Small Group Instruction time is precious and should be guarded at all costs. At our school, daily small group instruction is a non-negotiable. In order to get to 3 groups daily, you can’t waste any time. SOOOOO, what will you do to make the most of the time you have?
Have Their Supplies Ready
Is there a better store than Dollar Tree? I don’t think so, I got these “pencil buckets” at Dollar Tree in a set of 3 for a dollar. What a deal! I have 6 buckets made up for my guided reading groups. When students are called over to small group instruction, they bring their books with them and I put a pencil bucket in front of each student. The buckets contain anything they could possibly need during the lesson at their fingertips. Here is what is in the buckets.
Magnetic Letters, Boards and Markers
Typically dry erase boards are too big or bulky.
I made these dry erase boards and laminated them so they fit in to the pencil cases (1 1/2 inches by 8 inches).
These dry erase boards have dotted lines on one side and are blank on the other side.
Sometimes I want lines, sometimes I don’t need them. I also like the dry erase markers with an eraser on the top from Dollar Tree.
Some groups might need magnetic letters for sorting capital and lowercase letters, spelling sight words, creating word endings or word families. If different groups need different letters, I will put them in snack size Ziploc bags to be switched out.
The activity to the right is a sight word activity I adapted from Jan Richardson. Students use the magnet letters to spell the sight word. We may even do a few rounds of mix and fix with those letters. Finally, they put the letters spelled correctly on the table. I set a timer for 30 seconds.
Students are directed to write the word, underline it while they read it, and repeat it. They are not supposed to “spell” the word, I want them to think of this sight word as a whole. At the end of 30 seconds, they count the number of times they write the word and circle it on the card. I record this time on my lesson plan. The next time we do this activity, they will race against themselves.
I keep whisper phones in the buckets. Whisper phones are used differently in different reading groups. For my earliest learners, using the whisper phones helps them really “hear” themselves.
Sometimes, students need to be reminded to read in a quieter voice and whisper phones are perfect for this.
Whisper phones can also be used to help students with fluency, voice inflection and intonation. I think they are under-used in small group.
I ordered some whisper phones from Really Good Stuff and I also had a teacher’s boyfriend make some for her with pipes and duck tape.
All of the decoding strategies are taped to the desk for quick referral, but students need controlled practice for using their strategies. These could be any strategy cards: blending, rhyming, onset and rime, phoneme manipulation…anything they need.
The buckets also contain a pencil and a spacer. The spacer can be used when writing or used as a pointer, if needed.
Sometimes I add cards for sorting or word family cards. It just depends on what I need.
Having the materials ready makes my small group instruction go smoothly without wasting time passing out materials.
I should also let you know, I typically have buckets that are the same color. I don’t want to have arguments about who has what bucket or what color.
I hope this is makes your guided reading time go smoothly.
If you would like the Small Group Writing Mats, click the link. They can be printed in color or black and white.
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