Small Group Work in Reading

Amanda Hartman (a small group work in reading genius) gave me some great ideas on types of small groups that really help to move students reading levels. Many of the teachers I work with have been finding them very useful to help especially with readers stuck at a level.

The first type of small group is really a hybrid between guided reading and a strategy group. The first thing we did is preview the text and pull out words that we predict the students would struggle with. We then place them on post-its. During the book introduction we had students using MSV. We supported them in using their decoding strategies to decode the words (visual), we had the students think about what the story may be about if these are the words in it (meaning), and then generate some sentences they predict to find in the book (syntax). After this book introduction students read the text in pairs. We found it best to use a text one or two levels above the students independent reading level. After they read in with their partners, we came back together. The students then revised some of their predictions from earlier in the text and some of the sentences they came up with. They also used the words on the post-its to help them retell. They then read the text again, this time independently. They then added these books to their book baggies to keep practicing. Kids really enjoyed it, and it really scaffolded a text that was above their reading level.

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Another type of small group work we have been trying that has been helping lift students comprehension level is one that is similar to guided reading. We gather the students with a text about one level above their independent reading level. We then do a book introduction and coach as the students read the text. (So far similar to guided reading) We then come back and retell the book. In the students books we have left post-its with questions they can ask themselves as they read, such as “how is the character feeling right now?” and “what is the author trying to tell us here?”. After the retell, the students will read the book again, this time stopping at the post-its and asking themselves the questions. The initial read they focused a lot on decoding. This second read they are asking and answering questions as they read. We even put in some blank post-its and students wrote their own questions. After the second read we came back together and the students retold the story again, this time the retelling was at a much higher level. We ended the group by asking the students to take the post-its out and put them into another book they were working on.


A third type of small group we having been trying involved using writing to lift the level of reading. We had a B level text and gathered B readers. We then put a post-it on each page. Using shared writing we came up with additional labels, and sentences to add to the book. When we were done we turned a B level text into a C or D level text due to the words we added. Because we used shared writing, students were able to read their words. They then added these books to their book baggies, and upped the level of text complexity in their book baggies!


Have fun trying out some of these small groups in reading and don’t be afraid to get creative!


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