Saturday, February 25, 2017

Small Group & Conferring Institute DAY 4: Small Groups in Reading

Evolution of Small Groups Across a Unit and Across the Year
Posted by Jen Burton

This is the day I had been waiting for, Small Groups in Reading! Like I had mentioned in earlier posts, I have felt comfortable with the concept of flexible grouping in the upper grades (2nd-ish through 5th) for a while now, but what does that look like in primary? I've actually walked away with principles that apply to both primary and intermediate, as well as the nuances between them.

Across the grades, we start the year off with conferring. We know how important it is for us to get to know our students, so this time is critical and fun. Treasure those moments of discovering who your students are, what they like and dislike, their strengths and challenges. As we begin a unit, we typically start off with table conferences, as this allows us to make sure everyone is on track, heading in the right direction. I had posted about different grouping structures earlier, so I won't go into those now.

Once everyone is on a roll and we've built some stamina to work independently, we can begin conferring. Once we've collected data through conferring, we may notice trends, and start pulling some strategy groups. What we are teaching in the strategy groups, the teaching points, are from the units, so they are developmentally appropriate. If students are off level, then you would go back to earlier, or later, points in the progressions. Since the progressions for reading don't start until second grade, we are using the F&P Continuum of Literacy Learning for our progression of reading skills for levels A-L.

It's when we notice students plateauing at a level, THAT is when we plan a SERIES OF LESSONS or as The Guide to the Reading Workshop refers to them, a ladder of lessons, to help move students along to the next level of text complexity; for intermediate we consider bands of text.

A series of lessons is designed around the idea of the gradual release model. The initial lessons with the students will start with a heavier scaffold, more support, more coaching, while the later lessons will have a lighter scaffold, less support, leaner coaching. The goal being to get them to independence at this new level or into the next band of text. After every lesson we ask, "How close are they to this new level?" and "What supports do they need to be successful at this new level?"

Before we can begin planning this series of lessons however, it is helpful to do a running record and some error analysis to know what kind of support, including word work, will best support moving the students into this next level. A series of lessons could look like this:

    • Day 1 could be shared reading. Select words to cover and cues to give based on error analysis & based on that F&P level.  (High Scaffold)
    • Day 2 might be strategy group. A teaching point is pulled from the F&P level descriptors and applied in their own or a shared text. (Medium to Low Scaffold)
    • Day 3 might be a guided reading lesson. Pull a focus for meaning, structure, & visual to highlight in book intro. (Medium to High Scaffold)

Shared reading and writing will be relied on more heavily in the primary grades than the intermediate, especially to move students up the early levels of text.

The "aha" for me in this, was that the shared reading and strategy group sessions in a series of lessons is targeted to the F&P level or band, highlighting and explicitly teaching the behaviors from that level that we believe will bump them up.

As you wrap up the series of lessons these are possible next steps, based on what you notice about your readers:

    • Possible Next Steps:

      • If students rocked it. Then next time, do another guided reading group (leaner intro) (Medium Scaffold) or if they really rocked it a strategy group. (Low Scaffold)

      • If students still struggle. Then maybe more shared reading in books at that level (High Scaffold) or guided reading with more support & coaching, and an introduction. (High to Medium Scaffold)

You continue with small groups until you run out of data. Then you return to conferring, until you have more data to form small groups again. This is the evolution or cycle of small groups and conferring. As we notice student behaviors, data, then we form small groups around:

  • behaviors connected to the non-negotiable teaching points of the unit,
  • behaviors that will move students through the levels of text complexity,
  • behaviors connected to habits of thinking, motivation, or engagement.

This is what we form small groups around in reading. So much of this is dependent on our professional judgement.

In all of this we can't forget that what makes the most impact, along with targeted, explicit instruction, is lots and lots and lots of independent reading. One of our most important jobs is to get our students to LOVE to read. I'm so glad that Jennifer Serravallo's book, The Reading Strategies Book, has specific lessons to address engagement and motivation. If students aren't independent reading, it's not their fault, it's on us to use the instructional strategies at hand to support them in getting there.

Guided reading can be such a hot topic as there are so many interpretations of what it looks like. Here are some thoughts shared at the institute:

Guided Reading
  • Lower Grade and Upper Grade Versions
  • Monitor and Fix (Foundational Skills)
  • Explicit teaching point at the end
  • Same text (not independent level) to help get ready to move)
  • Need support and scaffolds
  • Work to release scaffolds
  • Not everyone NEEDS guided reading

Guided Reading in Primary

Guided Reading up through level L is still supporting students in putting all the parts together. They are reading the same book, a text level just above independent.
  • You can do a mix of guided reading and shared reading, along with making texts with kids (especially w/ ELs) because they’ve used what they know to make meaning.
  • Stagger the pages kids are reading, so they are NOT reading the same page at the same time.
  • IF finding way too much prompting shift to shared reading - gives a nice bump.
  • Kdg - Sometimes in kindergarten, kids need time. Jan/Feb is a good time to start grouping.

Structure for Guided Reading at Levels A-L (10 minutes!)
  • Book Introduction (mini - 2-3 minutes)
    • Meaning: Give some background about the book
    • Structure: Grammar or language structures to pre-teach
    • Visual: Word study patterns to support decoding
  • Coach - Get students reading quickly - stagger their reading of pages, so they are NOT reading the same page.
    • Below H - subvocalize - whisper read
    • H and above - read silently in their minds and ask to whisper read when you get to them.
  • Discuss briefly
  • Give a Teaching Point for that F&P level to move them up.

Guided Reading in Intermediate

Level L/M and up typically you don’t need a lot on monitoring words - you mostly need to support comprehension. Intermediate you really only need guided reading to move students from one band of text to another. :
  • M to N
  • Q to R
  • T to U
  • W to X
The best way to identify the behaviors to target is an error analysis of a running record. Then you can look for patterns and behaviors to support for comprehension or word work.
Structure for Guided Reading at Levels M-Z (10 min.!)
  • Book or short text introduction and text level introduction (best with a series):  What will be new in this band to pay closer attention to?
  • Leave it there OR
  • Coach them to thinking, giving them prompts or ?s, rhetorical ?s to ask themselves, not quizzing, but prompting them to be thinking in a part of the text. So we can talk at the end of what they learned, give a teaching point to support them around.

If they are not yet ready, reflect on how close are they now. Then we can think, “How can we support them now?”

As students run into trouble don’t drag out prompting, leading them on, we can tell them:
  • Could the character be doing...bc of this and this and this, go back and reread and see if this is a possibly.
  • If miscue Pumpkin???? Could it be pumpkin, go back and reread, triple check the word. Ya it’s pumpkin bc there’s a pumpkin and there’s the word, now keep reading.
Try a couple of strategies, if they don’t work, give it to them so they can go.

Traps of Guided Reading
  1. We spend a long time giving a book into. If we have to spend that long, students may not be ready for that level. We want to give just enough for them to be able to read. There should be things they’re struggling with and you’re giving them a bit of support. If the text is easily read, then they don’t need guided reading
  2. Our prompting. We want to keep the readers moving. We get trapped with one student, giving too many prompts & strategies.

Hierarchy of Prompts - From lesser Scaffolding to More
  • First prompt is always wait time
  • Shrug
  • Huh?
  • First prompt w/o pointing
  • Lean prompt - “Check that.”
  • What part are you stuck on?
  • Does that sound like a word you know?
  • You know, _______ from our word wall, could that help you? (Then confirm how the kid knows it.)
  • A couple tries - give it.
  • Could that word be “around.”
  • That word is “around.”
We wouldn't do all of these prompts at once, obviously, but knowing our students, we start with the leanest possible prompts first.

Other nuggets:
  • Have multiple lenses as you do a read aloud. These are choices to jot about as you read aloud. Then they can practice in independent work.
  • We can’t forget to support habits and thinking in conferences and small groups.
  • Not everybody needs guided reading. Guided Reading was originally designed for very early grades to help kids in how to orchestrate the reading process. It has morphed and taken on the meaning of a group in which any type of guidance is provided.
  • If you do guided reading all the time; they’ll always need you.
  • We do guided reading when students are just close enough to that next level or band of text and with support of the behaviors needed for that next level or band, along with pre-teaching words/features they might miss, they will be successful and move to becoming independent at this level.
  • Guided reading groups should be 10 minutes.
  • Often kids are reading harder and harder texts, but not developing a depth of understanding. We just keep moving them ahead. We need to think about where text complexity intersects with student’s depth of understanding.
  • Kids that get pulled out should be pulled OUTSIDE of their class reading time. That time should be 10 min of instruction and the rest of the time more independent reading.
  • Small groups & conferences can often be extensions of the mini-lesson.
  • We can use a hybrid of guided reading by bringing over four students and have them work in a book slightly above their just right” level, possibly giving a little introduction and letting them supporting each other, while we coach in how to be a supportive partner. You can also use an anchor chart or mini-chart, and post-its. Then every few pages put a post-it on the page and have students talk about it.

Primary prompts for partner work in hybrid guided reading:
  • The character is acting like…
  • important because…
  • What does the word _____________ mean?
  • The character feels ___________, so next I think ________________.
  • This part fits with the part when ________________________.

Intermediate prompts for partner work in hybrid guided reading:
  • Here the character is learning ________________.
  • This shows the relationship is ________________.
  • This is an issue because ________________.
  • The _____________ is a symbol for ________________.
  • The setting her is showing the mood ________________.  (Don’t just say the setting say the mood too.)

Partnerships & Book Clubs

  • Coaching Students to Talk…
    • To use the criteria in the classroom
    • To listen, clarify, extend, and challenge each other
    • To come to new thoughts

    • Better Content in Conversations - (substantive)
    • Better Linking Ideas to Each Other
    • Better Matched to Parts

There is a lot to consider when implementing small groups in reading. If we stick to what's most important, the idea of letting our students and what we notice about them as readers guide us, then we'll be on the right track. Trust your professional judgement as you consider how to best support your students and plan for instruction. The closing remarks from the institute were the best. Amanda Hartman encouraged us to go out and not just try one thing, but try everything and to not be afraid to fail miserably. It's suppose to be messy, that's when we do our best learning. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues as I go back and figure out together what this looks like in the classroom. They also left us with some ideas of how we can study together:

What questions and new learning do you have about small groups in reading?
What do you plan to go and try?
How do you plan to collaborate in your learning?

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