I love teaching guided reading and I continue to do so even though I am retired. I volunteer a couple of mornings a week and I work with 6 different groups. Some groups are still working on sounds and cvc activities. Others are working on beginning chapter books and reading for deeper meaning and understanding. I enjoy being able to take them beyond the basic story and I often incorporate other activities.
Lately I have also been tutoring some children in French. I have found it to be very similar to teaching beginning reading. I have been busy creating activities and resources that introduce basic language and concepts using themes. I am thrilled to see how quickly they are grasping the ideas.
I went into my grandson's grade 1/2 class last week and I got to work with small groups using one of the themed task cards. It was so much fun. I also helped out with a reading group. Again, it was refreshing to see that the language didn't matter. The process was the same and the kids engaged in a similar manner. I am not certain why I didn't think about that sooner. I guess it is because I was so focused on teaching reading in my own class that I didn't think about how it worked in other situations.
Differentiation is important. I found that some groups were better able to do the activities than others as some of the children were reading and other were not quite there yet. I was able to make modifications to the games to allow for both groups to be successful. I look forward to going back again soon.
Once I finished creating simple emergent readers and the thematic visual task cards, I started to translate them into English. They will be fun to use with my guided reading groups as well. I am surprised that I didn't think of making them in English first, followed by a French translation. I guess it is because the inspiration came from a need for materials.
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This is an update to a previous blog post. I feel it is still relevant today so I am re-sharing it.
Building Relationships is one of the most important things we can do when we get our new students. We need to help them to understand that we are there for them, we care about them, and we want them to be successful. I feel that this is crucial for a successful year.
Team building and getting to know each other is essential. Everyone will do this in different ways depending on their personalities and interests, but that is okay. It helps with learning to accept uniqueness and diversity.
Getting to know your students is very important. Who better to ask than the parents. Every year I send home a form called "Getting Acquainted". It is a way for parents to share some insights about their child and the family. Since so many parents are now working, it is harder to have face to face conversations with them. They want to be involved in their child's learning, but sometimes we have to be more creative to make sure this happens.
It is important to keep the lines of communication open so that we can have the frank conversations when necessary. I believe that each day is a fresh start, so if I can focus on what is right in the classroom and help my students to do the same, this can be communicated to the family through notes, phone calls, or face to face conversations when possible.
Often parents will ask what they can do at home to help support the learning that is happening at school. I believe that the best way to help is to read with their child and give them lots of real life experiences that use the skills and concepts taught. I send home a paper that explains how to go about doing Home Reading so that it can be effectively done and a positive experience for everyone. It is amazing how stressful home reading can be in some homes otherwise.
Here are samples from my letters. These are also available in my Back to School Start Up Forms package.
Maintaining a positive relationship with support staff is also very important. They can be great allies throughout the year. We need to help them to feel appreciated for all that they do. Sometimes they can feel like they are taken for granted and a smile or a friendly comment can make their day. A special note also makes them feel special.
Reading strategies are very important for developing good reading skills. They help children to make meaning out of unfamiliar words and ideas in a variety of ways. Many children get stuck when they rely on only one or two strategies. Introducing these 8 strategies and practicing them will give them the tools to better understand the material they are reading.
About 3 years ago, I was introduced to these cute animals and their uses as reading strategies. I loved how the children engaged with them. I had to get my own stuffies so that they could actually hold them and interact with them. I use them all the time now in my guided reading groups.
I created a set of bookmarks and posters to go with these strategies. If you would like to get a copy of these bookmarks and posters, click the image below.
I hope you find these tools helpful with your young readers. I would love to hear how you use strategies in reading.
Using games and activities that are fun will help to engage children and they will learn skills without realizing that they are learning. It is wonderful to see them taking risks and challenges and enjoying learning.
I have always tried to include games in my guided reading lessons and my literacy blocks. Children can often get frustrated if they are working hard at learning to decode or make meaning of what they are reading. Using games to focus on some of the skills relieves some of that stress and allows them to practice the skills in a fun environment.
I use lots of different boxed games, but I also use task cards and other games that I have created. The ones that I have made are specific for what I might be covering in groups. I have many different themes for my sight words so that they are always fun to use because they are linked to different holidays, or special times.
Here are some other types of activities that I have used with my students. Depending on the abilities and the needs, I have made the materials simple for learning letter sounds and names and more difficult for learning about figurative language and parts of speech. I have also created activities for the interactive whiteboard. Bingo games that go with various topics are also fun to create.
If you are interested in checking out some of these products or other literacy activities that I have created, click here.
I volunteer at school and work with several guided reading groups. I create games and activities for them. Another retired teacher volunteers as well. She asked me to make up some game boards for her. You can check them out here.
Here is a free sample from the set of game boards. Click the image below to get your copy.
I have fun creating games and I love seeing the children react when a new game is presented to them. But more importantly, I am excited to see them learning skills that they were struggling with. It is so thrilling to see them applying the skills to their reading and writing lessons.
I would love to hear how you use games in your classroom to teach skills.
Where does your inspiration come from when creating materials? For me it comes from a need for certain resources in the classroom or for my grandchildren to support them in their learning.
I just started tutoring my grandson in French. He moved into a K/1 French Immersion class in March. He is in grade 1, but he is a capable student, so my son decided to move him early rather than do lots of tutoring over the summer and then move him into a grade 2 class. Already he is showing a good understanding of the language and he is able to figure out what is needed during the school day.
He can read the words and he has a few phrases that he can use, but he is really starting all over again. As I began creating a few materials for him, I noticed how similar it was to creating materials for my guided reading groups of emergent readers.
I decided to create a French version and an English version of each booklet or activity. So far I have created a few little readers and a package of interactive materials using basic vocabulary.
I took my little English readers into the Learning Support Teacher and she was so excited. She said it was like Christmas! I am happy that she will be able to use them with her struggling readers. I also plan on using them with some of my emergent readers when I go in to volunteer with reading groups.
When learning to read, it is the same process, no matter what language you are learning.
I am looking forward to creating more resources that will be covering a variety of themes. Stayed tuned for the next group of books.
Learning a second language doesn't have to be difficult. There are many ways to learn. Today I will be touching on a few strategies and steps that can help.
There are 6 steps to follow if you want to really learn to use a second or third language. Not surprisingly, these are the same steps we use when learning our first language. They do not necessarily need to be done in this order or one at a time.
Step one is to begin by listening to others speak so that you become accustomed to how the language sounds. This may seem a bit crazy, but if you go into any area where there are different languages being spoken, you will notice differences in the way the languages sound.
I find it interesting to listen to people speaking to each other in a store or at the airport or some sightseeing venue. It doesn't take too long to recognize whether they are speaking in French, Spanish, Asian, or other languages. I may not be able to understand what they are saying, but some accents and sounds are distinguishable and characteristic of different regions or countries.
Step two is to try speaking some of the words and phrases. This is usually done by copying what someone else is saying. It may be copying from a language program on the computer or at a listening center, or it may be copying someone who is speaking to you. With constant repetition, this will become easier and more natural sounding.
Step three is to work on the pronunciation so that it is as close as possible to the native sound of the language. This will take practice. Recording oneself when speaking and playing it back may be helpful. Using a "telephone" is also a good way to hear what is being said.
Step four is to develop a good vocabulary. The bigger the vocabulary acquired, the more a person will be able to communicate with others on a variety of topics.
Step five is to practice reading the words and reading simple passages that use the vocabulary in written form. As fluency and comprehension develops the passages can get more difficult and varied. It is important that comprehension be included, because it is possible to read words fluently without understanding what is being said. This is particularly true for some languages that are very phonetic.
Step six is to practice writing the language. The most difficult part of this process will be getting the grammar and syntax correct. Most languages are not translated literally, so you need to have an understanding of the language and how phrases are formed in order to communicate well.
There are many different approaches, but these steps have worked well in our schools and with my own children and grandchildren.
If you have other ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.
I have been sharing my approach to using guided reading in the classroom. Today, I would like to walk through a sample guided reading rotation. For the purpose of this example, I am going to be using 24 students and 5 different leveled groups. Often there will be some students that don't fit nicely into groups and they may need to be on an individualized program.
It is important to also make the groups as small as possible (5 or less) when working with struggling or emergent readers. The other groups can be a bit larger.
Before beginning a program, it is important to figure out what levels the children are at. Then the groups can be formed so that the spread is not too great for facilitating an effective program.
My sample group is a beginning grade 2 class with a wide range of levels.
Group 1 - working with letters/sounds, sight words, and leveled books from 1-5
Group 2 - struggling readers levels 6-8 (4 students)
Group 3 - readers levels 12-14 (4 students)
Group 4 - readers levels 17-19 (5 students)
Group 5 - readers levels 23-26 (8 students)
For this example, I will be spending about 20-30 minutes with the groups that I am working directly with. The other groups will be working independently or in centers. There will be time for about 3 of the groups to get direct instruction. Groups 1 and 2 will get direct instruction each day. The other 3 groups will get direct instruction at least 3 times throughout the week.
Note: It is not always possible to give guided reading instruction every day, but whenever it is scheduled, it is important to make sure that the groups that are struggling get some direct instruction.
Here is the first rotation.
Group 1 - reading with teacher
Group 2 - word work center
Group 3 - listening center
Group 4 - early chapter book reading to self
Group 5 - novel study reading to self and responding to reading
Group 1 - word or letter/sound game
Group 2 - reading with teacher
Group 3 - word work center
Group 4 - listening center
Group 5 - novel study chapter activity
Group 1 - listening center
Group 2 - follow up activity to story
Group 3 - reading with teacher
Group 4 - close reading activity
Group 5 - word work center
The listening center is a great place for using books and audio together. The students can listen to the story as they follow along in the book. This allows them to hear stories read with fluency and expression. The stories can also be chosen to fit the appropriate levels for the readers.
Because it is difficult to get to all the groups, the tendency is to focus on those that are struggling and let the others read or work independently. It is important that time be found for them as well. I discovered early on that they were only surface reading when left to read for long periods of time without some guidance and support. That is why I created some study guide activities to help them to dig deeper into the material and get more out of what they read.
Discussions and book talks also work well to find out what they understand and what interests them. If they are able to make connections and find enjoyment in what they are reading, they are more likely to continue wanting to read. Not all good readers enjoy reading.
Make sure that the activities and work associated with each book don't take away the enjoyment of the book. Sometimes it is is good to just read a story and not do an activity to go along with it. Switch it up and do some activities that are not written, but maybe dramatic or artistic.
Well, there you have it. I hope this helps with running a guided reading program in your classroom. If you missed the early blog posts, you can check them out in the links below.
If you do start up a program, I would love to hear about it.
If you already run a guided reading program in your classroom, it would be great to hear about it as well.
The key to making guided reading work in the primary classroom is being organized and making sure that the children have been taught the routines and expectations for guided reading time. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started or to hopefully help make the guided reading time work smoothly.
Do some sort of informal assessment with each child so that you know what levels you are working with and what language concepts and skills need to be taught.
At the beginning of each year, I would take students one at a time while others were working on an activity and informally have them read some books or do some language activities with me. I would have a collection of materials available at a variety of levels so that I could get a rough idea of what would be a good instructional level to start with.
Remember: Not all children read during the summer break. Often the reading levels drop and it is necessary to start at a lower level until the skills are practiced for a bit. Don't let that worry you. It is important to make sure that the level is comfortable and not too difficult so that fluency can be practiced and comprehension skills can be deepened.
Choose both fiction and non-fiction material so that the children get comfortable with them. Often non-fiction books can be considered more difficult, but because they are of interest to the children, they are willing to work through them. Sometimes they are able to identify with the situations and make connections to themselves and to their world.
Teach a variety of language skills. We often work with letter/sound connections and sight words when children start reading, but I like to take it a step further. I often look for language usage activities that fit with the books I choose.
For example: I teach my emergent readers about quotation marks and speech bubbles. I love doing activities that help them to look closer at the way the written word is used in books. They get really good at finding the speech marks and we play games where they can only say what is inside them. I get to read all the other parts. It doesn't take them long to figure it out.
Have some quiet activities prepared for the groups that are working independently so that you are not disturbed while working with another group. These can be paper/pencil activities, book bins of material that is at an appropriate reading level, listening center activities, language activities on ipads or computers, or building words or working with letters games in a center. It is important to have a variety of materials and activities ready so that you can differentiate for the various groups and levels.
Make sure that each group knows what is expected before beginning the guided reading sessions so that you don't need to spend time redirecting or re-explaining when you are working with a small group.
It will require some direct teaching and practice to make sure that they understand they understand the expectations and they follow the guidelines given. It might help to have some anchor charts available. If they get confused or they finish early, they need to know what the expectation is and then follow it.
For example: Perhaps they can quietly ask someone for clarification if they get stuck. Maybe there is a place for early finishers to go and get a quiet activity to work on.
Use volunteers that have been trained by you to help with your higher groups. I found this to be very effective because I would prepare the materials and I would provide an outline of what to do. It can be a bit time consuming at the beginning, but once the work has been done, it can be reused with others groups as they reach the same level.
Here are some guided reading materials I have created for some of my groups. I have them ready now to use again when I am teaching new groups of students. This has come in very handy this year as I am already prepared for the next group of students that I get. (I am retired now, so I am the volunteer at the school.)
Do a variety of things with whatever group you are working with. This is especially important with those students who are struggling. It is hard work for them to decode, respond to reading, comprehend material and enjoy reading. Adding word games, hands-on activities and other surprises will help engage them in working with written material and motivate them to continue trying.
Here are some things I have done in the past.
I give each of my students a witch's finger for tracking. They love to use it instead of their index finger. Starbuck stoppers work well too.
I have the Dolch sight words with various themes and I play games with them.
I love to play silly sentences when teaching about parts of speech. Here are some of the activities that I created.
Sometimes it is easy to leave the stronger students alone to read while working with the others. It is important to make sure that they get challenged as well. I love to do novel studies and more advanced activities with them. Often they are able to read fluently and they get the basic idea of what they have read, but they don't always read for deeper understanding, make connections, or understand the elements of the stories. Doing activities that encourage them to find evidence in what they are reading and practice various strategies will help them to develop these skills.
Here are some of the guided reading study packages that I have created.
Well, there you have it. I hope some of these ideas will work for you. If you use any of them, I would love to hear about it. It would also be great to hear of other ideas and suggestions that you use in your classroom.
If you have any questions or would like more information about anything, please contact me.
Guided reading is a common component of many classrooms nowadays, but is it working? I have seen many different formats for doing guided reading, and I feel that some work better than others.
I have been an advocate for guided reading in the classroom for many years. I was introduced to the idea in the late nineties and I used it effectively until I recently retired. When I began teaching, we used anthologies for reading. I found that these worked well for some children, but other really struggled with them. It wasn't until I learned about leveled materials that I realized that anthologies weren't the best because they had a wide range of levels in them. They had some interesting stories and the activities provided were used to teach some of the language skills and usage, but they didn't really meet the needs of the children that were emergent readers.
I did guided reading in my classroom for many years. I had it working quite well and then the school I was working in closed. I was surprised to find that it wasn't happening in all schools. When I moved to a new school I knew that I needed to get something happening in my classroom at least. A couple of different models were attempted by the staff in my first years at this school, but they weren't very effective.
In one scenario, the children were grouped by levels and then they were split up among the available adults for a guided reading time. Several classes were combined and a set time of the day was used for these groups. Although this can work, I found it quite frustrating as the groups were too big and the kids would come and go from my group without notice. It was difficult to establish some continuity, skill development and fluency with my groups.
In another scenario, only those who were struggling readers were taken for guided reading work. Although they required some small group or individual instruction to succeed, I found it frustrating that the others didn't get an opportunity to develop their skills in a similar manner. I also found that the pull out system meant that they missed more key concepts and skills from lessons being taught while they were out of the room.
Assessing my own students was a challenge in these scenarios. I would receive assessments from those leading the groups, but I didn't feel I really knew how they were doing myself and I wanted to be better able to share successes and concerns with parents. That is when I decided that I needed to create my own guided reading groups and come up with a plan that would allow me to work with all of them.
I tried to group them as best I could into manageable groups. Sometimes I would have 6 or 7 groups in order to make this work. I then created different types of activities or centers to have available for some of the groups while I was working with others. They could be ranging from letter/sound recognition to advanced novel studies.
I would then structure my language arts time so that I had room for 2 or 3 rotations during each session. I would make sure to work with my struggling groups daily, and with the other groups at least every second day. I would make sure to touch base with all of my groups at the beginning of each session so that they knew what they were to be working on and what the expectations were.
At my previous school, we used parent volunteers that we trained. They were able to take a couple of the groups and work with them at the same time as we were working with our groups. This really helped as we knew that all of the students would receive some support each day. (Note: I gave the more capable students to my volunteers and I worked with those that needed more explicit instruction.)
It is more difficult to get parents to volunteer now as many of them are working and not available to help out on a consistent basis.
I am retired, but I volunteer at my old school and work with guided reading groups. Last year, we implemented something different that seems to work better. This is closer to what I was doing in my own classroom.
One classroom at a time is supported. All the students are put into reading groups and teachers, support staff, and teacher volunteers lead the groups in guided reading studies. The Learning Assistance teacher also takes some of the more at risk students and gives them extra support at a different time of the day.
Every few weeks the students are assessed and the groups are adjusted accordingly.
This seems to be more effective and it makes it easier for teachers to schedule as well. All of their students are receiving instruction at the same time and there is communication happening about what is going on in the various groups.
These are just a few of my thoughts about guided reading. I would love to hear how this fits with your ideas of guided reading. Leave a comment below with ideas that you use to make guided reading work in your classroom.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts about guided reading with some tips and tricks for emergent readers as well as those who are advanced and ready for novels. I would love to hear some of yours as well.
This video has been floating around on Facebook for some time now. It really makes you stop and think about how confusing the English language can be to those learning English as a second language.
Pronunciation is not the only thing that is difficult. Many words are spelled the same way but have different meanings depending on how they are used. Here is a small sampling of some words in our language that have different meanings and pronunciations for the same spellings.
lead, content, row, sow, live, wind, present, minute
People also use words in ways that are very confusing for second language learners. My daughter-in-law is Korean, and she often asks me what I mean when I use an expression or idiom. We are unaware of how much of our language usage is not literal.
I love the Amelia Bedelia books because they show just how literally some of the sayings are interpreted by someone who doesn't know the current jargon or expression.
A couple of weeks ago, my reading group was reading a story from the Frog and Toad series that talked about spring being around the corner. Afterwards, I gave them some different idioms and a list of the meanings in a mixed up order and asked them to match them up. It was very interesting to see what choices they made. Most of the sayings were familiar, but there were some that were not.
I then read them the book Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish. They found it to be very funny and asked if we could read some more during our reading group time. These books are perfect for showing the difference between figurative language and literal language.
We just finished reading Good Work, Amelia Bedelia. I created some activities to go along with the story. We will be doing them this week. Click the image at the bottom of the page to get your own copy to try out.
A couple of years ago I did a guest post about Amelia Bedelia and figurative language. At that time, I had a student who was very literal. He really did not understand that we used expressions which had different meanings. Here are some excerpts from my post from back then.
Have you ever found an activity or unit that you try that just takes off on it's own path? I have had this happen many times. It always amazes me when an idea that starts out as a teachable moment or a small idea takes on a mind of its own and blossoms into a larger study.
Our current bloom is idioms. What started as an introduction to Amelia Bedelia for a couple of literal learners, has turned into a fantastic learning experience. It has become rich with language and writing opportunities. It has so engaged my students, that they are driving their families nuts by catching every idiom or figurative expression that is spoken. Sometimes I have to call for a time out so that we can actually focus on the topics being studied. Not that I mind, though. It is always rewarding to see the kids having fun with something that they are studying.
I teach a grade 2/3 class and I wanted to find some books that would capture their interest and be appropriate for reading groups. I scored with Amelia Bedelia. There are some I Can Read versions that are great for my struggling readers, some of the regular editions that are suitable for my stronger grade 2s and my weaker grade 3s, and now the new chapter books that work with my stronger readers. Right now, everyone is reading about Amelia Bedelia. This is a first!
What I enjoy most about having the same characters, is that we can really look closely at them as we meet them in different stories. Everyone is familiar with Amelia Bedelia and Mr. and Mrs. Rogers.
Now they are meeting Amelia Bedelia's parents in the chapter books because they are stories about her when she was a little girl. They love making connections as they read about her adventures.
Herman Parish (nephew of Peggy Parish) has done a wonderful job with these books. He also has some new I Can Read books about Amelia Bedelia as a young child. They are sure to be a hit as well.
Did you catch the idioms and figurative language used in the above excerpts?
I had so much teaching about idioms, that I decided to create my own activities. Check them out below.
Click the image to get your free copy of activities for Good Work, Amelia Bedelia. I hope you enjoy using them.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother or 8, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.
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