The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Reading Groups Take Two

I am pretty certain that reading is going to become a major focus of my classroom. Not only does it provide fabulous opportunities for students to learn across the curriculum, it is also something that I am passionate about, and so I share that passion with my students.

I am one of those people who is always carrying around a book, and I have been for years–at least since the time I was in fourth grade. (You will probably notice that fourth grade tends to be the touchstone of my educational career.) I recently told my students about the many books that I am sort of reading concurrently. Many of the boys and girls in my class have a small pile of books on their desks. While a few in my class are reluctant readers, it is wonderful when they all get into their books!

We have been slowly working our way into reading groups. Today was the first formal day with the books the groups will be reading. I have four groups with 6-8 students in each. The books they are reading are Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Runaway Ralph, True Tales of Animal Heroes, and I Hate Company. We practiced what reading in the classroom should look like. First, the students all sat at their desks and read silently for one minute. Nobody was to talk, mumble, or get up and move around, and everyone had to be actually reading. Then they read for two minutes, and did the same. After that, I put them in their groups, spread them throughout the room, and had them read for five minutes, still silently. All of the groups did a great job! I even took pictures of them (but I need to check to make sure I have the approval from all of the parents to post them online before doing so). After reading, they talked within their groups about what they read, then read even more. At the end of the period, we came together as a class and discussed summaries before I had each student write a summary of what they had read today.

It was, for me, an exciting morning. I saw some students reading for the first time, and others who stayed focused for much longer than they have before. Of course, reading won’t be the only thing we do in class; we still have math and science and social studies and SEL and PE and writing (which is really a part of reading, anyway). But it will be a big, big, big part of each day!

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