November 20, 2012

Laying the Groundwork for Guided Reading

Passion is a word that is thrown around a lot in education.  A lot of teachers in job interviews claim that they have a "passion" for teaching.  Although it an overused buzz word, I would say the same for myself.  I have a passion for teaching.  Since the day I started teaching, I knew that I went into the right field.  To take it a step further, I have a passion for teaching middle school students how to read and write.  Hands down the most difficult part of stepping into my role as Literacy Coach this year was to give up the time in the classroom that I used to spend with students.  Although 90 minutes daily is dedicated to team teaching in a 6th grade Language Arts classroom with an amazing colleague, it just isn't quite the same as having three full classes of students in my own classroom.  Instead of a consistent schedule, my schedule is a bi-weekly schedule that is different every day.  I took a picture of it that I'm going to post below, just because I find my schedule almost humorous.  Although it looks a bit chaotic, a lot of organization was put into creating it!

A new part of my schedule that I'm really excited about is the addition of guided reading groups that I'm going to have in my office at the end of each 6th grade Language Arts block throughout the day.  There are three 6th grade Language Arts teachers, and I am the fourth teacher in the equation when we configured our guided reading groups.  For each class, we put our students on a continuum from lowest Benchmark Assessment score to highest Benchmark Assessment score and began to pair students in groups of 4-6.  From there, we decided how many times per week it was feasible to meet with each group.  For our below grade level readers, we decided to meet with them more often throughout the week.  We then distributed the groups into a schedule with guided reading slots for each of us Monday-Friday.  Next, we drew names to decide which teachers would take which groups.  For us, doing it this way was efficient because we reduced the number of groups needed and got students into homogeneous groups with other students closest to their reading levels.  Below are pictures of my office that I will be using when conducting guided reading groups.  Today I spent some time preparing a space for the groups and creating a bulletin board to use with them for guided reading.  The bulletin board gives the prompts: "Something I've learned about myself today, as a reader, is...", "What I learned today from my reading...", and "Something I'm still wondering about after reading today..."  The guided reading tables were specially ordered with the grooves in them to allow teachers to scoot close to students as they're talking to them about their reading and listening to them read for fluency without disrupting the other students.

The next step is to begin guided reading.  I look forward to sharing with you the adventures of fitting guided reading into our Language Arts block with our Reading and Writing Workshops and what positive effects I see it having on students.  I will also make sure to share any organization tips and tricks that I discover along the way.  Speaking of that, check out my TPT store for a free download of a note taking sheet to use during guided reading lessons.  It will help you keep track of students' progress over time due to the implementation of guided reading.


  1. Thank you so much for your blog and this post. I have been looking for a good middle school blog and I found one!

    1. I'm glad that you found my blog, too! Although it's in the beginning phases, I'm looking forward to adding to it as the year progresses!

  2. Hi Kasey! I am in awe of what you accomplish here! What suggestions can you give a school that is more of a junior high, stuck with an archaic, and segmented 9 period day. Block scheduling was tried and abandoned. We have separate reading and English classes. Can you provide any sites who have done work similar to yours under these constraints? We are passionate about the latest trends but our schedule is stuck in the 1980s. Thanks!

  3. Hi Laurel,

    It is too bad that your school tried a block schedule and abandoned it to go back to a 9 period day. What a bummer! My school actually last year tried out the traditional 8 period day and hated it and actually got our block schedule with common team time back. We are all SO thankful for this and we truly belief it's what best works for middle school students. My advice for wanting to keep up with the latest trends with a 9 period day schedule is to get extremely creative. Do you have separate blocks for reading and writing? Do you have an "intervention block"? With 9 periods, I would hope that you do or maybe could discuss putting it in? If it were me, I would try to run a Reading Workshop in one of the blocks and a Writing Workshop in the other. It you have an intervention block, I'd try to do guided reading at that time, otherwise fit it into Reading Workshop. Where I did my schooling to become a certified literacy coach at Lesley, there were many middle school coaches who coached in schools with less than ideal schedules. It's frustrating because a district may want teachers to try out the latest techniques without putting a schedule that allows that as a priority. However, as educators, we must get as creative as possible if it's something we're passionate about trying! Good luck to you; at least you have teachers who are passionate about trying new things! That's a great start! :)


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