Click here to check out PART I of this series to see what I do during guided reading, with my 6th grade students.
During my last three years as a teacher, I think my BIGGEST struggle has been teaching small groups. I don't care what anyone says…. it is so freakin hard. There are kids off task, middles schoolers being middle schoolers, fake reading, and 45 students asking approximately 294,592,492 a day while you are trying to teach your groups.
That being said, small group instruction is one of the most beneficial things I have ever done, and over time, you get better at preventing and managing the above scenarios. If you stick with it, and learn as you go, you won't know how you ever taught without small groups before.
I typically have these amazing fantasy that I will start small groups by week 6 of school… bahaha… *full disclosure here*… it was more like week 12 for me. I used to feel guilty about this, but I don't anymore. My first year, I didn't really do small groups until week 26 maybe (ha!)
It takes time, practice, research, and patience, but over the last three years I have figured it out… kind of :).
How did I figure it out?
The best thing I ever did was read "Daily 5" and "Reading in the Wild." These two books shape everything I do. Click on either for their Amazon.com link.
I could try and explain it, but I highly recommend just reading them (easy reads, so simple, and just common sense from both).
Now… the big question! What are the kids doing while you are meeting with groups?
Again, my routine is almost all based on The Daily 5 and Reading in the Wild. This is what works for me.
Now if the creators of "Daily 5" came into my room, they probably wouldn't call it "Daily 5," but I do and this is what works in my middle school classroom.
After I teach my lessons, (see previous post for my schedule) I then ask students what they are going to do, do a quick Status of the Class check (ask them what they're reading and what page they're on), write it all down, and they get started. While they work on these, I meet with my groups.
They can choose the following options:
1.) Read to Self:
- Students can read :). This is the only option they can choose for both of our rounds each day.
- I believe it will NEVER hurt them if they choose to read for both of our rounds.
- Some of my reluctant readers don't choose this option at the start of the year, but this system allows me to work to put books in their hands so they slowly start to choose this option more frequently. I really try not to force anything.
- Yes, I do still work ALL year long with some of my students to build up their love of reading, but it's minimal and it's just something I am ALWAYS working on with those students.
- Students meet with their group to read their book together.
- Students might meet with their group to work on their literature circle homework together.
- Students might meet with their group to discuss the book
- Students can also just read their Literature Circle group or work on their homework individually.
I used to do literature circles very differently when I was in self-contained 5th, but when it came to middle school ELA, I went to the expert: Lovin' Lit. She knows all about accountability, organization, and books for middle school. Her resources and blog are great for implementing literature circles in upper grades.
This is a chart I made based on her roles. This is especially helpful for my 6th grade friends who struggle with organization and remembering information.
- This is a computer literacy program our district purchased for us. It is self-paced.
- I love this option because many of my reluctant readers choose this. (That's not what I love it though! ha!). But it allows me to meet with my other kids at the start of the year and support them into being really independent.
- I then can start slowly working with my reluctant readers to show them that books are better than a computer program. Many of these students could be a disruption at the beginning of the year. This helps alleviate that, over time they get bored of the program and the novelty wears off, and I slowly get to try and build more readers. It's just a good teacher tool for me to have.
4. Work on Writing
- Students can free write in their writing notebooks.
- They can conduct research for a writing topic.
- They can type a writing piece they want to publish.
- They can work together on stories.
- They can write about their reading.
For writing workshop I use Kelly Anne's Writing Workshop units. Writing is a different part of our day, but this is where I get my lessons, and where a lot of my students often get their ideas for their writing.
- These students meet with me, and we work on all the stuff I mentioned in my previous post :).
What do my lessons and novel units look like in my 6th grade classroom?
Come back later this week for: Guided Reading and Small Group in Middle School PART III…. to see what my Collections lesson and Novel units look like in my 6th grade classroom.