I have four reading groups going in my classroom this year. Two of the groups are larger, with eight students each, while the other two are much smaller, with four or three students, respectively. I try to meet with my groups each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, although some weeks there are other issues that arise and take me away from this oh-so-important task. However, all four of my reading groups are able to meet every Wednesday without fail. This is largely due to the fact that I have two America Reads tutors in my room for half an hour, plus myself and my student teacher. So for thirty minutes we have four adults available to work with the four groups.
The two tutors work with my two smaller groups, and then I work with one group and my student teacher works with the other. Last week was the first time we did this and it went really, really well! (I would have blogged about it then but that was the same day as the visit from the Wildlife Society and that seemed to take precedence over a more routine activity).
Today was our second time having four reading groups running at the same time. There were a few moments where some of the students got a little bit louder than I would have preferred but, for the most part, I felt like all twenty-three students were focused and on task. One of the big goals I had for the groups today was for the students to develop their abilities in having conversations with one another about the texts that they read, rather than rely on me to pose the questions and the answers. At first they were a bit reluctant to just respond to each other because they have been so thoroughly trained in raising their hands and waiting for a teacher to call on them. They soon warmed up to it, though, and were having conversations about books using phrases like “I can relate to this because…” or “I agree with him because…” or “I disagree with her because…” or “One thing I think will happen next is…” or “I can connect this to…”
It was fantastic and exactly what I want to see happening with my reading groups this year! At the end of the allotted time I asked the class to tell me what worked well during our groups. Some of the things that were shared were:
- students were paying attention
- people were reading together
- we were listening to one another
- we were talking about the books we had read
Then I asked them to think about areas for improvement. I love the honesty that my students exhibit when I ask questions like this. Here is what they said:
- We need to keep our volume at appropriate levels the entire time
- We need to take turns sharing
- When we are finished with an assignment, we need to stay on literacy tasks like reading or writing
- We should be following along in the book when someone else is reading
I am grateful to have such a wonderfully reflective class of readers. They work hard, they love reading, and they love talking about what they read! I think we will see improvement each week as we continue to move through the school year.