The number one question that I get from teachers who want or need to incorporate guided reading into their classroom is what do the other kids do while I’m teaching a small group? This question is KEY to ensuring that you end up loving small group reading and continue to use it in your classroom so it is definitely worth investing some time into answering.
Today’s post is going to focus on what your upper elementary students can do while you are working with a small reading group. This might be a guided reading group, a strategy group or even a book club.
Independent Reading Is the Main Course
If you want students to work independently for 30 minutes, 25 of those minutes should be spent doing independent reading.
This means that students will need to have a selection of books (2-3) available in their book bins so that they don’t run out of reading material. The rule in my classroom is if you run out of reading material, you must reread the books that are already in your bin. This encourages students to take responsibility for their book selection and ensures that they use their school library time and classroom library time appropriately.
The books that they read should relate to the unit that you are currently studying. So for example, if you are in a historical fiction unit and your mini lessons are focused on teaching concepts that are specific to historical fiction, then every child should be reading a historical fiction book during independent reading time.
Most guided reading groups will last around 30 minutes. Strategy groups can be much shorter but chances are that you will be doing several of them in one block. For this reason, we need to ensure that our entire class can read with stamina for at least 30 minutes. This means REAL reading!
When our students can all read for 30 minutes, this means that they won’t be walking around the room, they won’t be talking, they won’t be interrupting your group… because they are reading! Truly, it sounds MAGICAL but is something that even my toughest groups have mastered with lots of direct instruction and intentional practice.
Want to learn more about building reading stamina in the upper elementary classroom? I walk you through mini lessons that introduce this concept in my Launching Reading Workshop unit. You can find it HERE. I also have a great blog post about Reading Workshop Routines.
Responding to Reading is Dessert
If 25 of the 30 minutes are spent doing independent reading, the final 5 are spent responding to reading. There are so many different ways that you can ask students to respond to their reading.
You can provide students with a digital reading response activity that directly correlates to that day’s mini-lesson. I have activities available for practicing analyzing characters, determining themes, and reading nonfiction.
Alternatively, you can provide students choice with a menu of possible responses. Students can choose the response that they prefer to answer on that day, with the understanding that they can’t do the same response over and over. Students can answer these reading response questions in their reading response notebook or even on a sticky note.
Another way to use these reading response menus is to assign a specific response to students. I suggest assigning responses that review reading concepts that were introduced earlier in the week or even the week before.
So there you have it!
What do the other kids do during guided reading?
They spend 25 minutes doing independent reading.
They spend 5 minutes doing a reading response activity.
Everyone learns! Everyone is successful!
PS. Do you need a fun interactive read aloud lesson that your upper elementary kiddos will LOVE? Click HERE to grab my Swashby and the Sea read aloud lesson for FREE!