In my previous post, I wrote about my first two years of experience with the Wonders reading program. Here, I'll discuss some of the strategies I've used to build on the strengths of the program and make it fit into my own classroom.
Working with small groups
I have a sweet situation for my ELA instruction, with 90 minutes of reading instruction in the morning plus 40 minutes after lunch for grammar and writing. I co-teach with a special educator, which is amazing! We start with about 20 minutes of independent reading as the day is getting started. Then, after a 15-20 minute minilesson, we break into small groups. Kelly takes her quarter of the class and I work with the rest of the group--18-24 readers, depending on the year and class size.
I break up this group into three smaller groups and rotate among them. To minimize transitions, I'm the one who physically moves for instruction, although the kids are free to work wherever they like when I am not with them, and they sure do like to move around!
What I do with the small groups depends on what we're working on at the time, what students seemed to be need help with, and what we really loved talking about.
My rotations usually involve some reading, some fluency work, word work, and comprehension questions. Which brings up the question...what do kids do when they're not with me?
The fluency passages that go with each week's instruction are usually pretty interesting, and sometimes groups work on these. I also intersperse some of my own Readers Theatre scripts, like Story Elements Readers Theatre or Text Structure Readers Theatre.
Comprehension questions for discussion
The Close Reading Companion by Wonders is meant to be a resource for teachers to help lead in-depth conversations of the texts. I have a colleague who loves it. Personally, I can never figure out what to put on those lines, and when I do know what should go on them, there's never enough room.
Instead, I've started making some of my own packets to go with the stories. In some of them I use a speed drill to practice key vocabulary; in others I write my own multiple choice questions, usually mirroring those in the Weekly Assessments. Here is an example of one of the packets that goes with "Into the Volcano" in Unit 1.
I don't just hand out these pages as worksheets. Instead, they guide student discussions, and we enjoy the conversations that we can have. But putting the important questions on paper helps immensely with co-teaching and when there is a substitute!
As I wrote in a previous post, the spelling component of Wonders doesn't blow me away. I've found that making a page that includes the spelling words, vocabulary words, and some extra activities builds our learning.
These little additions make teaching with Wonders so much easier and more enjoyable! What changes have you made to your own reading programs?