If you are part of the Miss Jacobs’ Little Learners community on Instagram, you will know that I have recently become obsessed with reading non-fiction books!!! For a long time, all I have read is professional development books about teaching and self help books (#isitjustme?). I have really enjoyed getting lost in novels again…especially the kind that you can’t put down or wake up at 3am to read because you just can’t stop thinking about it!
It’s been a timely reminder for me how important nurturing a love of reading in our students is and how we can be actively involved in creating a space for kids where that happens. The first place to start with this in Term 3 is to refresh your reading groups and get your Just Right Books, just right!
#1 How to Refresh your Reading Groups
I know that you all worked so hard on assessment during Term 2 and whilst part of you never wants to have to look at it again now that reports are done…I’m here to plead with you to open your Guided Reading Assessment folder one last time!! Why? Because the data that you have in there is absolute GOLD and it’s exactly what you need to extend your students in their reading. Simply:
- Grab your Guided Reading folder
- Head to your Running Records page from last term
- Look at what instructional reading level each student was at in June
- Go to your Reading Groups page in your folder
- Recreate your groups according to your students’ last level
- Create new Reading Group posters and hang them on your wall!
It really is such a simple process, and yet it makes an INCREDIBLE difference to your students’ reading journey. By grouping your students with similar needs in a reading group, you can provide them with “Just Right Books”, to meet them exactly where they’re at and extend their reading skills from there. For those students who haven’t progressed as much as you’d like…you can really focus on what their exact needs are. For those students who are racing through the levels, you can continue to give them opportunities for extension.
#teachertip To communicate the change to your students, I like to put up the new Reading Group Posters after hours. Then at the start of the day, I let the students know that the Reading Groups are updated and check for their name. Thankfully with the cute posters, they love being in ANY of the Reading Groups!
Then, once you’ve done the mid-year reading groups refresh, I’d encourage you to use your assessment data to move your groups around each month. It’s a great practice to have in your teacher toolkit and will really see your students extend their reading level!
#2 No Student Left Behind – Meeting Students at every level where they’re at
Once you have refreshed your reading groups, the next step to meeting your students just where they’re at is to create or refresh your book boxes. I am a huge fan of “Just Right Books” (which is a book that is not too easy and not too hard – think Goldilocks!).
I believe it is SO important as teachers to provide books for our students that meet them exactly where they are at. If a book is beyond a student’s reading level, they are not going to make progress. If a book is too easy for a student, they’re not going to learn any new words or grow their reading skills.
So, my #1 tip for meeting your students’ where they’re at in reading is to go through the student’s book boxes regularly and create boxes of “Just Right Books” for each reading group. By offering students books that are pitched at the right level, you are extending every student in their reading no matter what level they’re at…so no student is left behind!
#3 Building Your Reading Resource Toolkit
I really believe that by refreshing your reading groups and creating “Just Right Book” boxes for each of your groups – you will continue to see your students move up their reading levels. As a teacher, this really is the best feeling ever and creates such a sense of accomplishment for yourself and your students. As you continue to build your knowledge and skills in teaching reading to your students, I highly recommend adding Reading Goals slips to your toolkit.
What I LOVE about my Reading goals is that it gives you a whole set of strategies to move each of your students up to the next reading level, no matter where they’re at. I have developed these from my ten years of experience as an educator through observation and practice. So if you are in your early years of teaching…these are an absolute godsend!
Which of these three teaching strategies will you implement in your classroom? Refreshing your reading groups, creating “Just Right Book” boxes for your students or using Reading Goals slips to strategically lead your students to the next level? Let me know in the comments below!