What is the rest of the class doing during reading groups?
When I started teaching I had a pretty good idea how to run a reading group. It was clear to me what my students needed. Whether they were in my low group and just learning to identify and match uppercase and lowercase letter, my middle group starting to blend and read CVC words, or my highest group working on reading for comprehension.
Having a reading group wasn’t a problem. The problem for me was figuring out what the rest of my class should be doing while I was running uninterrupted (hopefully) reading groups. This is the unspoken secret of kindergarten. It’s really hard to take a small group of kids for a reading group and hope that the other 18 kids in your class will remain engaged and quiet, and doing something meaningful.
Some teachers may be lucky and have an assistant or a parent volunteer, but I’m afraid the vast majority of us are on our own. I’ve seen lots and lots of strategies for managing the whole class during groups. These tips (turning on a light to let kids know not to interrupt, wearing a crazy headband) have resulted in mixed results. It’s difficult especially at the beginning of the year.
It’s kindergarten’s biggest secret… it’s hard.
Don’t be fooled – it’s hard. Add a child with special needs, or a child who has challenging behaviors into your class and having uninterrupted reading groups seems like the elusive unicorn. It can leave you burned out and totally stressed out. I’ve had more than 1 newbie teacher come to cry in my class because she didn’t realize how hard it was going to be. Especially during the fall, when it literally feels like we are herding cats.
The success of your guided reading groups lay in how well the rest of the class is managed during those groups.
However, this is exactly when we need to start building the routines of reading groups. If you put in the work now, it will pay off later in the year when the academic benchmarks start to really ramp up. Trust me, the success of your guided reading groups lay in how well the rest of the class is managed during those groups.
It’s ok, it can be done. And just as sure as your kids will start losing teeth – daily! They will start to settle down and you will be able to get those groups in. But you are going to need a plan.
Technology is a tool we can use to make reading groups easier to manage.
I have found the best way is to break up the crowd. Usually, I start by giving my 22 kids a worksheet that involves coloring, cutting, and writing. Grab my sentence building worksheets here. All that fine motor work will keep them busy.
I start by putting 4 or 5 kids at a table with iPads. Where they work on Boom Cards. Those Boom decks are an extension of our reading lesson. Now I can take my first reading group. I work with them for about 10-15 minutes. Once they are done with me I send that group to my Chromebook table. Here I have 4 or 5 Chromebooks set up and they work on Boom Cards that extend their lesson.
It’s organized chaos, but it works. 5 kids at iPads, 5 kids with me, and 5 more kids at Chromebooks. The rest of the kids are working at their tables. I try to get 3 groups a day. I give myself a break and I don’t expect to get to every group every day – that’s truly the elusive unicorn! It works. 3 groups a day low group every day. They get extra support with Boom on iPads, small group work with me, then they finish up with extension on the Chromebooks.
We all switch together, ready or not, we all switch. That’s the key to making this work. As the kids transition, I can get offer help on the iPads and Chromebooks. I find Boom Cards are easier during this time than Google Classroom because Boom offers picture logins. That helps the kids to be independent. Which totally speeds up the process.
We have the technology and it makes our lives easier, if we look to see how technology can make our classroom run smoother we will be less stressed and that will lead to a happier class. Remember they are little emotional sponges they suck up our emotions. If we are tense and stressed so will they.
Here is a list of my reading group extensions bundles