It's back-to-school season, and many teachers will be teaching guided reading in their classrooms for the first time. Whether you work with just one guided reading group per day or have several that cycle through your classroom, these helpful classroom management tips from our Leveled Books Website will help you and your students stay organized and focused so that you can teach more effectively and help more students achieve the results that guided reading lessons are capable of producing.
Classroom management tips for teaching guided reading:
Managing Reading Lists:
Students in grade 2 and above are very capable of listing books they have read independently or with their guided reading group. Consider placing a form for listing books read in each student's reader's notebook so each student can keep track of his or her reading independently. Over the course of a year, your students will be able to see concrete evidence of their accomplishments. You will also have a good record of reading for assessment purposes.
Select two or three texts at an appropriate level for each group. As you look through them, think about the strengths of your students and opportunities for learning. From the possible choices, you may decide to use one or more of the titles. This will help you think of the next few days of teaching and the sequence of texts you might want to use. Organize your possible choices on a cart with wheels that you can keep next to the table you use for your guided reading lessons.
Select Books at Least One Week in Advance:
Think about each of your groups. Review your observational notes and reading records to anticipate the text level that will be appropriate for the next few days. Review several titles at that level and select those that will provide the right amount of support and challenge—remember, the titles within a level have subtle differences. Place a rubber band around your selections for each group, or place them in sealable bags. Confirm your selections the day before you're going to use them.
Create an Attractive Classroom Library:
Think about how to organize the books in colorful baskets or bins. Place a label that clearly identifies books for the students. Use category titles such as Friendship or Survival. Consider organizing books by author such as Paulsen or genre such as folktales, short story collections, and historical fiction. Also think about creating baskets of series or award-winning books.
Organized Your Leveled Books in Boxes or Baskets:
Your collection of guided reading books needs to be arranged for easy access close to the table you use for lessons. Teach the students not to select books from your collection for independent reading, but to select from the section of the room that features the classroom library.
Making Your Word Work More Efficient:
Keep your letters in small sealable bags or individual trays so you can simply hand them to the children. This will save time finding letters. you may want to jot the words you want to use in Word Work on a sticky notes so you know precisely what words you want to use as examples.
Prepare Efficient Text Introductions:
You must be ready to present thoughtful introductions to the texts you use. To prepare, read the text, keeping the particular group of readers in mind. On a sticky note, make brief notes, with accompanying page numbers, of the key words, phrases, or text characteristics you want to be sure to talk about and affix it to the front cover. These notes will guide your introductory conversation with the guided reading group and help you give an efficient, well-paced introduction.
Reading Longer Texts:
When students are reading longer texts, often teachers sample oral reading from several or all students and then move away from the table to confer with individuals or even begin another group. If you introduce the text and then ask students to go to their desks to read, you risk interruption of concentration. Letting them continue to read at the table helps them focus on the text and make the most of your introduction. Also, you may want to have them do some writing to help them remember what they want to discuss later. So, students may stay at the table as long as 30 minutes, but your teaching time is distributed among more children.
Managing Time in the Reading Workshop:
Teach students how to meet you at the table quickly for their guided reading lesson. Teach them to think about all the materials they'll need and to arrive at the table promptly and ready to start the lesson. Waiting for individuals to arrive or to return to their seats for materials wastes valuable time and will make it difficult for you to get to multiple groups during the reading workshop.
Managing Groups Efficiently:
You can manage several groups in a day. Think about introducing a text to one group and leaving them at the table to read silently. While they are reading, move to a second table at another corner of the room to work with another group. Return to your first group for the discussion and teaching points while your second group is reading. After finishing up with your second group, you may have time to meet with one more group for a lesson. When you plan the order of your lessons, consider the length of time students will need to read the book or section of the book.
Also see these helpful video clips on creating and organizing a guided reading classroom: