This past week left me craving to work with my kids in their small groups. I'm often pulled to work with other grade levels when they take benchmark tests (which is a compliment), but that leaves a substitute in my classroom. Since guided reading is a rather difficult and complicated process I usually leave substitutes with lessons and activities that can be taught to the whole class. So, I'm really looking forward to working with my small groups again this week.

Today we had a staff development day. We did a few different sessions of training today, but one in particular left me with a new idea for helping my students with their vocabulary. One of the skills in guided reading is word work. Word work involves going over sight words and working with those words. Since I teach 3rd grade, most of my students are beyond this stage and ready to just read. Instead of working on sight words, we work on vocabulary words for the story that they will be reading. The focus of the session today was an interactive word wall. So rather than putting all of the words on the wall, write them on index cards so that the students can use them and refer to them on their own. Since each group would have a different set of words, this would work perfectly. Then we will be able to pull them out and review them in vocabulary games in other small group sessions.

Even though I know this will take a lot of my group time, I'm confident that this will be a good use of time for my students. Vocabulary is a huge issue for my students and I've been struggling with a way to incorporate it into our reading lessons since each group has a different set of words based on their text. I'm really excited to see how this new emphasis on vocabulary will affect my students in the upcoming weeks.
This past week I decided to experiment a little with my guided reading groups. As I stated last week, I'm not very sure exactly how much writing should be accompanied with the guided reading of each group. I strongly believe that writing is an integral part of the literacy process. So, my students did a LOT of writing this week.

What really surprised me about the writing was that the students kept asking me when they were going to read a new book. I have never had a group of kids WANT to read and that really excited me. As exciting as this was, I was also really concerned about my students' attitudes toward writing. After all, I was guiding them in the writing process...they weren't having to write on their own.

Another disappointment this week was the cancellation of guided reading training that I was to participate in this afternoon. Unfortunately, our area recieved a lot of snow yesterday which created icy roads this morning and so, school was cancelled. I know that the training will be rescheduled but now that I'm really starting to get into guided reading, I'm really sad that it was cancelled today.
This week has continued to be a learning experience for me and the guided reading method. So I'll just jump right in with all I've learned, contemplated, and considered.
First of all, I purchased two new books this weekend.  I've been using Pinterest or my own ideas to create all of my Work on Writing ideas for the rotations that my students do while I'm working with my groups. While it's nice to create my own materials to meet my students' needs, it's also very time consuming. So, I'm excited to be able put these resources to use in my classroom. Unfortunately, I already have the next two weeks worth of rotations planned out so I won't be able to put my new books to use for a few weeks.

I've also been comtemplating the place of guided writing during my small group reading times. Writing is a huge component of reading and literacy. So, my question became, "How much writing should I do with each group?" I see two of my groups at least 4-5 times per week. However, with the other three groups, we only meet twice per week. I decided to conduct an experiment of sorts with my guided reading groups this week. I decided to keep the same book that we read last week for all of my groups. This week we would solely be concentrating on writing activities  related to the book we read last week. Some of the activities I'm planning to do with my groups include vocabulary word work (writing definitions and sentences), completing a five finger retell which will lead us into writing a full summary, and completing a cause and effect flow chart.

Another issue I've contemplated is: how do I grade the guided reading and writing that I do together with the students? I do grade the students on a few of the activities that they complete independently during their daily five rotations, but I don't take any grades for the time that they spend with me. My problem is, we spend a LOT of time reading and writing together and this leaves little time for independent reading. The term guided reading and writing holds extremely true for me and my students because I want to guide them to be better readers and and writers. I will say that I have managed to get plenty of reading grades each week, I just wish there was an easy way to give a grade for what we are doing during our guided reading groups. I think I will use this weekend to look through my guided reading books and the guided reading websites I've found to see what they reocmmend.

Finally, I've learned that I absolutely LOVE guided reading and my students do too!It's not often that students come back to read
I decided to create this site to fulfill a requirement for a course that I am taking this semester. It is a practicum and requires that I create "something" technology related. Currently, I am a third grade teacher. Specifically, I teach reading, writing, spelling, and social studies.  

This year, my principal asked that all reading teachers use the guided reading method of teaching reading. We embarked on several book studies at the end of last year, met together over the summer to discuss how we would be implementing guided reading, and even had someone from another district skilled in the use of guided reading come talk to us. Despite all of this preparation, I still felt ill equipped to really implement guided reading like it should be in my classroom. If truth be told, I really didn't fully implement it and really start using it until the second semester.  

You see, it seemed like every time I sat down to work with a group, despite my best efforts, I could not get myself together enough to carry it through. I'd meet with a group here and there, an individual every now and then, and could never quite get a good system going. I hated getting up and teaching for almost two hours straight, but I just could not conceptualize in my brain how it would work otherwise.  

One book that we read at the end of last year was The Daily Five by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. This is a phenomenal book that basically set up five literacy "centers" within a classroom. The five centers include: read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, work on writing, and word work. The students in the classroom are to independently pick from the five stations and work there while the teacher individually conferences with other students around the room. I had implemented the Daily Five in my classroom at the beginning of the year, but I was still unable to really work with groups like I wanted to.  

Over the Christmas break, my mind began to clear and I was finally able to create a doable game plan that combined guided reading groups and the daily five. I ended up finding a fantastic resource called, "The Guided Reading Guru" at the Teachers Pay Teachers web site that ultimately helped me create my groups. Once I had my groups created (I have five groups per class), I decided that my students needed some more structure to the daily five. So, I created a rotation chart and the students no longer have a choice of what they go to each day. They simply rotate through three of the daily five centers each day. During those rotations, I am able to meet with three different groups each day.  

I realize that this may seem extremely simple to many primary teachers, but I've never taught below third grade so this is a foreign concept to me. This is where the idea for this site was formed. I really wanted to create a site that would lead a teacher step by step through the process of implementing guided reading in their classroom. Please know that I am novice, just like you. I am still learning, just like you. At the same time, I hope to provide you with a game plan, so to speak, to at least get you up and going. I hope that I can perhaps save you some time and frustration so that you can begin guided reading with your students on day one rather than day 101.

    Meet Marti

    Marti is 3rd grade ELA, Reading, and Social Studies teacher at Willow Bend Elementary. She has been in education for the past 15 years. In addition to teaching 3rd grade, Marti has also taught 4th grade and has been the instructional technology specialist at her campus. This is her first year to use the guided reading method in her classroom.


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