Wednesday Workshop: Reading Groups

I have had a Wonderful Wednesday! Standardized Testing is done (can I get a HALLELUJAH!) and what brightened my day even more? It's time for Wednesday Workshop, hosted by Jivey!
Today's topic for "Workshop Wednesday" is Managing and Organizing Reading Groups.

I will proudly say that I teach 5th grade and I still do reading groups in my classroom. I think there is great value in meeting with students in small groups to give them direct instruction, extra reinforcement, and assessment. However, in a school with a departmentalized structure, I don't have a lot of time to work with. I can't go an extra ten minutes or skip something else to do reading groups at a different time: I will have a line of 18 students in the hallway, clamoring to get in (because they love coming to my class, of course!) Plus our stories are long. Plus it takes time for me to explain the directions if I am introducing a new or different center activity. I don't do a Daily 5 schedule (although I would love to!) and I don't do reading groups everyday. It usually averages to about 3 times per week.

I have two groups of students I see each morning (33 students total) and each class is broken into three groups: motorcycles, cars, and helicopters (to fit my travel theme!). At the beginning of the year I assess my students for two things: fluency and comprehension. I use the data to place them into the groups. My grouping is flexible and the groups do change a bit as I re-assess throughout the year.

Each day we do reading groups, I fill in my schedule for the group rotations:

I have glued down library pockets and then just change out the activity (written on an index card). The first column represents the activities for the first rotation, the second column is the second rotation, and the third is the third. (obviously). My group cut-outs are attached with sticky tack, so I can move them around. (I often meet with my lowest group first, but occasionally I will switch it around) and sticky tack gives me the flexibility to do so.

One of the rotations is almost always meet with the teacher and we usually work on skill-building activities (story elements, re-telling, fluency checks, TONS of reading comprehension work, etc.).  I take anecdotal notes on their progress during these sessions. When assessing their oral reading, I usually tell them what specific skill I will be checking for - expression, volume, pacing, word accuracy, etc.

The other two rotations change all of the time. Frequently the kiddos do:
  • Word Work center (focusing on spelling or vocabulary)
  • Curriculum focus: usually Social Studies or Science - I usually use it to get in more non-fiction practice!
  • Writing center (usually prompted - I have made TONS of writing center activities)
  • Center games - focuses on reviewing skills we've been talking about. I have gotten a ton of these take-it-to-your seat center books from Mailbox and Scholastic. Each one is organized in a folder with a laminated game board or mat, the individual pieces in a labeled envelope, student sheet in a sheet protector (so they can write on it with a dry erase marker and then wipe clean when they're done), and answer key.

When I'm with a reading group, I want to focus on these kiddos - and only these kiddos. I try to plan activities that require little instruction or explanation, but occasionally I will have students who come across a problem. 
To avoid (most of the) constant interruptions from students who are (supposedly) working independently, I have implemented the "Ask 3...Then Me" rule when I'm working with a small group or conferencing with an individual. It's simple: The phrase “Ask 3…Then Me” instructs my students to ask three classmates a question about the activity before coming and interrupting my small group. 

^My kids laugh because this teacher looks just like me - right down to the purple earrings! 

(I've included several different "teacher" options in the packet.)

Classroom Clock Out ClipboardNote: This system does not apply for bathrooms - I use a sign-out sheet to go get water or use the bathroom, so a student may simply sign out and go without asking permission during reading groups time.

What strategies do you use to manage your Reading Workshop time? Link up with Jivey to share your ideas :)

p.s. Don't forget to enter my Monday Made-It Giveaway :) It ends TONIGHT!
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