Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guided Reading, Part II~ Paperwork!

Guided reading takes up an hour of my day and seems to go by so quickly! Every time we get into a great discussion or start to make deeper connections, I feel like it's time to switch groups! I really would be on board with a bit longer school day so that I had a few extra minutes with each group.

Anyway, in my last post I described how my co-workers and I switch between classes for guided reading. We eased into it at first by only having 2 teachers switching. Two years ago we moved to 3 teachers and this year we have 4 teachers! With so many teachers and students in the mix now, it's REALLY important that we stay organized with tracking the student progress. This is where my Guided Reading Binder comes into play!
This bad boy is a 3" binder.

This is where everything related to guided reading from my students lives! I assign each student in my class a number that they use for everything. In my binder, I use numbered tabs to give each student a section. The number makes it really easy to just empty at the end of the year and be ready to go for next year! I keep any running records, notes, etc. from the student behind their tab. Since many of my students read with other teachers in group, they bring back the running record with them, I read it over and look at the teacher's notes, and file it behind their divider.

Excuse the terrible picture quality! This is an example of a running record that was done!
I know MANY teachers who can take a running record using the check marks to 100 words, the way most of us learned how to do it. I am NOT one of those people. Over the years we have typed up and saved the first 100-120 words of the book we are using that day to use as the running record. It really helps with the switching since I may not be familiar with the book anther teacher is reading. I also like to see their errors in context when I go back and analyze it. We literally have 100's of these typed up and saved on our school's server to use for various books. It only takes a minute or two but is really helpful for us!

My planning sheet! It has space for the date, book, level, sight words to introduce, and vocabulary.
The next step of organization is the planning of reading groups. While we base our model off of Jan Richardson, we have modified it to suit our styles and needs. We started off by using her lesson plan models for each book and have been using it for so long now that we rarely need to reference them. We have them typed and saved for our new teachers to use when they are beginning guided reading. This is the planning sheet I am using this year. It's fairly basic, but is perfect for what I need. Each week when I plan, I go through and write the date, book title, and DRA level for the 2 books I am using that week. Then I record the sight words I want to do on the white boards and the vocabulary I need to introduce. I keep a note next to the sight words once I've taught the lesson of who missed the word. If the majority miss it, it becomes a word for the next week as well.
Running record notes page!
Since some of the students are from the other classes, I send their running record with the notes I've recorded back to their homeroom teacher. I record the information on this page for myself. I keep track of the level, their accuracy, how many words a minute they read, and any things I noted. This helps me refer back to what I worked on with that student, if they are missing the same thing each week, etc. I use this to gauge when the group as a whole is ready to move to the next level.

The last part of our guided reading group is comprehension. Jan Richardson's plan has a very brief section for comprehension, so this is an area we have modified. We have a very high ESL population and want to be sure that they not only are reading the words but are understanding the story. This is also what we use to take a reading grade for the week. Our school uses Accelerated Reader. If a book we are using has an AR test, the students will take that as their comprehension quiz. For books without an AR quiz, we create a quiz and save it to reuse.
This page is where I record each of their comprehension scores. 
The last piece of our guided reading lesson is guided writing. We mostly use graphic organizers to focus on a certain skill, such as text to self connections, story elements, using transition words, etc. 

These pages are all in the front of the binder behind a divider for that group. It's taken me a few years to become truly organized with my guided reading data and it has made a huge difference in how I analyze their progress and the effectiveness of my teaching. As a freebie I am sharing my guided reading organizer sheets with you!

You can CLICK HERE to download these forms from my TeachersPayTeachers store or CLICK HERE to get it on GoogleDocs.

Please comment if you have any questions or comments about guided reading in my classroom or yours!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Guided reading, Part I!

My first year teaching, I hated reading groups. I loathed them. Everywhere I had student taught or done observations, they used a combination of a basal and guided reading. My school pretty much uses only guided reading. We have Trophies basal books, but most people do not use them anymore. We have a wondeful selection of guided reading books at our school that we can pull from. Anyways, my second year I took a graduate level reading course that focused on guided reading. Our county offers it and our principal is wonderful about letting everyone take it their second year teaching. We then moved to using the Jan Richardson model for our reading groups. If you haven't read here book, it's a really wonderful resource! It's called The Next Step in Guided Reading. You can click here to find it on Amazon. I've witnessed her teach guided reading lessons on 3 occasions and she is able to get sooo much in that 20 minutes! I try, but I just can't go that fast!

Even after really getting a better understanding of how guided reading should look in my classroom, I was struggling with having a wide spread of levels in my room. My kids often range from a DRA 3 all the way up to a DRA 38! I was finding it impossible to meet the needs of each student when the group was focusing on 4 different levels! So the third year, my teammate and I started combining our classes for reading groups. I would have 4 groups of kids and she would have 4 groups of kids and they would be mixed from my class and hers. It worked so much better! We had a great thing going and our kids were making wonderful progress! 

Unfortunately, she left me and moved to New Jersey. I couldn't even fathom going back to teaching guided reading just within my classroom again. Lucky for me, a new teacher moved in and one of my other teammates changed classrooms so the 3 of us were able to pool all of our students! This is our third year doing it this way and it's been wonderful. We each take 3 different levels and are better able to target the skills those students need. It takes a lot of trust and communication with your co-workers to do it this way. We take detailed notes, 2 running records a week, 2 comprehension grades a week, and consistently run reading groups 4 days each week. We have to collaborate with our ESOL teachers and Title I teacher to make sure that we are able to see every student each day. Our students make wonderful progress with this format. Right now we have students who have gone from a DRA 8 to a DRA 18 already! I love watching them develop as readers as the year goes on! 

So how does guided reading look in your classrooms? Do you solely guided reading or do you incorporate a basal as well? Next time I'll be sharing how I organize my guided reading binder with my notes, scores, and running records and will have a freebie for you! :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


These snow days are totally throwing off all of my lesson plans! Last week we worked on wrapping up a whole bunch of units we had been working on. Our district has started using a new math series this year, called ConnectED Math by McGraw-Hill. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. The district isn't using the pacing provided by the book, but making their own. It's made it difficult to really use the lessons from the book, which is a shame because they seem okay from what I can tell. Anyways....I've been making a lot of my own math worksheets this year to practice what I teach during math and math stations time. My best lesson of my patterns unit was a very simple lesson on repeating and growing patterns. We practice on the smartboard and then I put the students in groups of 5 students, one group in each corner of the carpet. I gave them a bunch of pattern blocks and they worked together to practice making the type of pattern I called out. It was kind of impromptu but I was really proud of how quickly the grasped the concept! Here's a picture of a growing pattern one of the groups made. They got a little out of control with the length of their pattern! :) 

I'd like to share my first freebie with you! It's a few patterns worksheets I created to go with our unit. They work on repeating and growing patterns and number patterns counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. You can get the freebie at my TPT store HERE or as a Google Document by Clicking HERE! I hope you enjoy!

My next blog post will be all about Guided Reading! Stay tuned! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

So I had it all set in my head that I was going to do a Valentine's Day post for ya'll. But winter had other ideas. We've got about 12" of snow on the ground here in NOVA, which is definitely enough for me to be enjoying my 2nd snow day! Love that I get to spend the day with my Valentine's! 
So anyway, my Valentine's Day post will have to wait until sometime next week. Instead I thought I would share a few glimpses of my classroom with you. Bear in mind that these were taken earlier this week, which is in the middle of the year. Which's no longer completely neat and organized :) Also, I took the pictures with my iPhone so they aren't the best quality! Here's a few of my guided reading table/desk and the student desks from the front of the room. 
Here's the view of my whole group area and a portion of my library. I am SOOO lucky to have a Smartboard and ELMO. I'm not sure how I could teach without them anymore!

Here is a look at the student cubbies. They don't keep too much in them, just their math workbooks, vocabulary workbook, and data binders. 
And the back! 
That's pretty much it! I've been in this room for 4 years so it's become my home. I don't change the layout too much anymore since I've found what works best for me. My theme is polka dots, although it's not overwhelming, just accents. I look forward to sharing some of my classroom procedures with you in my upcoming posts! Happy Valentine's Day ya'll! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My First Post!

Last week one of the vocabulary words in my 2nd grade class was overcome. It reminded me that I needed to OVERCOME my fear of blogging! I've been trying to start a blog for what feels like F.O.R.E.V.E.R. I would come to the page, feel completely overwhelmed, and run away from it for a few months. Rinse and repeat. But I've decided that this is THE YEAR for me to become a blogger. I read and gain so much knowledge from so many wonderful blogs that I want to try to inspire someone else in some small way. Or at least make them feel better about themselves by showcasing my shortcomings. Anyway, this is my attempt! Thanks for coming along for the ride!