Sunday, April 15, 2012

Guided Reading Groups? Not here... Part 2!

You may remember my first post about doing conferencing instead of reading groups in my classroom a few months ago. (Not entirely necessary, but you can click here to read that one first if you want to.)

So now that you've had some time to get over the shock factor of no reading groups in my classroom, you may be wondering how you could try it out in your own class. Just so you know, I love it and am not missing reading groups even one teensy weensy bit!

In order for conferencing to work, I believe that you need to have 2 things in place in your classroom first.
  1. The kids need to be reading books EVERY day.
  2. The kids need to have leveled books to take home. 
My students have a mixture of leveled books and self-selected books from my classroom library in their book boxes. Once a week, I help the kids switch out their books. Since this is a skill they are still developing, I help them to make sure they have books that are on their level in addition to the ones they chose for reading just the pictures. I don't have a post dedicated to my classroom library yet, but if you want to see the set up, you can find it in this post.

We read up to 20 minutes each day. We always start reading workshop with at least 10 minutes of Read to Self time. Sometimes they have a dedicated Read to Someone time for 10 minutes after that, and other days they continue Reading to Self for a bit longer. It all depends on the mini-lessons planned and the engagement level of my students.

My students also have a reading folder that goes home on Mondays and comes back on Fridays.

In it, there are guides for the parents on how to read with their children, a baggie to hold the books, and a reading log.

 I try to send home one familiar read and 2 unfamiliar reads that are on a student's level each week. I haven't been able to keep it up all year, but most weeks I have. This in conjunction with the reading log is what helps conferencing to be so successful.

The reading log that our team uses has all of the typical spots to record such as the date, book title and parent initials. The part that I really like about our reading log is where the parents check off easy, just right or too hard. This has helped me to gauge whether or not a student is ready to move on to the next level in books. I can't share the exact reading log with you because I didn't make it, but here is one I made for all of you to have for free!

Reading Logs -

Now for the conferencing part...
If you read my post from before, you have already seen the basket I carry around with me. Here it is in case you missed it:

It's basically anything I would use in reading groups plus a book for each child and my clipboard where I keep notes for each child.

The main piece of my conferencing is the clipboard. I typically do a mini running record on a new book I give them. I also write down any strategies I noticed them using or any strategies I introduced. I also jot down words they struggled with that would be good for them to practice in word work. With so many notes about each child, I can easily pull information to e-mail parents or use in report card comments.

Here are a few samples of what I have jotted down during student conferences:

Sorry if they are hard to read. Sometimes my writing gets a little messy when it's just for me! 

Sometimes my conferences run very much like a Guided Reading lesson, but the majority of the time they do not. Remember, Guided Reading was developed as an intervention strategy. Not all students need intervention. When I hand a book to a student and they are so excited to dive right into the book, I let them. Of course I talk about how a picture walk could be a strategy that they use, but not every student needs that.

To me, the best thing about conferencing has been getting to know my students so much better. I can tell you more detailed information about their progress than I could have when I did guided reading groups.

If you want to read some professional books that talk about conferencing, here are a couple that were recommended to me:

I hope this inspires some of you to try something new! If you still have questions, feel free to email me. I'll do my best to answer them!



Chelsea said...

I just finished reading your post on reading conferencing and I am really intrigued and encouraged to hear that it is possible in K! I have a couple more questions for you if thats ok? One, When do you start your reading logs that you send home? Two, what do you put in the reading folders if the child still doesn't know all of their letter sounds? Three, where you do you find most of your small readers that you use during read to self time or that get sent home?
Thanks so much for your help!

Melissa, DillyDabbles said...

Our district "leaders" are very strict about running guided groups. The Daily 5 and CAFE inspired me to want to try it, but was quickly told that "we" do guided reading.

Cori Blubaugh said...

Great post! I have some of the same questions as Chelsea, as to when you start the reading folders? I suppose you could start them right away with pretty easy pre-decodables? More and more I am starting to get students who started to learn how to read in preschool, and are ready for the challenge.
Also, I was wondering if you have a copy of that "What to do if you are stuck" sheet, or know where I could find one? Thanks!

Mrs. Tolbert said...

I love this thanks!
Daisy Days for Learning

Laurie Hilton said...

Thanks for the great information! I agree with you completely that reading conferences are so much more beneficial and informative than guided reading. I do some guided reading mainly because I am expected to, but I LOVE conferencing with my kiddos much more.

Laurie :)

mcgoumar said...

Wow I would love to try this next year. I do the Daily Four. I still have to do the guided reading for each group. I love this!!!!

Tamara L. Chilver said...

You are just incredible! Thank you!

Lori said...

I enjoyed your post on not using reading groups! Lots of good ideas!
Conversations in Literacy

Ashley said...

This is very inspirational! I have a hard time at times keeping up with reading groups, especially when levels vary so much between students. At times there are so many different levels you cannot get to them all. I can't wait to try this!


Jen said...

This is exactly what we have been doing at our school for the last 4 years. I hated it at first, but now I am coming around. We call this time readers workshop & it takes the place of literacy center time. I do not miss reading groups, but I do miss center time. Could you please do a post specifically about the reading folder? I have the same questions as the ladies that posted before me. Thanks!

Jen's Kinder Kids

Vickie said...

As part of our guided reading lesson, we do all of our phonemic awareness/phonics/sight word instruction also with the group we are working with and we also see every group every day. Your way sounds very interesting, but do you do the majority of the above mentioned as whole group? Thanks for the info!
Mrs. Plant's Press

Darlene said...

Love this idea! I have the same questions as Chelsea. (What do you put in Reading folders? When do you begin them?)


Freckleteacher said...

Thanks for getting back to this important topic! I do a modification of reading groups and some individual conferences. I really want to be able to do this next year unless the RTI program we are starting and having 30 kids and 1/2 day kindergarten won't allow it! Great job!

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dtieds_2010 said...

Thank you for this post! I love the Take Home Reading Folder :) I also like your idea for reading conferences. Do you do this with all groups, even lower groups?

rohfam4 said...

I was so inspired by your post! I have taught some version of primary for a few years, but my first "real" year in kinder. I was the only teacher out of our 4 to do my own groups and I don't regret it as I know where every child is.

I started out doing a whole class with each unit mini lesson until about January (I am teaching a 1/2 kinder) and I really feel that at this point, the kids are ready to sail on their own as I gave them the building blocks of reading and the parents support the rest at home. I think I am going to test your method with a few of my kiddos to see if it works for next year. Again, very inspiring.

Most of my kids were at grade level or above back in March (DRA 3 in our district) and this is what I do: Introduce the letter of the week (which I DISLIKE! but in our curriculum) and set the kids up with a 1-2 sounds/handwriting practice sheets to complete independently. Then, once they finish these sheets, they get 30 minutes of literacy centers (from Mrs. Miner's class :) I also include journal time, read aloud, and the whole class instruction (which I will be dropping and subbing for leveled reading time!) I am excited to get going on this.

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iteachtoo said...

Do you have the papers that you include in your reading folder available for purchase?

Ms. Kerri said...

Guided reading is something that I have struggled with since I've started teaching. I just can't seem to get it together. This year I tried doing guided reading and reading with a number of kids everyday. After reading your first post, I was inspired to give up guided reading and focus on conferencing. This past week I started doing some word study groups and I love it. Thanks for the inspiration and helping me to feel like it was ok to give up guided reading.
Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

The Clements Crew said...

Great info!! I'm a first year teaching, and I've had the hardest time with guided reading. I would love copies of the files you send home in your reading folders. The "what to do when I'm stuck on a word," and the one for parents on how to read with your child. Love your blog!! :)

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