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3 Ways to Make Reading Groups Run Smoothly in Your Classroom!

We are on our way to establishing our routines for Reading Groups in my new class and I wanted to share what works well for us! I hope you have can take away some new tips and tricks for your setting up or revamping your Reading Groups! This blog post is packed full of resources available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! I have also shared my Reading Group Reminder cards to help you set up your own routines and procedures for Reading Groups!

1. Routines

So, so, SO important!! And with the word routines, the word consistency should come next! For your Reading Groups to work, consistent routines need to be established and followed through!

Every morning after we had finished our Read Aloud and mini-lesson, we all went through our Reading Groups routine:

  • What do we need to have next to us when we are at our tables?
  •  What do we do when we have a question or are stuck on something?
  • What do we do when we have finished our activity?

Now when I say I went through this every morning, I mean every single morning!

I want to break down each of the above questions with some ideas that you can use in your classroom! There is no right or wrong – you just have to think about what works for you and your students and go with it! BUT if it is not working – stop and try something else!

What do we need to have next to us when we are at our tables?

In my classroom we use book boxes for Reading. Each child has their own book box (purchased from Elizabeth Richards) and inside they keep their Reading response book and a selection of picture books, levelled readers and chapter books. This depends on the student’s reading ability and interests.

So, when I ask the above question, my students know that next to them they would need to have their book boxes!

However, in your classroom you might have one book that everything is added to, students may have personal pencil cases or they all might be reading chapter books. Like I said, there is no right or wrong, however you need to be clear and negotiate with your students what you expect them to have to ensure they have everything they need to last the session – none of this wondering around the classroom for 10mins trying to find a book, piece of paper or a pencil!

You can download these FREE rainbow dot labels from the blog – CLICK HERE!

What do we do when we have a question or are stuck on something?

Have you heard of ‘Ask 3, Before Me’? If this is a new concept, then WELCOME! Welcome to the sanity club! This saying is a game-changer and, trust me, it increases independence and accountability in your students! It’s a simple concept and simply means that if you are stuck or have a question, then you need to ask 3 of your peers, if they do not have an answer for you, then it is time to speak to the teacher.

But, wait, I can hear you think ‘So the students just come straight up to you and asks away?’ Oh no! There is a second part to this routine – the ‘do not interpret’ silent cue! There are so many fabulous ideas floating around on Instagram and Pinterest. When I was teaching Prep, I had a hat I would wear and my students knew that when I had my hat on, then they had to stand on the smiley face on the mat and wait their turn! I literally just had a laminated sticky note that had a smiley face on it sitting on the mat next to my small group table.

Below I have shared a couple of other ideas for a ‘do not interpret’ silent cue that has popped up using the #ausb2s19 hashtag on Instagram!

Kmart Australia Light Up Rainbow by Alysha at
Kmart Australia Do Not Disturb Lightbulb
by Vanessa at @miss.goodytwoshoes

What do we do when we have finished our activity?

Again, this question has a million different answers! However, your students need to know the answer before starting their activity or you will have quite the queue at your smiley face!

In my classroom last year my students had a few options and they changed throughout the year. However, because we went through these questions every day, they knew EXACTLY what they could go on with after they finished their set activity.

Two options stayed the same for the entire year and these were – read a book from your book box or finish something off in one of your books. In the second part of the year after we had introduced Writer’s Notebook, my students had the option to work on this as one of their options as well!

In your classroom you might use early finisher activities or task boxes or have iPad activities available for when students finish their set work!

Whatever the activity just makes it clear to your students before starting the session. My only advice is to keep it simple – you shouldn’t need to find more than 5 minutes to fill, so having lengthy or complicated early finisher tasks defeats the purpose of Reading Groups altogether!

The last part of this routine is about how you are going to correct the work and check-in with your students when they have been working on individual or group activities? Again, the answer lies within you and your classroom! However, I wanted to share what works for me and my students!

I spend the whole session with a small group doing Guided Reading, so I don’t have time to run around the classroom correcting work nor is this a good use of time! Instead, at the end of the session when we are packing up, I ask students to bring me their work in their books and stack them on my table ready to be corrected. If it is group activity such as matching initial sounds or uppercase and lowercase, I go and visit that group as the other groups start to pack up.

In my class we have fruit break following our Reading Groups. This is my opportunity to go through the work books and check in with individual students about their learning! This ensures that I am giving relevant and authentic feedback in a timely manner.

To help remind me and my students of the expectations for Reading Groups I have reminders down the side of my interactive whiteboard. These are prompts for when we go through each of the above questions or I can direct students to go back over them if they are off task throughout our Reading Group session.

You can download your own set of these visual reminders, including an editable set HERE!

2. Organisation

Organising your Reading Groups is crucial – it allows for a flow in the classroom! I LOVE using google slides to plan AND display my Reading Group activities each day! This way I don’t double up with planning and displaying what each group is doing for the day. This all makes sense when you see the example below!

Your groups should be fluid, depending on the learning intention or reading ability. My reading groups can change weekly! If I have the display on google slides, I can easily change the groups around and change them back again easily.

Each group had a matching rainbow tub which had their reading activity – easy! If the activity needed a mini whiteboard or a sensory tub my students knew exactly where to find them as they had the same spot in the classroom for the year! My advice with reading group tubs is to keep it simple!

You can purchase the above template for Google Slides and PowerPoint in my Teachers Pay Teacher Store – just click here! It is available in a 4, 5 or 6 group template!

3. Sustainable, Ongoing and Differentiated Tasks!

I love using the same activity for all my learners in Reading Groups – yep- that means that everyone at one stage of the week has the same activity! “What about differentiation?” I can hear you asking! Well they may have the same learning intention; however, they are all using different books! I have two favourite activities that I use all throughout the year and when students complete the task, they continue reading an independent book of their choice! Talk about differentiation!

1. Words in Books

This is a great resource pack that combine independent reading and word work. You can find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

2. My Favourite Part of the Book

This is a great resource because it can be done as a whole class using the read aloud text from the day or it can be completed using student’s individual books! This resource is FREE and can be downloaded from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!

If you have found these tips and tricks helpful then please leave me a comment below! I would love to know what works well in your classroom!


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