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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chapter 1: The Next Step in Guided Reading


I'm so excited for Chapter One of our new book study.  I hope that you will follow along with us each week and join in on the conversation.

For those of you who don't know, I teach at a very small school.  Next year there will be 32 students.  All have a speech and/or physical disability.  The children are split into 4 classrooms, 8 children in each class. 


Therapists come throughout the day and remove children for individual and/or group therapy.  At times, a class of 8 could become a class of 2 when children are gone for therapy.  Where am I going with this?  Well it's very hard to run math or literacy centres or have guided reading groups with only 2 students.

The other problem we have at the school is the varying ability levels of the children.  Each class might have several children that are working at or above grade level with children who are still working on making consistent yes/no answers.  When planning activities it is sometimes difficult to concentrate on certain skills with such a wide range.

Most of the children only stay with us for one year before being integrated back into their home schools.  We have only one year to make a huge difference in these children's lives.

When I read "The Next Step in Guided Reading" I got really excited.  I loved the whole the concept of the book but how could I run guided reading groups with such a small number of children?  How would I be able to run things with such a wide range in abilities and learning styles?

This year we came up with a radical plan that we are planning to implement in September.  During our literacy block, which is one hour long, we will combine all four classrooms and then redistribute the children into three larger groups based on ability.  This will allow us to concentrate on skills dedicated to each groups needs and will allow for some leeway if children leave for therapy.

This will be a brand new idea for us, so I know there will be lots of kinks to work out.  The children will be split into three groups.  Each group will have a teacher and one or more educational assistants with it.  We will need to focus on fostering independence in the children that are capable of doing independent work and provide support for the children who need it.  In the first 6 weeks we will be introducing read alouds, shared reading and independent reading to the children as a basis for what will come in the following weeks.  We will probably be doing these as whole group activities.  In this time, we want the children to bond with their classmates, learn to share, get along and build a rapport that will allow for productive work in the future.  We also need to get to know the students, their way of communicating, and the level of assistance that they are going to need within the group.  All of children (except one) will be junior kindergarten (3 to 4 years old) or senior kindergarten (4 to 5 years old) age.  Some will not have had any school experience before.  Because of their young age, I'm not sure that we will be using reading notebooks.

We only have one hour to get everything done so we are going to have to watch the clock.  I am going to get a timer and have everything well planned.  I think that the more well planned things are, the more likely that you are going to keep on track.  I don't have to worry about too much noise and interruptions from the children as each group will be in a different room.  The main problem is noise from the adults.  When children are picked up and dropped off for therapy, it's easy to get carried away getting updates at the time.  This can be loud and distracting for the group.  I think I might try and come up with a signal that everyone will know, that means "don't interrupt" and "quiet".  Updates can be done at times outside of groups.  It is also very easy for the adults in the room to talk to each other and for them to get distracted.  I'm going to lay out strict guidelines for what type of behaviour I expect from the adults in the room. I think clear expectations will lead to more productivity.  During our literacy block, we will have an extra teacher that will be able to do a running record on the children (or any other assessment deemed necessary).  This way we will be able to make sure that the children are picking appropriate books during self selected reading time.  All of our levelled books are organized into bins with the level number on the outside of the box.

This will be a huge undertaking next year and I'm so looking forward to the challenge.    I find when you do the same thing year after year, you lose your spark.  Doing something new with the children will renew some of the energy that can dwindle over the years.   I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you.


3 Notes:

Teacher and Life Long Learner said...

You are ready for the challenge!

More than Math by Mo said...

Thanks for sharing! My book finally arrived today. I can't wait to get started :)
-Mo
More Than Math by Mo

Ziggyfriends said...

Mandy, the way that I devised to keep me (and my kinders) on schedule was to use a playlist of clean up music. My kids changed workshops each 10 minutes, but my Guided Reading groups lasted for 2 rotations or 20 minutes. So my playlist was 10 minutes of silence followed by 1.5 minutes of a clean-up song. (So I really ended up with 21-22 minutes for my group) I had mellow clean-up music for the in-between time when my Guided Reading group wasn't transitioning and more rocking music for the whole class transition time. That way, I didn't have to pull my group members away from something in mid activity. The magic was when I dismissed one group and looked up to find the next group waiting to hop into their seats at my Guided Reading table. Awesome, no down time!