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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles:
Teach Early Childhood Literacy
More Management Tips for Guided Reading Groups
Miriam Bissu

The question of how to manage guided reading groups often comes up when planning for guided reading. The success of your guided reading program frequently depends on what the other students are doing while you are giving one group your undivided attention. At this time you want all of your students to be actively engaged in literacy activities that will reinforce and extend their learning. See Managing Guided Reading Groups for some examples of literacy activities. Here are some more management tips that could prove to be helpful.
  1. Prepare mini-lessons before guided reading to inform the children of the behaviors you expect to see. Ask them for ideas on how they can work toward improving their reading and use their time to greater benefit. Generate a list of reading behaviors they should be practicing during this time.

  2. Teach the skills and strategies you expect the children to practice in mini-lessons or shared reading so that they are capable of working independently.
  3. Plan activities in advance that will keep them gainfully occupied for the required period of time.
  4. Generate a list of activities with the children that they can do when they have completed their assigned work. Post the list in your room to serve as a reminder to students.
  5. Work out a rotation chart and post it in a permanent place in your room. Before you break into reading groups inform the children of which groups you will be working with on that day and what centers or assignments the others will be held responsible for. Teach them to use the chart to know where they are supposed to be and what they should be doing so that they can allocate their time accordingly.
  6. Give clear instructions on how they are to work. Make sure they know where their materials are and establish routines for how to get and use them. Insist that they speak in quiet voices. Generate a chart on how children can work independently or in pairs so that all can learn. Refer to the chart as frequently as necessary to reinforce your rules and routines.
  7. Introduce centers when you feel the children are ready for them. Introduce them one at a time and be sure to teach the children how to work in each center.
  8. After each reading period is over, bring the children together to ask them what they practiced and review the positive outcomes. Reward positive behaviors with praise or stickers. Most importantly, hold them accountable for the time they spent working on their own. Ask for oral or written responses that show how they spent their time. Show your satisfaction with those who worked quietly and demonstrated in some way that they used their time to learn.
  9. Examine the reasons some children might consistently use this time to misbehave and find ways to enable them to work independently. It might be helpful to hold an individual conference with those students to:
    • determine if the work is appropriate for them;
    • teach them to follow the rules that have been agreed to by all members of the class;
    • let them know you expect more from them and are ready to help them succeed;
    • work out a behavior management program that would keep each child focused on learning.

Your success in teaching guided reading requires a good deal of planning and follow-up. I hope these ideas and the suggested activities in the article Managing Guided Reading Groups and others on Getting Started with Early Childhood Literacy will contribute to your success.


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