Friday, February 7, 2014

A little reading- close and guided...

Confession: I have NEVER been good at guided reading. It probably has something to do with never seeing it done or never even really hearing about it until I started stalking reading blogs. I never really could get a handle on what to do, with who, when, and how often. I would always try and then just give up. I can honestly say that has changed this year. And I owe it all to my friend Melissa at Common Core and So Much More. That girl is a rockstar and if you don't know who she is, you have to hop over to her blog as soon as you finish this post.

Our school implemented mandatory group times from 8-8:30 and 2:15-2:45. At first I was really unhappy because I used those times for other things. But in the end I was glad because it forced me to figure it out. I wasn't liking what I was doing when we first started this. It was just randomness. And it wasn't effective. And along comes Melissa's Weekly Close Reading Passages. I thought, sure, I'll give that a whirl. Why not right?! It can't hurt to try. And I am in l-o-v-e with them! Yes, it is that serious friends. I don't know what I would do without them now. There are four passages for each month (2 fiction and 2 nonfiction) and each passage is given a lexile level. This works perfectly for me because I spend 2 weeks on a story instead of 1 due to time. So I can pick which passages each group will be working with. My schedule is a little different than most, but I meet with my tier 2 (my bubble kids) every morning. EVERY morning they come to my table and we work through this. The first day we just read and mark up the story. Typically, I read it to them so they can focus on marking. Then I make them reread it themselves and make sure they didn't miss anything they wanted to mark.
The next day we read again and talk about the story and anything that students marked. Then on day 3 we start working through the 5 days of activities Melissa includes. Usually it takes us about 8 days to finish one week's story. Leaving me 2 days in the 2 week rotation for finishing up other things, making up for days we may have had off or I was out, etc. It works perfectly for us! If this is something you want to look at, Melissa offers one of her weekly passages for free to try out. You can find it here.

My tier 1 group meets with me 2 or 3 times in the afternoon, depending on my tier 3 group's needs. They do the same thing as mentioned above, but they use a different story. Because they think deeper than the rest of my students, it takes us just as long, if not longer to finish because they get so into the discussions. When they aren't meeting with me, they are working on their Book Club.
They voted a while ago on Because of Winn Dixie and have been working on it since maybe November. I know that seems like a long time but it is because I make them do more than just read. Each time they read a chapter (I just changed it to two chapters this week), they have to go back to their desks and work on some thinking stems in their files.
After everyone finishes, they gather back together to discuss. Each student gets 5 sticks and can ONLY talk when they put out a stick and it is their turn. So, the first person reads one of their thinking stems. Then any student who wants to reply holds up a stick. The original student calls on someone and puts their stick in the middle of the group. And this continues until no one else wants or needs to reply to that very first thought. Then the next person in the circle reads a stem, and they continue. Once a student has no sticks left they have to just listen to the discussion. Once ALL students are out of sticks, they redistribute them and start again. This continues until everyone has had a chance to share their thinking and add to the discussion. It took about 2 weeks for me to get them to understand this and now they just go over to the reading corner and lead their own club. They LOVE it.
My tier 3 group is a little different in that the passages from Melissa are too hard for them. Instead I do something else with them (more on that in another post). I typically see them (in the afternoon) 2 or 3 times, alternating with the blue group. That doesn't mean that is ALL I see them... I see them other times throughout the week too. But for THIS purpose, 2-3 times is what they get. Their tasks vary and are usually Reading Detectives, sight words, simple comprehension strategies, etc. Very different and will need its own post for sure.

Now that I have started this with my groups, I wouldn't change a thing. I love being able to have deeper conversations with my small groups and forcing them to REALLY think about the things they are being asked to do.


  1. I like the file folder idea! Definitely something different and engaging enough to get the kids interested in recording their thinking stems. Thanks for sharing!
    Teaching in Room 6

  2. Where did you get your thinking stems from?


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