Small Groups - Management Tips

Ok. So Guided Reading. Centers. These two things are a HUGE part of my teaching.

As I'm sure they are yours, too.

Everyone does them differently.

But I'd like to share with you what I do in mine.

I'm not sure where to begin because my mind starts in about 4 different areas all at once when I want to start explaining. I have done a few posts on centers {HERE} and {HERE}. I've also done some Guided Reading posts {HERE} and {HERE}

First, let me show you how I do the rotations.

I made a template in Powerpoint and I put each slide on a timer on the slides so that I just push play and the whole thing runs without me having to get up and do anything!

I have 4 rotations.... Journal, Centers, Teacher, and Seatwork.

Every time the slides change, the wheel just turns. It works perfectly!

In between each activity slide, I have a "Clean Up!" slide that lasts for 30 seconds.

You can check out the Small Group Rotation Powerpoint {HERE}

Ok, so I think I'll go to the Center Menu next.. I can kind of kill 2 birds with 2 stones with this one.  

So, the amount of centers I do changes from year to year, and sometimes I change my mind in the middle of the year - like I did last year.  

I have done 10 centers on a menu... which I did 2 centers in one day. I posted about how I did that on {THIS} and {THIS} blogpost.

 And that's how I started my year off last year.

But then, I decided to change my way after I got back from my maternity leave last year...and that's when I went to the powerpoint rotation and only 5 centers for the week and a Journal on the rotation for each day.

Here is what my menus look like for that set up:

I say what each center bucket is (the numbers correspond with the bucket numbers) and then what the Journal topic is for each day. I label them Day 1, 2.... because I don't always start on Monday and end on Friday. I actually DON'T like starting on a Monday. It makes for a stressful Monday and Friday. lol.

These are the buckets that I have labeled to match the menu. 

The labels are part of my "Get Organized" pack.  Both of the menus are included in my Guided Reading Plans and Resources.

For seatwork, I pull a lot of activities from my {phonics packs}. I have one for each phonics skill. I have a love for phonics. haha! That's normally what I do - phonics, for seatwork. 

But sometimes my seatwork isn't actually SEATwork. We do a lot of walking around the room too!

One of my staple centers is Listening centers.

And some kind of word work.

I also have a sentence writing one...whether it's writing a complete sentence or stretching a sentence or unscrambling a sentence. 

Most of my centers come from my {Monthly Centers Menu Bundles}

Then there's the journal writing part of the rotation. I really believe that to become better writers, you have to practice...just like reading. So I like to have them do journal responses. I try to make the "prompts" based around what we've been reading or learning about in class. 

I have some "fancy shmancy" journal covers you can download for free - and you can see how I set them up for the year {HERE}.

When we're ALL done with our rotations for the day, the kids put everything on their desk I need to see... their seatwork should be filed and I need to see their center and their journal writing. I check off thier menus...just a check mark if it's finished, or a circle if it's not. If they finished but need to fix a lot of it, then I put "fix" in the box and give them the week to fix it on their own time.

After Day 5, I collect all the centers and staple them to their menus and give them a grade...the grade is just for completion and it documents if they stay on task and/or have trouble with certain skills.

Now, let's talk Guided Reading.

I use Sundance AlphaKids to level my students.

Once I have them leveled, I put them on my Levels at a Glance page in my binder.  I put all the similar levels together and then box them in with different color crayons to create my groups.

I make a new one each month.   I don't always assess my AGL kids, but my OGL and my BGL I want to see if they're moving, so I do test them each month.

I like to make a quick look for me to see without getting out my binder... like if one of my kids asks what level books he can get for baggie books...or if I'm looking in my Reading A-Z files and I don't want to get out my binder, I just look over at this. I put it away when we have conferences, of course.

I also like to do a quick Dibels assessment.

 I put them in the ORF data sheet as one of 4 different types of readers:


Depending on the reasoning behind the kids that are either slow or wrong, then I will work with them on their fluency.

Ok, so the big question. 

What do I use for my guided reading books since I don't use the reading series?

I like to use Reading A-Z.   I really like this better than using the series' leveled readers because I can match the levels better to my students...AND it's how I can get my themes to all tie in together....and BONUS!! It's how I hit a lot of my science and social studies content, too!

Yes, you have to print the books. BUT, I don't let them write in them and I keep them for the following years. And if they lose them when I send them home? No biggie! I can print up a new one!

Now, aside from using Reading A-Z, I also have a slew of other things I like to use during my small groups.  I've posted about it before {HERE}. But here are a few pictures....

I love using my Sounds Boxes! (in my guided reading pack)

I've been using them forever!!

I mean... this picture is about 4 years old..and my computer crashed so I don't have the original to fix it, but you get the point! ha!

You can use counters to count the sounds or you can write in the letters for the sounds. I always have them count the sounds before they write them. 

Whisper phones - I did a DIY post on those {HERE}

I also love EZ readers! I have a few different kinds that I've gotten from Really Good Stuff.

Another one of my favorite things I use are these little foam letters. I love them. They are smooth on one side and bumpy on the other it's easier for them to know which way the "a" goes or the other easily mixed up letters.

I pick a mystery word out of the book we are reading and then I make words out of that word and we practice phonics skills.

The students use the little foam letters and I use my own letters in a small pocket chart.

I do Making Words with my kids every week.  This is one of the activities in my Guided Reading pack. There's a teacher planner page that really helps you to plan it out so all the words flow, and then there are student extensions like this page.

Another thing I really like to focus on is Fluency.  Obviously, not all of my groups work with fluency, if they are below grade level on their running records, then we focus on phonics and decoding skills, THEN we can work on fluency.

I've posted about Peer to Peer fluency {HERE}

Most of all these resources can be found in my Guided Reading Pack, including some sample lesson plan templates. 

The Rotations PowerPoint is in my {Small Group Pack}

Or you can get them both in the BUNDLE and save money!

I hope this post helps to give you some ideas on how to manage or set up your guided reading! It was a lot to take in. Let me know if you need any clarification on anything!


learningmyself said...

Thank you and I am overwhelmed! Lol I was wondering if u could post how to do that PowerPoint! I am so in love with that!!! Thanks for all u do!!! Amy

VickyVinas said...

I agree that is an awesome idea to use a timed PowerPoint during centers. I may be copying it for this school year.

Unknown said...

I love your powerpoint. It is the first idea that makes so much sense to me. I have other teachers in the room during our guided reading time and this would help them stay on track also. Is there a way that you can make it a template so I can use it on my activboard and add the names? This is something I would to purchase. Thank you. Kathryn

Unknown said...

This post has helped me tremendously in seeing the big picture when doing centers. I would also like the PowerPoint you have created and will model my centers this year the same as yours. Thank you for making sense of centers!

Chris Saunders said...

I love your posts and products--is there any way you could post that clean up as a poster to print out? Love it! I am excited to use your guiding reading pack this year :)-thanks Chris

Amy Roper said...

Hello! I love your blog! I love the PowerPoint idea, too! I would love to purchase it. Can you give me more details? Amy Roper

Unknown said...

How do you get your dry erase to come off the laminated sheets without staining?

Unknown said...

Hi! I love this post! I also would love to know how you do the PowerPoint! Could you please give me more info?

Unknown said...

I love your rotation powerpoint. Is there a link with how you do this? I previously had one for the smartboard, but my new school doesn't have smart boards so I can't use the notebook file anymore. I would love more info on this!! Thanks!

The Little Ms. Crafty Pants said...

Do you have more information about the PowerPoint? This would be such an amazing tool for my students and I during centers. Thank you.

Unknown said...

This would be really great.....would love to use something like this!
Thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...

Just posted about this on my blog! I can't wait to use this in my classroom this year! Great post and great resource! Thank you!

NM said...

Love this resource & recently purchased! Do you have a PPT with just 4 rotations & no permanent text on it (clipart & text boxes only so it's editable)?

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Frank said...

there's the diary composing part of the revolution. Do My Essay For Me truly accept that to turn out to be better journalists, you need to practice...just like perusing. So prefer to have them do diary reactions. attempt to make the "prompts" based around the thing we've been perusing or finding out about in class.

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The article 'Small Groups - Management Tips' offers practical advice for managing small groups, focusing on open communication, collaboration, and addressing challenges. It is actionable and aligns with best practices in group management. This resource is valuable for educators, team leaders, and anyone guiding small groups, as it enhances productivity and cohesion within any small group setting.
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