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