whole class novel.  I'm currently reading the book Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst and am excited to teach my students the sign posts.  You can follow our blog book study or go back and read through the posts that were done for the study.  All the information for the Notice and Note book study can be found here.

We read the novel as a class, I read aloud as students follow.  Each student has a copy of the book in front of him/her.  This fall, we'll be reading Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.  I was able to purchase 25 copies from at $2.50 a piece.  All the books were in very good used condition, including a surprise library bound hardback book which I made my teacher copy.  Since I purchased them all from the same seller, I received a $0.50 discount per book and all books ship for free.  If you order at least 20 of the same title with the same ISBN number, use the code APPLE to receive 15% off your order.  Sale items and bundles are excluded.  If you haven't looked at before, you'll want to check them out.  Click on the banner below or, if you want Maniac Magee, click on that cover to go directly to that title.  
(These are affiliate links, I'd sure appreciate you using them if I've introduced you to this site.  I receive a nominal portion of your purchase.)

I still need about 10 more book copies to make a class set, but my teammate has a small group set that I'll borrow this year to make a full class set as I slowly gather a few more copies either from or my local thrift shops.  As we read together, I do a lot of modeling.  I model think alouds, comprehension strategies and how I record in my reader's notebook.  I'll share all of that with you down the road as I work up my plans for Maniac Magee.

Maniac Magee
Jerry Spinelli

After 3-4 weeks, I've introduced all the independent literature activities and we've finished the class novel. We're now ready to start small group instruction and literature circles.

Look for the second post in this series next week which will give an overview of the activities and an in-depth look at the structure of my small group reading time. To a list of all the planned posts and publishing dates, visit the series main information page here.  

How do you start your year to get ready for small group reading? I'd love to read your ideas in the comments or feel free to link up your blog post about building the beginning foundation for small group reading to the linky below.  Please grab the button at the top of this post and link it back to this post when you link up. 

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1 comment:

  1. I loved reading aloud Maniac Magee when I taught upper grades. Such a fun novel. I, too, use Daily 5, but it takes a few more weeks for my kiddos to get the routine down (second grade).

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