Guide Posts for Guided Reading

I’ve been thinking about a guided reading post for a while now.  I was debating it because I felt it was more suitable for the very beginning of the school year.  But in talking to more people, perhaps right now is just fine! 

Maybe you are doing guided reading groups currently, but are looking for different ideas.  Or maybe you haven’t started incorporating small groups into everyday instruction?  Hopefully this can help!

First off – organization is key.  Also, meeting your students where they are.  We spend the first 2 weeks of school building up stamina at each center.  We practice going straight to our center, working quietly while we are there, and listening for the timer to tells us when to clean up.  I find that I can NEVER spend too much time reviewing cleaning up.  

I organize my students into 5 groups.  These are heterogeneous and fluid in nature.


We do 3 rotations (15-20 minutes each) before lunch and 3 rotations (15-20 minutes each) after lunch.  During these rotations, my assistant and I are pulling students from each time for guided reading (before lunch) and guided writing (after lunch). I time each center with a great visual timer suggested by Matt Gomez. Our favorite is the candle:

20130930-174745.jpgI move the arrow for each rotation and remind the students of the activities.

Choice centers are Science, Art, Blocks, and Housekeeping.


I incorporate what we are working on into the science center.  This week we are talking about the farm.  In science, students can sort animals into farm/zoo or match adults with babies.  They also use dramatic play as well.  Other ideas could be to have leaves or other living centers.  Our class pet is also a part of the science center.


In the art center, we have a double sided (chalk/dry erase) easel.  Once we are better able to cut/glue on our own, art projects will be added for independent art activities.  Currently, we work on cutting/gluing together.


In the block center we use 3 different types of blocks – usually one at a time.  The block center is farther from the small group tables because of noise levels.

20130930-174903.jpgThe housekeeping center is more than just a play kitchen.  Students transform this space into all sorts of places!

ABC and Math are on one connected shelf.  I keep it differentiated by putting colored paper in the back.  The left side is ABC, with red paper in the back.  The right side is Math, with purple paper in the back.  I also put colored dots on the signs on the center board to remind students. I switch activities every 2 weeks.

The students have 6-9 choices within the ABC center.

Examples of activities in ABC center:

20130930-175012.jpgStudents can choose an iPad passes while at this center.  They must use headphones and remain in ABC folder.

20130930-175019.jpgAlphabet puzzles – I have at least 2 in the center at all times.  The puzzles range from smaller, foam to large floor puzzles.

20130930-175028.jpg Wipe on/off letter practice

20130930-175035.jpg Linking puzzles

As the year progresses, the activities become more difficult in nature.  I also incorporate some word work activities into ABC.

20130930-174822.jpgMath center side – also there are 6-9 choices

Examples of activities:

20130930-175042.jpg Another set of iPad passes

20130930-175049.jpgMagnetic shapes and numbers – gotta love the Dollar Tree!

20130930-175103.jpgPuzzles – some tying in our unit, others that don’t.  My class this year LOVES puzzles

20130930-175110.jpgNumber recognition games – this is a Roll and Color in a sheet protector

20130930-175118.jpgNumber puzzles

I leave a lot of space for the reading center. I like for students to spread out and feel comfortable.  There are bean bag chairs, a rocking chair, and a few stuffed animals of our favorite characters.  The shelf is double sided with hinges so I can shape it like an L.  I have one side “closed” for right now to not overwhelm them with choices.  During the first few days of school, I teach a mini lesson on reading the pictures.  This helps many students not feel discouraged by not being able to actually read words.  Students also have the option to take their iPad (with headphones) to the reading center.  There are multiple options of eBooks on the iPad.  They choose stories from the shelf or the Books folder on the iPad.


I organize the books into baskets.  This is the center where I always feel like we are reviewing how to clean up.  In the reading center, I stress how important it is to put books back where they belong so friends can find them later.  Baskets are labeled with tags and books have stickers that correspond.




It’s pretty OCD, I know.  Usually, each center team has 1-2 children that are really diligent about making sure books are exactly where they should be.  They are usually the ones on the hunt for a specific book!



The writing center is actually one of the students’ tables.  I hang a sign above and teams know to sit at table 3 while they are at writing.  Currently, we work on handwriting.  Once we have learned all of the letters, we will move on to creating thinking maps, writing stories or journals,  and using apps on the iPad to create writing. Like the art center, more independent activities are handed when students’ have developed the skills and stamina necessary.  Eventually, students will have the choice to complete their writing on paper on the iPad while at the writing center.  

For more resources check out:



Filed under iPads, Literacy, Reading Workshop, Technology, Writing Workshop

4 responses to “Guide Posts for Guided Reading

  1. So of course I love your room…since it looks a lot like mine 🙂
    Having so many choices for kids is so important. It is stimulating and engaging which keeps them more on task while you are having guided reading groups.

  2. I’m with Kristi. I love your room!!! (And yes, it does look a lot like mine!)

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