Organizing Reading Groups

Thanks to the science of reading, shifting from guided reading to data driven
reading groups is a big shift. 
As I blogged about earlier, the planning can be easier, but organizing yourself, your students and your
parents is key.  Unorganized, last minute planning means it takes me
twice as long to figure out what in the world I need to be doing!
Let’s chat about how I organize my teacher space, my students, and my parents
for data driven reading groups.
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This is my
Small Group Intervention
area in my room.  I love having my table in front of my cabinet area
because it makes for an easy place to organize all of my texts and materials for
decodable groups and reading skill groups.

Organizing the Teacher

After assessing my kids’ reading skills, I sort them by need.
 You can read all the details in
this post for how I organize my skill groups.

I have a laminated manila folder to sort my kids who need work reading decodable
texts or my advanced kids that need work reading higher level texts.  I
write each kid’s name on a sticky note so I can easily move them from one group
to another.

Each color represents a group: blue-purple-orange-green-yellow, with blue
being the neediest group (usually the lowest level, but not always!) and
yellow being the most advanced group.  I try to keep my reading groups in
a 6 or smaller group.  My skill groups can go bigger if needed, but when
reading a text, it’s helpful to have them smaller if possible, so I can have
time to listen to each individual read.

If I have “outliers” or one or two kids in a decoding level alone, I put those
to the side.

When my team is finished testing, we sit together and try to place outliers.
 So, if I only have 3 kids working on letter sounds and word decoding,
that means I have 2-3 open spots for another teammate’s sounds outliers.
 I will add my colleagues’ kids to my group to make a full sound decoding
group.  And someone on my team will have a spot in their group to take my
outliers too.  THIS IS SO HUGE that my team does this!! It keeps each of
us from having too many groups and being overwhelmed.  And I’m not giving
them my “outlier” kid for the entire year, just until I retest…or until they
show enough growth to move up early to another level.

I also have a 3-ring binder for keeping plans and running records in.

I bought
plastic color dividers with pockets to organize each group.  The
colored dividers
coordinate with my colored groups, so my blue group has a blue divider,
etc…{I like to color code just a little bit, can ya tell?}

In the front of my binder, I keep my
data sheets and my weekly lesson plans.

{In my
Guided Reading Packet, I have a few options for the planning pages since we all think about this

In each divider pocket I keep
decodable texts I’ll be using for each group plus index cards for recording reading
records.  These index cards are not only great data for how my kids are
progressing, but they are also good for keeping track of which books kids have
read and taken home.  I always highlight book titles on my cards when a
student returns a book to school so I know if I can send another book home {I
try not to send books home if they haven’t returned a book…:)}

Yes, I do running records every single time I read with a group.
 Religiously.  More on that later.

When a card is full, I file it away under that students’ class number and keep
them for the remainder of the year.

I store my decodable readers and passages in
these plastic crates
and they are sorted by decoding sill.

{You can grab the labels shown in my
Guided Reading Packet.}
All of the decodable texts or any materials like these that I need for my
reading skill groups are kept in the cabinets and drawers behind my table so I
can easily access them.

Organizing the Students:

I purchased these chair covers a few years ago and just sewed on some ribbon to customize them for my
room!  This is where we keep a dry erase board,
abc and blends charts
and a sock eraser and dry erase marker for our skill work.

This system is very easy for the kids to use and saves a ton of time! As a
teeny tiny side note…each chair has the same color marker so they don’t
waist time fighting over seats or colors! 🙂  {Every single second is
precious, right??}

At the beginning of the year, students get library folders with their library
barcode and we use these as our reading progress folders also!  When I
first test them, I staple in their
reading level graph.  This is what the first grade one looks like for the girls.

When I finish testing them, we color in their graph for the level they tested
on and we discuss what their goal will be for the next time I test them.
 I’ve used this for a few years now and it is a really powerful visual
for the kids.  I tell them all that it is a private graph and they can
share if they want to, but it’s not for bragging! 🙂

We also fill out a
goal setting sheet and keep that stapled in their folder as well.

Those of you doing TESS or some other Teacher Evaluation system using the
Charlotte Danielson rubrics can easily use this as “distinguished/4” evidence
in your binders!  The students write the “grade level goal” {where they
should be}, what their actual level is and we discuss whether they are
 behind, right on target, or ahead, and what their goal is.  In the
beginning of the year, we really have to emphasize what
reasonable goal is! 🙂

Any skills that we practice or games we play during reading groups, go in
these color coded baskets {just
el-cheap-o walmart bins
with ribbon woven through them!} for independent or partner practice if they
finish their work early or at
literacy stations.

reading groups, students put their decodable in their take-home folders.  I have
these document holders
that I 3-hole punch to put in their take-home binders.  When the book is
returned to school, the decodable gets stored in their book box, which they
read from when they finish early.  Their book boxes also have their
own abc and blends charts, plus a numbers chart and any class booklets we have made together.

Organizing the Parents:

Let’s face it…parents need organizing too! 🙂  I have a take-home
binder I make for each kid that they take home every single day.  In that
binder, are the
plastic document holders I mentioned earlier.
 This is where students put their books we read during groups that day.
 They take it home and read to an adult at home for at least 10

{{I should mention here that I am NOT a proponent of daily homework for a
multitude of reasons that I will keep to myself for now! 🙂  But I
fully believe that reading at home with your child increases their success in
school…even just 10 minutes.  And to send a book home that a child can
successfully read on his/her own just adds to that success!}}

*stepping off soap box*

In these document holders are two things {besides the reader}.  One is a parent log shown in the
above picture.

The top of this page explains my expectations for reading at home with their
child.  Once they have read with their child, the parent is to record the
date, title and sign that they read it with them.  I also have a spot for
any comments or difficulties they notice.  I check these logs every
morning as part of my morning routine and highlight on my reading record index
cards when the book is returned.

The other thing in the
document holder is a bookmark.  I print these, cut in half and then fold into book
marks.  The book mark is to use at home so parents can help their child
at home like I am helping them at school.  It’s to keep the language the
same for the kids!  I also give the kids bookmarks to keep in their
browsing boxes–which they love!

Congrats to you for making it to the end of my super long, organize me blog
post!  As a reward, click on the bookmark picture above to download your
FREE copy!

And check out my
Science of Reading Groups Packet
which has all of these organizational tools and materials I blogged about plus

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One Comment

  1. I am new to guided reading groups. I noticed that you meet with two groups daily. How long do you meet with each group?