Peek Inside a Small Group Reading Lesson

This year has been a bit of a whirlwind.  I am teaching 30 minute small reading groups with 1st-4th graders this year--which I am completely in love with.


Holy moly.  The planning.  While I might have multiple groups in a grade, they don't all have the same needs.  So, four grades, multiple needs in each grade, and you've got a lot of planning.  This has also led to an astronomical increase in my TPT spending because with all the planning, I sure don't have time to make a bunch of resources for my lessons.
Here's a peek inside of a third grade lesson using one of my favorite resources.  I always start my lessons with a quick phonics review.  We usually complete a page or two from this book.  It says 4th-6th but easily works with 3rd.
I love these sets from Lakeshore.  (This is not a post for Lakeshore-just me writing about a resource I use.)   I often use articles from other sources, but I like these because they involve less planning/prep on my part.  Each box comes with four different folders. A folder contains teaching points, 6 copies of the story, and a comprehension activity.

Here's a close up of the set we're using this week:
First, we go through the vocabulary words.  While I do talk about the meaning of the word, I use this time to also talk about how to break words apart, any on the go phonics instruction I can sneak in, and what part of speech it is.  We then try to use the vocabulary words to talk about what is happening in the pictures.  It's fast and meaningful, then it's time to move on.  

Then, they read the article using a whisper phone.  (Also known as my favorite resource ever.)  I grabbed these half off at the beginning of the year sale from Lakeshore.
I also keeps a container of Clorox wipes at my table because these six whisper phones get used allllllll day long by lots of kiddos.

After that, we read through the article together.  Sometimes I read parts, but we usually work through one paragraph at a time.  Stopping to discuss along the way whatever is works with the section we've read:


•word solving strategies


•what the author meant

•text structure


•any good fix ups a reader made

Don't try to talk about more than one or two things when you stop though, or you'll take away from meaning plus it's just plain overwhelming for your kiddos.

We'll follow up the second and third day with rereads both silently and aloud to work on comprehension and fluency.  We'll continue to discuss the article and usually have some written response and multiple choice questions (can't escape standardized testing.)

I love Jen Jones' Common Core RIT: Reading Comprehension Sheets resource for quick written responses that require deeper thinking.  And what kid doesn't want to write a text message or hashtag to show what they've learned?  This resource is jam packed with engaging but higher level responses that work for any text.

Got any time saving tips for me for planning small group lessons?

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  1. I hear you about not talking about too many things when you stop. Somehow we went from reading about Mt. Rushmore to looking up waterfalls and the Redwood Forest. I'm not sure how we got there. It's an easy trap to fall into!


  2. This was a great post! I have only taught math and science the past couple of years, and I recently found out that I'll be teaching reading next year! So this helps remind me what's going on!!

    A Tall Drink of Water

  3. Great post! I had a position like yours once. I absolutely loved it, but the planning paperwork was a nightmare. There is so much to write for every group, even though I really had my go-tos. So, I turned my lesson planner into a checklist so I could check off the activities I wanted to do with each group, jot a quick note about the materials I needed, and get on to teaching. It really saved a ton of time. I'm not certain my checklist would match all that you do with your lessons, but I'm sending you a copy of it. It is a product up on my store, and I would love to hear what you think of it!

  4. I'm a reading specialist and teach 10 groups on 3 grade levels. I feel your pain! I also make 20- min stations you may be able to use or adapt.

  5. The phonics and word study for struggling readers book is one of my faves! I'm not teaching right now, but used to use it all the time.

  6. What great ideas! I really like what you are doing in the lessons.