Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quiet Guided Reading Centers

I have 26 students for reading this year. They are a lively, enthusiastic bunch and immensely fun to teach.

But things have been getting a little loud. While I'm working with a guided reading group of 6-8 students, there are 18-20 other students in the room--pretty much an entire class! As a result, I've had to rethink some of my standard routines. If students are doing fluency, retelling, and word sorting, all at the same time, then we can barely hear ourselves think up at guided reading. But I don't want to just assign dull worksheets and assignments for students to complete on their own at their seats.

Here are some things that I've found are working well:

Computer: Luckily, I have three computers in my room, and I have put them all at the other side of the room from my guided reading area. The interactive tools at readwritethink.org have been a big hit. This week, students worked with a partner to write a diamante poem.

Assessment: This came from my husband, who teaches third grade. I had a short common assessment that I needed to give this week--why not do it during centers time? The students in the group sat in a quieter corner of the room and completed the task. I liked this arrangement much better than taking up some of my precious whole group instruction time for the task.

Retelling: I love the retelling center so much. This year, I've managed to pull together three of the Playmobil fairy tale sets. Students read picture books that go along with the characters, and then act out the story with the sets. When the other groups are quiet, the bit of noise that comes from these groups is manageable.

Any other ideas for quiet activities...that aren't dull seatwork?


  1. I love the retelling center! It's a grown up twist on the "play" centers of K/1 grades.

    You may think of these as dull seatwork but I use the Daily 5 approach. I recommend reading the book (called Daily 5). Even if you don't use the approach, some of the management ideas are great! (Check-ins, establishing expectations at the beginning of the year)

    My kids are able to choose from:
    1)Read to Self
    2)Read to Others (whisper reading)
    3)Writing (They love this- can choose what to write about- then publish it in classroom library books, read it aloud to the class, put it on the classroom blog, or hang it up in the classroom) It really is great, authentic writing!
    4) Write about Reading. They write in a special notebook- I read and write back to them.
    5)Word Work/ Cursive- They have a list of options for word study (sorting words, looking at words, etc.) and then they do their district required cursive.

    I'm planning on adding the following later in the year:
    *Listening station
    *Typing practice

    I also sometimes give follow-up work from reading group. They may have to do something independently and then we discuss it when they come back to reading group.

    I hope this helps. I've been working with some of your narrative stories lately (Magic Key/ Race to the Middle of the Maze). You have been so sharing with your work and ideas and the stories have really helped my students understand narrative.

    Thank you!

  2. Thanks so much for writing! I hope to add a listening station once I can track down enough headsets. Having kids practice cursive is such a good idea; it's an easy way to have them doing something quiet.

    My guided reading time is so tricky to schedule. I can only see two groups a day, and we've had so many special events this week that I've been hesitant to assign follow-up work because I'm not sure that any of us can remember it from day to day. :)

    I'm so glad that you liked the stories! I love writing them and I'm glad that they were useful.