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Making the Most of Small Group Time Part 1


I believe that small group time is THE most important time of our day. Small groups are the backbone of my instruction. Small group instruction allows me to really meet the needs of all of the learners in my classroom. Together with whole class instruction and activities, small groups help me ensure my students master the standards and skills at deeper levels. One of the most common questions from teachers is how to maximize the time spent with our students at the small group table. 
Guided reading first grade
 Small group time is precious.
My class size ranges from 18-26 students each year.  I usually have 6-8 groups {yes, you read that correctly}  that range from learning to read all the way to already reading. I meet with 3 to 4 reading groups each day, Monday to Thursday. 

 My very littlest readers, those who are just beginning to learn to read, only have ten minute groups.  That is about as much as their attention spans can handle and we pack a lot of learning into the 10 minutes.  This is what their group looks like:
Guided reading first grade, reading groups


My already reading groups are working on comprehension, so those are the kiddos that read before they come to group. 
guided reading first grade


 The rest are the majority of my class.  These are typical first grade readers who know early reading strategies but need more strategy work, word work and comprehension.  The graphic below shows the breakdown of their reading group.
reading groups, guided reading in first grade


We cannot waste one precious minute transitioning into group or during our group because those wasted minutes can really add up!
There are many ways to maximize time within our lessons. I keep the structure of group the same so students know exactly what we are doing without me giving one direction. Consistency is KEY. If you constantly change up the routines of the group time, the activities that you do both your students and you will be stressed out.
 
I love my guided reading cards because they are compact and keep all group information in the same place.  I can easily see what we did in the past and it makes it super easy to change out groups which I do a lot.  This comes with a book to keep students running records, which also easily moves with them as they change groups. The resource also has what strategies to use at each level as well as sentence stems to help students organize their thinking.  There are sight word cards that reflect the most common words in books for each level.  This makes it very easy to do during word work or when the group first comes to the teacher table.  You can check out this resource here.
Guided reading first grade, reading groups
Guided reading first grade, reading groups
Guided reading first grade, reading groups
I would love to share with you this strategy card, which helps students {and me} remember all of the strategies we can use when encountering a tricky word.  Download it here.

what to do when you come to a word you don't know, tricky word strategies
How do you structure your small group time?  What tips would you like to share?  We would love to hear from you!



Guided reading first grade, reading groups

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