Okay, now that song is stuck in my head....LOL....
The school I teach at has only been open for 2 years. Previously, most of us taught at one of the other 3 elementary schools in the county, so it was interesting to “come together” with the different (yet similar) ways we did things. This included reading.
At my former school, we had an hour and a half block for reading. An hour of that time, you had an assistant in your room to help you. We split our kids into 3 groups (4 was hard to do, but if you had to, you did). Each group had 30 minutes with you and then, depending on skill level, time with the assistant, then independent time. This sounds great, right? Well, it was….until you had the lower levels and independent time became something more frustrational than successful!
When I was first told how we were going to do reading at my new school, I was very skeptical. First, they told me, I would not have an assistant in my room. At all. Then, I was told, you will only have one group in your room at a time. Hmm. Okay. Definitely see the benefits of that. It was so you could focus on your group, and not have that half an eye on the rest of the classroom for behavior issues.
How do you make this work? Well, first, we are a Title I school. Second, instead of assistants in our room, they now work in a Reading Lab. There are five assistants in the reading lab, and each one takes a group to work with on different strategies.
Hence, you have a rotation where students are out of your room, getting a full hour and a half of reading between your reading group, Title I and reading lab. This is WONDERFUL for the below-level crowd, and even the on-level groups. What then do we do with the above level? Well, they have “independent time” in the room where they can work on different strategies, have literacy center time, or work on reading responses, word study, etc. Last year, I had a LOT of these above level kids, and so the concept didn’t quite work for me with one reading group in the room and no one else. However, the kids I had were pretty motivated and I was able to incorporate Literature Circles for the bunch (at one time, there were 31 of them packed in our room!). It was something I had done successfully while teaching fourth grade and, after a lot of prep work (there is not a lot out there for 2nd grade above level readers for literature circles without it being too “old”), we made it work and the kids LOVED it.
This year, I have the majority of the lower level kids. (Funny how that works out!). So, I do have the ideal situation where my lowest kids get an hour of Title I and 30 minutes with me. My on level kids to slightly below get 30 minutes of Title I, 30 minutes of Reading Lab, and 30 minutes with me.
I think back to how my “old school” did it and immediately start to realize how successful this “new” program really is! Instead of students getting 30 minutes with me, possibly 15-30 minutes with an assistant for an activity, then 30 minutes of independent time (and few Primer readers are very independent!), these students get an entire STRUCTURED BLOCK of PURE READING!
How successful is it? Our students from last year (now in third grade)….there are NONE below grade level with the exception of a few students who have IEPs. They were even able to maintain through the summer (a BIG accomplishment!). Already this year, we’ve seen results where we started with 19% below grade level at the beginning of the school year, and that has already been reduced to 9%!
So, it works! Some of our other elementary schools also participate in this type of program and others are beginning it as well. I think it’s fabulous and well worth the time it takes to “regroup” the students, as necessary, each 4-5 weeks. We use the state PALS assessments and IRIs to assess students for regrouping. Yes, you may “lose” some of your students to other teachers, as well as “gain” students from other classes, but it helps to have a group that is basically at the same level.
So, in a long winding way (sorry, it was hard to summarize!), that is how we do reading groups at our school! If you have any other questions, please comment or email me! Also, if you’d like to see the literature circle jobs/papers I did, they’re available on my TpT store!
Once again, sorry it’s taken me so long to blog about it! Yikes! I’m typing this on Word right now since my internet was acting a little wonky, and I realize I’m on page 2! Thanks for sticking with it! :)